By the time a horror series reaches part four it has usually ran out of ideas and energy. This isn’t always the case of course but more often than not the films are now only being made for the money. That’s not to say that there aren’t people trying to make the best films they can, of course they are, but somewhere along the way the demand to bash out a fourth film in a franchise is more about hitting a release date and getting bums on seats than it is about telling a compelling story. Well that’s the theory anyway. But is that always the case? Well…
Paranormal Activity 4
Paranormal Activity 3 was a resounding success. Although it didn’t actually progress the main story much, by going back to the 80s and telling the story of the two sisters being haunted and hunted it gave the series a much needed boost after the dull number 2. So it was only logical to bring back the same directors for PA 4. They had after all done the marvellous Catfish so knew what they were doing with a video camera… apart from they forgot by the time this boring load of old shite came along. Instead of concentrating on characters from the previous films we were introduced to some boring teens and….nothing happens! There’s slow build up and then there’s watching paint dry. This was watching paint dry. Sure there has been a Latino spin off and now a 3D finale but Part 4 arguably killed this once exciting franchise.
A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
After the frankly weird Freddy’s Revenge, Part 3 Dream Warriors was quite the comeback. It was faster, more imaginative and funnier than anyone expected and Patricia Arquette was a great lead… a great lead who didn’t come back for the fourth chapter probably because it had nothing to say other than don’t turn into a giant cockroach or Freddy will crush you to death. This may have been the most successful of the films but man is it dull. When the highlight is Freddy making the joke, er, okay, I’ve checked, there are no good lines in this movie. Okay so it might have been a hit but I suspect that that was because people enjoyed part 3 so much on VHS. After this letdown this franchise also started a very rapid downward trajectory, Part 5: The Dream Child underperformed and after that Freddy was dead (in Freddy’s Dead). Not that that stopped him from not being dead. Talking of which…
Friday the 13th Part 4 The Final Chapter
If we’re going to talk about running out of ideas, would it be wrong to suggest that the Friday the 13th films ran out of them about halfway through the first movie? The others were big hits but I think everyone realised that they had nothing left to say by the time Part 4 came along. So the decision was made to finish the damned thing (ha!). Needless to say the characters are mostly awful as usual with only a small child (Corey Feldman) showing any talent in front of the camera but at least Tom Savini came back to do some great make up effects. This is still rubbish but for some reason its the most loved in the never ending franchise.
This was the last Hellraiser movie to get a theatrical release and it is easy to see why. It is a big old mess (studio interference allegedly) with the plot taking place across three time periods and it ends with Pinhead in space, which of course we all know means that when a film series ends up in space you might as well launch yourself into the stars, preferably with a one way ticket to the sun, because you will die along with any hope fo redemption for your movies. I still think its better than Part 3: Hell on Earth because it doesn’t have a cenobite called CD Head but that’s just a personal preference.
Exorcist The Beginning & Dominion – 2 for 1 Bargain Pack
Let’s face it you can’t top The Exorcist. Part 2 failed miserably and Part 3 has its moments but isn’t really about exorcism until the end when the studio forced them to add one on. So when Warner Brothers commissioned Paul Schrader to come up with a fourth film the poor guy was always going to struggle. Little did he know that when he finished the film and turned it in the studio would hate it so much they shot the whole thing again with Renny Harlin (of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4‘s fame) and this time the studio… hated this one too. Idiots.
Land of the Dead
George A. Romero desperately wanted to finish his Dead series with Day of the Dead. It makes sense: Night, Dawn, Day – done! However when he turned in his epic script the budget was going to be huge. It was also going to be a massive gorefest. The money men said you can either tone down the gore and get the budget or leave it in and we’ll give you a couple of shillings and be on your way. He took the high road and we got the classic Day of the Dead, but the story was never complete. Ironically it was the remake of Dawn of the Dead that resulted in Romero being given enough money to make Land of the Dead. It never reached the heights of the first three but was still better than most zombie movies. Weirdly the studio (there’s a pattern forming here) refused to let Romero cast a black man as the male lead like, say, the last three Dead films, so he cast black actor Eugene Clark as the lead zombie instead just to piss them off.
Frankenstein Created Woman
Hammer was well on its way to running out of its own ideas when it got to its fourth Frankenstein in ten years. However maybe out of a desperate desire to not just do the same old thing they came up with a strangely romantic and affecting tale of doomed young love – doomed young love that ends up with the man’s brain in the woman’s body! Okay it’s crazy, but Terence Fisher directed it and the film looks beautiful. Plus the ever dependable Peter Cushing is in it so obviously it is twenty times better than a film without Peter Cushing in it.
Alien was a razor sharp haunted house in space slice of cinema perfection. Aliens was the most exciting film ever made. Alien 3 had its (studio created) problems but had some great moments and ended the series on a nihilistic but poetic note. So obviously a fourth film had precisely nowhere to go. It lumps along like a weird version of Spaceballs but not as good. The final creature at the end has a stupid little cute nose and gets sucked out into space through a tiny hole and cries whilst its doing it. Its not the only thing that sucked.
Resident Evil: Afterlife
I mean really… I didn’t think much of the first one but I was shocked to find that Part 4 starts of with a perfect rip off of the corridor shoot out from The Matrix. This was in 2010. People had given up copying The Matrix about the same time the Warchowski’s gave up caring about The Matrix in 2003. I can’t say anything else about the film because I can’t remember anything about it. Of course being boring and forgettable meant it was also the most financially successful of the series.
Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes
This, people, is a nadir for the not-that-great-in-the-first-place Amityville movies and a warning to all other potential horror franchises: if you are going to make a fourth film in a series and you have already done fact! (the first one), incest! (Part 2: The Possesion) and of course 3D!, then the only way forward is NOT a haunted lamp stand.
It just isn’t.