One of my favourite things to do during ‘down-time’ is to research various movies and actors, checking out the history of the film or the cast. Similar to a manual version of the ‘extras’ menu option on a DVD. This is when i discover that what I thought was a stand-alone movie, there were sequels, prequels, or spin-offs that were direct to dvd or tv made only.
Here’s just a handful of what I’ve discovered so far, that’s knocked me for six.
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.
Starting off as a childrens cartoon in 1959 (ask your parents, kiddies), it got the Hollywood treatment in 2000 with Rene Russo, Jason Alexander, Robert DeNiro, and ‘introducing’ Piper Perabo. To make it more up-to-date, they took a page from Who Framed Roger Rabbit and made Rocky & Bullwinkle turn into a CGI live-action movie.
Not surprisingly, it was a big flop.
Here’s the zinger – there was a Rocky & Bullwinkle movie already made. A TV movie to be exact. However, it was based on the bad characters Boris & Natasha. Boris & Natasha: The Movie – made in 1992, it starred Sally Kellerman and Dave Thomas. Unfortunately neither Rocky nor Bullwinkle appeared in it, due to copyright permissions. They were only referenced by wording.
No, really. Lucky Dave Thomas starred in the TV show ‘Grace Under Fire‘. He kinda got his credibility back after that. Kinda.
The Amityville Horror.
This one I had only discovered recently. I love my real crime documentaries and just recently watched an episode of Great Crimes & Trials of the 20th Century, which was based on the shocking murders at Amityville house, in the US. The Amityville Horror movie was made in 1979, starring Superman star Margot Kidder and James Brolin. It was one of the most successful films of its time as it was an independently produced movie.
This was the start of what would be a valuable but dodgy franchise. Amityville II: The Possession, was released in 1982, but despite negative reviews, it was a commercial success. Not bad for a prequel. To cash in on the fad that was 3D movies around the 1980s, Amityville 3-D (or Amityville III: The Demon) was made and released in 1983. This is technically not a direct sequel due to a lawsuit with the Lutz family, and was a flop. Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes, bursts onto the scene in 1989, but only as a TV movie. Number 5 in the series is 1990’s The Amityville Curse. The odd thing is with this movie is that there is no connection with the original house, family, nor the Amityville murders. The only slight reference is that it was based in Amityville.
Still on the same lines of direct-to-video, signs of exhausting the franchise were starting to show in the highly original titles for the movies – such as the 6th movie in the series – Amityville 1992: It’s About Time. Released, well, in 1992, it really didn’t have much to do with the basis of what The Amityville Horror was all about, except for a possessed clock. It was released on DVD in 2005, but the year 1992 was removed from the title. All you had to do was wait a few months and in 1993, the 7th sequel was released as direct-to-video: Amityville: A New Generation. This time, instead of a possessed clock, it was a possessed mirror.
However, as the general public can’t get enough direct-to-video sequels, the 8th movie is delivered in 1996, as Amityville Dollhouse. Just when you run out of ideas, instead of using the original house, how about a dollhouse that’s a replica of the Amityville home? It must be the style and frame of the house that makes it so evil. It’s definitely the 1/4 moon windows that somewhat act like eyes. Throw Barbie and Ken in, they’ll come alive and act like Chucky from Childs Play. Evil I tells ya! EEEEVVVVVIIIIILLLLLLL! SPOILER The amusing thing is the way they destroy the dollhouse is they throw it in the fire of the house they live in (which isn’t Amityville), which then leads to burning down the main house. All the evil spirits float away… or do they?
After stretching as much juice as you could out of a family that was tragically murdered in the 1970s, things laid dormant in Hollywood – until 2005 when a decent remake was … remade. The Amityville Horror, starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George saddled up to play the Lutzes. Naturally it was a reboot, making it more modern. It was a major success, despite, once again, negative reviews. George Lutz thought the movie was crap and full of lies, and tried to sue the studios in 2006 over its story.
Lutz died of heart disease later that year.
There’s also a rumour that there may be ANOTHER sequel, due for release in 2010.
We’re all aware of the teen cumming-of-sexual-age comedy, where Jim fucks the apple pie because he’s a horny virgin and hopes to pop his cherry after prom night. It also coined the term MILF (Mum I’d Like to Fuck – I wonder now how many Google searches I’m going to get from that?) In 1999, the first American Pie created a new chapter in teen sex comedies for Generation Y and beyond. The 2001 sequel, American Pie 2, contained the original cast from the first, and experience ‘the real world’ of working for a damn living, reminising on their popped cherries, hoping to score some more.
The studios saw this as an awesome cash cow for teens with disposable income, and pushed through with the next stage in life – 2003’s American Pie: The Wedding (or in some areas of the world, American Wedding). 3/4 of the cast returned, with 1/4 of the cast being written out because they couldn’t stretch any more links in with the main cast. One of the main cast though, Chris Klein, who played Oz, didn’t return due to scheduling conflicts while filming The Farrelly Brothers family inbred movie Say It Isn’t So. Smart idea??? American Pie: The Wedding wasn’t as successful, but it did tie up loose ends with the characters we grew up loving.
But alas, movie executives need to line their pockets with direct-to-dvd movies that destroy the franchise. Jim’s Dad and The Sherminator make their paid appearances in the 4th movie, 2005’s American Pie Presents: Band Camp. Based around a running joke throughout the first 3 movies, Stifler’s younger brother, Matt, goes to band camp to get laid. Little Stifler only appeared in the first 2, but in the 4th movie, he is portrayed by a different actor. I unfortunately fell for the trick of hiring it out, just to see if it was as sexually disgusting as the first 3. Nup. Shite. But hey, it made enough money to drag out the 5th one in the lot – 2006’s American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile. Now they’ve run out of characters from the original, the only way to link it up is to follow the Stifler gene pool with Steve’s excessive cousins, aunts and uncles. Plus, throw in the only person to have starred in all 5 movies so far – Jim’s Dad. Just as a cameo. Have the girl bump into him at the gym, and get Jim’s Dad to give us a quick catch up on what he’s been up to. Easily linked. Smart writing.
After some drunk writing, someone on the team manages to spit out a script for the 6th film in 2007. American Pie Presents: Beta House. I’ve brought it up here before. I can’t explain how dirty I feel talking about it, so I’ll say Jim’s Dad is in it again. That is all. It’s like a National Lampoon brand name where they’ll throw in any story, but as long as you add American Pie to the start of the title, it’ll ‘sell’.
Now this is where someone on the studio lot thought they might watch the first one again, just to remind themselves how funny the American Pie series was, and create a link to the first one. Remember ‘The Book’ that Kevin turned to that was hidden away in the library, so he could learn how to go all cunning lingus on the once cute Vicky? Well let’s fast forward 10 years to the day since the first one came out, and have a few pages missing, only to discover that one of the people who was a major contributor to the book was… yes yes… Jim’s Dad. Allow me to present to you – American Pie Presents: The Book Of Love. Eugene Levy, you suck.