Confessions of a DTV sequel addict

Hello. My name is … (name removed to protect the individual) and I am a recovering direct-to-video sequel addict. I have been watching mediocre, boring, or just plain awful DTV spin-offs for nearly ten years.

I didn’t used to be like this. Once upon a time I would go to the cinema to see a sci-fi, fantasy or horror film without thinking about the sequel possibilities it might afford. I would enjoy the film (or not, as the case may be) and move on to the next movie. If a sequel popped up in the cinema some time later, then I would try and catch it if I enjoyed the original, or if the reviews were fairly favourable.

Now though, give me a half-decent genre film and, so help me, I look forward to seeing how a DTV sequel might be squeezed out of it.

It all started in the mid-90s. When I first started surfing the Internets, I came across Coming Attractions, one of the first popular movie gossip websites to emerge (now sadly defunct). One film title they had listed as being in development was Tremors 3. Hang on, I thought – Tremors 3…? As in, a sequel to that rather cool Kevin Bacon monster movie from a few years back? Does that mean there was a Tremors 2?!

From that moment on, I was hooked. I wanted to know what happened after every original film had finished. Not just for the Tremors movies, but all the rest: From Dusk Till Dawn, Mimic, Species, Candyman, Starship Troopers… I wanted to watch them all. It was a brave new world of movies: the theatrical originals and their bastard straight-to-video offspring. Which characters lived on? Which died? How did the threat or horror from the first film resurface and continue?

The disappointments of each inferior sequel somehow failed to quench my curiosity. The inept direction, the cheesy dialogue, the shoddy FX work, the prerequisite topless girl scene(s), the low-rent cast: each an essential ingredient for the lazy quick-buck sequel. I searched for some sort of meaningful continuation of the original film’s story and themes; sometimes with modest success, but often doomed to a wild goose chase. Yet I lived in perpetual optimism that perhaps the next sequel would have its compensations…

My addiction grew steadily worse, taking in the wild pointlessness of sequels to films that weren’t even that good in the first place (Hollow Man 2, anyone? Thought not). I read up about new sequels in the pipeline – which cast members could be coaxed back? What tenuous connection would the new film have to its parent (oh look, the ghost of the man who haunted the original house is back as the ghost in the new one…)?

Lately though, I have found my interest has mercifully begun to wane. Perhaps the addiction has now bottomed out and I can start the road back to some form of normality? I live in hope. But still, if I listen hard enough, I can hear the cries of new sequels emerging from the dark minds of Hollywood executives and accountants. New spin-offs to films that didn’t need any form of continuation, films that have committed no crime to cinema but must suffer the indignity of having their modest reputations stripped and sullied in order to keep studio pockets lined with as much cash as possible.

Perhaps it’s too late for me. But if you should see someone wandering up and down the aisles of a dvd store looking at DTV drivel, don’t just snort with derision; spare a thought for them. Maybe they too have become enslaved by the mercenary machinations of Hollywood’s evil geniuses. Maybe have a quiet word and suggest something with a bit more life and intelligence. No Country for Old Men, or something like that.

Now, what’s happening with Starship Troopers 3…?

Published by Gavin Midgley

Freelance film journalist, blogger and geek.

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