(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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‘Kindergarten Cop 2’ Gets an F

(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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(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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