(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we take a look at a killer who can’t be seen. Because he’s sneaky. And invisible.)

Universal’s The Invisible Man (1933) remains a classic, but unlike the other “monsters” in the studio’s collection, the poor guy never got an official attempt at a reboot. (A new one was finally announced earlier this year from director Leigh Whannell, though.) We instead got variations on the theme with films like The Invisible Kid (1988), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), and The Erotic Misadventures of the Invisible Man (2003).

One that comes close to the original’s murderous mad scientist formula is The Invisible Maniac (1990), but that’s more of a low-rent T&A “comedy” than a serious thriller. By contrast, 2000’s Hollow Man is a high-rent slasher with a mean streak. It was a box-office hit too, and while its director is no longer a fan, someone somewhere felt there was enough interest to warrant a sequel.

Keep reading for a look at the direct to video sequel… Hollow Man II.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we hit the road with troublemaking youths and a murderous trucker named Rusty Nails.)

If you didn’t know it previously or intuitively, horror movies are the ones most likely to see a direct to video follow-up in the years following a successful theatrical release. Sometimes, though, we get sequels to movies that bombed but later found a cult following – witness the abomination that is The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting – and that’s kind of where we’re landing with this week’s DTV Descent entry.

I say “kind of” because 2001’s Joy Ride failed to find profit in theaters having earned back just a little more than its budget. It found its legs – wheels? – on home video and cable, and it’s there where 20th Century Fox’s Home Entertainment division saw dollar signs. Eventually. Seven years after the original’s release, a DTV sequel hit shelves, and six years after that a third film rolled onto home video. At this rate we should expect a Joy Ride 4 to be announced by the end of 2019.

Keep reading as we take a look at the two punnily titled DTV sequels to Joy Ride to see if they’re worth the road trip to your local video store.

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Poison Ivy Sequels

(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, things get dirty with inappropriately seductive women, idiotically horndog men, and venomous plants in name only.)

I didn’t intentionally make the title of this week’s column sound like a math problem, but if it’s any consolation the films we’re looking at today require very little in the way of heavy thinking. This is purely fluff cinema designed for film fans drawn to naughty women, worse men, and flora taxonomy.

Poison Ivy didn’t exactly set the world ablaze back in the early 90s — it cost $3 million and earned even less — but it found a home on VHS and pay cable meaning it remained in the public consciousness long after its theatrical run would have suggested it be forgotten. That awareness was enough of a reason to justify not one, not two, but three direct to DVD sequels of wildly varying quality. (The last film premiered on TV but was immediately followed by a DVD release featuring five minutes of extra footage in the form of T&A.) All four films, the entire quadrilogy if you will and I know you will, are now available in a box set from Scream Factory, so it seemed like the perfect time to dive right in and see what these sequels had to offer.

Turns out the answer is skin, morally bankrupt men, and a very specific manner of death.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we get sporty with a sequel to an underdog baseball flick that even underdogs would disown.)

Comedy is subjective, so while I may worry about people who find 2006’s The Benchwarmers to be funny I don’t really wonder why. Instead, having watched it for the first time recently, I only have two real questions about the film. First, how in the hell did it cost $33 million to produce? And second, how in the hell did it make $64 million at the box-office? Both questions boggle me. I am boggled.

A theatrical sequel wouldn’t necessarily have surprised me, though, as it made money and all three lead stars would clearly have said yes to it in a heartbeat, but thirteen years later we’ve gotten a direct-to-video one instead. The three “name” actors have been replaced by one, but don’t worry, he’s every bit as unfunny as they were. The cast isn’t returning so the question becomes — should the audience? Spoiler, they should not, but keep reading for a more detailed answer.

Keep reading for a look at the latest tax write-off from Universal’s home video division, Benchwarmers 2: Breaking Balls.

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The Car Road to the Revenge

(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we take a road trip with a stylized sequel to a cult favorite horror flick.)

Some sequels feel like no-brainers while others make no sense at all, and then you have something like The Car: Road to Revenge… which hits both of those extremes at ninety miles per hour.

On the one hand, 1977’s The Car is a fun little horror romp about a killer car mowing people down in a small western town. It’s not fancy or all that impressive necessarily, but it’s a good time at the movies. The film knows exactly what it is – a land-shark blend of both Duel and Jaws – and it embraces the horror and thrills of it all. It has become something of a cult favorite over the forty-two years since its release, and as it ends with the car prowling the streets of Los Angeles a sequel always felt like a possibility.

But no one could have expected this. Keep reading for a look at the self-proclaimed “stylized sequel” to The Car.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we chug some leftover eggnog while unwrapping the sequel to the best and most quotable Christmas movie of all time!)

We’re in the back half of December, and I’m once again visiting DTV sequels to popular Christmas movie favorites. Last time I apparently committed multiple sacrileges by calling out Jingle All the Way‘s mediocrity, suggesting the Larry the Cable Guy-led sequel does a better job with the heart, and then slamming the loud and unfunny National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. (Opinions!) I’m hoping to be a bit less controversial this week by watching the follow-up to 1983’s beloved holiday masterpiece, Bob Clark’s A Christmas Story.

The film got an official sequel in 1994’s It Runs In the Family, and while it features an all-new cast both Clark and writer/creator Jean Shepherd returned. It’s not great, but hey, continuity! 2012’s A Christmas Story 2 doesn’t even have that going for it, though, as new faces fill every role both on and off camera. Is that a bad sign? Probably, but it’s never too late to wish for a Christmas miracle.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we go digging for leftover Christmas spirit the sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led holiday hit Jingle All the Way!)

It’s December, and you know what that means. Nothing. Absolutely nothing, as the calendar is an arbitrary construct meant solely to make us think we matter in the universe. It also means regular movie columns sometimes shift their attention towards a focus on holiday films, and we here at DTV Descent aren’t about to buck tradition. (And by we, I mean me.) So this week I’m stoking the fire, sipping some hot chocolate, and checking out the direct to video sequel to 1996’s Jingle All the Way.

The way it usually works here is that a good to great movie gets a poor to abysmal DTV sequel, but what Jingle All the Way 2 (2014) suggests is… what if the original is pretty bad too? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a complete Christmas comedy dud like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) and instead actually delivers a couple fun sequences. It has a major weakness, especially with its lead character, and that’s an element that’s actually improved in the sequel. What I’m saying is, all things considered, the DTV sequel starring Larry the Cable Guy might just be on par with the big-screen Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Honest.

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The Net Sequel

(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we visit the dark web for a peek behind the digital curtain in search of the sequel to the Sandra Bullock hit The Net!)

Everyone knows the interweb is a scary place, but some of us are old enough to remember a time when the promise of an online wealth of information sounded like a good thing. Hollywood was even quicker than the real world in dissuading us of the notion, though, as they rushed to develop and release cautionary tales about the nightmare heading our way across dial-up phone lines and digital threads. Movies like Hackers (1995), Strangeland (1998), and You’ve Got Mail (1998) terrified viewers with the possibilities, but it was 1995’s The Net that really drove the point home.

If our lives are nothing more than a series of zeroes and ones, then we’re all just a keystroke away from being erased forever. The concept’s less frightening now that I have student loan debt, but in the mid ’90s? Nightmare fuel. Well, in theory. The Net isn’t exactly a good movie, let alone a classic thriller too precious for a low-rent straight to DVD follow-up. It’s fine.

That’s good news for a sequel, though, right? New filmmakers have less of a hill to climb in the hopes of matching the original and only need to deliver a solid, competent thriller. Unfortunately, we got The Net 2.0 (2006) instead.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we continue and conclude, for now, our descent into hell for the eighth, ninth, and tenth films in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser franchise.)

Clive Barker’s imagination gifted horror fans with the monsters of Midian, the hook-handed Candyman, and the child-eating god named Rawhead Rex, but his most ubiquitous creation will undoubtedly be Pinhead and the cenobites of Hellraiser (1987). He could have hardly imagined that adapting his novella (“The Hellbound Heart”) for the screen would lead to a franchise that just refuses to die.

As mentioned in part one, where I explored the first three DTV sequels (films five through seven in the franchise), these are all first-time watches for me. As much as I love Barker and his original Hellraiser film, I felt no need to devote time to these desperate sequels. They exist almost solely as a way for Dimension Films to retain the rights every few years, and instead of finding new ways to explore the worlds that Barker’s creation set forth the studio more often than not simply crams Pinhead into unrelated scripts – and it shows.

So join me, won’t you, as I foolishly subject myself to the last three DTV sequels… for now. Let’s watch Hellraiser: HellworldHellraiser: Revelations, and Hellraiser: Judgment.

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we travel deep into the bowels of hell for the first three – of six! – DTV sequels to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.)

“I have seen the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker,” said Stephen King about the young Brit’s six-volume collection of horror tales, Books of Blood, and Barker never looked back. More stories and novels followed, and he quickly found himself offered the directorial reins adapting one of his own novellas, “The Hellbound Heart.” The budget was low, but Barker’s imagination and audacity were limitless, making Hellraiser (1987) a blast of S&M-tinged horror the likes of which we had never really seen before. Demons in bondage gear and body piercings, a lusty woman willing to kill for her undead lover, a homeless dude at the end who I spent years thinking was Barker in a cameo role… Limited filmmaking experience and budgetary restrictions be damned! Barker crafted something truly memorable here.

Barker created multiple monsters with the film, but his most eternal creation appears to have been the franchise itself. Nine sequels followed, and while the first two were pretty good and the third also played theatrically, the next six went deservedly straight to DVD. Well, I say deservedly, but I had never actually watched them.

Until now! So join me, won’t you, as I foolishly subject myself to the first three DTV sequels with increasingly stupid titles – Hellraiser: Inferno, Hellraiser: Hellseeker, and Hellraiser: Deader.

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