Pin It

The worst cult film sequels ever

Just because the first film was good doesn’t always mean you can recreate the magic, so here is a definitive list of sequels that you definitely shouldn’t bother watching

While cult films often seemingly defy definition and live outside of generic conventions, there is one thing that remains true: they are well loved by a dedicated fanbase. They are often failures critically or commercially, shunned by mainstream audiences only to be adopted by the underground; adoring fans loving the film either ironically or genuinely, holding midnight screenings in its honour.

Of course, with most successful films, there comes a sequel; often with cult film, a direct-to-video one. These sequels are cheap exploitations of the love that the fans had for the original, and they usually fail. Most fans of the original will give the sequel a watch because, well, they loved the first and everyone said that was shit. But these sequels often miss the elusive element that made the original so beloved and end up being so bad they’re bad rather than so bad they’re good.

Here, I’ll watch and review some of our favourite films’ much-maligned sequels so you don’t have to.


Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial book was passed around Hollywood for years, with everyone from Stuart Gordon to David Cronenberg attached to adapt it. Due to its graphic violence and extended descriptive scenes it was considered unfilmable, until Mary Harron took the project and chose to amp up the comedy. While hated by fans of the book and by viewers who still considered it too violent, the film gained a cult following who enjoyed its humour and its satire of Wall Street.

A stand-alone sequel was released in 2002, directed by 16 and Pregnant producer Morgan J. Freeman, and was originally intended as a separate project with the Patrick Bateman subplot added later. The film follows student Rachel Newman (Mila Kunis) after she murders Bateman when he kills her babysitter. Rachel then becomes a murderer herself, slaying anyone who stands between herself and a teaching assistant position.

She kills sloppily and without remorse, and while the film makes literally no sense with relation to the American Psycho timeline, it’s almost watchable. It borrows a great deal from high school films rather than crime, and is overacted by Kunis to the point of hammy. This is where it remains in its way faithful to the original. Repeated references to The Silence of the Lambs (Rachel is obsessed with becoming an FBI Agent) and Basic Instinct (murder by icepick) show a genuine effort of faith to the genre. Despite its flimsy premise, American Psycho 2 was not the worst.


Some blame Donnie Darko’s initial failure on the fact that it came out shortly after 9/11 and had an aeroplane accident in its narrative. However, it picked up massive success in the video market with fans re-watching it to pick up on new themes. Director Richard Kelly tried to get a sequel off the ground but failed and a direct-to-video was released in 2009 by a different director. The sequel follows Samantha Darko as she embarks on a cross-country trip with her best friend due to the strife in her family caused by Donnie’s death. She’s meandering and unnecessarily dark, frequently saying “weird” things about how everything is black or we are all going to die. 

Apparently with no family or authorities to call the girls become stuck in the town and embroiled in the drama that comes with, as the film gets bogged down with broken-girl and Middle-America tropes. Despite leaning heavily on some of the well-known motifs of Donnie Darko – bunny masks, wormholes, time travel – the film eschews the thing that made Donnie so watchable: the humour. S. Darko wilfully shuns comedy in favour of naval-gazing and unnecessary darkness, with none of the characters providing anything approaching comic relief.

The difference between S. Darko and Donnie is not budget or actors but that Donnie was full of one-liners – fans will more often evoke lines such as “what’s a fuckass?” over its existentialism when citing reasons for their love. Despite a cast full of teen TV veterans and the themes you might expect from a Donnie Darko sequel, S. Darko was just too pseudo-deep to be watchable.


While Roger Kumble’s 1999 film about privileged teens embroiled in manipulative games didn’t exactly crash and burn at the box office, it was widely derided for its campy acting, semi-incest, and narrative. The film, starring a mid-Buffy fame Sarah Michelle Gellar, built its acclaim over time and became the subject of cultural mockery. In recent years, it has been picked up for a TV series (starring SMG) and a musical which its stars endorsed. Before then, though, it spawned not one but two direct-to-video sequels.

The first, Manchester Prep, was conceived by Roger Kumble originally as a TV series, but he spliced the first three episodes together and inserted sexual scenes for DVD release. Starring none of the original cast, it was widely despised by even fans of the exceedingly 90s original. The 2004 DTV sequel missing Roger Kumble fared even worse, a central rape storyline making it an impossible candidate for even a trashy viewing.

Manchester Prep, however, doesn’t completely miss the joy of the original – its unabashed over-the-top acting replete with late 90s hits and sexual innuendo make for an honest attempt, but it’s a poor imitation. The actors that made the original watchable are absent, and although Amy Adams will go on to have an impressive career, she’s a weak Kathryn. In the first film, we are made to believe that Sebastian is an unrelenting sociopath who turns good when he falls in love, however, here we are shown that he’s actually a decent guy turned evil by a threesome with his stepsister. It makes little sense, and a familiar template doesn’t make it as enjoyable as the original. Despite its narrative nonsense as a prequel, however, it’s just schlocky enough to at least be worth some laughs.


Two years before Ryan Phillippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar would work together on Cruel Intentions, there was I Know What You Did Last Summer. The horror film, following a group of teenagers after they accidentally kill someone and are stalked by a fisherman, opened to mixed critical reviews and commercial success. It is mocked by the horror community but earned itself a cult following and is seen as a staple of mid-90s cinema, complete with a who’s who cast. In an attempt to bank on its semi-success, a second and third film were released.

While the original was written by Scream’s Kevin Williamson and had some self-awareness, the second and third followed the traditional horror stereotypes that the original had attempted to shun. The second was rushed in an attempt to release it shortly after the first, which led to critics calling it half-baked. The deaths of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe’s characters, along with her fear of Ben Willis, lead Jennifer Love-Hewitt’s character down a rabbit hole that ends in the final showdown between her and Ben Willis. The issue is in the film’s laziness and lack of self-awareness, as well as its unabashed gore compared to the original’s lack thereof. 

The third, I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, features none of the original cast in a poor imitation of the basic model which tries to establish Ben Willis as a Jason character despite being previously human. The teenagers tell one another the legend of The Fisherman and his hook, pulling pranks until one of them dies in a dangerous accident. They are then haunted by messages in an unwatchable, cheap flick filmed on a video camera that relies on cheap scares and a cultural understanding of the original.


Cult films don’t always have to flop – sometimes they can be critical and commercial successes, but the audience’s fervent love is what defines it as cult – it’s in how they love it, as well as how much. After the 2004 release, Mean Girls immediately came to define a generation, becoming the Clueless for girls (and boys) of the mid-2000s. It became the most-quoted film of all time with regular screenings, GIFs, drinking games, and Wednesday-pink wearing sessions planned in its honour. Word of a sequel was bandied around for some time in light of its unexpected success, and a direct-to-DVD stand-alone was released in 2011 after being aired initially on TV.

Mean Girls 2 featured none of the "main" cast and betrays the original in almost every conceivable way – wherein Tina Fey’s 2004 film was self-effacing and understood its place in the teen movie canon, subverting stereotypes for a moral story of acceptance and non-shittiness, the sequel is judgemental not only through its main character but in its tone. Despite some lazy references to the original, all it shares is a name. Jo is a judgmental, “better than you” tomboy who sees the plastics as useless “sluts” and references Chastity’s “libido problem” completely betraying the message of the original that we should not be calling one another sluts and whores. As well as its completely out-of-touch snootiness and slapstick comedy, it is full of out-of-date cultural references – the dog in handbag? Fringed leather? Avril-esque tomboy? All very 2002, and very lazy.


Tarantino and Rodriguez’s George Clooney and Harvey Keitel starring 1996 film enjoyed moderate success at the box office, with some critics confused or offended by their intentionally trashy aesthetics. However, it has since developed a major cult following, if mostly with Tarantino fanboys. In 1996 a direct-to-video sequel, From Dusk Til Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money came out in 1999, was released by horror director and writer Scott Spiegel. Despite the screenplay being written by Tarantino, the film failed, both with commercial audiences and cult ones. However, as with many of these films, another sequel still followed. 

Where Tarantino and Rodriguez’s genuine reverence for film came through in their impressive attempt at a genre flick, the sequels were poor imitations. While cheap isn’t always an indicator of quality, longtime friend of Sam Raimi (and writer of Evil Dead II) directed From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money to poor reviews. Receiving an aggregate score of 9% and being widely derided even by fans of the original, the Robert Patrick starring film has none of the excitement or wit of the original and focuses instead on cheap scares with tonnes of blood and sickness-provoking point-of-view shots.

It has more in common with a monster movie, with murderous bats attacking people in extended Hitchcockian scenes. The third-ranked slightly better, going on to become the best-selling direct-to-video film of dimension but receiving criticism for re-treading the same ground as the original. P.J. Pesce, who was sought out by Tarantino and Rodriguez, did a decent job directing, shooting the action with energy; ambitiously directing a film that might have been better were it separate from the franchise.