Lest we forget that movie-making is a business, and a lucrative one at that, all we need to do is look at the list of terrible sequels that have been made to cash in on the success of good movies. There are a lot of them. In fact, a good sequel is such a rarity that it's an easier critical task to cite the ones that worked as opposed to the long list of those that don't.
Here, we list the 20 worst sequels that followed up good (or, at least, entertaining) original films, and there are literally dozens more contenders that could have been on this list. If only the studios would leave well enough alone.
20. Scream 3 (2000)
Wes Craven's Scream and Scream 2 were playful takes on the horror genre, but by the time the third sequel came along, the series had become ridiculous. We're cautiously optimistic the fourth installment, due out in 2010, will recapture the joy of the originals.
19. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
Before this was a Dirty Dancing sequel, it was the serious tale of American expatriates in pre-Castro Cuba. Listen to NPR's This American Life to hear how it went so terribly awry.
18. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) and Superman Returns (2006)
Although the special effects haven't aged well on any Superman movie, the early ones were fun comic-book fantasies, while Superman IV's absurd plotline (Superman single-handedly prevents nuclear war) was the franchise's death rattle. The 2006 attempt to resurrect the series contained slick production values but none of the original sense of whimsy.
17. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) and At World's End (2007)
Johnny Depp's bizarre comic timing and obvious enjoyment of the role infused life into The Black Pearl (2003), the first film in the Disney series. But after that, the one bright spot in the franchise seemed bored, and a stellar cast and glossy special effects couldn't salvage the tired premise of these films based on theme park rides.
16. Saw III, IV and V (2006, 2007, 2008)
When the first Saw came out in 2004, it was heralded as a disturbing, original, dare-we-say indie-horror film. But the thinning plots cannot withstand a new Saw film coming out once a year. (Stay tuned for VI this Friday, Oct. 23.)