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Posts Tagged ‘DTV sequels’

Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (second review)

Wednesday, December 13th, 2023

As long as I rewatched URBAN LEGEND and URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT I figured I should complete the trilogy. Maybe you weren’t aware that there was a DTV part 3 called URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY. Or maybe you were a reader of The Ain’t It Cool News in May of 2005 and read my review of it back then. While the other two came from new directors, the DTV sequel comes from a veteran: Mary Lambert (PET SEMATARY 1 & 2). I wonder if any dudes ever accused her of “stealing my genre” like happened to the young director heroine of URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT? At the time I made a bigger deal about screenwriters Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris, because they’d written the then-upcoming SUPERMAN RETURNS, and in those days the internet seemed to attract people who were very opinionated about Superman movies. Hard to imagine it ever happening again.

While BLOODY MARY does briefly make reference to the events of the other films – murders on college campuses based on different urban legends – they mix up the premise quite a bit. It’s about high school kids in Salt Lake City who accidentally summon an evil spirit by saying “Bloody Mary” five times, and then (oddly) she kills people in methods based on urban legends. When they discuss the idea of saying “Bloody Mary” into a mirror somebody points out that it’s like CANDYMAN so that another character can point out that CANDYMAN got the idea from the urban legend. Actually kinda smart to address that right away just so people not familiar with the legend don’t think this is a rip-off a way better movie about urban legends than any in this series. (read the rest of this shit…)

I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (historic second review)

Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

I’ll tell you one thing I did 17 summers ago: I reviewed the straight to video sequel I’LL ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (2006) for the Ain’t It Cool News, a popular movie websight of its time. So you could read that review if you want a young man’s perspective on the DTV finale to the I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER trilogy. It was a funnier review than this one will be. But now I’m all those summers wiser, I come to these things more prepared and with the advantage of chronological distance. This is my first time watching and writing about the three movies back to back – important summer holiday horror scholarship.

The first part of this series had a quick turnaround – part 2 came only 13 months after the first one. But it didn’t do as well, so they struggled to figure out a followup, and it took them 8 years to settle on what they did here. There are no returning cast members, but then again, they might not have wanted them. Outside of the SCREAM series you didn’t usually see the good guys return in a horror sequel, especially if they were no longer teenagers. So for this one they made up a new set of characters to go through similar events, this time in the sunny farm town of Broken Ridge, Colorado. (Actually filmed in Utah.) (read the rest of this shit…)

WarGames: The Dead Code

Wednesday, May 31st, 2023

“We’re targeting today’s savvy media consumer who demands quality video entertainment regardless of where that entertainment experience takes place. By leveraging film and television franchises, which have already proven to be popular with specific targeted demographic groups, we’re able to both continually replenish our library while also maximizing revenues from our existing film and television programming!” —Jason Weiss, Vice President of MGM DTV division, 2007


Do you remember this – that they made a 25-years-later DTV sequel to WARGAMES? Please join me in wishing it the happiest of 15th anniversaries. As one of today’s savvy media consumers who demand quality video entertainment regardless of where that entertainment takes place (a.k.a. an aficionado of the DTV-sequel-nobody-asked-for format), I was always curious about it, but never bothered to find out what the deal was until now. It’s called WARGAMES: THE DEAD CODE, and it seems at first like it’s following the WILD THINGS model of DTV sequel: just do kind of a loose ripoff/update of the original plot with different characters. Will Farmer (Matt Lanter, the voice of Anakin Skywalker on Star Wars: The Clone Wars!) is a young computer genius who does some computing/hacking that brings him to the attention of an A.I. called R.I.P.L.E.Y. (voice of Claudia Black, PITCH BLACK), a project of the Department of Homeland Security or somebody.

Later it turns out to be kind of using the THE HIDDEN II method: bring in a character from the first one, recast. Part 1’s eccentric inventor Dr. Stephen Falken shows up to help (introducing himself as “a gentleman who almost started World War III”), but now he’s played by Gary Reineke (RITUALS, IRON EAGLE II) and no longer has an accent. Oh, his computer WOPR is also back. Still uses the same password, too. (read the rest of this shit…)

Blade of the 47 Ronin

Tuesday, January 24th, 2023

You know me – I’ve always been fascinated with DTV sequels. One of their endearing qualities is that their modest budgets allow for a different type of crass commercialism than regular Hollywood – they try to cash in on familiar (or even unfamiliar) titles that would never fly on the big screen. That gave us the miracle of the UNDISPUTED sequels, but mostly just stuff where it was funny that it existed – loosely connected followups or branded rehashes of CRUEL INTENTIONS, WILD THINGS, ROAD HOUSE and HOLLOW MAN, for example, many of which I reviewed for The Ain’t It Cool News at the time.

Thanks to Universal’s direct-to-video division, 1440 Entertainment, that tradition is still going strong, and arguably making a comeback. Back in the aughts they brought us SCORPION KING and DEATH RACE sequels, they revived Chucky in the great CURSE OF CHUCKY, they started making JARHEAD sequels for some reason, and brought to life such unlikely part 2s as THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS 2, KINDERGARTEN COP 2 and HARD TARGET 2. In 2018 they even made a DTV sequel to UNBROKEN, that war drama directed by Angelie Jolie, and in 2019 they did BACKDRAFT 2, INSIDE MAN: MOST WANTED, DOOM: ANNIHILATION and UNDERCOVER BROTHER 2. That last one I tried to watch because Michael Jai White is in it, but I gave up when his character went into a coma near the beginning. Still, I appreciate its existence because it keeps me on my toes. It reminds me that any movie, no matter how old, no matter how forgotten, no matter how how-the-fuck-would-you-make-a-sequel-to-that, could suddenly have a DTV sequel. And it would already be filmed and have cover art by the time I found out they were doing it. You gotta be aware at all times. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cruel Intentions 3 – the lost review

Friday, June 3rd, 2022

Outlawvern.com’s heroic master of coding Clubside Chris has been going through the old reviews as part of preparing some new features, and he’s noticed that we’re missing a few things. Back in the day he tried to grab all my old Ain’t It Cool reviews, but he’s noticed some that reference other reviews we don’t have in the archive and can’t find on that difficult-to-search websight. For example I definitely remember writing about CABIN FEVER when it played the Seattle International Film Festival in 2003, and we’ve found other people’s reviews that referred to mine (like this one) but haven’t been able to find my actual review. So if some adventurer out there wants to be The Phantom, go find that artifact and return it to the original owner, it would be appreciated!

Luckily I was able to find the text of one (1) of the pieces Chris was looking for in an email reply buried deep in my inbox. So today I am vaguely semi-proud-ish to present for the historical record, and for the benefit of future generations, a goofy, dated review I wrote 18 years ago (in Spring of 2004) of a straight to video sequel most people forgot (or never knew) existed. I did not polish anything, but I added five parenthetical notes from the future about what some of the people referred to have been up to since I originally wrote the review.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Never Back Down: Revolt

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I want them to keep making these franchise western martial arts movies until the cows come home. And how ya gonna get a cow back on the farm after they’ve seen KICKBOXER: RETALIATION? So I’m glad they’re keeping the prestigious NEVER BACK DOWN brand name alive with NEVER BACK DOWN: REVOLT, which came out on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital file download licensing transaction this week. It isn’t connected to the characters or events of the other three, and it’s a very different tone, but Never Backing Down doesn’t belong to any one team of filmmakers or DTV sequelizers. It belongs to the whole world of people who aspire to never backing down (in a good way). And that world apparently includes director Kellie Madison (THE TANK) and screenwriter Audrey Arkins (ELYSE), who bring us a different take on underground fighting movies, this time with all women fighters.

Anya (Olivia Popica, “Receptionist,” FANTASTIC BEASTS 2: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH) is a Chechen immigrant in London. She lives with and supports her brother Aslan (Tommy Bastow, The Crossing), a small time MMA fighter, while studying (and working as a janitor) at a nursing school. But one day her stupid brother and his stupid trainer get her into some shit – Aslan is supposed to throw a fight, but doesn’t (we got a regular Butch Coolidge on our hands here, guys) and when he’s assaulted by the thugs of kingpin Julian (James Faulkner, ATOMIC BLONDE) Anya jumps in to defend him, catching the eye of lusty fight recruiter Mariah (Brooke Johnston, ACCIDENT MAN, ). (read the rest of this shit…)

Howling VI: The Freaks

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

This isn’t like me, but I have not followed the THE HOWLING franchise. Before now I’d only seen 2 of the 8. I’d seen the original THE HOWLING a couple of times and HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS once, and I’d liked both. But I figured I could jump right to HOWLING VI: THE FREAKS, which falls into the Summer of ’91 since it was released DTV on June 13, 1991 according to IMDb. I guessed correctly that it’s not connected to previous entries (although production company Allied Vision had been behind the series since part IV).

It’s directed by Hope Perello, who I believe is the only woman to direct a HOWLING to date. She’d worked as a production coordinator (TROLL, FROM BEYOND and DOLLS) and producer (DEADLY WEAPON) and was producer and second unit director of PUPPET MASTER, but this was her first time as a director. Screenwriter Kevin Rock, who apparently loosely incorporated a few elements from the third installment in the Howling book series by Gary Brandner, was also a rookie.

The movie opens with a typical monster-P.O.V.-chasing-a-little-girl thing. Or, wait— no, it’s an adult woman, I just assumed it was a little girl because she was clutching a teddy bear. Anyway, she gets killed by an unseen howler, and then we go to a sunny desert road where a mysterious David-Duchovny-looking drifter named Ian Richards (Brendan Hughes, RETURN TO HORROR HIGH, BAD INFLUENCE, and apparently the werewolf in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON!) is carrying her teddy bear. Hmm. (read the rest of this shit…)

Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal

Friday, January 8th, 2021

I kinda liked TURBULENCE, but TURBULENCE 3: HEAVY METAL is definitely the gem of the trilogy. That’s not to say that it’s well made exactly, but it’s just such an exuberant mix of different types of ridiculous bullshit that you gotta respect it. That starts (but does not end) with the setup: controversial rock star Slade Craven (who seems to be a mix of King Diamond, Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper, but doing more of an industrial rock type of thing) has invited a small group of fans to see his farewell concert, which will take place on a “specially designed, absolutely radical” airplane while it’s in flight.

Since this was released in 2001 it sort of goes without saying that it’s one of those “live internet broadcast” movies, a format that is almost always terrible, but generally provides at least a few chuckles. I get a kick out of how they always have a big board that tells them how many people are watching and somehow it has an immediate, instantaneous relation to what’s happening live. Like, if something exciting happens (usually somebody getting killed), suddenly more viewers are watching. (Yes, they have a reader board on the plane to update them on how many.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

I reviewed the ruckus-on-an-airplane thriller TURBULENCE a little before Christmas, and I knew it had two non-holiday-specific DTV sequels, so obviously I wasn’t going to let them go unexamined. TURBULENCE 2: FEAR OF FLYING is from 1999, two years after the first one, made by different people and without any connected characters. But faced with the question “What makes a TURBULENCE movie a TURBULENCE movie?” director David Mackay (ICE SCULPTURE CHRISTMAS) and writers Rob Kerchner (BLOODFIST IV-VII, CARNOSAUR 3: PRIMAL SPECIES, CASPER: A SPIRITED BEGINNING, WARGAMES: THE DEAD CODE) & Brendan Broderick (THE DEATH ARTIST) & Kevin Bernhardt (3000 MILES TO GRACELAND, PEACEFUL WARRIOR, ELEPHANT WHITE) decided “there’s a hijack attempt during a flight and they have to fight it off and somebody who’s not the pilot has to land the plane with direction from somebody on the ground.” Logical enough. Let’s go with it.

The new spin they came up with, as indicated in the subtitle, is that most of the people on this flight, including our intrepid heroes, have a phobia of flying. They’re part of a class trying to overcome said fear first in a simulator and then on an actual flight from Seattle to L.A. And they’re not very relaxed about it since one of the flight attendants accidentally left the intercom on while talking about a storm that will make the flight “Hell.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Mimic 2

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

One thing we’ve learned from sci-fi and horror films is that monsters and weird things find ways to survive, to evolve, to adapt, to keep coming back. It was true in the case of the Judas Breed, a bug genetically engineered by Dr. Susan Tyler to be a sellout traitor that kills off the diseased roaches of the Manhattan sewers and then dies out, that instead managed to squirt out tens of thousands of generations in a couple years and evolve into a six foot termite-mantis that can mimic the shape of a human to survive on the streets. It was also the case with the MIMIC movie series itself. Guillermo Del Toro and the Miramax marketing department created an identifiable enough brand, the Weinsteins or somebody okayed a direct-to-video sequel, and with a third of the budget and no need to attract box office I suspect it was able to be hatched with less of their scrutiny and meddling. While MIMIC is an interesting movie that doesn’t entirely deliver as slick mainstream entertainment, its sequels are in a good position to exceed expectations. They’re better than you fear and different than you expect, thus fulfilling the potential of the DTV sequel format. (read the rest of this shit…)