Films diluted by their sequels
The morning after a games night is usually devoid of anything interesting due to hangovers and sleep deprivation, however this time my friend Dave came up with a rather interesting point of discussion.
What films have been diluted by their sequels, and conversely, what films haven't been affected by their sequels?
We started rattling off lists like mad, and I think we were pretty comprehensive and very agreeable (which makes a change for us!).
The idea was pretty simple really. What original films have you seen that, now that there are one or more sequels to it, it doesn't have the same impact or attraction.
Now we don't mean by time or effects or anything like that, but simply the newer films have just cheapened the whole idea and affected everything that the first film brought to you.
I think you've got the idea, so let me run through the films that sprung to mind for us.
Star Wars Episodes IV, V and VI
Now Dave was of the opinion that the original films were cheapened and damaged by their sequels, and to begin with I was too, but now that I'm looking back I'm wondering if the actual issue is that they have been harmed by the continual digital reworking.
The first digital rework was fine. It gave us a better picture and effects, but adding things into the film really started that process of damaging what was when I first saw it.
Still, looking at what the first few films did and that final appearance of the shortened and less scary Vader, and I think he might be right.
Without a doubt The Matrix was a defining cinema moment, and a great film to boot that had stunning visuals, and a superbly crafted story. The rest did not. They were more of the same but bigger, and peppered with some very pretentious moments and really rode over the superb story and characters from the first Matrix. If they had stopped after the first one and taken a breather perhaps it would have been remembered as much more in cinematic history.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
When we first saw this film it was scary and rather unsettling, I mean it really did get to you the idea of a killer in your dreams, not to mention the implied child molestation and murder aspect of the killer. Now? It's a funny film, and to a degree that cheapening has been over time, but the real killer of this film are the sequels, not the now overly comic Freddy Kruger.
Friday the 13th
Now this series really is a cheap slasher of a franchise, and there's nothing that can save the first film. In the beginning there was fear, tension and creeping terror, now there's the standard shocks, way too much gore, and naked breasts before death. The character has gone soft with his old age, much like Kruger.
If you compare Thunderdrome to the original you'd perhaps wonder what the hell was going on with the franchise. The first was a dark and driven story of revenge, it had huge amounts of passion at it's heart, the belief that you would do anything you could in the name of vengeance if your family had been struck at in this terrible way. Then it was encapsulated in this very bleak image of modern life, of isolation and lawlessness.
What were the others? The standard tale of a wandering hero out to fight for the good people of the world, and lost was the darkness and brooding of the first.
Well those are a few films that have been diluted by their sequels, in our eyes anyway. Then we skipped the question around and thought of films that hadn't been affected by their sequels, films that still stood the test of time no matter what Hollywood tried to do to them.
Even with the great fourth comeback, there is something special about that first film that couldn't even be tempered by the very poor second outing of John McClane. Of course perhaps it does help that the series has come back so well in the third and now the great fourth film, but it's never affected the superb good guy, bad guy relationship in the original Die Hard.
There's nothing that can ruin the power of this film, even now after Jaws 3 in 3D, yes 3D has tried to become a staple cinema feature time and time again. This time it couldn't water down that fishy taste. The original has such a great chemistry in the casting and a superb script, and thankfully the shark didn't work, perhaps that was the problem in the sequels?
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The films that followed this were nowhere near as powerful and as terrifying, and I can still watch that film and be utterly terrified by some of the scenes. The sledgehammer, the meat hook that never really went in...this film really burned into your psyche, and none of the following films can recreate it or come close.
The original of the Japanese Ring series is terrifying and has some iconic scenes that are wonderfully paced. The slow reveal of the video tape is perhaps the single most terrifying part of the film, and each time builds the tension because you ultimately know what you're going to see. With an inventive film style it becomes even more terrifying.
The sequels didn't manage to hang on to the terror factor of the original, and that fell to other Asian horrors to pick up on, but the American remake did come closer, but none of these attempts have detracted from the original, and in a way have lifted it up even more.
Indiana Jones and the
Temple of DoomRaiders of the Lost Ark
Like Star Wars, when you hear the music and see the opening moments, you're sucked right into the adventure filled world of Indy, and there's no getting away from it. This first film is everything that you could want from an adventure yarn, and goes back to the first real adventure stories for boys. It appeals on all levels and despite a diluted and lacklustre second film, and a slightly improved third, this first film still holds true. Perhaps it's because the follow ups haven't been as bad as with other franchises, or perhaps it's because they've always remained true to the character of Indy, even if they have bloated his story with too many other characters.
John Carpenter can't be matched. I think that's one of the reasons that he's so happy for his films to be remade, why would you care if you know that Hollywood can't recreate the lower budget films he made. Great soundtracks, slower pacing, dark and isolated shots. Halloween has a slow building creeping terror that doesn't always leap out, is never explored and explained, and is always masked. The mask hasn't slipped from the first film despite the attempts of the latest version.
There were a couple we thought about that we couldn't really decide either way such as Rocky, Rambo and Back to the Future.
So get your thinking caps on and your tapping fingers out - what other films do you think have been diluted by their sequels, or perhaps even better, which have remained strong despite poor sequels/prequels/remakes/re-imaginings/or any other word Hollywood wants to use to hide the fact of what they're doing?