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.
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.
It's hard to tell where exactly the Halloween series went off the rails. Some purists may argue the third film in the series, Season of the Witch — which follows an evil coven which has gone into business of making Halloween masks that cause children's heads to explode — is the first moment where everything goes sideways.
Halloween: Resurrection stars Busta Rhymes as the host of "Dangertainment," an MTV's Fear knockoff filming at the Myers home in Haddonfield, IL. That's not a bad choice for the worst film in the franchise, but it's no Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers. Curse tries to tie Season of the Witch into the overall lore, while explaining away Michael Myers's immortality by showing he is simply the product of an evil cult that made its home in Haddonfield.
According to Halloween 6, Michael is infected with "the Thorn," a druid curse which makes a child kill their siblings on Halloween. Whereas the original film presents a startlingly realistic killer (he wields a commonplace kitchen knife and wears a store-bought Halloween mask), Halloween 6 decides that made-up evil is way scarier. Ultimately, however, it just winds up being disappointing.