Oddly enough my first experiences with sequels were all pretty positive. The first ones that really come to mind are Aliens (which I didn’t even know was a sequel when I saw it) and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, both James Cameron slam dunks. Even if T2 doesn’t hold up as well as Aliens, it was still tailor made for whatever version of me it was that saw it 5 times in the summer of 1991. These movies, along with Gremlins 2, may be why I don’t necessarily feel the same instant negativity towards sequelization that most people do.
But when I think about it, there are still a few bruises. Elm Street was one of my favorite franchises as a kid but since I was too young to see these things in the theater I had to just sort of catch up with them on VHS on those weekends when things like money and lack of parental supervision really came together. I was lucky enough to skip Freddy’s Revenge (even though I still don’t think it’s all that bad) and head straight to the near factually awesome Dream Warriors. The it was onto The Dream Master, which was riding a real cultural wave – for those of you who don’t remember Freddy Krueger had a truly mainstream moment in 1988 – that I was easily swept up in. It’s almost like I forgave the film for being a step down because I felt like I was part of some larger conversation.
But man, then came The Dream Child, one of those movies you spend more time trying to like than actually liking. I kept wondering, “why is it like this? Why is it dumb and boring? Is there something I’m not understanding? There are only 3 kills and one of them is in Black & White?!” Hell, I still don’t know why the budget was slashed so drastically for that installment, especially on the heels of the under-successful (for the genre) Dream Master, but at least now in my adulthood I understand the creative and financial law of diminishing returns (and the law of a script sucking outright). But as a kid, that one stuck the knife in and twisted it.
Some other notable disappointments from my earlier years include Jason Goes To Hell, Critters 3, The Howling 2, Fright Night 2 and Poltergeist 3. As a college student, I was disappointed in Scream 3 (not Scream 2 even though I’m not so hot on it now), which may be the last time I actually let a sequel get to me.
These days I probably have to see more remakes/prequels than I do sequels, but the new rule is the same. I try to never be disappointed by not expecting anything, that way there’s always room to be pleasantly surprised.