Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The Series

Sometimes films do not require any further chapters after being subjected to a sequel. Mark Fraser (with the help of Andrew McDonald*) looks at 10 instances when two episodes were enough.

10. Alien 3 (David Fincher, 1992)

Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The SeriesIt’s been claimed that if director David Fincher (in his film-making debut) had been given full artistic control, this movie might have been a lot better. Certainly it has potential, with poor old Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) being thrown into an isolated planet prison full of hardened male psychopaths and murderers. Aside from the fact it’s kind of uneven, it was always going to be a hard ask to maintain the standards set in Ridley Scott’s original 1979 science fiction opus Alien and James Cameron’s action-packed, testosterone-fuelled 1986 pluralised sequel.
Discover More: Top 10 Science Fiction Horror Films

9. The Godfather Part III (Francis Ford Coppola, 1990)

Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The SeriesPerhaps the biggest question on everyone’s lips when this nonsense came out was: Why on Earth did Frankie Coppola bother sullying the memory of his first two seminal 1970s gangster epics by making this bloated bore fest involving corruption within the Catholic Church? Possibly he was trying to create a vehicle for his actress daughter Sofia. Unfortunately she doesn’t make up for the absence of Robert Duvall. This added absolutely nothing to the legacy of the franchise – it merely turned it into one.

8. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (Anthony Hickox, 1992)

Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The SeriesJust because it is a bit better than the dire sequel to Clive Barker’s original 1987 Hellraiser (1988’s Hellbound: Hellraiser II) this still doesn’t make part three any good. Another foot in the grave for this franchise.

7. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Leonard Nimoy, 1984)

Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The SeriesIt’s a sad state of affairs when the most exciting of the first three Star Trek movies is the second one (1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). As with the Robert Wise original (1979’s Star Trek – The Motion Picture), number three is very dull – concentrating on televisionesque dialogue and sci-fi set designs rather than riveting space action. Not even the presence of Christopher Lloyd (as an evil Klingon) can save this one. Luckily, this era of the series was given a shot in the arm by the next instalment (1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, again directed by Leonard Nimoy).

6. Rambo III (Peter McDonald, 1988)

Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The SeriesWhile US President Ronald Reagan was bringing down Russia’s Iron Curtin by intensifying the arms race (and sweet talking his counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev), John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) and his mentor Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna) were beating the Ruskies in Afghanistan. The problem is – in hindsight at least – by siding with the Mujahedeen, the pair inadvertently teams up with the forces of Osama bin Laden (although it is a Pakistani arms dealer, played by Sasson Gabai, who ends up offering them the most assistance). Talk about shoving US foreign policy through a revisionist meat grinder.

5. Jaws 3-D AKA Jaws III (Joe Alves, 1983)

Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The SeriesOpportunistic doesn’t even begin to describe this movie, in which Chief Brody’s two boys (played by Dennis Quaid and John Putch) become embroiled in yet another conflict with a killer shark. When viewed on television or video, it becomes glaringly obvious that 3D is really the only format through which to watch this dross – otherwise it’s quite boring. Fortunately the series was given a slight boost when Michael Caine agreed to act in number four. Alternate titles include Jaws 3 and Jaws 3D.

4. Rocky III (Sylvester Stallone, 1983)

Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The SeriesAfter Carl Weathers provided a fairly racist caricature of Mohammed Ali in the first two Rocky films, director/writer/lead Stallone decided to present audiences with another variation of the stereotypical uppity Negro in the form of Mr T, who plays the more vociferous James “Clubber” Lang. One really must be a fan to endure this one.

3. Death Wish 3 (Michael Winner, 1985)

Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The SeriesIn this instalment of the five-movie franchise, eponymous vigilante Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) returns to New York and leads a Brooklyn neighbourhood against the street scum that is terrorising its residents. While the film contains a novel twist by championing grey power, it still manages to exploit the another-dead-woman syndrome by having the urban punks rape and kill a young Hispanic woman (Marina Sirtis) before murdering Kersey’s latest (and not to mention cursed) love interest (Deborah Raffin). Not as degenerate as its dire 1982 predecessor (the just as imaginatively titled Death Wish 2), but nevertheless still pretty stupid.

2. Hostel: Part 3 (Scott Spiegel, 2011)

Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The SeriesThere was really no reason why this torture porn series had to continue after the first two instalments (or arguably the first one for that matter) – unless you are a sadist who enjoys this unredeemable and agonising form of exploitative entertainment. This time the repellent action doesn’t take place in shadowy Eastern Europe, but in seedy Las Vegas. While typically mean spirited, this chapter is nowhere near as tense as its predecessors – probably because, at the end of the day, it is really just more of the same.

1. Howling III AKA Marsupials: The Howling III (Philippe Mora, 1987)

Top 10 Third Instalments Of A Movie Franchise (With A Number In The Title) That Didn’t Help The SeriesA “horror comedy” by a director who cut his teeth during the so-called Australian cinema renaissance of the 1970s, this is genuinely foolish stuff, suffering from an Aussie awkwardness (not to mention obviousness) that still permeates much of the country’s cinema. If anything, this is quite a stone’s throw from the Joe Dante original, although it does end with a comic homage – involving none other than Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) – to the original movie. Also known as Howling III: The Marsupials.

*Andrew McDonald is the creator – and managing editor – of the website The Worst of Perth (www.theworstofperth.com).

Written and compiled by Mark Fraser

Discover More: Top 10 Part 3s That Are Better Than Part 2s

Over to you: Name your top 10 third instalments of a movie franchise that didn’t help the series

If you enjoyed this Top 10 Films article check out Mark Fraser’s other articles on Top 10 Films including the Best of Nicolas Cage and Films where Submarines take Centre Stage, as well as the Top 10 Films that share an Apocalyptic View of New York City & the Top 10 Movie Bus Rides to Avoid

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About the Author
Mark is a film journalist, screenwriter and former production assistant from Western Australia.

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  1. Avatar
    Callum Reply

    Haha, great list!

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    Roger That Reply

    The Godfather III’s failings are a product of the franchise’s success. As a standalone film, perhaps made by a director without the esteem of Coppola, I’m sure Part III would be held in higher regard. But, like you say, there was no need for it and Coppola didn’t have the creative spark he had 10/20 years previously.

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    Gareth Tucker Reply

    The Hangover part 3 has to be one of the worst threequels ever

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    TestosteRON Reply

    Rocky 3 is worthy just for the training montage & bc Rocky still feels like Rocky (unlike in Rocky 4). I’d replace it with Lethal Weapon 3 which, while fine/entertaining, is the series nadir.

    • Avatar
      BiggerBoat Film Quiz Reply

      Aside from introducing its iconic theme song?

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    CineGirl Reply

    I do have a soft spot for Rocky 3 even if it did usher in the era of Rocky-as-music-video. But the training sequences are so great and Clubber Lang was a good upgrade on Apollo Creed for the unstoppable Rocky.

    Not seen any of the top 3. The Hostel films are a complete waste of time so the the third instalment will probably never be seen by these eyes while Death Wish 1 was enough for me from that franchise. I didn’t even know they made sequels to The Howling which I thought was excellent.

    Hellraiser III is as rubbish as the second one but I did enjoy Star Trek (not as much as Wrath of Khan or Voyage Home I should admit).

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    Dan Reply

    Great piece Mark. I can’t say I’m with on Alien 3 which, while on its release I found myself to be thoroughly disappointed, has grown on me, especially since a longer version (which answered a few questions regarding the disappearance of some of the film’s characters) was released on DVD. You’re right – Fincher didn’t get the freedom to make the film he wanted and thus the concept (a brilliant one) wasn’t realised to its potential.

    But I still think there’s loads to like – some wonderful set-pieces (the attempt to trap the creature filmed with those brilliant point of view shots), some excellent performances (not least by Sigourney Weaver), and the wonderful ambience/atmosphere of the location (great set design, lighting etc.).

    Comparing it to the first two and it doesn’t live up to their standards but it’s so much better than Part 4 which, for me, put the franchise on the back foot with some terrible ideas in taking the plot forward (or backward as the case may be).

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    Dan Grant Reply

    You lost me at Weathers playing a racist Muhammad Ali, that is completely ridiculous. Good list and nice write ups otherwise but your Rocky III take is horrible imo.

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    Georges Reply

    Definitely with you on Godfather III.

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    Andrew McDonald Reply

    That Howling 3 is subtitled The Marsupials should have lifted it out of this company alone.

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    Sandeep Reply

    I’d have to add Halloween 3 – an odd addition to the franchise that didn’t bother to feature its chief villain.

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