For horror fans, there’s nothing more painful than sitting through a terrible entry in a once-beloved franchise. Whether the film is basically just a montage of inane tropes, or a sloppy remake no one was asking for, these horror movie franchise fails can be the machete chop that ends the life of a good series.
Some horror movies just don’t need sequels, but their wild popularity inevitably brings about follow-ups and remakes inevitably bound to dilute the integrity of the original. Bad horror movies can ruin once-terrifying series, to the point where the original films no longer feel scary.
To make matters worse, completionist fans are forced to sit through a never-ending parade of stupid horror films, just because they love the first entry. With any luck, fans of the cinematic occult will one day rise up and reject the worst horror film remakes, but until then, the world will continue to be subjected to more horrible Friday the 13th sequels.
Filmmakers have been remaking 1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre practically since it first came out. Tobe Hooper's sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, was panned at the time of its release, but the film has since managed to garner a cult following. Other than that, none of the films about the Sawyer Family released post-1986 ever reached the heights of the original.
So, which entry definitively jumped the shark in this series? It's tempting to say Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, as the film somehow manages to make gratuitous violence seem boring, but it feels practically Oscar-worthy when compared to The Next Generation.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise's fourth installment was written by series creator Kim Henkel, and although he injects some much needed zaniness into the plot, he doesn't seem to understand what makes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre so fun. The movie stars Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey of all people, and follows the same basic structure of the original film, only with the inclusion of a laughably bad twist: the whole thing was an elaborate setup orchestrated by the Illuminati. No, really.
The Hellraiser series never lived up to the promise of the first two films. The first was a Lovecraftian haunted house feature that explored the dark side of pleasure, and the sequel showed audiences a dimension of Hell that continues to inspire filmmakers. After that, there was a noticeable dip in the franchise's quality.
The third film attempts to move away from gothic explorations into the bacchanal, and winds up with a action/horror movie that's tonally disparate. It's Terminator meets A Nightmare on Elm Street, and it just doesn't work.
That's not to say that Hellraiser: Inferno is completely bereft of fun (the CD player Cenobite comes to mind), but it's the first film in the series that doesn't feel like it's connected to the franchise's overarching story. Spoiler: that's because it's not. The movie tells the story of a crooked detective who discovers the Lament Configuration at a crime scene, and subsequently falls into a terror-filled dream world. If the film wasn't called Hellraiser: Inferno, everything would be fine, but as it stands this is the movie that leads completionist Pinhead fans into the dark underbelly of straight-to-DVD sequels.
It's hard to quantify just how big of a misfire Jason Goes to Hell really is. While none of the Friday the 13th films are great, not every Jason sequel is horrible; Part 3 has that amazing disco theme, The Final Chapter is passible, if boring, The New Blood brings in a weird psychic element, and even though most of Jason Takes Manhattan takes place on a boat, it's actually very entertaining.
Despite all this, one could argue that every Friday the 13th movie since the original has jumped the shark in some way, but Jason Goes to Hell is by far the most ham-fisted. This sloppy mess reveals Jason is actually a demonic slug that jumps from body to body, and the resulting story is never quite sure of what it wants to say.
There's a badass bounty hunter chasing Jason, the government wants to kill him, and the ending of the film liberally borrows from Peter Jackson's Dead Alive. After Jason Goes to Hell, the character goes to space for the abysmal Jason X, then dukes it out with Freddy Krueger in a crossover film fans should have never asked for.
Even though the people behind the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise seem to care about the overall narrative of their long-running series, there are still some definite missteps. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge could have easily derailed the entire series, as the sequel to Wes Craven's surreal masterpiece pulls its punches in every way imaginable. The fact that the series was able to come back so strong with 1987's Dream Warriors is nothing short of a miracle.
As bad as Freddy's Revenge is, it's nothing compared to Freddy's Dead. The sixth film in the series is so bereft of ideas it leans on a series of cameos from people like Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, and Alice Cooper. The horror of the original film is completely absent, and in its place is a husk of a story ending with Freddy being blown up by a pipe bomb.
The only good thing to come out of Freddy's Dead is the hard reset that occurred once the series was literally blown up. When Wes Craven returned to the fold to write and direct New Nightmare in 1994, audiences were reunited with a character they could actually be afraid of.