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VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Cameron Johnson
Ooh, secret sequels! Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're looking at the most memorable movies that informally continue the story of another, but were made by an entirely different production team and are not considered canonical. Our countdown includes movies “Shocking Dark”, “Zombi 2”, “The Punisher: Dirty Laundry” and more!

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re looking at the most memorable movies that informally continue the story of another, but were made by an entirely different production team and are not considered canonical. We've previously addressed sequels that are more high-profile than their predecessors, such as “Silence of the Lambs”. And we're excluding movies like “Trolls 2”, which are completely unrelated to their namesake. Which unofficial or unauthorized sequels stood out to you? Feel free to continue our story in the comments.

#10: “The Slave” (1962)

“Spartacus” (1960)
Stanley Kubrick’s “Spartacus” inspired a new era of Hollywood epics, plus an army of impersonators. The film itself completed the mostly true story of a gladiator’s revolt against the Roman Republic. But Howard Fast’s source novel gave “The Slave” room for liberties with Spartacus’s fictional son. Despite landing American distribution with MGM, this Italian production was much smaller than Kubrick’s masterpiece. It was still a solid success that has since earned a cult following for its action and informal connection to Universal’s classic. It's also a satisfying end to bodybuilder Steve Reeves’s run of sword-and-sandal films. While “The Slave” is ultimately no “Spartacus”, it makes a thrilling claim to that name.

#9: “The Amityville Haunting” (2011)

“The Amityville Horror” (1979)
The fabled haunting of a house in Amityville, Long Island was the basis for a cult movie in 1979 that launched a long-running film franchise. Departing from the original series, 2011’s “The Amityville Haunting” was produced and distributed by the Asylum, a company synonymous with straight-to-video mockbusters. The film consists of staged found footage of a family moving to 112 Ocean Avenue. This continuation of that house’s lore was as universally panned as any of The Asylum's cheap non-efforts. It nonetheless set a precedent for low-end productions that could get away with ripping off the Amityville brand. At least B-horror enthusiasts can rejoice in that.

#8: “The Punisher: Dirty Laundry” (2012)

“The Punisher” (2004)
Lionsgate alone made two attempts to mount a franchise on Marvel’s harshest antihero. Four years after the Ray Stevenson reboot “Punisher: War Zone”, Thomas Jane reprised the role in a fan-made short film. “Dirty Laundry” finds Frank Castle lying low in a bad neighborhood, until he ends up cleaning the streets of gangs. In just 10 minutes, the film does more justice to its source material than any of the studio features. It also debuted Tim Bradstreet's iconic logo for The Punisher. And Jon Bernthal said his portrayal for Netflix was more by Jane in the short. “Dirty Laundry” may be particularly dressed-down for an unofficial sequel, but it hits harder than most fan films.

#7: “Cruel Jaws” (1995)

“Jaws: The Revenge” (1987)
Universal’s “Jaws” series began with one of the greatest films ever made, and ended with one of the worst. That is, until a shark attack in Florida ostensibly picked up where “Jaws: The Revenge” left off. The straight-to-video Italian production “Cruel Jaws” was actually made with no involvement from Universal. It was, however, made with a lot of footage lifted from the official movies. Shots from other so-called “Sharksploitation” films were also thrown into the mix. This naturally led to legal issues that severely limited the movie’s distribution. But after years of underground circulation and home media deals, “Cruel Jaws” might be due for a resurgence. According to some, it is at least better than “Jaws: The Revenge”.

#6: “My Sassy Girl 2” (2010)

“My Sassy Girl” (2001)
The beloved rom-com “My Sassy Girl” helped bolster international interest in South Korean cinema. Despite its title, “My Sassy Girl 2” is in fact one of many loose adaptations. The Chinese production really just rips off the premise of some sad-sack getting involved in a volatile love interest’s schemes. At least it had the courtesy to credit the original film’s writing team. Otherwise, “My Sassy Girl 2” is a narratively loose capitalization on a popular title. The poorly received romp didn’t fool critics or audiences, but South Korean and Chinese filmmakers did collaborate on an official sequel, “My New Sassy Girl”, in 2016.

#5: “Zombi 2” (1979)

“Dawn of the Dead” (1978)
In 1978, everyone was talking about the sequel to the genre-defining “Night of the Living Dead”. Italian audiences knew “Dawn of the Dead” by the title “Zombi”. The Italy-based Variety Distribution thus named their undead thriller “Zombi 2”, in order to draw domestic audiences. The movie is actually based more on voodoo zombie lore than George A. Romero’s viral outbreak. It was still so full of gore that controversy made it a global phenomenon in its own right. This led to “Zombi 3”, and an international franchise of unofficial sequels and retitled releases. If Romero’s horror classics concocted the zombie genre, then “Zombi 2” and its own rip-offs were integral to the spread.

#4: “Showgirls 2: Penny’s from Heaven” (2011)

“Showgirls” (1995)
Paul Verhoeven’s “Showgirls” went from a critical scandal to one of the great camp classics of the ‘90s. But Rena Riffel felt her brief role as Penny deserved more spotlight. With help from Kickstarter, she produced, wrote, directed, edited and distributed “Showgirls 2: Penny’s from Heaven”. Oh yeah, and she also acted in the titular dancer’s rise from a minor character to a burlesque star. Unfortunately, the two-and-a-half-hour-long opus received even worse reviews than the legendary bomb before it. It’s still hard to not admire the awesome underdog story in its creation. Whether Riffel’s unlikely spin-off will have the same legs as “Showgirls”, “Penny’s from Heaven” is already enticing an audience.

#3: “Shocking Dark” (1989)

“The Terminator” (1984)
James Cameron brought sci-fi action into the future with “The Terminator”. Even five years later, Variety Distribution felt they could widen “Shocking Dark”’s audience by marketing it as “Terminator 2”. What’s most shocking is that the movie itself is more of an “Aliens” rip-off. The plot concerns a military raid on a research facility overrun with xenomorph-like monsters. Perhaps the filmmakers respected that the unauthorized “Alien 2: On Earth” beat them and Cameron to an “Alien” sequel. International distribution for “Terminator 2” was nonetheless limited by its title, even after Cameron cleared up any confusion with “T2: Judgment Day”. “Shocking Dark” now enjoys a cult following under its original title, albeit largely for its bizarre connection with two sci-fi classics.

#2: “Happily Ever After” (1989)

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)
Walt Disney Productions gave way to animated feature films with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. Filmation Associates specifically wanted to explore the “And they lived happily ever after” part of the story. The company had every right to continue the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale, and already did so with 1980’s “A Snow White Christmas”. But “Happily Ever After” was so similar to Disney’s aesthetic that the entire production was racked with legal issues. By the time the film was widely released in ‘93, Filmnation had shut down. Audiences also weren’t enchanted with Snow White’s journey to rescue her Prince. Still, for all the critical and legal realities, “Happily Ever After” found its own happy ending as an animation cult classic.

#1: “Return to Oz” (1985)

“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
Only Disney could be trusted to recapture the magic of the musical fantasy “The Wizard of Oz”. Forty-six years in the making, “Return to Oz” picks up six months later, with Dorothy Gale returning to an Emerald City in ruins. It’s technically just an adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s sequel to the book adapted in 1939. However, it lifts so many elements from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s production that it’s widely considered a high-profile rip-off. It still wasn’t high-profile enough to survive critical and box office disappointment. Over the years, though, “Return to Oz” has won praise for reconciling MGM’s masterpiece with a faithfully darker interpretation of Baum’s fantasy. And with the unofficial prequel “Oz the Great and Powerful”, a cinematic classic lives on with Disney.