La Casa 3:|
In America, sequels to successful horror films almost always resemble their sources pretty closely. In fact, as Joe Bob Briggs points out, when audiences go to see a sequel, they really expect to see the same movie all over again. Depart too much from the template and the audience will desert you, no matter what the merits of your film may be.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the classic example: here was a film which had exactly no connection to the films of the series which came before or after it, and the audiences howled with disappointment. John Carpenter, creator of the original Halloween, was disgusted by the fans' cold reception, but producer Moustapha Akkad took the lesson to heart. The Halloween franchise settled into its rut; and to this day, no American producer would dare green-light a horror sequel that strayed too far from its origins.
In Italy, however, they seem to have a different idea. Now, granted the Italians are even worse than the Americans at churning out damaged clones of popular movies. But for some reason, when they try to build on the success of a named series, they seem to feel they must abandon everything that established the series in the audience's minds.
The source of the mutation seems to be the late, legendary producer Joe D'Amato. In D'Amato's hands, "sequels" had nothing at all to do with their predecessors. It didn't matter if the original series was based on...
... a good movie:
... D'Amato could be counted on to provide a sequel to some other movie.
The Italian title for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series was Non Aprite Quella Porta, which means "Don't Open the Door". This is a lousy title for Tobe Hooper's film, but that's not the point here. D'Amato took Claudio Fragasso's Nightkiller, a horror melodrama from which editor Bruno Mattei had removed most of the violence, and billed it as another entry in the Non Aprite.../Texas Chainsaw... saga. Is it any wonder that Fragasso's film has practically disappeared without trace?
... a bad movie:
OK, it wasn't very fair to re-title Fragasso's movie and possibly alienate his audience. But Fragasso himself bears a huge pile of responsibility for Troll 2, the in-name-only sequel to a Charles Band/Empire Pictures fiasco. The original was a typical Band cheapie, directed by John Buechler with guest appearances by Sonny Bono, June Lockhart and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Certainly it has some camp value, but it hardly seems a good candidate for exploitation. Still, exploit it they did, in an unrelated "sequel" that is currently tied for second worst movie ever made by the IMDB users' poll.
... or his own movie:
D'Amato made a gory horror film called Antropophagus ("Man-eater"), known in English-speaking countries as The Grim Reaper. Antropophagus did rather well with horror fans, getting by mainly on its notoriety (scenes include a fetus-eating episode). So, when the time came to do a sequel, D'Amato's Antropophagus II turned out to be a slavish imitation of... wait for it...
... with the unstoppable superhuman killer chased by the obsessed Van Helsing type (Edmond Purdom instead of Donald Pleasance).
You can't say D'Amato didn't know his audience. He had plenty of experience in exploitation movie-making, having written, directed or produced hundreds of movies in all genres. So there must be some reason I just can't grasp for his insistence on making numbered sequels that were so far removed from their roots.
Bearing all this in mind, can you guess which popular American movie series was retitled La Casa -- "the house" -- in Italy... and subsequently burdened with meaningless "sequels"?
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