Over at Alex on Film I’ve been checking out a number of f not-quite classic films dealing with the spectacle of violent entertainment in a dystopian future. First up are a couple of titles from the mid-’70s: Death Race 2000 and Rollerball. Next there’s a trashy Italian flick from Lucio Fulci: Warriors of the Year 2072. Then we have the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle The Running Man, and finally Battle Royale and Battle Royale II: Requiem. The first Battle Royale is considered a cult classic in some circles, but there’s a pretty strong consensus that Requiem is one of the worst sequels ever made.
An interesting question: With the ratings provided by sites like IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes I wonder if it could be determined with some polling accuracy what the worst sequel ever made was. Would you judge based on the score of the sequel, or the gap in score between the first film and the second? Troll 2, for example, is often considered one of the worst films (or “best worst films”) ever made, and at IMDb it has a score of 2.7. However, Troll (I’m taking this as the first Troll film even though Troll 2 really isn’t a “sequel”) only has a score of 4.3, for a gap of 1.6. Battle Royale, meanwhile, has a score of 7.7 and Requiem a score of 4.7, for a gap of 3.0. So is Requiem a worse sequel?
In any event, it’s an interesting theme that’s often been dealt with in speculative fiction: taking sports competition to what seems the logical next level. If sports are a proxy for the struggle for survival, why not cut out all pretense and embrace blood sports as our new bread and circuses? Most of these films are clearly forms of satire, pushing recognizable games and events that extra bit over the top. What over-the-top means, in each case, is murder. Because really, that’s the only place there is left to go.