When “Scream 4” arrived in theaters on April 15th, it had been 11 years since audiences last saw Ghostface carve up the screen. Way back in the year 2000, we’d just managed to survive Y2K, Clinton was still in office, and Conan O’Brien was still calling his sketch “In the Year 2000.” This isn’t the first time audiences have been forced to endure a long wait between sequels. To mark the occasion, here are some more follow-ups that took at least a decade to arrive.
“Return to Oz” (1985)
The 46 year gap between “Return to Oz” and the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz” is the record-holder for time between entries, and it is perhaps the nearest and dearest to my heart. The MGM original was one of the first great films I ever claimed as a favorite, so a sequel naturally piqued my interest. To my horror, I discovered “Return” to be a bizarre and bleak film where Dorothy (a young Fairuza Balk slips on Judy Garland’s red slippers) is sort of mopey and depressed, and the once glorious Oz is in ruins. Age has been kind to this one, but something tells me it continues to scar unsuspecting kids with its weird, twisted imagery that’s a far cry from the pleasing, Technicolor dreamscape of the original.
“The Color of Money” (1986)
It had been 25 years since Paul Newman lit up the screen as “Fast” Eddie Felson in “The Hustler,” but he slid back into the role with ease. Along for the ride is a young Tom Cruise and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and the trio engage on a barnstorming tour to hustle other pool sharks out of their money. Scorsese’s film is bursting with a cool energy that is the antithesis of the languid original; if that film is a wistful reverie (and an excellent one at that), then its sequel is wide awake and has little time to dwell (after all, there’s money to be made). Newman was rarely any better than he is here, as his reprisal earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor.
“Freddy vs. Jason” (2003)
Technically arriving only 9 years after 1994’s “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare,” this horror showdown was actually hinted at a year earlier in “Jason Goes to Hell.” That film’s final scene found Freddy’s iconic clawed glove yanking Jason’s mask down to make sure it made the trip to the underworld as well. Horror fans then waited with breathless anticipation for the two ’80s icons to finally battle it out. Let’s just hope none of them actually held their breath, as it took ten years filled with numerous false starts before the film slashed its way out of development hell. Fans got exactly what the title billed-Freddy and Jason duke it out not once, but twice in this blood-soaked affair that’s light on plot but heavy on thrills and novelty. And for those readers that might point out that “Jason X ” was kicking around a year earlier, I’m willfully ignoring Jason’s stint with Nasa-everyone else should, too.
“Land of the Dead” (2005)
Horror fans waited a long time for “Freddy vs. Jason,” but they waited even longer for George Romero to return to the zombie genre that he helped to popularize. It arrived 20 years after “Day of the Dead,” but rumors of a fourth “Dead” film swirled throughout the nineties. “Land” proved to be worth the wait, as Romero’s satiric wit and social commentary returned alongside his signature flesh-eaters. Featuring fine performances by John Leguizamo and the late Dennis Hopper, “Land of the Dead” proved that the undead can shamble home again.
“Rocky Balboa” (2006)
When we last left Rocky in 1990, he was broken down and reduced to winning street fights instead of championship belts. The film left a bad taste in a lot of mouths, but Stallone finally washed it out (or did he knock it out?) when he brought his most famous character back to the ring. The best of the “Rocky” sequels, this sixth entry is a fitting, touching epilogue to the saga that allowed the champ to go out with dignity. As a bonus, Stallone turned the trick again a few years later when Rambo blasted his way back to redemption. Let’s hope both characters are off sharing beers somewhere and have no desire to return to the screen again, as a fitting end is a rare thing in Hollywood.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008)
Another film with a long and torturous production history, this fourth Indiana Jones adventure debuted nineteen years after “The Last Crusade.” Many fans felt that the 1989 film should have indeed lived up to its title, as “Crystal Skull” was received as a disappointment by many. It’s a sentiment I don’t share. Sure, it was a bit outrageous and predictable, but it also managed to capture the pulpy, serial adventures that Spielberg and Lucas were paying tribute to in the first place. Plus, Harrison Ford proved that Indy himself still had plenty of crack left in the whip.
“Tron: Legacy” (2010)
Last year’s update of “Tron” is perhaps the one of the most unlikely belated sequels; the original was hardly a runaway hit at the box office in 1982, but it went on to become a techie cult classic. 28 years later, fans were treated to a visually stunning and effects laden follow-up. It might not have revolutionized storytelling, but “Tron: Legacy” did manage to capture the wonder and excitement of the original. Packed with thrilling action sequences, cool gadgets, and a transcendent Daft Punk soundtrack, the film is dazzling eye (and ear) candy. Even Jeff Bridges clocked back in for a second tour of duty on The Grid; his elderly Kevin Flynn is no longer a radical cyber revolutionary, but rather a more Zen-like dude who abides.
“Ghostbusters 3” (TBD)
No, this one hasn’t been released yet (and it might never be), but it seems like we’ve lived with the rumors for so long that it deserves a cursory mention. Unlike previous films on this list, this one can’t even boast any false starts-only a couple of scripts that haven’t even sniffed a green light. The latest one has been written for a few months now, and many of the principals involved (including director Ivan Reitman) have expressed interest. Who are they gonna call to finally get the Ecto-1 rolling again? Bill Murray, whose reluctance to don a proton pack again has become the bane of many Ghostbusters fans’ existence at this point. I’m not sure he’s likely to pick up the phone, but stranger things-such as his two stints as the voice of Garfield-have happened.