1. Commando 2– Was anyone demanding this? I mean, besides some money-hungry Studio Executive. Regardless, it got to the Script stage. They found a 1979 Novel called ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ and worked on tweaking it to fit.
Said book is a Sequel to ‘The Detective,’ which was also a movie starring Frank Sinatra. Can you imagine- Frank Sinatra and Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the same character?!?
The film never got past the script stage, but it was re-worked and turned into something more iconic…
2. Grizzly II: The Predator– One of the most famous ‘films that almost was.’ The sequel to William Girdler’s monster film had a bunch of future stars in it, including George Clooney and Charlie Sheen. The film had the titular Bear attacking a concert full of teenagers.
Sadly, the film’s funding dropped out and we’re only left with a work print version. You get all of the stars, but almost none of the monster effects. Note to self: shoot Monster first. You can always recast if shit goes down.
3. Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor (plus the other ones)– Another case of ‘let’s just shoot shit and hope it works out.’ A brand new film in the series got partially-shot before, you guessed it, the money dropped out.
That didn’t stop one from releasing the completed footage and toss in a pile of Stock Footage from the previous films to make it reach 90 minutes. Any of the 50 of you that bought the Special Edition Series Set that Best Buy used to carry got the footage. As for the rest of us, we get this piece of shit.
Speaking of Sleepaway Camp, the Director of the original film (Robert Hiltzik) and the Director of Parts II/III (Michael A. Simpson) have both teased making their own sequel. We may get SEPARATE Sleepaway Camp V/VI? Dear Lord!
4. Jaws 3- People 0– I really wish that this one happened. Pitched as a Satire of the quickly-fading Jaws film by the folks behind National Lampoon, this one could have been interesting.
Naturally, Universal (which sued to block the U.S. Release of Great White) was having none of it and said ‘Let’s just make a film set in Sea World.’ Joy.
5. The Return of Billy Jack- Ah, the reason for this list in the first place. Tom Laughlin had some major ups and downs in his career. It went up when he got The Born Losers and Billy Jack. It continued to rise with The Trial of Billy Jack, which was the first film released wide in its opening Weekend. Many people attribute that to Jaws, but no such deal. It went down quickly when Billy Jack Goes to Washington saw its release delayed and it proved to be a big money loser. About ten years later, he tried for one more go- The Return of Billy Jack.
Unfortunately for him, Laughlin was hurt during the filming of the film in 1986. Things fell apart after that and his final film appearance would prove to be in the 1981 Lone Ranger film. He’s promised/threatened to make the film again in the last 25+ years, but nothing has come of it. Time doesn’t wait for your deadlines and it’s hard to imagine that he’s really got another Action Film in him. UPDATE: Mr. Laughlin passed away in December of 2013, so it will definitely not happen now!
6. Maniac II: Mr. Robbie– Yeah, I’m stealing one from you, Maynard. After the shocking film Maniac, a sequel was in the works. The folks behind the classic tried to adapt a film called The Psychopath with their guy in the lead. Sounds great.
You guessed it- the money fell through. Things went from bad to, well, the worst they could get when Joe Spinell died. A rough cut of their footage survives (and has been reviewed by some) and is apparently quite good. It would take over twenty-years for us to get a real follow-up film…
So those are 6 films that were *nearly* films. Did you favorite almost-films make the list? Let me know either way.