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THE DARK KNIGHT, Heath Ledger as The Joker, 2008. ©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

10 Sequels That Were Better Than The Original

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Sequels are, in many ways, the bane of Hollywood. Executives eager to wring every last drop of blood out of their original investment will stretch an idea past the breaking point. But sometimes – rarely – a sequel will actually manage to improve on the original, whether due to bigger budget, a more confident vision or some intangible factor. Here are ten second installments that were better than their progenitors.

10. Toy Story 2 

Yes, Toy Story is great. But the second installment improves on everything that made the first film work and adds an emotional undercurrent (those Jesse flashback still get us) that Pixar continues to mine today.


9. Blade II

It’s crazy to think that before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Disney’s cash cow, Wesley Snipes turned a C-list comic character into a franchise player. The second Blade movie snagged Guillermo del Toro to direct and pits the half-vampire and the Bloodpack against a group of super-strong undead infected with a bizarre virus.


8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The first big-screen Star Trek outing was, to be fair, pretty dull. When director Nicholas Meyer was brought in for the sequel, he tossed almost everything out and made an action-packed flick that balanced space battles while also acknowledging the crew’s advancing age. Throw in the performance of a lifetime from Ricardo Montalban and you’ve got a classic.


7. Dawn Of The Dead

The original Night Of The Living Dead single-handedly created the zombie horror genre, but George Romero’s follow-up transformed it into the social allegory we know and love today. When a motley crew of survivors hole up in an abandoned shopping mall, the suspense and gore both climb to absolutely shocking levels. It’s a classic that influenced every bit of zombie-related media to come.


6. Friday The 13th Part 2

The first film in the franchise is kind of an outlier – the murderer is Jason Voorhees’s mother, after all. The sequel introduced the iconic hockey-masked killer for real, making for a much better film. Without the convoluted mystery, Jason is allowed to become an implacable, supernatural agent of destruction and one of the best movie monsters of all time.


5. Spider-Man 2 

Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film did a solid enough job setting up Peter Parker’s world. But Spider-Man 2 upped the action and the emotional stakes, and gave us the best villain the franchise has seen in Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock.


4. The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan’s first Batman film was burdened with the inexplicable need to show the hero’s origin (guys, we get it: dead parents) and the casting of the walking charisma blackhole that is Katie Holmes. The follow-up rectified all that with Heath Ledger’s unforgettable performance as the Joker, Maggie Gyllenhaal stepping in for Holmes, a great turn from Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face and a thrill ride of a plot that never let up.


3. The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars kicked off the modern age of science fiction films, but the sequel did everything the original did but better. Relationships were deepened, the action was more dynamic, and the ending – where Vader reveals he is Luke Skywalker’s father – added an emotional layer to the proceedings that defined the entire franchise.


2. The Godfather Part II

Francis Ford Coppola’s Mafia masterpiece was a tough act to follow, but the sequel widened the scope to follow both Michael’s struggle to keep the family together and flash back to Vito’s arrival in America and the establishment of the Corleone family as one of the top gangs in the Big Apple.


1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

James Cameron’s first Terminator movie was a solid outing that gave Arnold Schwarzenegger one of his most iconic roles. The sequel took the original and, with the aid of a massive budget, turned everything up to 11. A new liquid metal antagonist, ass-kicking Sarah Connor, and some of the greatest set pieces in action movie history make this an all-time classic.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.