Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 by Rob Hunter
(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 The three “name” actors have been replaced by one, but don’t worry, he’s every bit as unfunny as they were.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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Posted on Friday, January 11th, 2019 by Rob Hunter
(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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Posted on Tuesday, December 25th, 2018 by Rob Hunter
(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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Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2018 by Rob Hunter
(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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Posted on Friday, November 16th, 2018 by Rob Hunter
(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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Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2018 by Rob Hunter
(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: Hellworld, Hellraiser: Revelations, and Hellraiser: Judgment.
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Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 by Rob Hunter
(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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Posted on Thursday, October 4th, 2018 by Rob Hunter
(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 back to school… again!)
The 1980s were heaven for action movie fans, and one of the biggest onscreen talents bringing violence and quips to the multiplexes was Arnold Schwarzenegger. As the decade wound down, he began mixing up his action hits with comedies including Twins (1988), Junior (1994), and Jingle All the Way (1996), but his highest-grossing comedy – and not-so-coincidentally his best – is 1990’s Kindergarten Cop.
I won’t pretend that Ivan Reitman’s film is a comedy classic on par with the likes of his Ghostbusters (1984) or Dave (1993), but Kindergarten Cop is still a very funny, terrifically cast, and satisfying romp. It’s a fun watch! The DTV sequel that showed up 27 years later like some kind of low-rent Pennywise the Clown? There’s not a damn thing that’s fun about Kindergarten Cop 2 (2017).
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Posted on Friday, September 14th, 2018 by Rob Hunter
(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 see what all the buzz is about with this Candyman guy who just might be on the cusp of a high-profile remake.)
One of the big movie news items this week – more of a rumor actually – was the report that Oscar winner Jordan Peele may be remaking Candyman. It’s unclear if he’s just producing or if he’ll write and/or direct the film too, and it’s equally unknown if it will be a straight remake or if they’ll go back to the source of Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden.” Hell, it might not even be true at all. The only thing we know for sure is that Candyman is a fantastic horror film blending new mythology, bloodletting, and some fascinating observations on race and social issues.
Not nearly enough people have seen it (or heard Philip Glass’ brilliantly memorable score), and even fewer have watched the less-inspired sequel that followed in theaters three years later. And four years after that? No one even noticed another sequel go straight to DVD.
But that’s why I’m here – to remind you that these things exist. So keep reading for a look at 1999’s Candyman: Day of the Dead, and together we’ll discover if it’s worth seeking out before Peele’s remake maybe, possibly comes along.
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