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Movies have optimistically peppered their endings with "teaser" scenes meant to lead into a sequel for as long as I've been watching them. Possibly longer. The point is, not every mid- or post-credits sequence ever filmed has Nick Fury in it. However, not every sequel teaser winds up leading directly into Back to the Future Part II or Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, either. Some of them, meant to tantalize us with a vague promise of a sequel, never amounted to a second film and only served to make us even sadder about the time and money we had just wasted watching this one. Movies like Battlefield Earth, for example.

Morgan Creek Productions/Franchise Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures via YouTube

"And we'll end the movie with John Travolta plotting his escape from Space Jail! People will go nuts!"

This should be a misdemeanor. How dare you make a movie this stupid and assume people would want to see more? The directors should be forced to make straight-to-video sequels in other franchises, like Air Buddies or Jesse Stone. Those things aren't even movies, they're just constructions meant to punish.

Sony Pictures Television
"For the crime of filming a teaser sequence starring John Travolta, you are sentenced to three Jesse Stones and a Land Before Time."

In no particular order of terribleness, here are four movies that set up sequels that never got made.

Super Mario Bros.

Hollywood Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures

I believe it can be safely said, without hyperbole, that the Super Mario Bros. movie was created following one of the most baffling executive brainstorming sessions in recorded history. They must have sent some intern out to have a vision quest in the Mojave Desert with nothing but a screenshot of the game and a water filter for his own urine, then turned his inevitable police statement into a motion picture.

Instead of a lush fantasy kingdom, Mario and Luigi are bombing around in a subterranean alternate universe that looks like an unused set from Total Recall. Instead of a fire-breathing turtle dinosaur with nipple-shearing wrist collars of sexual destruction, Koopa looks like a pit boss from Biff Tannen's Pleasure Paradise. And Big Bertha, a giant fish that relentlessly tries to eat Mario and Luigi in the games, is reimagined for the film as a fat black woman in stripper armor. Super Mario Bros. is the rare case in which being familiar with the source material actually makes the film more confusing.

Hollywood Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures via YouTube
Although in fairness, she still looks like she wants to eat them.

The Teaser:

It's twofold -- Princess Daisy comes back to New York to grab the Super Mario Brothers and tell them she needs their Super Mario Help on another adventure. Then, mercifully, the credits roll, but after they're over, we're treated to one more scene with Iggy and Spike Koopa getting their own spinoff video game, just in case there was anyone still left in the theater for some inexplicable reason.

Why the Sequel Never Happened:

Unfortunately, there isn't much of a story behind why the world was never treated to Super Mario Bros. 2: The Sequel, other than the simple fact that the original film is so baneful, voodoo shamans wear it around their necks to intercept curses. The movie makes absolutely no sense, has nothing to do with the video games (which isn't surprising, since there is no "story" in the original Mario games beyond "a tiny red man with a mustache constituting one-eighth of his visible body mass charges relentlessly toward the opposite end of the screen, killing all those who oppose him"), and is about as entertaining as listening to someone playing Nintendo in the next room.

Hollywood Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures
"Children will love this!" -a maniac

Furthermore, the entire principle cast insists that it was easily the worst working experience of their respective careers. Bob Hoskins hates it with every fiber of his being, John Leguizamo devoted an entire chapter of his autobiography to the movie's unbridled shititude, and Dennis Hopper literally called it a nightmare. Considering some of the peyote-laced night terrors that must've boiled behind that man's resting eyelids, this is arguably the strongest criticism that could possibly be leveled at a Mario Bros. movie. It was so bad, it cost Dennis Hopper sleep, and few things outside of a bone-whittled music box playing nothing but indecipherable whispers can do that.

Godzilla (1998)

TriStar Pictures/Sony Pictures

Godzilla was 1998's answer to the question "How many pizzas has Matthew Broderick eaten since 1986?" (Inspector Gadget was 1999's answer.) It holds the dubious distinction of being both a 10-minute movie about a giant lizard and a two-hour documentary about a bunch of people standing around and talking about a giant lizard.

TriStar Pictures/Sony Pictures via YouTube
"Wow, a giant lizard?! Should we go outside and look at it?"
"No, let's sit here and continue discussing it. Hank Azaria is still eating."

This bold directorial decision was made by cinematic warlock Roland Emmerich, who occasionally tries his hand at making historical dramas that are about as historical as an episode of Hogan's Heroes. I'm pretty sure every Roland Emmerich movie is cobbled together from scenes that were deleted from previous Roland Emmerich movies, which is why every joke from White House Down feels like it was written in 1996, and why Randy Quaid flies an F/A-18 in The Patriot. At any rate, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't think Godzilla should be retroactively retitled Feelings-Hurter 1998 or The Movie That Ruined My 15th Birthday Party.

The Teaser:

Just as the credits are about to roll and we have all begun to flee the theater, one of those ridiculous Godzillaraptors hatches out of its egg in Madison Square Garden and leaps at the screen to remind us that Roland Emmerich couldn't come up with two hours' worth of reasons to watch an 80-story atomic fury monster and decided to rip off Jurassic Park instead.

TriStar Pictures/Sony Pictures via YouTube

This gives us an irresistible setup for Godzilla 2: Baby's Day Out, which would presumably lead into part three, Shia LaBeouf vs. Mechagodzilla.

Why the Sequel Never Happened:

As I've mentioned before, Godzilla was so bad that it literally frightened Sony into sitting on the Godzilla film rights like a man desperately trying to suck a poop back into his anus. The original plan was to make a trilogy starring Ferris Bueller's depleted older brother and Jean Reno's exasperated French glare. When the movie underperformed financially and critically, Sony locked the film rights away like Walt Disney's frozen corpse until they expired and went back to Japan where they belong. Seriously, America has no idea how to make giant monster movies. Godzilla was a $120 million production, and it managed to spawn fewer sequels than The Whole Nine Yards.

TriStar Pictures/Sony Pictures via YouTube
"You heard me, Domino's. Send all the pizza you have."

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Masters of the Universe

Cannon Films/Warner Bros. Pictures

Confusingly based on the action figure line rather than the stupefyingly popular cartoon show, Masters of the Universe rewarded eager young He-Man fans with a story about a teenage Courteney Cox and her dead parents. Because every 9-year-old He-Man fan wanted to see He-Man clutching a tinfoil sword and running around in a diseased 1980s cityscape rather than engaging in operatic fantasy warfare to save the mystical world of Eternia. There's no Battle Cat, no Snake Mountain, and only a handful of characters that anyone recognized. They even turned the bumbling sorcerer sidekick Orko into a bumbling science dwarf named Gwildor, because dwarfs are way less taxing on a production budget than faceless hovering phantasms.

Cannon Films/Warner Bros. Pictures via YouTube
"Just glue some shit on his face, it doesn't matter. None of this matters."

The movie is exactly as much fun as listening to someone try to interpret a dream they had about eating an entire tray of deli cheese, despite occasional moments of unintentional brilliance:

Cannon Films/Warner Bros. Pictures via YouTube

Cannon Films/Warner Bros. Pictures via YouTube

The Teaser:

Skeletor pops his head out of the red swimming pool of oblivion He-Man cast him into at the end of the movie and says "I'll be back!" Considering this is Frank Langella, a man known for playing terrifying characters, suddenly bursting out of nowhere wearing a skull mask that is realistic enough to look like a facial carving to deliver one final message to a theater full of 8-year-olds who have just experienced the worst disappointment of their young lives, this scene probably dealt out more nightmares than Chatroulette.

Why the Sequel Never Happened:

Amazingly, the planned sequel to Masters of the Universe somehow became Cyborg starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. It was part of a circuitous plan by Cannon Films to make a Spider-Man movie. You see, Cannon owned the film rights to Spider-Man back then, because the 1980s were a period of time in which Marvel thought it was a good idea to sell one of their most popular characters to the studio responsible for American Ninja and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Cannon figured they would take the profits from their windfalling, world-conquering He-Man movie and its subsequent sequel and use them to fund an equally lucrative Spidey movie. In addition, Masters was supposed to reinvigorate sales of the He-Man toy line, which was dwindling rapidly into Christmas-ruining bargain bins across America.

But when Masters of the Universe failed to perform, it sort of ruined all of those Spider-Man plans. It also more or less killed He-Man, because the toys were discontinued immediately afterward. But they still had all those bizarre Roger Dean Eternia sets left over with no hope of making a He-Man sequel. So, Cannon took the script they had written, changed some things around, and inserted Jean-Claude Van Damme, their other contract action hero who dealt in heavily chewed, barely discernible gummy bear English. If by some impossible stroke of cosmic chance you've ever thought that Cyborg looked vaguely like Jean-Claude Van Damme helicopter kicking his way through Eternia, this is the reason why.

The Cannon Group/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Fun fact: Cyborg got two sequels, so essentially an entire shitty franchise was built atop the ashes of Masters of the Universe.

Mac and Me

Orion Pictures

Mac and Me is the result of some Hollywood producer watching E.T. through a mist of cocaine dust and saying to himself, "Hey, what if E.T. ate Skittles instead of Reese's Pieces and we changed his name to McDonald's? McDonald's would give us money for that, right?" He then came up with the alien's design by sketching Yoda ears on an expired condom, and the rest is obscure cinematic history.

Orion Pictures via YouTube
"Haha, that's great! Kids are going to love the shit out of this little demon! Pass the cocaine!"

The movie has more blatant product placement than an actual commercial. Mac and his jaundiced family eat nothing but Skittles, he is able to revive his parents by pouring Coca-Cola down their brittle cadaverous throats like some Lazarus elixir, and there is an extended dance sequence inside a McDonald's.

Orion Pictures via YouTube
This is an actual screenshot from the film.

The movie's main character, a paraplegic boy named Eric, is literally shot to death at one point, but is brought back to life by alien magic. I'm amazed they didn't just stuff his bullet wounds with Coke and french fries.

Orion Pictures via YouTube
"Quick! Get Broderick to bring some of that Domino's over here!"

Also, Mac is one of the ugliest, most off-putting characters I have ever seen in a kid's movie. The armored rape goblin from the Alien series is less terrifying than Mac and his sallow rubber plague mask. It isn't hard to make a movie about space that delights little children -- the only way to screw that up would be to film their parents putting on spacesuits and telling them they're getting a divorce. Or, apparently, making Mac and Me. In terms of disappointment and betrayal, Mac and Me is the cinematic equivalent of Santa Claus delivering you a View-Master containing footage of your eventual death.

The Teaser:

Mac and his hideous parents kidnap Wheelchair Eric and take him on a joyride in their pink Cadillac, politely asking us to ignore the fact that there is no possible way that alien mask isn't seriously impairing the driver's vision.

Orion Pictures via YouTube

In the back seat, Mac blows a giant gum bubble with the words "We'll be back!" scrawled relentlessly on its exterior, a threat the film's audience received in mute horror.

Orion Pictures via YouTube

Never before has a group of people wished so powerfully for a gruesome freeway accident involving a disabled child.

Why the Sequel Never Happened:

Mac and Me was a tragic victim of its own hubris. It managed to earn less than half of its meager $13 million budget, which is doubly a shame, because the film's producers had a profit sharing agreement with Ronald McDonald Children's Charities.

Orion Pictures via YouTube
The film's success is best expressed by the scene where a child slumps lifelessly in his wheelchair in front of an exploding gas station.

So, Mac and Me failed to entertain children and then doomed them to die penniless and ill in scattered orphanages throughout the country. That's like hiring a birthday clown who does nothing but juggle bloody old hobo nickels while whistling the theme from Twin Peaks and then pops all the kids' balloons on the way out to his taxi.

Tom will be back in Tom Reimann: Money Never Sleeps. Read his novel Stitches and follow him on Twitter and Tumblr.

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