There are six Terminator movies, and at least half of them are terrible. There are six films in Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise, and five of them are garbage. There are somehow seven Police Academys, an astonishing dozen movies about The Ring and an even more jaw-dropping 18 Friday the 13th flicks, and god knows how many are worth a damn. Meanwhile, there are plenty of good movies that never got a sequel, no matter how easily they could have been made, how much they needed to be made or how loud fans cried for them.
These are just some of the films that deserved more than one shot at the box office — many, many more, in fact…
Alita Battle Angel
Let’s begin with something timely, shall we? On Thursday, July 23rd, the hashtag #AlitaSequel trended on Twitter. It was the first anniversary of the film’s home video release, which the self-proclaimed “Alita Army” used to remind Disney of the movie’s extremely passionate fanbase. If you’ve seen the film, you likely know why: Despite director Robert Rodriguez’s unsettling decision to deliberately place the titular cyborg’s face in the uncanny valley (Alita’s enlarged eyes are presumably an homage to the original Japanese manga the film is based on, but it’s weird no other character gets the same treatment), Battle Angel is a gorgeous sci-fi/fantasy film with a fascinating setting, some incredible action scenes and an overarching story that would take two movies minimum to get resolved. Hardcore fans can get a lot of things wrong, but the Alita Army has it right.
Yes, The Princess Bride is a perfect gem of a movie, one that doesn’t technically need a sequel. That said, it’s an absolute crime we didn’t get to spend more cinematic time with Westley, Buttercup, Fezzik and, of course, the inimitable Inigo Montoya. There’s absolutely no reason why we couldn’t (and shouldn’t) have seen the foursome go on more adventures through the faux-medieval Europe of the movie with more sword fights, more delightful banter and more Andre the Giant. Plus, the “real” ending of William Goldman’s original novel absolutely begs for a sequel — or eight:
“From behind them suddenly, closer than they had imagined, they could hear the roar of Humperdink: ‘Stop them! Cut them off!’ They were admittedly, startled, but there was no need to worry: They were on the fastest horses in the kingdom, and the lead was already theirs. However, this was before Inigo’s wound reopened, and Westley relapsed again, and Fezzik took the wrong turn and Buttercup’s horse threw a shoe. And the night behind them was filled with the crescendoing sound of pursuit………”
Who on earth doesn’t want to see this sequel?
Mad Max: Fury Road
Sorry, Road Warrior: It turns out the only Mad Max movie we needed was the fourth one, and it’s the one that deserves 10 sequels. So let’s try to move beyond Thunderdome and remember Fury Road is just a miracle of a movie, as evident in the fact it’s the only movie ever nominated for Best Picture Oscar that features a man playing an electric-guitar-cum-flamethrower while standing on a monster truck. There’s been sequel talk ever since the movie came out in 2015, including a solo flick for Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, but none have materialized (although apparently a Furiosa prequel is now in the works). In a just world, we’d have at least two more movies starring Theron and/or Tom Hardy as Max, with a dozen more to follow. But it’s not, as you may have noticed, a just world.
The world always needs more movies from the dynamic comedy duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. While there have always been a few quiet rumbles about the two making a sequel to their hit Shaun of the Dead, the idea of yet more zombie-tainment isn’t nearly as appealing as watching Hot Fuzz’s Inspector Nicholas Angel (Pegg) and Sergeant Frank Butterman (Frost) deal with more of England’s most ridiculous criminals. As a send-up of Hollywood action flicks, Hot Fuzz: 2 Hot 2 Fuzziest through Hot Fuzz X: The Legend of Skinner’s Gold has a nearly infinite amount of material to satirize and celebrate — just think of what Pegg and Frost could do with Face/Off! Speaking of…
Everything about Face/Off is as wonderful as it is deranged. John Woo’s American magnum opus is a great action flick, but what sets it above so many other ridiculous action movies of the 1980s and 1990s is that its premise allows for John Travolta to play Nic Cage in his gleefully unhinged mode as a terrorist, while Cage has to play a comparably more restrained Travolta as the FBI agent borrowing Cage’s face to infiltrate his terrorist cell. Yes, the movie ends with Cage-as-Travolta murdering Travolta-as-Cage, so you might think the story ended, but this is a movie where face-swapping technology has been perfected, so who’s to say who really died at the end? Or what selection of villains could have “borrowed” Cage’s face for some sequel? The Face/Off face-off opportunities are endless!
Given that last year’s sneaky murder-mystery was a critical and commercial success, director Rian Johnson is reasonably likely to make at least one Knives Out sequel. This movie — and all the subsequent sequels that need to be made — should drop the rich, awful Thrombley and Drysdale families so that Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), the gentleman sleuth with a brilliant mind and an extremely dodgy Southern accent, can tackle other whodunnits with other all-star casts. Given that Craig clearly had the time of his life playing Blanc, he’d almost certainly be on board. Honestly, he’s probably down for any movie where he doesn’t have to play James Bond at this point.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
In this 1984 cinematic fever dream, a neurosurgeon/scientist/test pilot/self-made pop culture franchise/rock star and his band try to prevent an invasion of extra-dimensional aliens called Red Lectroids. That’s technically the plot of this cult masterpiece, but only by seeing the movie can you truly enjoy its unhinged glory. There’s John Lithgow in a truly Nic Cage-ian performance as a scientist possessed by the evil alien leader; Ellen Barkin as the long-lost, suicidal twin sister of Buckaroo’s dead wife; Jeff Goldblum in a child’s cowboy outfit as Buckaroo’s bandmate, New Jersey; and Christopher Lloyd as a man simply called John Bigbooté. It’s all tied together by Peter “Robocop” Weller as Banzai himself, utterly nailing it as a character who is supposed to be the smartest, coolest dude in, well, any dimension. And still, none of this truly conveys how beautifully surreal and awesome this movie is. The end credits promised Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League was coming soon, but it never materialized, which is both a travesty and a tragedy.
Okay hear me out. Almost all the main characters die in Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed second movie, and Tarantino almost certainly wouldn’t be interested in making a sequel (he often talks about making sequels to his films, but always ends up more interested in making something new) so there was no real chance of a true second Pulp Fiction ever happening. But man, what an opportunity there was to make an anthology series of different lurid, sleazy, hard-boiled films. All-new casts could have played all-new characters in all-new movies with all-new writers, just sticking to the same tone, style and themes of the original, and Tarantino could handpick the directors as a sort of quality control. Sure, undoubtedly some of these movies would have still sucked. But there would have been some great ones in there, and its a damn shame they don’t exist.
There have been countless Star Trek parodies, but there’s a reason 1999’s Galaxy Quest is the most beloved. Well, there are several main reasons: First, Galaxy Quest takes the clever conceit that its characters were actors in a 1980s Star Trek-esque TV series, who get kidnapped by aliens who think the show was real and are total fanboys. Second, unlike most Trek parodies, Galaxy Quest has a ton of heart, which has kept real-life, terrestrial fans hoping for some kind of sequel for years. Reasons three through 54 or so involve Alan Rickman, who steals the movie as a Shakespearean actor who played the Spock analogue, and who absolutely loathes the dumb sci-fi alien and show that defined his acting career. Future Galaxy Quest movies could have lovingly mocked classic Star Trek episodes and movies for years and years. Amazon actually had planned on making a sequel TV series until Rickman’s death in 2016, so it’s all very depressing.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
No one ever talks about Master and Commander anymore, which is a little weird, because it was surprisingly good for what is technically a small-stakes but extremely authentic-to-real-life conflict about one ship chasing another ship in the Caribbean during the Napoleonic Wars. Everyone pretty much agreed it was good when it was released in 2003; it made over $200 million worldwide, critics and audiences both liked it and it was even nominated for Best Picture. Somehow, director Peter Weir made a realistic version of what life was like on a military ship in the early 19th century and made it incredibly compelling, anchored (pun obviously intended) by Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany’s charismatic pairing as Captain Aubrey and Maturin, the ship’s surgeon. The movie was based on several of the books in author Patrick O’Brian’s series, but there are 20 books in total that more sequels could have been drawn from.
Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars
In Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, a wandering samurai (Toshiro Mifune) wanders into a small town ruled by two vicious gangs, each determined to wipe out the other, then cunningly plays both sides until the gangs destroy each other. In Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, a wandering cowboy (Clint Eastwood) does the same thing… because it’s a Western remake of Yojimbo.
Mifune and Eastwood were at their absolute best as the badass swordsman and gunfighter, respectively, and watching these characters wander feudal Japan/the wild west fucking bad guys up and saving helpless civilians would have never gotten old. Sure, Kurosawa did make one sequel to Yojimbo called Sanjuro (which mercilessly deconstructed the hugely popular original film) and Eastwood pretty much played the same taciturn cowboy in For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but there should have been more — many, many more.
It remains truly baffling that there’s never been a second Goonies movie, and that’s as true today as it was when the film was released in 1985. It’s one of the most beloved 1980s movies of all time, which means it’s tailor-made to get a 2020s sequel where kids of the original characters go on their own adventure, like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Tron: Legacy, Creed, basically the Star Wars sequel trilogy, the upcoming Ghostbusters film, nearly Blade Runner 2040, etc., etc. But it was even more perfect for a movie franchise back in the 1980s — a group of lovable kids going on (shockingly dangerous in retrospect) treasure hunts? Come on. Couple that with the fact that The Goonies was a huge success when it was released makes its lack of a sequel even more inexplicable. How was this the one time Hollywood managed to restrain themselves from making an opportunistic cash-grab?
Who knew that Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham would be the greatest comedy duo of 2019? Anyone who saw the chemistry between the two action heroes of Furious 7 back in 2015, that’s who. Hobbs & Shaw is as good as the Fast & Furious movies at their best, but significantly funnier. Plus, it’s about an American CIA operative and former MIA spy (respectively), so it’s not as beholden as the franchise that spawned them on having action scenes that rely primarily on cars. The good news is that since various egos will likely prevent Johnson and Statham from ever starring in a proper Fast & Furious movie again, we may very well get 10 more Hobbs & Shaw movies.
The Evil Dead franchise is a little weird. The first movie is about a bunch of kids who go to a traditional cabin in the woods, unwittingly unleash hell, and mostly die. Evil Dead II is not technically a remake but also, pretty much a remake, as the first movie’s sole survivor, Ash — Bruce Campbell in his most iconic role — returns to the cabin with a new bunch of kids. They unleash evil again, and most die in graphically violent but also very silly ways, in a genre director Sam Raimi named and pioneered: “splatterstick.” Evil Dead 3 is not Evil Dead 3 at all, but Army of Darkness, where Ash gets sent back in time to Camelot (or a budget-friendly facsimile), unleashes evil yet again, but this time tries to save at least a few of the people he doomed.
Army of Darkness is much, much more an action-comedy than a horror-comedy, but it’s also the film that made Ash a beloved character and a legion of fans clamoring for more of his adventures — so it’s Army of Darkness that truly earned the sequels. We’re grateful for the three seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead, but it would have been good to see him in theaters a few more times.
Did you think we’d forgotten Dr. Jones? There are admittedly more than a few movies in the Indiana Jones franchise — two sequels, and then the much later one that civilized society agreed to erase from existence — but we should have been getting even more throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and pretty much right up until George Lucas started wondering if you could survive a nuclear bomb by hiding in a refrigerator. Who wouldn’t want more Indy movies with Harrison Ford and director Steven Spielberg in their prime? The notoriously prickly Ford probably wouldn’t have wanted to deal with donning the fedora for 10 full films, but they could still have introduced his son at some point and transferred the franchise over to the next generation in a much more natural, palatable way than suddenly having Shia LeBeouf burst on the scene as the King of the Monkeys.
Although it has neither Nic Cage nor face-swapping technology, John Woo’s Hard Boiled is arguably the better film, possibly because it’s a goddamned masterpiece. Featuring some of, if not the, greatest on-screen gunfights of all time, Hard Boiled is a ballet of bullets that redefined what action movies could be, and Hollywood’s been emulating it ever since. As Hong Kong Police Inspector Tequila, a booze-loving cop who doesn’t play by the rules but does play a mean clarinet, Chow Yun-fat is as badass and, yes, hard-boiled as any other action star out there, and it’s a crying shame we didn’t get to see Tequila stop more gangsters and gun-smugglers by shooting them approximately one million times… each.
This Is Spinal Tap
Not many comedies stay hilariously funny more than 35 years after their original release, but This Is Spinal Tap remains one of them. Part of that is down to how perfectly director Rob Reiner and stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer savaged the delusional self-importance of rock stars, but part of it is also how accurate the movie is — ask anyone who’s been in a band for a while, and chances are they’ve had a real-life Spinal Tap-style experience or two. Somehow, the English metal band made up of Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls manage to stay lovable no matter how pompous and dimwitted they are, and it would have been great to see them do more tours around the world with Marty DiBergi (Reiner, doing double-duty in front of the camera) documenting the results for posterity and Spinal Tap’s still-growing legion of fans. In fact, 10 Spinal Tap movies wouldn’t have been enough — they needed to go to 11.
It doesn’t matter whether you think Road House is the greatest movie ever made or the greatest bad movie ever made: Either way, it deserved to be a long-running franchise starring Patrick Swayze as a professional, cross-country freelance bouncer, which is absolutely a job that exists. As a quintessential 1980s action flick, Road House has everything: Dalton (Swayze) is a Zen philosopher who can still kill the shit out of anyone that deserves killing; Ben Gazzara, who doesn’t as much chew the scenery as feast upon it, as the rich tyrant Brad Wesley, who somehow has so much control over a small town he can ride a monster truck over people’s cars without any legal repercussion; Sam Elliott as Dalton’s even cooler professional, cross-country freelance bouncer mentor; someone’s throat getting torn out; incredible dialogue such as “Pain don’t hurt” and “I used to fuck guys like you in prison”; and death by (stuffed) polar bear. We needed — nay, deserved — to see Dalton save small towns across America like a cinematic version of The A-Team and Knight Rider. I mean, did I mention the goddamned monster truck?