Horror franchises are like the monsters who populate them: Just when you think a horror series is dead, it'll rise from the grave in some new, grotesque-yet-unintentionally-ridiculous form.
Yes, like a serial killer who's been buried underground for years, most horror sequels stink to high hell. Mostly because they fall back on the same gimmicks to try to squeeze a little more cash out of the franchise. So we wind up seeing movies where...
6The Killer Goes "Ghetto"
When horror sequel writers begin running out of ideas, they'll often resort to throwing the antagonist in new, wholly unexpected settings. One particularly crass plot device places the monster in the midst of city-dwelling African Americans, thus fusing the yin and yang of what terrifies white folks.
One problem with this approach is that the writer must first drag the monster out of its element and shoehorn it into the inner city. In Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (a.k.a. the lowest grossing F13 flick), it took the entire movie to chronicle the Rube Goldberg-esque chain of events that transported Jason from Crystal Lake to New York City. By the time he actually arrived in the Big Apple, the damn movie was basically over.
Similarly, the Children of the Corn franchise only made it to the third movie before throwing out the series' entire premise (demonic children in rural Nebraska killing adults). In Children of the Corn: Urban Harvest, the murderous tykes moved to Chicago and enrolled in an inner city school deserving of a #1 Coolio single.
The Worst Offender:
Leprechaun. We're not suggesting that the Leprechaun films are anything but stupid, but shit, when it comes to overkilling a lousy gimmick, Leprechaun leaves everyone else in the dust.
The fifth film, Leprechaun in the Hood is about gangsta rappers rising in the ranks of the music industry while being pursued by a marauding fairy of the Irish peasant tradition. It's perhaps the most bizarre instance of genre-bending in modern cinema. A Tyler Perry movie about Madea battling minotaurs would've made more sense.
Leprechaun in the Hood was such a great idea that it got its own sequel, Leprechaun: Back 2 Da Hood. Presumably the correctly spelled title of the original just wasn't black enough.
5The Killer Goes To Space/Cyberspace
Like the inner city, the cold, dark vacuum of outer space gets the average filmgoer all aquiver. The upswing of the intergalactic approach is that you rarely have to bother explaining how the villain got there in the first place. After all, space by its nature is vast and unfathomable. You could totally get drunk and just wake up there.
In Jason X, the ridiculously big-budget 10th Friday the 13th movie, a space-faring civilization of horny teens stumbles upon Jason Voorhees's frozen corpse. Apparently the Earthmen of the past got sick of Jason's resurrection antics and cryogenically preserved him. Even in the distant future, the guy still had it out for innocent campers.
If studios don't want (or can't afford) an all-out space opera, the least they can do is find a way to incorporate cyberspace into the film. In 2002's Halloween Resurrection, Michael Myers picked off teenagers through the course of a Big Brother-style webcast. A single Internet viewer eventually guides the teens to safety--oddly, the film never explains why he's the only person on the Internet watching the webcast.
The Worst Offender:
Hellraiser. It's the only series with a space episode and an Internet episode, thus proving that a movie studio will try to feed you the same shit sandwich twice.
It only took four movies before they decided to fire Pinhead into space in Hellraiser Bloodline, directed by Alan Smithee. By the way, "Alan Smithee" is a moniker that Hollywood directors use when they're so ashamed by a film that they don't want their name on it.
A few films later, and we got the straight-to-DVD Hellraiser: Hellworld, the dreaded online installment in which teens used their superior websurfing abilities to evade the denizens of Hell. And in a result that surprised absolutely nobody, it spelled the end of the franchise.