Top 10 Film Spin-offs That Bear Little Resemblance to the Original


Once Hollywood gets the gentle whiff of box-office success, it can’t help but try and capitalise by quickly farting out a plethora of sequels, remakes and spin-offs. For a variety of reasons — the original cast not returning, an opportunistic studio or simply a terrible, terrible writing team — these films sometimes bear little or resemblance to the original. There are plenty of them out there and most exist as straight-to-video terrors, films like…

10. Open Water 2: Adrift


For those who remember the first Open Water film you probably thought making a sequel would be tough. The fairly terrifying events of the first movie (couple gets left behind at a dive site, sharks arrive) were based on an actual real live couple with real legs and arms and everything. A follow-up, not featuring the same actors (or sharks), would be pretty impossible. In fact, even sitting down to write such a thing would be an exercise in bloody-minded masochism. This is precisely why the makers of Open Water 2: Adrift completely ignored the original. In fact, they wrote an entirely independent movie called Adrift, which was not only never intended to be a sequel to Open Water it was written before that film even came out.

After the success of the first movie, Adrift’s producers decided their straight-to-video title might linger slightly longer in the public’s imagination if they changed the name and called it a sequel. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Open Water other than they both feature sharks, and water. It they could have gotten away with calling it Jaws 7, they probably would have.

9. Shock Treatment


A suitably bonkers follow-up to the wonderfully nuts Rocky Horror Picture Show. Shock Treatment takes place in the town of Denton, which has now, inexplicably, become a TV studio. The gleeful residents spend their days watching a 24-hour live TV broadcast. Much of the original cast return, though all now play different characters — except Jeremy Newson who returns as Ralph Hapschatt. The only reference to the original movie is the re-appearance of Brad and Jannit, now played by different actors. Neither mention Fran-N-Furter, his beautiful beau Rocky or transexuals from Transylvania.

Of course, it all could have taken place shortly after the events of the first film (once the couple had married), many years after the first movie or in some kind of alternative universe existing entirely inside creator Richard O’Brien’s head.

8. Troll 2


Troll 2 is definitely in the so-awful-it’s-awesome category of films. For starters it boasts one of the worst plots ever. It tells the timeless tale of a family hunted by vegetarian goblins who seek to turn the humans into plants, so they can feast on them. Add in the wonderfully bad dialogue, the terrifically dreadful acting and the supremely shoddy direction and you have something of a perfect storm in terrible filmmaking. It was also never supposed to be a sequel.

Its distributor quite rightly thought the film needed some additional promotion and came up with the bright idea of renaming and advertising it as a sequel to the 80’s original. There are no actual trolls in Troll 2. Of course a film this bad can never just disappear and is now firmly in the cult-classic category and even has its own documentary Best Worst Movie.

7. Halloween III: Season of the Witch


Michael Myers died at the end of the second Halloween film. His reappearance in Halloween III was unlikely; particularly as the franchise’s creator John Carpenter had no intention of bringing him back. Instead Halloween III: Season of the Witch was going to be the start of annual stand-alone tales set around the holiday. The film features neither Jamie Lee Curtis nor Mike Myers. It does, though, boast killer masks.

Unsurprisingly the film didn’t fair too well at the box office and Myers was brought back for Halloween IV: Spring of the Cucumber, or something like that.

6. Clarence


You would have thought it quite hard to make a spin-off, sequel or prequel to the classic Christmas tale It’s A Wonderful Life. A stand-alone parable on the power of prayer and begging, George Bailey’s struggle with old man Potter didn’t need any further elaboration. It didn’t get it either, for 45 years.*

Then the 1990s dawned and someone thought a spin-off was in order. Would the clear sexual tension between Bert and Ernie be re-examined? Maybe George would finally get to do what we all wanted to and punch Sam Wainright in the face. Perhaps predictably, neither happened, nor did George actually appear on screen at all.

Clarence was a made-for-TV romantic comedy centred around George Bailey’s savior the angel Clarence, who returns to Earth to help another family in peril. It features none of the original cast and none of the original’s characters besides Clarence himself who is now played by Robert Carradine (in fairness Henry Travers was dead some 30 years at this point), who bears little resemblance to the angel in Frank Capra’s classic.

Contrary to the Wikipedia entry on the film, Clarence is not on probation because George Bailey killed himself six years after the original film took place. It might have undermined the original’s ending, slightly.

*Bizarrely there was a remake in the seventies with Orson Welles playing the villainous Potter

5. American Psycho 2: All American Girl


Boasting a dream double act of Mila Kunis and William Shatner, this straight-to-video sequel doesn’t feature the original’s main star, a murderous Batman, although his character, Patrick Bateman does appear. He is promptly butchered by Mila Kunis at the beginning of the pic who then goes on a killing spree.

The original’s biting satire is dulled, the suspense dissipated and the humor completely absent. The ambiguity (ie. whether the events of the first film were all in Bateman’s head) is ruined from the beginning by a film that is only linked to its predecessor by a tacked-on intro, designed to squeeze a few extra pennies from this creatively bankrupt sequel.

4. Cruel Intentions 3


The second Cruel Intentions film furthered the adventures of Sebastian and Kathryn by going back in time and showing how they met and the sexy backstabbing shenanigans that followed. The third movie took an entirely different route. It decided to do away with the original cast and characters and tell a story about seduction, duplicity and backstabbing among spoilt attractive rich kids, themes definitely not fully explored in the first two.

Cassidy Merteuil, a cousin of the original’s Kathryn, is the closest thing we get to a connection in this made-for-TV sequel.

3. Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid


After a fairly dreadful first installment, it’s safe to say the world was not holding out for an Anaconda sequel. Alas the world rarely gets what it wants. The second Anaconda movie got rid of the famous people from the first film and replaced them with a bunch of not so famous people. And a monkey. The plot is thus: a group of scientists go to Borneo in search of a flower that can grant immortality. Unexpectedly, they also find some snakes.

The film did at least attempt to explain how the snakes got so big and terrifying, but not how anacondas — not native to Borneo — came to be in the region.

For those interested (and who wouldn’t be) there is a third and a fourth Anaconda film, the first of which stars the world’s greatest German, David Hasselhoff.

2. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights


Some ideas have promise but are badly executed; others just stink from the start. A re-imagining of the charmingly camp cheesiness of Dirty Dancing set amidst the backdrop of the Cuban revolution was not only a bad idea but a thoroughly bizarre one. This might have had something to do with the original screenplay having no hint of a pirouette or rumba. It had, in fact, nothing to do with Dirty Dancing at all. It was originally written by Peter Sagall and commissioned in 1992, as a completely serious political romance depicting how the idealism of the Cuban revolution turned to terror.

A decade later Lawrence Bender was looking for a sequel to Dirty Dancing and decided to adapt, the presumably horrified, Sagall’s script. The political overtones were ditched, the dancing was dirtied, an 80s heartthrob added and this baffling “re-imagining” was born.

1. Speed 2: Cruise Control


Remember the original Speed? It had tension, a simple yet effective plot and, also, speed. It seemed impossible to improve on the simple premise of a bus that just can’t slow down but the makers of Cruise Control were damn sure going to try. It turns out all you had to do was put Sandra Bullock on a boat ponderously sailing its way through the Caribbean for 121 minutes. Boom! Oscars here we come.

Keanu Reeves wisely decided to give this film a miss, severing another of the already tenuous connections between the two films. It would recoup less than half its budget and gone down as one of the great movie-making turkeys.


Kevin Forde edits the parody website and also tweets about stuff.

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  1. There is one interesting reference to Rocky Horror mentioned in Shock Treatment. When looking at a newspaper published on the day Brad was born, there’s a report of a UFO sighting. This was suppose to be when the Transylvanians first arrived on Earth.

  2. I had a chance to talk to Dennis Etchison, who wrote the novelisation of “Halloween III” (mutual friend the late Karl Wagner introduced us at a worldcon) before the film came out.

    He said that the original script (by “Quatermass” creator Nigel Kneale) was flat-out brilliant, but that first-time director Tommy Wallace (and Carpenter) had messed with it until it was almost unrecognisable. (I see that these days IMDB list Kneale as “uncredited”, even though his name was heavily promoted n those days).

    One could see the occasional flash of Kneale’s brilliance in the final film, but mostly it was a slog through hackery by the time it was finished.

  3. actually anacondas are in Borneo, iv been to Borneo and unfortunately while in a market there i came across people illegally selling fresh snake meat which they said was anaconda, later our guide also said that there were a few anacondas where we were staying… next time get your facts right

    • Actually, you are either mistaken as to what you were told or someone was winding you up – anaconda’s are strictly native to South America.

      • just because something is native to one area doesn’t mean it can’t be in another place… introduction is everywhere my friend

  4. The thing with straight-to-video sequels is that they are not sequels at all.They just use the name of the previous movie to make cash.

  5. What about Transformers 3? It had nothing to do with Megan Fox’s cleavage.

  6. Zombi 2, which was marketed in Italy as a sequel to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (also known as Zombi in Italy.)

    I actually prefer Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 (a.k.a. Zombie, a.k.a. Zombie Flesh Eaters) to Dawn of the Dead. A zombie fighting a shark? Hell, yeah! A nasty splinter-in-the-eye scene? Ewww…but yeah!!! 😀 Fulci’s best film (arguably) is The Beyond, though. IMHO.