They say that “age dignifies everything" and I find that’s especially true for movies, because it's very easy to forget how something was perceived in its time. Yesterday’s lurid gangster flick is today’s American film classic. Today's schlock will be looked at as a charming entry in the genre by tomorrow's theorists. And it’s just as easy to forget that a lot of stuff that’s griped about now isn’t really new. Does Justin Bieber deserve a movie? Probably not. Did Prince? What about Elvis and Sinatra?
Fans love to talk like the sky is falling. The latest causes de jour are sequels. Saying so is almost as basic small talk as discussing the weather. f the sky is, indeed, falling, then it’s been falling since the first time any Vaudeville company got the idea to get into the moving pictures business.
To focus the discussion, I started thinking about this when I finally got to see a lot of the Universal Monster movies in those legacy box sets that coincided with Van Helsing. These are (rightfully) considered benchmark classics in American horror but, when you look at these sets holistically, it’s impossible to miss how thoroughly each franchise was milked. Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula’s Daughter, The Invisible Man’s Revenge, all the House movies that rolled together, and so on, and so on. In a lot of cases, ideas were pushed past their natural life. In some cases, though, sequels put some rather inspired twists on the formula. Is Saw VI really different from The Mummy’s Curse? Is Alien vs. Predator a modern Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man? Take a holistic view and the parallels are hard to miss. In that view, it's also harder to write off "higher numbered" sequels categorically, even unnecessary ones.
I’m playing devil’s advocate a bit. There’s no faster way to lose my interest in a movie than for it to be about werewolves, vampires, zombies or some variation on Frankenstein’s monster. But I know that isn’t a new thing (which largely why I’m bored with it) and that it's not inflicting any more damage than uninspired ideas of prior decades have. As an aside, I’d say I have much more tolerance for sequels than I do remakes because, at least, with a sequel you’re advancing the story and, possibly, trying something different with it.So, no answers offered here, just food for thought. We may be seemingly inundated with sequels in 2010, but this medium has lent itself to continuation since the earliest serials. And those old cliffhangers are apt to bring up. They're looked upon with such fondness and nostalgia today, right? Go and watch, say, Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. You’re immediately going to think of today's cheap, awful syndicated TV shows.