Editor’s note: It has come to our attention that a few readers out there might take exception to a few details of Grantland’s Sequeltology bracket. Rest assured, friends: You are not alone in your dissent.
Army of Darkness
Dan Silver: Debating the criteria and merits of sequels is pretty frakking geeky. So to ultimately settle on a list that neglects to list arguably two of the geekiest films (much less sequels) of all time is mind-boggling to me. And although I love my boy Mark Lisanti, “Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness: Sam Raimi directed Spider-Man 3. Bruce Campbell is on a USA show” is as far from acceptable as an explanation as Ash was from his own time after drinking too much potion (DVD extra, alternate-ending-reference alert). How? Why? But at least its exclusion allowed me to share one of my all-time favorite scenes.
Army of Darkness, again
Jonah Keri: Thought we’d been through this already when we did Fun With Horror. I don’t even like horror movies, but I couldn’t wait to piss away half an afternoon watching Army of Darkness clips when we did that list. Because Army of Darkness is a gem of a movie — goofy, campy, well-paced, quotable, memorable, and funny as hell. So when the time came for Sequeltology, it was just a matter of seeing how high AoD would get seeded. Maybe not a 1 or 2 like a Batman or Star Wars flick. But a solid 3 or an upstart 4? Easily. With Evil Dead 2 getting one of the sleeper seeds as another killer sequel in the same amazing Evil Dead series, of course.
Look, you don’t want to invite the Canadian baseball nerd into your little movie sewing circle? That’s fine. But don’t embarrass yourselves with such a glaring omission, much less give slots to the likes of Jackass Number 2. This is America, a country that’s supposed to be the world’s shining example of meritocracy at work. Start acting like it.
More Army of Darkness
Tess Lynch: When I was 9 and had no sense of humor whatsoever, my dad took me to see Army of Darkness in the theater and I thought it was the scariest thing I’d ever seen in my life. I was 9, so it probably was. Everything that was supposed to be har-har frightening was just totally, dead-serious freaky, and the fact that anyone in the theater was laughing lit my hair on fire and made me think that I lived in a universe of perverted maniacs. I loved it, obviously, especially after several sleepless nights of hanging on to my guardrails (shut up) with white knuckles cultivating a crush on Bruce Campbell. I rented Evil Dead and then Evil Dead II, which in my husband’s opinion might be even better than the original; this clip reminds me of the third (and scariest) segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie, based on the episode “It’s a Good Life,” where poor old Helen Foley gets sucked into demonic Anthony’s cartoon-influenced family hostage situation. Laughing out of context is the uncanniest, but it reaches a new level when it’s coming out of a mounted deer head or a lampshade. But especially the deer head. I think that’s the clincher.
Evil Dead II
Alex Pappademas: Madder than a flaming burn notice (whatever that is) that the best horror sequel of all time didn’t make the bracket. Evil Dead 2 is an ingeniously cheap work of depraved slapstick butchery, anchored by a career-making performance from Bruce Campbell as a regular dude enduring more bodily harm than Jesus and Wile E. Coyote combined; I know of no better depiction of man’s capacity for grimly determined self-destruction than Campbell shouting “Who’s laughing now?” over the roar of the chainsaw with which he’s chopping off his own demonically-possessed hand. It’s practically a Coen Brothers zombie movie, which makes sense: director Sam Raimi and his co-writer Scott Spiegel wrote most of this movie while Raimi was living in a house in Silver Lake with Joel and Ethan Coen and three future Best Actress Oscar winners — Joel’s wife Frances McDormand, Holly Hunter, and Kathy Bates. I would read an oral history of that living situation.
Conan the Destroyer
Michael Weinreb: Dear editors: The fact that a film — and not just any film, but the premier B movie of 1984 (!), starring the Grantland fetishistic trifecta of Arnold Schwarzenegger, [film buff] Wilt Chamberlain, and Andre the Giant, not to mention a virginal Karen Arnold and a less-than-virginal Grace Jones — failed to make the cut makes me wonder if we are losing our edge. It is time to loosen up out there, people, time to act like kids again, time to stab some people with a sword and kill a few more with an ax. And stuff like that.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Andy Greenwald: To me, one of the crowning achievements of a sequel is the ability to take familiar characters and use them to tell a different sort of story. There are few better examples of this than Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The picture, from 1986, brought the soaring space operatics — and, more crucially, the gassy, self-important speechifying — back down to Earth. Better, it wasn’t the Earth of transporters and oddly monochromatic outerwear but Reagan-era San Francisco, full of boomboxes, filthy language, and an entire harbor packed with potentially world-ending “nuclear wessles.” In this clip, Spock defeats not a Klingon, but a far more fearsome alien: a punk. (Fun fact: Leonard Nimoy directed this movie and thus made the decision to spend the bulk of it wearing a terrycloth robe. The perks of power!) Later, the future is saved by saving the whales. Star Trek movies have always been dopey and earnest, but this is the last time those behind the camera seemed so sweetly in on the joke.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Bill Simmons: The second Austin Powers is probably the funniest sequel ever made; it was well-received critically despite swollen expectations because the first movie belatedly became a cult classic; it ended up making a shitload of money; it represents the absolute apex of Mike Myers’s career; it was an “event movie” when it came out (no small feat); it was one of the first DVDs that featured a bunch of deleted scenes that were actually worth watching; it propelled Verne Troyer to stardom and paved the way for his epic stint on Celebrity Rehab; it trotted out Heather Graham at her all-time apex; and it’s exceedingly rewatchable, as evidenced by the fact that TBS shows it pretty much twice a week. The fact that AP2 couldn’t crack the top 32 of our bracket … I mean … it’s inexplicable. I don’t get it.
D2: The Mighty Ducks
Rembert Browne: You know that feeling when you’re part of a team and you work your hardest and you love the people around you and they seem to love you back and then after 12 months you realize that one of the reasons they’ve positioned themselves on the other side of the country is to make fun of you and wear T-shirts that say “Sucks to Be Rembert” on the front and “Rembert Suxxx” on the back and every time you make it out to visit you think everyone’s working but really they’re in an office-wide email chain with the subject title “Let’s all meet downstairs in five and go to lunch, no one tell OUR SMELLY VISITOR?” That feeling?
That’s pretty much how I feel about the exclusion of D2: The Mighty Ducks. Sequeltology tears families apart.
Addams Family Values
Emily Yoshida: The model for any worthwhile comedy sequel is obviously to take all the index cards that got knocked off the corkboard during the writing of the original film, uncrumple them, and tack them back up so that all the previously too-weird/dumb/implausible plot points can valiantly live again. “Wednesday and Pugsley go to summer camp” would have seemed like a prematurely wacky development for the first Addams Family movie, but in a sequel that also includes Joan Cusack getting electrocuted by a mustachioed baby, it’s right at home. The Thanksgiving play scene is an undisputable classic, and is the reason why a generation of goths/nerds/misfits will forever have a soft spot for Christina Ricci (who apparently had a lot of tween Pilgrim angst).
Road House 2: Last Call
Mike Philbrick: In the vein of Teen Wolf Too, this forgotten gem does what all true sequels should do: It copies the original and copies it poorly. In this version of Road House there’s no Patrick Swayze. That’s because they killed his character. I’m sure the producers of the movie approached The Swayze about reprising his roll as Dalton in a sequel and he said something like, “over my dead body.” So they said “OK, you’re dead.” There’s no real need to break down the plot here, because there barely is one. OK, fine, here is the slightly-longer-than-Twitter-allows summary:
Dalton Dalton’s son comes to the Double Deuce Black Pelican to restore order, but local tough guy Brad Wesley Wild Bill and his redneck tough guys drug-lord friend won’t have it. In the end, Dalton Dalton’s son saves the day and decides to stick around because he really loves his doctor friend his schoolteacher friend. One more thing
Dalton’s son (Shane Tanner) is played by Johnathon Schaech, the lead singer of The Wonders and the man ultimately responsible for putting pen to paper and daring to write the screenplay for this opus.
Weekend at Bernie’s II
Amos Barshad: I’d like to believe that the reason they made Bernie come to life — but just to dance — in W@B2 was because Terry Kiser, the guy who played Bernie, made his return strictly contingent on expanding the character. “Look, obviously. Bernie still has to be dead — that’s the soul of the character, right there. Can’t mess with that. But we have to give him some nuance. We have to respect the intelligence of the audience.” And you know what, [theoretical reality] Terry? You were goddamn right. Dancing Bernie kills it.
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit
Sarah Larimer: I know I should watch what I say because this is a wholesome movie about Jesus or whatever, but seriously, guys, this is some real horseshit. Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit is a triumph of American cinema. That’s possibly an exaggeration, but it’s definitely a triumph of American Cinema: Horrible Punny Titles division. I’ve never been more disappointed in my inability to sway opinions, and that includes my still-unsuccessful campaign to have mashed potatoes recognized as a food group. This is an outrage. It’s a war on nuns. I, for one, will not stand for it. I suggest running this entire competition back in a few years with Sequeltology 2: Back in the Habit, in which we crown our true champion. Sister Mary Clarence forever!
Cruel Intentions 2
Molly Lambert: After the late ’90s teen Les Liaisons Dangereuses adaptation Cruel Intentions became a surprise hit, it was turned into a TV pilot for Fox called Manchester Prep. This clip, in which a young Amy Adams (as Kathryn Merteuil, the uptight perfect bitch played by Sarah Michelle Gellar in the film) shows a virginal blonde cohort how to have an orgasm while riding a horse, was shown on an Entertainment Tonight fall TV preview. Enough people called in to express outrage about it that the show got pulled and never aired. I, of course, felt anger at being robbed of what was obviously going to be the greatest show ever. Thwarted but unbowed, director Roger Kumble recut the pilot into a self-contained film with some new scenes and lots of boobs and released it directly to video as Cruel Intentions 2. I enjoy marathoning it with Wild Things 2 and Bring It On II-V. We would eventually get our prep school rich-teenager orgies from Gossip Girl, whose jaded, spoiled, dryly witty protagonist Blair Waldorf is a nicer Kathryn Merteuil. But when will we get to see Amy Adams play a bitch again? When she’s getting nominated for Best Actress for The Master, just remember that she got there from here.
Sean Fennessey: OK, this is complicated. Troll 2, despite featuring the number 2 in its title, is not, by the letter of the Grantland law, a sequel. Let’s table that minor inconvenience for a moment. Because Troll 2, originally titled Goblins and then changed to its dishonest current title as a means to capitalize on a completely unrelated 1986 film called Troll, is brilliance by way of disaster. Incomprehensible trash at worst, Dadaist experiment at best, it’s a low-grade horror flick about green goo-drooling goblin monsters invading a town called Nilbog (invert that one, kids) with dashes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Ghostbusters, and The Dark Crystal in play. So it’s fitting that a 2010 documentary about the hilariously botched making-of and subsequent cult of ironic acclaim surrounding Claudio Fargasso’s Troll 2 should be called Best Worst Movie. One of the smartest movies ever made about loving something that sucks, Best Worst Movie becomes its own sort of sequel — a postscript mashnote as much about nostalgia and goofy fun as the ruins of small-time movie people. Seeing where some of the failed performers — particularly the terrifying and sad Margo Prey — have landed is like a cautionary tale written on a fortune cookie. Watch Troll 2 to laugh, watch Best Worst Movie to feel everything else.
Lethal Weapon 2
Chris Ryan: Free South Africa, you dumb son of a bitch!
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Mark Titus: I was so furious with everyone at Grantland when I saw that Home Alone 2: Lost in New York wasn’t even mentioned as a possible candidate for the Sequeltology bracket that I pounded on my keyboard for a few hours and churned out a diatribe that was just as much a personal attack on everyone responsible as it was an explanation as to why the error was such an egregious one. Here’s a condensed version:
“Please help me understand this: Home Alone is the highest-grossing comedy of all time. I’ll say it again: No comedy in the history of film has made more money than Home Alone. Not The Hangover, Wedding Crashers, Anchorman, Animal House, any of Tyler Perry’s Madea movies, or even Eye of the Tiger starring Gary Busey. (This reminds me: Eye of the Tiger is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I can’t recommend it enough.) So how in Tebow’s name did its sequel — which was actually better than the original and should’ve been a 3-seed in the bracket — not even get an honorable mention? I mean, it features one of the most famous child actors of all time in his signature role, the greatest product placement in cinematic history with the Talkboy, and Rob Schneider in what can only be described as a performance of a lifetime as a bellhop.
It’s essentially Home Alone on steroids, as a nondescript Chicago suburb is replaced by New York City, the Wet Bandits become the much more badass Sticky Bandits, and Blue from Old School who salts his driveway for six hours a day and turns to an 8-year-old for fathering advice is replaced by a sagacious Susan Boyle who lives above Carnegie Hall and hangs out with pigeons in Central Park. Throw in Tim Curry discovering the stolen credit card, Mr. Duncan’s two turtledoves, Kevin’s very own cheese pizza, and the often-overlooked fact that Kevin’s uncle sings a song entitled “Cool Jerk” while he’s in the shower, and you have the consummate example of what a sequel should be.
Anyway, my beautifully constructed argument became moot once I read over the Sequeltology committee’s criteria for considering a movie a sequel and saw this bit from Chuck Klosterman:
Here is a good rule: If you can watch a movie with 100 percent understanding of the plot and characters without even knowing (or suspecting) that a previous film exists, it’s not really a sequel.
Fair enough, but in that case Christmas Vacation — which many people younger than 30 have no idea is a sequel — and Jackass Number Two have no business being in the bracket either. But I digress. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’s omission has gotten me so worked up that, in the words of Johnny from Angels with Filthy Souls, “I could go on forever, baby.” Which brings us to the YouTube clip that’s worthy of its own wing in the Hall of Fame and just might be the greatest kids’ movie scene ever.
Meatballs Part II
Mark Lisanti: It’s like no one takes you seriously when you suggest that your sequel bracket include a movie about an extraterrestrial named Meathead helping some kids save their beloved summer camp from annexation by a rapacious, adjacent camp. Especially when the original installment in the series starred Bill Fucking Murray and is a minor comedy classic, and the second try is, in the most generous possible reckoning, kind of enjoyable if you’ve just ingested a fistful of technicolor whatevers from your friend Bugger’s sack of mystery pills. But I have no choice but to keep beating this particular drum until SOMEONE ELSE HEARS ME OUT. This movie! This movie. It exists. And it will not be ignored.