There are some movies that you can tell the filmmakers never intended to make a sequel to. They either just wanted to tell a solid, self-contained story or they wanted to eliminate the possibility that anyone would even attempt to follow in their footsteps. Here are 10 examples of sequel-proof movies that actually got sequels.
Ripley sacrifices herself to kill the alien once and for all at the end of Alien3. Not a trace is left once she falls into a fiery furnace. It doesn’t get much more definitive a conclusion than that. But someone decided that that wasn’t a good enough note to end the series on, and thus Alien: Resurrection was born. Ah, the plot convenience, I mean miracle, of cloning. Personally, I prefer to stop at Aliens.
I don’t know if George Lucas realized what a huge hit American Graffiti would become, but he certainly wasn’t thinking of it when he ruled out the possibility of a sequel by printing on the screen the fates of the main characters at the end of the film. Despite that fact, the allure of making a lucrative sequel was just too great, and so Lucas cowrote More American Graffiti and handed off directorial duties to Bill Norton.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Charlton Heston literally nuked any chance of there being a third film in the Planet of the Apes series when he detonated a warhead at the climax of Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Little did he know that someone had a surprisingly clever way to get around that little problem. The next film, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, didn’t bother continuing the story in the future Earth, but it instead revisited the plot of the first film by having three apes travel back in time to 1970s Earth.
I know there have been many fake-out villain deaths, but Halloween II was the first in the slasher genre to do so. There is simply no way that Michael Myers or Dr. Loomis survived a huge explosion. Halloween II makes that quite clear. But after audiences revolted at the idea of a third Halloween film sans Michael Myers, both he and Dr. Loomis made a hasty and inexplicable return in the fourth film with their eyeballs and skin more or less intact.
Highlander ends with Connor MacLeod, after hundreds of years of battles, killing his final foe and becoming the last immortal on Earth. He is now all-powerful and can never again be defeated or even challenged by anyone. Once the hero becomes a god, there’s really no way to create conflict in the story. Naturally, the sequel Highlander 2: The Quickening ignores that minor detail in favor of a dystopian future in which the ozone layer is gone and MacLeod has to team up with his long-dead mentor in violation of all rules from the first film. Makes perfect sense.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead has one of the most famous endings of all time. The sole survivor of an onslaught of zombies on a remote house stumbles out of his hiding place in the morning, only to be mistaken for a zombie and shot in the head by a ragtag group of do-gooders. All of the main characters are dead, and it looks like the zombie menace is taken care of. Dawn of the Dead wisely chooses to follow a completely new group of characters, and it escalates the zombie epidemic to a full-blown crisis.
Patton has everything I could want in a biographical war movie. It shows General George S. Patton’s strengths, weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, and unconventional beliefs, and it manages to turn those into compelling entertainment. It ends on a hauntingly sad tone that Patton won’t be in charge anymore now that World War II is over, and he could die at any moment from a random accident. There’s no more story to tell, but that didn’t stop 1986’s The Last Days of Patton from telling it. It turns out that Patton was paralyzed in a car crash, and he died shortly after in December 1945. All earthly glory truly is fleeting.
The Poseidon Adventure
Six people survived the perilous journey through an upside-down cruise ship in The Poseidon Adventure. Or maybe not just six. It turns out an entirely separate group of passengers were also traversing the bowels of the ship. We just didn’t know about them until Beyond the Poseidon Adventure debuted in 1979. The trouble is that this stretches the believability factor to the breaking point. There was a ticking clock in the first film because the passengers had to get off the ship before it sank. This film is able to pick up where the first one left off only because the final shot of the boat sinking didn’t look convincing enough to include in the film.
It’s obvious by now that the Rocky series will never die, but you wouldn’t think so based solely on the first film’s ending. As the last round’s bell rings, Apollo Creed makes it clear there will be no rematch, and Rocky Balboa wholeheartedly agrees. However, circumstances lead those two to change their minds in the sequel. Rocky is all about an underdog beating the odds to go toe to toe with a champion athlete, despite having no chance of winning. The sequels make sure he gets more than just a personal victory.
People tend to forget that The Terminator precluded the possibility of sequels going the time-travel route. During the police-interrogation scene, Kyle Reese explains that the time-displacement equipment was destroyed right after he and the Terminator went back to 1984. No one else can come through. It’s a nice, clean way to explain why hordes of soldiers didn’t go through to protect their leader’s existence. But it leaves a gaping plot hole that none of the sequels deal with.
Weekend at Bernie’s
How do you prevent a corpse from rotting? With a voodoo curse, of course! How do you stretch one joke out over two films? There’s no magic that can accomplish that feat, unfortunately. Such was the fate of Weekend at Bernie’s 2.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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