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10 Franchises With The Most Straight-To-Video Sequels

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New images have come out from the upcoming Hellraiser film by director David Bruckner, and fans couldn’t be more thrilled that it looks like the series is returning to form after a series of critically-lauded sequels that weren’t even released theatrically. Unfortunately, many other franchises which had promising beginnings have found themselves stuck in the no-man-land of straight-to-video sequels.


At the same time, the straight-to-video franchise has almost become something of a tradition, if not a novelty of the horror genre. Fans love marathoning these sequels with ironic appreciation, if not for the fact that it reminds them of the classics that spawned them. (Made for streaming sequels and remakes will be omitted.)

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10 Darkman (1990) – 2

Both Sam Raimi’s first superhero flick and Liam Neeson’s first revenge action movie, Darkman seemed poise to start a new lucrative franchise. Sam Raimi’s blend of stylistic violence and zany, dark humor had proved a smashing success with the Evil Dead films, which still have sequels and reboots being made out of it to this very day.

Related: The 10 Most Shocking Endings In Sam Raimi Movies, Ranked

For whatever reason though, Darkman didn’t come the next big thing for Raimi, and it was only given two straight-to-video sequels that don’t see the return of either Raimi or Neeson. While there’s a so-bad-they’re-good quality to those low-rent sequels, they pale in comparison to Raimi’s original and just make the viewer miss seeing Neeson in the titular role. Thankfully, there have been talks about a sequel, and Neeson’s even expressed interest in returning (viaComicbook.com).

9 Vampires (1998) – 2

While the original Vampires is one of John Carpenter’s more divisive films due to its uncharacteristically graphic violence, it was still his most successful film of the ’90s and could’ve easily set up another major franchise. Critics and audiences would’ve been more than happy to see the return of James Woods as anti-hero vampire hunter, Jack Crow.

Yet Vampires only produced two straight-to-video sequels that don’t even continue the story of Jack Crow but instead just retread the original. To make matters even weirder, they swap out Academy-Award nominee James Woods with none other than rock star Jon Bon Jovi.

8 From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – 2

This crime-drama turned vampire-flick was a smash hit with both action and horror fans, and it turned star power both in front and both the camera. It seems like it would be a no-brainer to continue the franchise while the iron was hot, but instead, there were just two direct-to-video sequels that, once again, didn’t see the return of any major talent from the first film.

Related: Every Quentin Tarantino Movie, Ranked By Rewatchability

Thankfully, From Dusk Till Dawnmade a comeback with its hit television series that saw the return of the Gekko brothers. That was great solace for fans, since neither of these sequels capture either the wit or energy that made the original From Dusk Till Dawn such a classic of both the vampire genre, and of grindhouse cinema.

7 The Lost Boys (1987) – 2

It seems that vampire films are cursed to have at least two non-theatrical sequels. It’s hard to believe that there wasn’t a direct sequel to The Lost Boys given what a cultural phenomenon it was. And it wasn’t for lack of trying, since director Joel Schumacher tried to get a prequel off the ground for years.

Instead, fans were just given two straight-to-video sequels that only saw the return of Corey Feldman. That makes these sequels feel like more genuine continuations than the aforementioned franchises, but Feldman’s return only highlights how much these sequels pale in comparison to the ultra-80s and ultra-fashionable original. Yet it is always possible that The Lost Boys might make a comeback as a television series.

6 Pumpkinhead (1988) – 3

One of the most unique movie monsters from the 1980s, Pumpkinhead could’ve had the legs for a franchise on the level of Xenomorph or Predator. Sadly, due to lackluster box office returns, it didn’t pan out that way. Instead, the titular monster only starred in a straight-to-video sequel and two made-for-television follow-ups.

While these sequels enjoy a modest cult fanbase, mostly thanks to appearances from genre favorites such as Lance Henriksen and Doug Bradley, Pumpkinhead deserved far better. Thankfully, the monster’s popularity only appears to be growing, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the vengeful creature returned to cinemas in the future.

5 The Howling (1981) – 5

It seems almost sacrilege that one of the best werewolf movies of all time would be given one of the most incoherent and asinine franchises. Remembered for clever writing, jaw-dropping effects, and reinvention of the werewolf mythos, The Howling laid the groundwork for a potentially iconic franchise.

Related: 10 Best TV Shows And Movies Featuring Werewolves, According To Reddit

But for a reason that still baffles genre fans, The Howling series immediately nosedived in both critical and commercial success, petering out in a series of five straight-to-video sequels that weren’t even connected to another in story or character. Each sequel was lower-budget and more obscure than the last, and it’s hard to imagine The Howling ever seeing its former glory.

4 The Amityville Horror (1979) – 5

This one is difficult to gauge because technically there’s been over 20 films that have been at least inspired by the real case of the Amityville Haunting. However, IMDb only considers a fraction of these to be true canonical follow-ups to the original film. Of those, five of them never saw theatrical release, and probably for good reason.

The Amityville Horrorwas a genuine phenomenon when it was released, but most of the interest was fueled by the legend that it was all inspired by true events. That’s not something the sequels can possibly lay claim to, so they’re a string of generic haunted-house flicks that desperately try and tie themselves to the original. With the overabundance of spin-offs, the Amityville brand has been well and truly diluted.

3 Leprechaun (1992) – 6

Not exactly a critical darling, it’s hard to believe that Leprechaun would have a franchise, even if most were straight-to-video. Starting with Leprechaun 3, the titular villain has starred in six straight-to-video sequels that saw him having misadventures everywhere from Las Vegas to Space to “Da Hood.”

Of course, there’s no continuity among these flicks other than that most see the return of Warwick Davis as The Leprechaun (aside from Origins and Returns). He’s the only reason to stay engaged with the series, and his charisma carries most of the sequels. There’s probably not a better franchise for so-bad-they’re-good binge-watching.

2 Hellraiser (1987) – 6

Possibly the definitive example of a franchise going straight-to-video, Hellraiser was a groundbreaking body-horror film that introduced a new cinematic icon in Pinhead. While Pinhead and his Cenobites would have a few more theatrical outings, diminishing box office returns meant that Pinhead was sent to a hell of his own: straight-to-video.

Hellraiser would be granted six straight-to-video sequels before the upcoming Hulu installment, and each seemed to be a nail in the franchise’s coffin. While most of them benefit somewhat from Pinhead’s presence, all of them are convoluted and cheap cash grabs at the Hellraiser brand that have no real interest in exploring the rich mythos that Clive Barker laid out in the original.

1 The Children of Corn (1984) – 7

Only a moderately successful cult hit, it’s surprising for people to learn that The Children of the Corn spawned a long-lasting franchise. Of course, the majority of these went either straight to video or straight to television and barely any of them had anything to do with Stephen King’s original story. That is, except for a made-for-television remake.

Still, this series offers plenty of entertainment for anyone who has a penchant for evil kid movies. These sequels might not do many favors for the original, but they aren’t exactly a stain on horror movie history. That being said, the franchise is slated to return to theaters later this year with a prequel. He Who Walks Behind The Rows must have better luck than his contemporaries on this list.

Next: 10 Best Film Adaptations Of Stephen King’s Short Stories, According To IMDb

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