“Jumping the Shark” is a term that dates back to the TV series Happy Days. The episode where Fonzie jumped over a shark on water skis is widely credited as the time the writers ran out of ideas and started thinking a little too far out of the box.
Almost every long-running horror series has at least one episode that completely goes off the rails and abandons logic, as well as everything that made previous episodes enjoyable.
Some of the movies on this list go to space while others just go to pieces. But the films on this list all have one thing in common: they jumped the shark in one way or another. Read on for ten horror sequels that famously, or maybe infamously, jumped the shark.
There are a few entries in the Halloween franchise I might say “jumped the shark” but I don’t think any have done it more gloriously than Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers. The film attempted to flesh out Michael Myers’ backstory by tying him to a cult and an ancient druidic curse. I have to give credit to screenwriter Daniel Farrands for his originality, but there really is no defense for this episode. Fortunately, Halloween: H20 reconstructed the events of Halloween VII (and several other sequels) and gave us what we really wanted: More Jamie Lee Curtis.
Yes 3-D jaws jumped the shark, Jaws: Revenge danced on his corpse. The fourth installment of the series brought us a psychic shark story and many other half-baked ideas. Nothing in this movie works. Each successive entry in the franchise declines after the original and this was the series’ worst installment by a mile. It almost makes sharks let loose in a water park (as they were in 3-D jaws) seems like a good idea.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
The next generation is the Halloween VII from TCM series. Instead of a Druid cult, you get hints that the Sawyer family has Illuminati ties. Subsequent follow-ups have (understandably) redefined the Illuminati angle. This movie didn’t really take the franchise in a direction that could easily be built on or added to. But he certainly did his fair share by jumping over a specific predatory sea creature.
This made-for-TV movie abandons almost everything that made the success and horror of the first three installments in the series. The performances aren’t good, and the campy, over-the-top nature of the movie makes what was once a scary subject almost comedic. The script is full of problems (despite being written by psychology 1960 scribe Joseph Stefano). Having Norman give a revealing account of his past while calling in a radio talk show gives the film a melodramatic feel and stifles any potential it might have had. The picture has its fans but for me this episode went off the rails and left me wondering how the script was lit in the first place.
Freddie is dead
Freddy’s Dead: The Last Nightmare fails because it ditches the more serious tone of previous films in the franchise and even shoehorns into a ridiculous 3D sequence that’s nearly indistinguishable from parts of the film that are 2D. Freddy’s is full of outdated jokes and Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold even show up in a really weird cameo. I am a fan Elm Street passionate, but the so-called final nightmare just got off the beaten track too much and it’s to the detriment of the film.
Seed of Chucky
I love Don Mancini. He’s a genius and someone whose work I never tire of watching. Unfortunately, Seed of Chucky didn’t quite showcase his best attributes as a director. The movie is very meta and it delivers camp in spades. But trying to make Chucky a family man and a storyline that follows the fate of the Chuckster’s long-lost son didn’t quite resonate with fans. At all. This wacky sequel was too far removed from what made previous installments in the franchise so enjoyable, and much of the humor just didn’t land. One of the film’s weirdest moments finds Chucky and his son performing a Britney Spears lookalike on the road. I appreciate what Mancini was trying to do and what the movie could have been, but it’s definitely the Child’s play sequel that jumped the shark. Luckily, Mancini got things back on track with 2013’s Curse of Chucky.
sprite in space
I could fill an entire article with shenanigans from the Leprechaun series. But that’s another list for another day. This sequel went off the beaten path in many ways. First of all, it starts in the distant future and ends up ending (as the title suggests) in space. And it features a scene depicting the titular character being brought back to life by peeing and then traveling through a stream of urine. And it’s all in the first act.
Return to Camp Sleepaway
There are certain elements that I kind of enjoy about this bizarre sequel. But overall, it’s pretty tragic. It’s nice to see a familiar face return, but the way that face is reintroduced is ridiculous, even for a overnight camp movie. Almost everything about Back to Camp Sleepaway lack. I would have liked to see the series come out on a high note but this sequel really did a disservice to fans of the franchise.
The Leprechaun may have arrived in space first, but Jason Voorhees has made it to theaters across the country. And along the way, this movie proved that space truly is the final frontier for a horror franchise. I’m a huge fan of this entry, despite it being completely ridiculous. I think it’s a really fun movie with a lot of intentional camp. But even I will admit that the very fact that Jason is in space doesn’t do much for anyone to take the movie seriously.
I admire and respect Joe Dante as a director and love almost every movie he has made. However, Gremlins 2 just doesn’t live up to much of the director’s work. This movie really threw everything at the wall to figure out what would stick and never went through the process of filtering out the least effective ideas. As a result, the image gives viewers serum-drinking Gremlins who transform into super Gremlins; a Leonard Maltin cameo; and the appearance of Hulk Hogan. The film ridicules Hollywood sequels but kind of goes off the rails in the process. The commentary on consumerism and money grabbing follow-up efforts is fun, but the sheer level of camp makes this one a little hard to digest.