The summer of 2015 blockbuster season at the theatres is already being promoted with ads, trailers and media print for the countless big budget films set to hit screens in just over 6 months. One such film, Terminator: Genisys is the fifth film of a popular franchise. Early gauged interest in the film seems high and expectations are loaded.
But can a fourth sequel bring in the quality (and the crowds) or do things just simply become too familiar to garner interest? We looked at franchises that had four sequels to see if there was a trend. There was. And it wasn’t very good. Franchises have routinely run out of gas by #5. Does this mean Terminator: Genisys will bomb? Who knows. But I wouldn’t be betting against it.
Here is a sampling of our findings of five film franchises with a quick rating of each fifth film in the series:
The Dead Pool (1988)
Hard to believe that our man Clint appeared as Detective Harry Callahan a total of five times. Preceding The Dead Pool were Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976) and Sudden Impact (1983). In this tired fifth film, Harry gets to share screen time with Liam Neeson, Patricia Clarkson and Jim Carrey in his first non-comedic role. The movie, about someone trying to kill celebrities that are listed in a Dead Pool, was only 91 minutes in length and included a ridiculous scene of a remote control toy car strapped with explosives. Anything Clint touches is definitely watchable, but The Dead Pool wasn’t exactly the highlight of the franchise.
Our The Dead Pool Rating (out of 5 stars): **1/2 Stars
Highlander: The Source (2007)
Bet you didn’t know there were five films in the Highlander series. Consider yourself lucky if you were unaware. Highlander: The Source was directed by Brett Leonard – he off such quality work as The Lawnmower Man (1991) and Man-Thing (2005) and had the dubious honors of being the only Highlander film not to be released in theatres in the U.S. The plot had a group of Immortals attempting to locate a ‘Source’ of immortal power and was boring, cheap looking and downright laughable at times.
Our Highlander: The Source Rating (out of 5 Stars): ½ Star
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Why not. After all, we visited the Planet of the Apes (1968), we’ve been Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), we’ve Escaped from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and hell, we even had a Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), so why not Battle them for a fifth time.
Roddy MacDowell and Paul Williams starred in this worthy if not spectacular entry in the Apes series. The film was set 10 years after the Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and it chronicled more of the same with Apes being human and humans being treated like apes. Make-up effects were still brilliant, but originality of the 1968 classic lost a bit of its luster after four more entries.
Our Battle for the Planet of the Apes Rating (out of 5 stars): *** Stars
The Prophecy: Forsaken (2005)
Here’s a surprise (not) – The Prophecy: Forsaken was a direct-to-dvd release. The original Prophecy starred Christopher Walken, Viggo Mortensen., Eric Stoltz, Adam Goldberg and Virginia Madsen. Forsaken starred John Light, Jason London, Kari Wuhrer and Tony Todd. I think I have said enough right there. The film finds us again protecting things from badass Angels that want to bring an end to the world. Forsaken is not the worst of the franchise – that title can go to The Prophecy II, but boy, oh boy, it’s still a stinker.
Our The Prophecy: Forsaken Rating (out of 5 stars): * Star
Death Wish V: The Face of Death (1994)
Death Wish IV: The Crackdown was so bad it was good. But watching an elderly Charles Bronson try and squeeze one more paycheck out of character Paul Kersey was embarrassing. By 1994, Bronson just didn’t look like he had the brawn to take on a gang of violent youths, but that’s exactly what happens in this film that grossed less than $2 million at the box office. It wasn’t all bad. After all, Death Wish V ensured there would be no Death Wish 6.
Our Death Wish V: The Face of Death Rating (out of 5 stars): * Star
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure (2003)
Not only does this entry represent the longest winded title, but it might also be one of the worst. Cousin Eddie (played by Randy Quaid) was funny in small doses in the previous vacation movies, but giving him a front and center role in a film of his own was just wrong. Eddie takes his family to the South Pacific for Christmas in this painfully unfunny film. Gone is Chevy Chase and the other Griswalds that made the previous four films watchable and this made-for-television entry was the stake in the Vacation Vampire heart.
Our Christmas Vacation 2 Rating (out of 5 stars): No stars
Seed of Chucky (2004)
We have always praised the Chucky series for bringing the goods and Seed of Chucky was a worthy entry in a box set which stopped when it totaled five discs. Franchise stalwart, Brad Dourif was back for a fifth time and Jennifer Tilly who joined the franchise a few years earlier as evil doll Tiffany joins him in a tale that was smart enough not to take itself too seriously. After all, we are talking about dolls being able to procreate! Filled with great lines (“I am Chucky, the killer doll! And I dig it!”) and enough of a wink back to the audience so that laughs were as frequent as violent outbursts, Seed of Chucky made us wish they find it in their hearts to make just one more which they eventually did with a straight to DVD title last year.
Our Seed of Chucky Rating (out of 5 stars): ***1/2 Stars
Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker (1991)
The original Silent Night, Deadly Night brought an axe wielding Santa Clause to the holidays. But four entries later, we get The Toymaker, a disgraceful film that somehow got Mickey Rooney and Clint Howard involved. The story about a toymaker that creates toys to kill their owners was executed with the precision of a blind sharpshooter having an epileptic fit while attempting to hit a target. Not much to say except, ‘stay away from this one’.
Our Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker Rating (out of 5 stars): ½ Star
Psycho IV : The Beginning (1990)
Wait a minute! It says right there in the title that there were only 4! True. But if you include Bates Motel, the 1987 television movie that chronicled a mentally disturbed man that roomed with Norman Bates while in the asylum, well, then you have a total of five films. Psycho IV : The Beginning was a prequel which starred Anthony Perkins in the Norman Bates role for the final time. In this entry, Norman is trying to get on with his life, but fears that the Psycho may again be released is introduced when Norman is asked to share his memories with a radio talk show. Not good, but hardly bad. And Perkins had the Bates character down pat.
Our Psycho IV : The Beginning Rating (out of 5 stars): **1/2 Stars
Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)
Only a sequel if you include the cinematic collection of Monty Python efforts that included And Now For Something Completely Different (1974), The Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979) and Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982). The Meaning of Life was a collection of stories which showcased the talents of comics Idle, Cleese, Gilliam, Jones and Palin. Funny and crude stuff that mixed good special effects with gross out humor and added a musical number too boot. “Get me a bucket” is still a highly quotable line and the film has incredible rewatchablity potential.
Our Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life Rating (out of 5 stars): **** Stars
Other films considered but not able to crack our list:
Casper’s Scare School
Universal Soldier: Regeneration
Kickboxer 5: The Redemption
Return of the Living Dead: Rave from the Grave
Scanners: The Showdown
Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV