10 Famous Movies With Direct-to-Video Sequels Nobody Remembers

We see them everywhere, but they rarely warrant more than a cocked head and a bemused glance. They’ve been around since (at least) the mid-1990s, most of them are terrible, and (in large part) we can thank/blame Disney for their very existence.

They are the “direct-to-video” sequels.

We probably didn’t think all that much of it when Disney released The Return of Jafar for the VHS market back in 1994; at the time it probably seemed like a perfectly logical way to keep a popular franchise rolling along without devoting an inordinate amount of time or money to the final product. The logic seems to be that if a film is produced specifically for the home video market, then everyone involved (from the studio all the way down to the viewer) assumes there will be a tangible—albeit hopefully not unacceptable—dip in overall quality.

Disney opted to bail on the DTV sequel market back in 2007, but the damage was done. All the other home video departments in Hollywood jumped in to fill the void. And you can pretty much guess what happened: virtually any genre film that made a half-decent showing at the box office was suddenly eligible for a series of DTV sequels. And while not all of these movies are awful (Wrong Turn 2, for example, is better than a lot of theatrically-released slasher-style sequels), the vast majority are pretty slipshod affairs. (Though even when a DTV sequel is good, as in the case of some Undisputed and Universal Soldier entries, there’s still an unpleasant stigma attached to the films.) So instead of shining a spotlight on the worst DTV sequels, we thought it’d be more amusing to focus on the strangest ones. The ones that make you do a double-take while walking through Target and think “WTF?”

1. Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice (2002)

This is about when we knew that no classic was safe, that any film could warrant a DTV sequel, and that curiosity can often lead to truly painful experiences. The original Slap Shot (1977) is an absolute classic about hockey, violence, loyalty, and profanity. So when Universal decided to exploit the title, hire Stephen Baldwin, and bring back the infamous Hanson brothers for a late-arriving non-sequel, we had to check it out. Suffice to say that the trailer is better than the actual movie, if only because it’s much shorter. The producers tried to squeeze one more drop of blood out of this stone in 2008 with the “kid-friendly” Slap Shot 3: The Junior League, which makes one wonder if those producers have ever actually seen the original Slap Shot.

2. Lost Boys: The Thirst (2010)

Whether you’re old enough to have seen it in theaters or young enough to appreciate an all-star vampire ensemble, there’s no denying that The Lost Boys (1987) is still a pretty cool horror flick. But instead of mounting a full-bore sequel or another remake, WB decided to go the DTV route with this property, and the result was ... not great. Lost Boys: The Tribe, released in 2008, was a clear indication that there’d be little to no connection to the original film (aside from the presence of Corey Feldman, of course), and this second DTV sequel was dire enough to kill the whole series. Odds are that the next rendition will be a remake, and it will almost certainly be better than these low-rent semi-sequels.

3. Hellraiser 9: Revelations (2011)

This movie (and that’s being nice) is actually known as Hellraiser: Revelations, but we added the numeral in there just to underline the fact that, yes, there have been eight Hellraiser sequels. The original 1987 film played in theaters, of course, as did parts two, three, and (to a lesser degree) four, but since that time we’ve been treated to DTV Hellraiser sequels with titles like Inferno, Hellseeker, Deader, Hellworld, and Revelations. Simply put: you'd be hard pressed to find worse horror sequels than the last few Hellraiser movies, but there is a method to this madness: the producers keep churning out those sequels so that they can retain the rights to the franchise, which in turn allows them to produce the remake they’ve been talking about for five years. That remake better be pretty damn amazing if it’s going to make up for Revelations, which is not merely atrocious, but is the first in the series to not cast Doug Bradley as Pinhead. (Which is super lame.)

4. Marley & Me: The Puppy Years (2011)

How do you make a sequel to a family tearjerker in which the title character (huge spoiler alert!) dies at the end? Well, if you’re the producers of the tragically popular Marley & Me (2008), you not only go the DTV route, you also go full prequel and give the puppy an audible monologue, not unlike what we saw in the classic 1993 comedy Look Who’s Talking Now. Just try to make it all the way through this trailer without thinking of how the first film ended. We dare you.

5. A Christmas Story 2 (2012) 

This one really makes us angry. It’s as if someone at WB Home Video finally realized that, “Wow, 1983’s A Christmas Story is still a very profitable movie all these years later. And so obviously what the marketplace demands is a shoddy stinkhole of a non-sequel that uses the title (and the font!) of the original film, but nothing in the way of its wit, warmth, or quality.” It’s not just that the original movie is so damn good; it’s also that the “sequel” is little more than a desperately unfunny collection of references to the 1983 Bob Clark classic. If you want a “sorta sequel” to A Christmas Story, ignore this piece of junk and go dig up 1994’s My Summer Story (a.k.a. It Runs in the Family), which is actually quite charming.

6. Tooth Fairy 2 (2012)

The first Tooth Fairy (2010) isn’t exactly a family classic, but the idea of Dwayne Johnson as the title character contributed (at least) a small dash of novelty to the proceedings. The sorta-sequel replaces The Rock with—wait for it—Larry the Cable Guy. Yeah. Because we all know how much little kids adore spending 90 minutes with ... Larry the Cable Guy. Given the choice, kids would probably opt to go to bed early instead of staying up late to watch this clunky, mirthless mess. But apparently someone at Fox Home Entertainment thought Lawrence of Cable Repair did a great job because, well, check out the next sequel on this list …

7. Jingle All The Way 2 (2014)

First Larry the Cable Guy replaced The Rock in Tooth Fairy 2, and here he’s replacing Arnold Schwarzenegger in a powerfully terrible “sequel” to 1996’s (also powerfully terrible) Jingle All the Way. Both Jingle All the Way movies display mean-spirited humor, atrocious writing, and a grossly wrong-headed message about holiday consumerism ... but only one has Larry the Cable Guy in it.

8. The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015)

Yep. Part 4. Which means that this is the third sequel to a spinoff of a sequel to a remake. Who knew that 1999’s The Mummy would turn out to be the “original” source of so much schlock? Of course The Rock (the first Scorpion King) is long gone by now, but in his place we’ve gotten Randy Couture (Part 2), Dave Bautista (Part 3), and Victor Webster (Part 4). Each of the sequels is broad, goofy, and sloppily made, but they sometimes actually work as Saturday afternoon matinee adventure flicks. And it’s not like the first Scorpion King was some sort of classic.

9. Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse (2015)

Although not a huge hit at the box office in 1996, the original Dragonheart has gone on to become a bona fide cult favorite, thanks to cable and home video—so of course it had to spawn at least two late-arriving video sequels. Dragonheart: A New Beginning (2000) didn’t exactly produce any sort of new beginning for the series, which laid dormant for another 15 years before someone at Universal decided to try again. The Sorcerer’s Curse is goofy, low-budget adventure fare all the way, but to be fair it’s a slight improvement over its predecessor. All things being relative, that is.

10. Lake Placid vs. Anaconda (2015)

We all remember Anaconda (1997), but do you recall the sequels? Part 2 (Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid) played in theaters, while Part 3 (The Offspring) and Part 4 (Trail of Blood) did not. How about Lake Placid (1999), the low-key and dryly amusing killer croc flick? Well that one spawned no less than three DTV sequels of its own. So obviously the producers decided that the franchises should combine forces for a Part 5—and therefore we’ve been graced with a film called, you guessed it, Lake Placid vs. Anaconda, which makes no sense grammatically (a lake fighting a snake?) but does feature all sorts of wacky animal brawls. And let’s face it: if you’ve already seen four Lake Placid movies and four Anaconda movies, you’re probably more than happy to sit down with a Part 5 combination platter.

And that’s pretty much why DTV sequels exist in the first place: because movie geeks are nothing if not loyal to their favorite movies—even when they probably shouldn’t be.

Marvel Entertainment
10 Facts About Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian
Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment

Nearly every sword-wielding fantasy hero from the 20th century owes a tip of their horned helmet to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. Set in the fictional Hyborian Age, after the destruction of Atlantis but before our general recorded history, Conan's stories have depicted him as everything from a cunning thief to a noble king and all types of scoundrel in between. But beneath that blood-soaked sword and shield is a character that struck a nerve with generations of fantasy fans, spawning adaptations in comics, video games, movies, TV shows, and cartoons in the eight decades since he first appeared in the December 1932 issue of Weird Tales. So thank Crom, because here are 10 facts about Conan the Barbarian.


Conan wasn’t the only barbarian on Robert E. Howard’s resume. In 1929, the writer created Kull the Conqueror, a more “introspective” brand of savage that gained enough interest to eventually find his way onto the big screen in 1997. The two characters share more than just a common creator and a general disdain for shirts, though: the first Conan story to get published, “The Phoenix on the Sword,” was actually a rewrite of an earlier rejected Kull tale titled “By This Axe I Rule!” For this new take on the plot, Howard introduced supernatural elements and more action. The end result was more suited to what Weird Tales wanted, and it became the foundation for future Conan tales.


A few months before Conan made his debut in Weird Tales, Howard wrote a story called "People of the Dark" for Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror about a man named John O’Brien who seemed to relive his past life as a brutish, black-haired warrior named … Conan of the reavers. Reave is a word from Old English meaning to raid or plunder, which is obviously in the same ballpark as barbarian. And in the story, there is also a reference to Crom, the fictional god of the Hyborian age that later became a staple of the Conan mythology. This isn't the barbarian as we know him, and it's certainly not an official Conan tale, but the early ideas were there.


Howard was meticulous in his world-building for Conan, which was highlighted by his 8600-word history on the Hyborian Age the character lived in. But the one area the creator had no interest in was linearity. Conan’s first story depicted him already as a king; subsequent stories, though, would shift back and forth, chronicling his early days as both a thief and a youthful adventurer.

There’s good reason for that, as Howard himself once explained: “In writing these yarns I've always felt less as creating them than as if I were simply chronicling his adventures as he told them to me. That's why they skip about so much, without following a regular order. The average adventurer, telling tales of a wild life at random, seldom follows any ordered plan, but narrates episodes widely separated by space and years, as they occur to him.”


For fans of the pulp magazines of the early 20th century, one of the only names bigger than Robert E. Howard was H.P. Lovecraft. The two weren’t competitors, though—rather, they were close friends and correspondents. They’d often mail each other drafts of their stories, discuss the themes of their work, and generally talk shop. And as Lovecraft’s own mythology was growing, it seems like their work began to bleed together.

In “The Phoenix on the Sword,” Howard made reference to “vast shadowy outlines of the Nameless Old Ones,” which could be seen as a reference to the ancient, godlike “Old Ones” from the Lovecraft mythos. In the book The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, editor Patrice Louinet even wrote that Howard’s earlier draft for the story name-dropped Lovecraft’s actual Old Ones, most notably Cthulhu.

In Lovecraft’s “The Shadow of Time,” he describes a character named Crom-Ya as a “Cimmerian chieftain,” which is a reference to Conan's homeland and god. These examples just scratch the surface of names, places, and concepts that the duo’s work share. Whether you want to read it all as a fun homage or an early attempt at a shared universe is up to you.


Howard was only 30 when he died, so there aren’t as many completed Conan stories out in the world as you’d imagine—and there are even less that were finished and officially printed. Despite that, the character’s popularity has only grown since the 1930s, and publishers looked for a way to print more of Howard’s Conan decades after his death. Over the years, writers and editors have gone back into Howard’s manuscripts for unfinished tales to doctor up and rewrite for publication, like "The Snout in the Dark," which was a fragment that was reworked by writers Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp. There were also times when Howard’s non-Conan drafts were repurposed as Conan stories by publishers, including all of the stories in 1955's Tales of Conan collection from Gnome Press.


Chances are, the image of Conan you have in your head right now owes a lot to artist Frank Frazetta: His version of the famous barbarian—complete with rippling muscles, pulsating veins, and copious amounts of sword swinging—would come to define the character for generations. But the look that people most associate with Conan didn’t come about until the character’s stories were reprinted decades after Robert E. Howard’s death.

“In 1966, Lancer Books published new paperbacks of Robert E. Howard's Conan series and hired my grandfather to do the cover art,” Sara Frazetta, Frazetta's granddaughter owner and operator of Frazetta Girls, tells Mental Floss. You could argue that Frazetta’s powerful covers were what drew most people to Conan during the '60s and '70s, and in recent years the collector’s market seems to validate that opinion. In 2012, the original painting for his Lancer version of Conan the Conqueror sold at auction for $1,000,000. Later, his Conan the Destroyer went for $1.5 million.

Still, despite all of Frazetta’s accomplishments, his granddaughter said there was one thing he always wanted: “His only regret was that he wished Robert E. Howard was alive so he could have seen what he did with his character.”


The cover to Marvel's Conan the Barbarian #21
Marvel Entertainment

Conan’s origins as a pulp magazine hero made him a natural fit for the medium’s logical evolution: the comic book. And in 1970, the character got his first high-profile comic launch when Marvel’s Conan The Barbarian hit shelves, courtesy of writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith.

Though now it’s hailed as one of the company’s highlights from the ‘70s, the book was nearly canceled after a mere seven issues. The problem is that while the debut issue sold well, each of the next six dropped in sales, leading Marvel’s then editor-in-chief, Stan Lee, to pull the book from production after the seventh issue hit stands.

Thomas pled his case, and Lee agreed to give Conan one last shot. But this time instead of the book coming out every month, it would be every two months. The plan worked, and soon sales were again on the rise and the book would stay in publication until 1993, again as a monthly. This success gave way to the Savage Sword of Conan, an oversized black-and-white spinoff magazine from Marvel that was aimed at adult audiences. It, too, was met with immense success, lasting from 1974 to 1995.


John Milius’s 1982 Conan movie is a classic of the sword and sorcery genre, but its original script from Oliver Stone didn’t resemble the final product at all. In fact, it barely resembled anything related to Conan. Stone’s Conan would have been set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, where the barbarian would do battle against a host of mutant pigs, insects, and hyenas. Not only that, but it would have also been just one part of a 12-film saga that would be modeled on the release schedule of the James Bond series.

The original producers were set to move ahead with Stone’s script with Stone co-directing alongside an up-and-coming special effects expert named Ridley Scott, but they were turned down by all of their prospects. With no co-director and a movie that would likely be too ambitious to ever actually get finished, they sold the rights to producer Dino De Laurentiis, who helped bring in Milius.


When President Barack Obama sent out a mass email in 2015 to the members of Organizing for Action, he was looking to get people to offer up stories about how they got involved within their community—their origin stories, if you will. In this mass email, the former Commander-in-Chief detailed his own origin, with a shout out to a certain barbarian:

“I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman.

Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story—the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.”

This bit of trivia was first made public in 2008 in a Daily Telegraph article on 50 facts about the president. That led to Devil’s Due Publishing immortalizing the POTUS in the 2009 comic series Barack the Barbarian, which had him decked out in his signature loincloth doing battle against everyone from Sarah Palin to Dick Cheney.


The father of 20th century fantasy may always be J.R.R. Tolkien, but Howard is a close second in many fans' eyes. Though Tolkien’s work has found its way into more scholarly literary circles, Howard’s can sometimes get categorized as low-brow. Quality recognizes quality, however, and during a conversation with Tolkien, writer L. Sprague de Camp—who himself edited and touched-up numerous Conan stories—said The Lord of the Rings author admitted that he “rather liked” Howard’s Conan stories during a conversation with him. He didn’t expand upon it, nor was de Camp sure which Conan tale he actually read (though it was likely “Shadows in the Moonlight”), but the seal of approval from Tolkien himself goes a long way toward validation.

15 Podcasts That Will Make You Feel Smarter

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the podcast options out there, but narrowing down your choices to the titles that will teach you something while you listen is a good place to start. If you're interested in learning more about philosophy, science, linguistics, or history, here are podcasts to add to your queue.


The Habitat is the closest you can get to listening to a podcast recorded on Mars. At the start of the series, five strangers enter a dome in a remote part of Hawaii meant to simulate a future Mars habitat. Every part of their lives over the next year, from the food they eat to the spacesuits they wear when they step outside, is designed to mimic the conditions astronauts will face if they ever reach the red planet. The experiment was a way for NASA to test plans for a manned mission to Mars without leaving Earth. The podcast, which is produced by Gimlet media and hosted by science writer Lynn Levy, ends up unfolding like a season of the Real World with a science fiction twist.


Can’t pick a topic to educate yourself on? Stuff You Should Know from How Stuff Works is the podcast for you. In past episodes, hosts Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark (both writers at How Stuff Works) have discussed narwhals, Frida Kahlo, LSD, Pompeii, hoarding, and Ponzi schemes. And with three episodes released a week, you won’t go long without learning about a new subject.


Language nerds will find a kindred spirit in Helen Zaltzman. In each episode of her Radiotopia podcast The Allusionist, the former student of Latin, French, and Old English guides listeners through the exciting world of linguistics. Past topics include swearing, small talk, and the differences between British and American English.


Listening to all of Philosophize This! is cheaper than taking a philosophy class—and likely more entertaining. In each episode, host Stephen West covers different thinkers and ideas from philosophy history in an approachable and informative way. The show proceeds in chronological order, starting with the pre-Socratic era and leading up most recently to Jacques Derrida.


In 2016, Radiolab, one of the most popular and well-established educational podcasts out there, launched a show called More Perfect. Led by Radiolab host Jad Abumrad, each episode visits a different Supreme Court case or event that helped shape the highest court in the land. Because of that, the podcast ends up being about a lot more than just the Supreme Court, exploring topics like police brutality, gender equality, and free speech online.


The Watergate scandal was such a important chapter in American history that it has its own suffix—but when asked to summarize the events, many people may draw a blank. Slow Burn, a podcast from Slate, gives listeners a refresher. In eight episodes, host Leon Neyfakh tells the story of the Nixon’s demise as it unfolded, all while asking whether or not citizens would be able to recognize a Watergate-sized scandal if it happened today.


Instead of using a broad scope to examine World War II, the Washington Post podcast Letters From War focuses on hundreds of letters exchanged by four brothers fighting in the Pacific during the period. Living U.S. military veterans tell the sibling's story while reflecting on their own experiences with war.


Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the soothing sound of LeVar Burton’s voice reading to you. The former host of Reading Rainbow now hosts LeVar Burton Reads, a podcast from Stitcher aimed at adults. In each episode, he picks a different piece of short fiction to narrate: Just settle into a comfortable spot and listen to him tell stories by authors like Haruki Murakami, Octavia Butler, and Ursula K. Le Guin.


Brains On! is an educational podcast for young audiences, but adults have something to gain from listening as well. Every week, host Molly Bloom is joined by a new kid co-host who helps her explore a different topic. Tune in for answers to questions like "What makes paint stick?" and "How do animals breathe underwater?"


There’s a lot of misinformation out there—if you’re determined to sort out fact from fiction, it can be hard to know where to start. The team of “friendly fact checkers” at the Science Vs podcast from Gimlet is here to help. GMOs, meditation, birth control, Bigfoot—these are just a few of the topics that are touched upon in the weekly show. The goal of each episode is to replace any preconceived notions you have with hard science.


No one knows for sure what the future holds, but Flash Forward lays out the more interesting possibilities. Some of the potential futures that host and producer Rose Eveleth explores are more probable than others (a future where no one knows which news sources to trust isn’t hard to imagine; one where space pirates drag a second moon into orbit perhaps is), but each one is built on real science.


What motivates the everyday choices we make? That’s the question Shankar Vedantam tries to answer on the NPR podcast Hidden Brain. The show looks at how various unconscious patterns shape our lives, like what we wear and who we choose to spend time with.


The fact that it’s hosted by Mental Floss founders Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur isn’t the only reason we love Part-Time Genius. The podcast from How Stuff Works wades into topics you didn’t know you were curious about, like the origins of Nickelodeon and the hidden secrets at the Vatican. Each episode will leave you feeling educated and entertained at the same time.


It’s a big universe out there—if you want to learn as much about it as possible, start with Astronomy Cast. Fraser Cain, publisher of the popular site Universe Today, and Dr. Pamela L. Gay, director of the virtual research facility CosmoQuest, host the podcast. They cover a wide range of topics, from the animals we’ve sent to orbit to the color of the universe.


The Science of Happiness podcast from PRI is here to improve your life, one 20-minute episode at a time. Science has proven that adopting certain practices, like mindfulness and gratitude, can make us happier—as does letting go of less unhealthy patterns like grudges and stressful thinking. With award-winning professor Dacher Keltner as your host, you can learn how to incorporate these science-backed strategies for happiness into your own life.


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