I was 10 years old in the summer of 1983, and I’ll always remember those warm months in the greater Pittsburgh area with a great deal of fondness – and a twinge of sadness. It was the last summer I’d spend in the area where I grew up – the next year would see my family (my father was a carpenter in the local steel mill) relocate to Florida after all the mills closed. That was pretty bad. On the plus side (mostly) was that I got to see Return of the Jedi that summer, and aside from Darth Vader kicking the can (spoiler statute of limitations has definitely expired on that one), that was pretty great.
However, the rest of 1983 had some cruel lessons to share with me at the local movie theater (a tiny two-screen dump next to a hair salon called “Duke and Duchess”). The year 1983 was full of awful sequels, and as a recent AV Club article points out, it may well be the worst year for sequels ever. How bad was it? Well, it was the year of Jaws 3D…
The third film in the series is arguably the worst sequel of 1983 – a truly dreadful story about really hokey-looking fake shark (which would be outdone by an even hokier looking fake shark in 1987’s Jaws: The Revenge) picking off citizens at a Florida Sea World (Florida’s Sea World is in Orlando, in the middle of the state – how a great white shark made it a few hundred miles inland remains a mystery). It’s a bad film in pretty much every way. Sadly, it wasn’t the only bad film that year.
Equally dreadful was Superman III, which found the Man of Steel taking on his most dangerous foe ever: a computer hacker played by Richard Pryor.
This is just the tip of the awful iceberg, though. The year 1983 also had a real gift for giving us sequels no one wanted or needed in the first place. How else can you describe The Sting II or Psycho II? Both of those films came years after their inspirations – and neither was anywhere near as good as the original.
Jackie Gleason might have had the worst '83 of all – not only was he roped into The Sting II, but he also returned as Sheriff Buford T. Justice in Smokey and the Bandit III. Talk about a double whammy of awful.
The saddest part of all this? Many of these films made money. Sudden Impact (which I’ll admit to kind of liking), Jaws 3D, Psycho II, Octopussy and Superman III all earned enough to land in the top 20 for the year – which is a great reminder of why we get these kinds of soulless sequels in the first place.
Head on over to the AV Club and look at its full list of disappointing sequels from 1983. Did the site miss anything? Do you think this really is the worst year for sequels in cinema history? Weigh in below.