Sequels can seem cynical sometimes. Like they’re just put together to ride on the coattails of original movies, cashing in on a former film’s success.
But some follow-up flicks can’t even get that right – with audiences blissfully unaware that the movie they’re watching exists in a completely different universe.
Here’s a bunch of the most surprising examples.
1. My Blue Heaven is the sequel to Goodfellas
Trust us, we’re as blown away by this one as you are. As it turns out, My Blue Heaven, released BEFORE Goodfellas, is technically a sequel to Martin Scorsese’s classic gangster epic.
That’s because it’s based on the same book as Goodfellas, but covers the period that takes place after that movie ends. It was written by Nora Ephron, who contributed to the Goodfellas script via in-depth research.
2. The Silence Of The Lambs is the sequel to Manhunter
The Silence Of The Lambs is the one of the most acclaimed horror thrillers of all time.
It won the Best Picture Oscar, in addition to four other Academy Awards. And yet it’s rarely mentioned when people discuss the best sequels ever made, mainly because people seem to have forgotten it was actually a follow-up to Manhunter, Michael Mann’s ‘80s neon take on Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth hunting out.
3. The Colour Of Money is the sequel to The Hustler
Despite the fact Paul Newman’s playing exactly the same character, many of The Colour Of Money’s audience didn’t realise that the movie was a direct sequel to The Hustler, mainly because most of them weren’t even born when the original was released.
The Hustler came out in 1961, Colour Of Money hit cinemas in 1986 – 25 years after the original. That’s some Boyhood / Before Sunrise commitment to continuing a narrative!
4. Soldier is the sequel to Blade Runner
Loads of critics were operating under the misapprehension that Blade Runner 2049 was the first sequel to Blade Runner, conveniently forgetting Paul WS Anderson’s spiritual follow-up, which is packed with references to Philip K Dick’s work, and includes some of Blade Runner’s vehicles as part of the set design, and is technically in the same universe.
5. Everybody Wants Some is the sequel to Dazed and Confused
In 2016, Richard Linklater made a film about college baseball players in Texas in 1980 which had a very similar tone to one of his earlier films. The director considers Everybody Wants Some to be not only a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, which was set on the last day of high school in 1976, but also to another one of his movies: Boyhood. That’s because “It begins right where Boyhood ends with a guy showing up at college and meeting his new roommates and a girl.”
6. The Devil’s Rejects is the sequel to House Of 1000 Corpses
The Devil’s Rejects was a break-out hit for Rob Zombie, making $17 million dollars from a $7 million dollar budget. It had an audience outside of the usual horror fans, and we’re fairly sure every single one of them had no idea it was a sequel.
They were unlikely to have heard of House Of 1000 Corpses, because it had been dumped by its studio, Universal.
Still, the movie works without any knowledge of the former instalment, with its self-contained plot only really continuing the concept of a serial killing family from the first film. The fact it was shot in a completely different style probably helped too.
7. Frost/Nixon is the sequel to Nixon
Oliver Stone’s Nixon ends with the President’s resignation. Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon opens with it, via television footage. So, even though they’re made by completely different production teams, featuring a totally different cast, technically, Howard’s film is a sequel to Stone’s, and can be watched back-to-back in a pretty heavy double-bill.
8. Last Flag Flying is the sequel to The Last Detail
Nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Nicholson), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Randy Quaid) and Best Adapted Screenplay, the movie adaptation of Darryl Ponicsan’s novel, The Last Detail, is still considered one of the best movies of 1970s.
In 2005, Ponicsan wrote a follow-up to the book, featuring the same characters late on in life. In 2017, Richard Linklater adapted that book into Last Flag Flying, ostensibly making an unofficial sequel to a classic drama that no-one could have predicted would eventually become a franchise.
9. S.W.A.T: Firefight is the sequel to S.W.A.T
You’d be forgiven for thinking that S.W.A.T Firefight was just another generic action-thriller, especially as it doesn’t share a single cast member, or even refer to, the first film in the series. But, believe it or not, this direct-to-video movie is a follow-up to 2003’s S.W.A.T, which starred Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, and LL Cool J, inspired by the 1975 TV series of the same name. Firefight starred Gabriel Macht, Carly Pope, Giancarlo Esposito and Kristanna Loken, which is probably a little less impressive.