The Skulls II; Cruel Intentions 3; American Pie Presents Beta House: all of these are actual titles of movies, unfortunate examples of celluloid that were spun off of higher caliber films that originated in movie theaters. These wastes of video shelf space are what many call direct-to-video releases, and the viewer is all the poorer for it (especially American Pie, which should have stopped about 12 movies ago).
I was reminded of just how much these movies annoy me earlier today, watching a commercial for the direct-to-video sequel to the Paul Walker tour-de-force, Joy Ride. A woman wearing nothing but her underwear was staring down an oncoming truck — and screaming, of course, as facing death wouldn’t bring about laughter — and I wondered, “Really? Who the hell wanted a sequel to Joy Ride? Paul Walker?”
I then wondered who in the hell the market is for these movies. Who is clamoring for a new version of Starship Troopers or a Dukes of Hazzard prequel… besides the local hospital’s head trauma unit?
Also known as Bring It On: Universal Studios Needs a New Parking Lot!
While direct-to-video releases are nothing new — Disney pioneered their use of the racket with the Aladdin sequel, The Return of Jafar, in 1994, and continued the death march to the chagrin of fans and Pixar alike — and their quality has long been dubious (Bring It On: In It to Win It, anyone?), they’ve now become proven money generators. Studios like Universal, Warner Bros. and Sony farm out hit titles for assembly-line crap, and they’re laughing all the way to whatever bank is still standing.
And that is all the worse for the viewer: these movies often have little to do with the original(s) besides the title and enough hastily-thrown-in tie-ins that viewers can pick up on between crack pipe hits. Oh, and forget quality acting, writing or directing, as these flicks cost upwards of $20 million to make, there’s not enough money in the budget to even care! Hell, Steven Seagal has to make do with a paltry $4-10 million per video! And when cyanide-like terrors such as American Pie Presents: Band Camp can sell a million copies in a week, quality be damned!
But these things don’t seem to make a difference to the attention-starved and memory-deficient audiences. Video stores prey on weekend browsers who desperately fight boredom through the soothing sight of a familiar name and video/audio noise. As the price of a rental is cheaper than buying a DVD, it’s understandable that video-produced sequels make bank. Understandable and sad.
American Pie actor Eugene Levy (left) wonders what the hell he got himself into.
The point is that these things are pure evil, as actor Eugene Levy, star of American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile, curses under his breath when he signs the contract for the latest shlock to bear his name. And they’ll continue to make money as long as viewers don’t care anything about tangible quality or their lack of shame.
In a time where the economy is failing, politics is teetering on the edge of free fall and Britney Spears has a sex tape, our priorities need to be focused on what is really important: preventing American Pie Presents: Remember That One Time… Aww Fuck It. Avoid these, if not for saving viewers from future attempts to milk them of their money, then do it for Eugene Levy. Poor, poor Eugene Levy.