Five For FRiday: Sequelitis

FR continue their summer-inspired obsession with blockbuster movies.  This week?  Sequels.  The best of the best.  Starring Eric Roberts.  Not really.

Tyler: A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors/Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

I got into fucked-up slasher flicks way too early, for all the usual reasons.  Well, just one, really: the curiosity “What crazy ways will they find to kill the usual suspects THIS time??”  (This excludes the Halloween series, which, at its best–the original, the second, and the fourth–offered legitimate spookery.)  The original Nightmare is one hell of a capital-F Film, but, contrary to commonplace (and understandable) belief, two of its many sequels are more than worthwhile.  Nightmare 3, apart from the novelty of featuring the theatrical debut of Patricia Arquette, pre-“Lawrence” “Larry” Fishburne, and a fucking bizarre, Freddy-centric cameo from Zsa Zsa Gabor, offers the killer (nyer!) combo of both ridiculous slays (Freddy turns one hapless victim into a vein-strung marionette) and legitimate scares, all while maintaining the actual storyline of the first film, a rarity in slash-and-burn horror sequelry.

Taking it a step further, New Nightmare goes where Scream went before Scream did, both films helmed by (original Elm Street creator) Wes Craven, but the former much more innovative and provocative in its meta-twisting of horror’s effect on its audience.  The ostensible seventh entry in the series–the “New” of the title an obvious smack at the execrable previous entry, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (featuring Breckin Meyer, and Nightmare 1 teen phenom Captain Jack Sparrow!)–it replaces the characters of the original (and 3) with their real-life actor counterparts: Heather Langenkamp, portrayer of “Nancy,” now plays herself, as do John Saxon, Robert Englund (Freddy), and Craven himself.  It’s not a perfect flick, but it’s plenty fucking freaky, and twenty times smarter than the lion’s share of…actually, no, it’s twenty times smarter than pretty much any horror sequel ever.

Fun postscript: I only saw it once, when I was like eleven, but A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, a studio cashgrab released within a calendar year of the very successful original, has since been accepted amongst film analysts as a crazy-obvious allegory for teenage homosexuality.  No, really.  You can look it up.

Nathan: Kill Bill Vol. 2

I’m including this on a technicality, because it’s not helpful to view the two Kill Bill movies as separate entities. They are one cohesive epic that needs to be seen in one four hour sitting. But, since I can’t think of many sequels I give a damn about (much less sequels I think of as great), I’m highlighting the second half of Tarantino’s revenge opus.

There is, however, one major advantage to the current bifrication of the story. If Tarantino ever fuses the two parts, we’ll lose out on Vol. 2‘s opening sequence, in which The Bride speaks directly to the audience as she rides along in rear projection. Easily one of my favorite movie moments of the ’00s.

Tyler: Spider-Man 2/X2: X-Men United

My second cheat in as many entries, this pair can’t by me be separated; Spidey 2 was the best comic-book I’d ever seen, up until X2, which upped the ante of turning a decent initial entry into a balls-out awesome, oft-hilarious action extravaganza.  I never saw the third entries of either franchise, as I was assured and trusted that both are awful.

Nathan: Ghostbusters 2

I know now that Ghostbusters 2 is nothing but an enjoyable sequel to a great ’80s comedy. But in fourth grade, the thought of Vigo coming straight out of his painting kept me up many a night.

Tyler: The Dark Knight

I’ve written about The Dark Knight at length in this space before, but, really, it’s that fucking fantastic, and has yet to grow mold, no matter how many times I’ve seen it.  Personal favorite moment of the moment, brought back to mind in recent weeks by fellow FR writer Travis: Heath Ledger’s irresistible, ruthless purr to Aaron Eckhart’s now-Two-Face, after the latter awakens in a hotel bed, scarred for life.

“Hiiiiiiiiii.”

Nathan: Back to the Future, Part II

Like many other children, I got steep throat quite often as a young’in. On one occasion, absent from school, I took the opportunity to watch Back to the Future, Part II three times in one day.

If the hoverboard does not become a part of regular life by 2015, I’m gonna be real disappointed.

Tyler: Dawn Of The Dead

George A. Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead is one of the spookiest, most effective horror flicks of all time, a title made all the more impressive by virtue of its budget: roughly four dollars.  Dawn Of The Dead, filmed and released nine years after, adds (relative) production value, color stock, and a heaping dollop of satire atop its predecessor’s (none-too-hard-to-find) social commentary.  In Dawn, the heroes eventually turn upon each other (as heroes pretty much always do in flicks about the undead), but the setting is what’s key: a late-seventies shopping center, populated by mindless, lurching, brainless consumers searching deathlessly for nothing more than personal gratification.

Oh, shit, did I say “consumers?”  I meant “zombies.”  Really.

Nathan: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Even as a kid, I preferred Temple of Doom and Last Crusade to Raiders. How can you not love a movie that includes an almost constantly screaming Kate Capshaw, a ceremony in which a live heart is pulled out of a victim’s body, and Short RoundTemple of Doom has a frenetic pace, which leaves you breathless throughout: The opening musical sequence, plane/raft ride through the Himalayas, chilled monkey brain, chamber of bugs, wicked roller coaster ride, and the climax on the bridge.

Tyler: Before Sunset

None of the scary movies mentioned above, nor any other, scared me more than the knowledge that Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy were mounting a continuation of their immaculate cinematic valentine Before Sunrise.  Of course, in their reassemblage of Jesse and Celine, nine years on, said creative trio only managed to better, deepen, mature and immortalize the connection those two characters ignited their first time around.  Before Sunset is not only a fantastic sequel; it’s a fantastic film–one of the best any American filmmaker has put together in at least the last thirty years.  Or, like, probably, ever.  Spoiler alert, but whatever.  As one of my film-professor mentors put it, “a truly great last shot.”  “Just In Time,” followed by…

“Baby.  You are gonna miss that plane.”

Nathan: Batman Returns

Tim Burton’s second Batman installment did what few other comic book movies have been willing to do: shed the tired theme of vigilantism and take the costumed madness for granted. In doing this, Batman Returns becomes a serious exploration of sexual power dynamics, sadomasochism, and a full realization of Batman’s dark carnival possibilities. The Dark Knight be damned.


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2 thoughts on “Five For FRiday: Sequelitis

  1. Friend of FR Mike will no doubt be pleased to see Ghostbusters II on this list; I came back to that flick a few months ago and, with the hindsight of a learned nerd, was all pissed to realize it’s such a pale rehashing of the original, with not nearly enough Murray, no less. (Though his talk-show scene towards the beginning is priceless.) That said, I’m still tickled to see Peter McNicol, whom I always figured was actually foreign until I was an adolescent and Ally McBeal became a monster phenomenon.

    Temple Of Doom is my second-favorite Indy sequel, horrendous Capshaw caterwauling and all. I rewatched Last Crusade a bit back and it left me cold. The supposed comedic connection between Connery and Ford is leadened down by Spielberg’s absolute tin ear for dialogue-based humor. Then again, this opinion may be hindered by the fact that Raiders is one of my all-time marquee fireworks-and-sexcapades favorite movies of all time.

    Finally, Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns gave me curiosities about feelings I’m pretty sure I wasn’t physically capable of experiencing at the time.

  2. More than GBII, I am pleased with the mention of Temple of Doom- it was the first Indy flick I ever saw and I fell in love with it for all the reasons Nathan lists, plus the Indy-vs-Big Bad Guy-vs-rock crusher scene, which I just now realize is a blatant rehash of the Indy-vs-Big Bad Guy-vs-propeller scene from Raiders.

    “He no nuts; he crazy!”

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