Even though Hollywood cranks out sequels on an almost weekly basis, the word itself has become toxic – so much so that studio heads laughably insist that their sequels are not, in fact sequels. They're "reimaginings" or "stand-alone films". In the case of this list, however, we're talking about actual non-sequels. But you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
- 10 Cloverfield Lane. We begin with a debatable entry. This claustrophobic thriller has nothing in common with the found footage monster movie Cloverfield except that both are ultimately about – spoiler alert! – alien invasion. The other connection is that J.J. Abrams produced the two films, and someone on his team decided that sticking the "Cloverfield" name in the newer title would invite discussion. It did.
- Leonard Part 6. Remember when Bill Cosby wasn't known as a serial rapist but merely a likable TV star who made a couple of terrible movies in the late '80s? (The other was Ghost Dad.) I was wise to avoid Leonard Part 6, so I don't know what the title really means, though I've read it's a spoof of sequel-heavy spy series – which makes no sense, since the James Bond installments, for instance, aren't numbered like that.
- Surf II. This barely-released 1984 comedy is best known for its title, an intentional joke. (The film's tagline is "The End of the Trilogy". Get it? Because it's not the third movie in a series, either.) Eric Stoltz and Grease geek Eddie Deezen are in it. That's about it for Surf II.
- Troll 2. In the world of zero-budget genre movies – once they were for grindhouses, then drive-ins, then straight-to-video; what do we call them now? – you'll find shifty producers giving their pictures misleading titles in hopes of bumping up sales. And so it went with 1990's Goblin, which was rechristened Troll 2 even though it had absolutely nothing to do with the 1986 horror film Troll. This has been hailed as one of the worst movies of all time. It is a hoot.
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind. You might be rolling your eyes at this one, but when this sci fi classic came out, my seven-year-old brain legitimately wondered where I could find its predecessors Close Encounters of the First Kind and Close Encounters of the Second Kind. I'm sure I was not alone.
- Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. 20th Century Fox's campy 1967 hit Valley of the Dolls was based on Jacqueline Susann's bestseller about drugged-out LA teens. Russ Meyers' rock-n-roll romp Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, released in 1970, gleefully stole the title from an abandoned sequel idea – with Fox's blessing. Susann's estate successfully sued Fox for damages.
- Saturday the 14th. Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss starred in this silly haunted house comedy that bore no relation to the gory Friday the 13th or to its sequel, released earlier in 1981. Nice try, though.
- Jungle 2 Jungle. Ever since the awkwardly-titled 2 Fast 2 Furious came out in 2003, jokers have been dreaming up similarly absurd titles for imaginary sequels (e.g., 2 Steel 2 Magnolias). But this Tim Allen family comedy came by its titular "2" unfairly. It's not a sequel to Jungle the Jungle or Jungle My Jungle or whatever.
- All This, and Heaven Too. All right, this one's kind of a joke. That is, there really is a film by this title – it's a 1940 Bette Davis drama – but no one would assume that it was a sequel to All This, and Heaven. But with many sequels now using "too" as a quirky homophone for "two" – Teen Wolf Too, Look Who's Talking Too, Think Like a Man Too – I had to include one example. Though my own vote would go for the obscure Irish indie You're Ugly Too. I'd like to live in a world where there's a film called You're Ugly and this is the sequel.