Monday, July 3, 2017

The New Line Files: The Island of Orphaned Sequels

While most franchises tend to stay with one company, every now and then they move around. This happened with the Friday the 13th series (though we'll discuss that in a different post) and New Line picked up some other abandoned franchises as well.

As tended to be the case during middle stages of the home video boom, lots of sequels to popular movies ended up being produced strictly for the home viewer. One such case is this misbegotten sequel to the solid creature feature Alligator from 1980. Whereas the original had a good cast of reliable character actors (Robert Forster is fun in the lead and Henry Silva is reliably solid as a gator hunter called in to help), this has a cast of reliable character actors who are given nothing much of note to do. Joseph Bologna and Dee Wallace have been in better films and even Richard Lynch sporting a weak Cajun accent isn't enough to salvage the rather dull, repetitive proceedings. It is essentially the same damn film as the original only with less clever wit (John Sayles wrote the script for the original and by 1991 had a good directing career going) and less gore. Not really worth the time and effort.

Whether you want to call it Ator 2; The Blade Master or even Cave Dwellers, this is one of the more enjoyable Italian sword and sorcery flicks to come in the wake of Conan the Barbarian (Nrew Line picked up quite a few flicks like this in their early 80's period). Endlessly silly (the barbarian hero fights invisible bad guys and makes a hang glider), this provided the meat for my favorite Joel Hodgson era episode of MST3K.

The first two entries in the House franchise are among my favorite flicks from the latter days of New World Pictures (though given how bad many of their films were that's not saying a lot). Quirky and weird, they have an offbeat charm to them and show how to do a horror comedy right. The third (sort of) entry was the rather terrible slasher The Horror Show (even the presence of Lance Henriksen and Brion James aren't enough for me here) and in 1992, New Line got in league with producer Sean Cunningham for this fourth and, to date, final entry in the series.

William Katt returns in his role from the original but that's really the only connection to the rest of the series one can find. Katt dies in a car wreck and his widow has to solve his murder (his brother-in-law set it up to buy the titular house for a dwarf mobster) as supernatural goings on are... Well, going on. It's sort of okay in an in one ear, out the other way. The talking pizza gag is decent.

In 1992, some bright spark got the idea to take Die Hard and The Terminator and violently hulk-smash them into one movie. The end result was a nutty little flick called Project: Shadowchaser that starred Martin Kove in the Bruce Willis role only this time he's been cryogenically frozen, Meg Foster in the Linda Hamilton role and Frank Zagarino as the killer android who also is the leader of a team of terrorists who take over a hospital that is located in an office high rise.


Two years later, the android was back, this time threatening to nuke the world. I'd love to see it but not for the amount I'd have to pay, same goes for the third film which puts the franchise into space, because that always works out well.* Honestly, they're pretty much your average DTV action films from the mid 90's. More than like the trailers before the actual film on the video tape were more of a draw. At least the box look cool.

*Actually, I rather like Leprechaun 4 and Jason X as guilty pleasures but still!

This was one of the first films I covered on the blog and honestly, there isn't a whole lot more I can say about it. The unrated version is the one to see if you must watch it. Outside of that... really not much. I sort of dig the New Line releases that came on on RCA/Columbia Home Video though, before they got their own label.

Though the New Line Home Video release has its charm as well.

New Line had initially purchased the rights to the Texas Chainsaw franchise in order to make more of them along the lines of their Nightmare on Elm Street success but alas, all that ended up happening was the really terrible fourth entry that is one of the more bizarrely bad movies I've encountered. Honestly if it wasn't for the early appearances of Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey, this film would have been forgotten quite rapidly. Columbia handled the film for the most part (I think New Line was just involved in the initial screenings) but New Line would end up back at it seven years later (oh we'll get to that, believe me)

Finally, we hit rock bottom for the Howling series with this seventh... You know what? I'm not even sure this qualifies as a genuine movie! I covered this abomination along with two other Howling sequels a few years back so to summarize: It's just plain terrible. A dull, utterly pointless vanity project for the director/star/bunch of other things Clive Turner who manages to do what not even the second film could do, kill the franchise stone dead.

I think that's enough for now. Stay tuned for more (hopefully better movies) at a later date.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.