Posted on Monday, January 20th, 2020 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. This week, we go to war… in space!)
Paul Verhoeven is a filmmaker whose career has seen highs and lows, hits and misses, blockbusters and quiet indies, but the one constant is that his best film will always be Robocop (1987). This is not an article about Robocop, but it is about the big, action/sci-fi movie he made a decade later that echoes some of the same satirical stylings.
1997’s Starship Troopers is a loose adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s novel – an unrelated script was the film’s basis, and the studio simply bought the title rights from the novel before mashing the two together – but where the book is hardcore militaristic, Verhoeven’s film takes a more cynical, darkly humorous, and dismissive tone. It wasn’t quite the hit they hoped for, but its growth into a cult favorite helped spawn two live-action sequels that went straight to DVD/TV. So let’s be good citizens and give ’em a spin!
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Posted on Friday, December 27th, 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. This week, we go bank robbing with Nazis in a sequel to the biggest Spike Lee joint of them all.)
Spike Lee’s film career is filled with highs and lows, films that won critical acclaim and awards and others that have been forgotten, but he’s never been a filmmaker prone to breaking the box-office. The sole exception, and his only film to gross over $100 million, is 2006’s Inside Man. Lee’s direction, alongside a stellar cast, a tight script, and a respectable budget, resulted in a film that succeeded with critics (certified fresh!) and audiences ($184m worldwide!) alike.
It’s a Universal Pictures release too which means that now, thirteen years later, the studio’s home video division has spun off a direct to video sequel. It’s not their first – and will be far from their last as follow-ups to both Sudden Death (1995) and Bulletproof (1996) are currently in post-production – but it is their most surprising. Look, it’s possible that having to endure movies like Backdraft II (2019) and Benchwarmers II: Breaking Balls (2019) has just broken me, but Inside Man: Most Wanted is actually… okay?
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Posted on Thursday, November 28th, 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. This week, we get down with a brand new sequel to an action/comedy from 2002.)
Some people love to argue against sequels as failing to honor the original or failing to bring anything new to the table, but sometimes the bigger issue is their existence at all. (The films, not the people wasting time arguing about movie sequels.) As in, why would anyone make a sequel to 2002’s Undercover Brother? Or, who out there is actually excited to see Undercover Brother 2?
I don’t have the answers to these questions despite years of research into the matter, but as a dedicated and masochistic columnist I have seen the film in question. If you’ve seen the original then you know the premise, but hopefully you’re not too attached to the cast, laughs, or budget as the follow-up is lacking all three. But enough with the chit chat. It’s time to get dirty, ya dig? Keep reading for a look at the sequel that couldn’t even lure Eddie Griffin back… Eddie freaking Griffin! It’s time for Undercover Brother 2.
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Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 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. This week, we turn the page on possibly the worst horror anthology film ever made.)
Shudder is a streaming service focused heavily on horror movies – you should not only already know this but also be a current subscriber – but in addition to offering up old favorites and forgotten gems they’re also in the original programming game. their newest endeavor on that front is a series adaptation of the classic Creepshow (1982) with all new stories. It’s been a mixed bag with only a handful of the twelve segments approaching the original film’s level, but it shows continued promise as it wraps up its first season this week.
The lucky ones among you probably think the streaming series is the third cinematic outing for the property after the original and 1987’s perfectly middling Creepshow 2, but you’d be sadly wrong. Creepshow 3 went straight to video in 2006, and all seven of the people who’ve seen it have either gone mad or gone missing. That’s probably a fact. I’ve never been one to leave well enough alone, though, so rather than avoid a movie with reportedly no redeeming values I instead sought it out.
And I’ve now seen Creepshow 3. I would ask you to send help, but I fear it’s too late.
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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. This week, we take an unwise look at the sequel to what’s regarded by many to be the worst video game adaptation ever made.)
Film adaptations of video games would kill to get even a sliver of the respect and success currently afforded movies based on comic book superheroes, but instead they’ll have to settle for articles about the apparent impossible nature of making a great one. Why is it so damn difficult bringing a video game to the screen? No one knows for sure, but in 2005 someone invested over $20 million in the hopes that Uwe Boll might be the filmmaker to break the curse with an adaptation of one of the first (and still one of the best) 3rd-person survival horror games.
It’s okay to laugh.
Alone in the Dark is the second of six different video games that Boll has brought to the screen — the others being House of the Dead (2003), BloodRayne (2005), Postal (2007), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007), and Far Cry (2008) — and its 1% score on Rotten Tomatoes is somehow more embarrassing than a flat zero. (It’s worth noting that the six films have a collective RT score of 21%. That’s not an average, that’s a combined total.) The film bombed in every conceivable way, so of course three years later a sequel was released straight to video. And now, for you, I have watched Alone in the Dark II.
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Posted on Friday, September 13th, 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. This week’s entry takes a bite out of a sequel to one of the best vampire movies of the past two decades.)
Vampires are something of a ubiquitous presence in horror films, and while there are more than a few brilliant examples both celebrated and more obscure the bulk seem content with offering basic thrills from head to fangs – they suck your blood, they hate Christian iconography, they can multiply with a bite, etc. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (through its numerous incarnations on the screen) cemented the idea of alluring and debonair vampires wooing the unlucky to their sexy doom, and that remains the most common iteration up through the likes of Interview with the Vampire (1994) and Twilight (2008). Plenty of others have gone different routes from the comedic (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1992) to the artistic (The Hunger, 1983) and the exploitative (Blacula, 1972) to the metaphorical (The Addiction, 1995).
What we don’t get nearly enough of, though, are vampire movies that treat the bloodsucking beasts like the straight-up monsters they are. Forget cool, sexy, and beguiling – sometimes you just want a vampire movie that embraces their visceral nature and delivers sequences of full-on carnage and horror. The best movie to answer that call is David Slade’s 30 Days of Night (2007).
It’s bloody as hell, beautifully shot – that overhead tracking shot is an all-timer – and emotionally horrifying, and if you haven’t seen it (at all or recently) you should probably remedy that. It also received a direct-to-video sequel in 2010 with the redundantly titled 30 Days of Night: Dark Days. Does it live up to the original’s high standards or does it crumble to dust before our eyes?
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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. This week’s entry goes looking for fun in the sun in the form of skin, murder, and sunken treasure.)
It’s usually hit films that earn the pleasure of direct to video sequels, but sometimes a movie that failed at the box-office proves too tempting a marketing opportunity to pass by. Such is the case with 2005’s Into the Blue and its 2009 DTV sequel, Into the Blue 2: The Reef.
These DTV follow-ups typically take a while to show up on virtual shelves, but the four-year span between films here is a relatively quick turnaround. You might assume that’s because the folks at MGM knew they had a hot property, but as mentioned, the original sank fairly quickly in theaters. So maybe they had a fantastic script that simply had to get made sooner rather than later? Don’t be so naive.
No, there’s no artistic or altruistic motive behind this sequel in name only, but we’re still going to give it a fair shot. Keep reading for a look at the DTV sequel to Into the Blue. Is it worth a watch? Don’t hold your breath…
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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. This week’s journey can be blamed on the new movie Crawl which left me with a hankering for more alligator fun.)
This past weekend saw the wide-release arrival of a creature feature, and we’re all better off for it. All. Of. Us. They’re good fun and a nice break for horror fans from the ghost stories that typically make it to theaters. Crawl is a killer alligator flick, and a pretty great one at that, but while it’s the latest it’s far from the first.
Sergio Martino’s The Great Alligator (1979) probably has that honor, but it’s 1980’s Alligator that set a high bar for gator fun. It’s one of the best stabs at piggy-backing on the Jaws (1975) formula, and as is befitting of its greatness the film earned a sequel. Unfortunately, but necessarily for the purpose of this column, Alligator II: The Mutation went straight to DVD.
Did it deserve a better fate, or does it belong in the sewers? Keep reading as this week’s descent into the world of direct-to-video sequels pits a modern-day dinosaur against Joseph Bologna.
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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. This week’s descent sinks lower than usual into the world of DTV T&A.)
It seems like a lifetime ago, but once upon a time “sexy” “teen” comedies were a popular and frequent presence in movie theaters. Teens, of course, have always been a part of the movies, but a sub-genre emerged built on the formula of wise-cracking young men, frequently naked young women, and forgettable plots. The 80s were particularly rife with them, and while some rise above the fray (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982; Risky Business, 1983) quite a few of the others exist mostly for the fleshy displays and cheap laughs (Private Lessons, 1981; Private School, 1983; Screwballs, 1983).
The 90s saw a sharp turn away from teenage shenanigans as the T&A market shifted towards direct to video adult thrillers starring Shannon Tweed and Andrew Stevens, but they started bouncing back with the rise of films like American Pie (1999), Eurotrip (2004), and Sex Drive (2008). That first film became a seemingly unstoppable franchise complete with seven sequels – granted, four of them are DTV sequels I’ll be covering here eventually, but it’s still impressive – but it’s a different film we’re here to talk about today.
Road Trip was a big hit in the summer of 2000 as it delivered plenty of laughs and copious amounts of nudity to an eager audience, but it never got a sequel until now. And by “now” I mean back in 2009, but you’d be forgiven for having missed it along with the rest of us. So join me won’t you? Hop in as we take a ride with Road Trip: Beer Pong!
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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. This week’s descent sees us enter the unexpectedly light on fire sequel to 1991’s Ron Howard hit, Backdraft.)
Ron Howard is often viewed as something of a journeyman director making crowd-pleasers across genres, but while his filmography certainly supports the idea, I’d argue he’s also delivered more than a few legit great films. Rush (2013) was his last high-point, but his strongest run among his twenty-six features is a creative cluster that started with Parenthood (1989) and ended seven years later with Ransom (1996).
Nestled amid those six movies sits Backdraft (1991), and while it has some cheesy bits, it delivers where it counts with thrills, emotion, a stellar cast, and Kurt Russell’s intensely quivering cheek. It’s been twenty-eight years since that drama involving firefighters, arsonists, and political shenanigans, though, and if you’re like me you’ve probably been wondering where the story goes next. Right?!
Well, today’s your lucky day friends, as Backdraft 2 is new to DVD this month.
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