The History of Italian Sequels to U.S. Horror Movies

david hasselhoff in la casa 4

Here in the U.S., if you want to make your own Batman sequel, you’re gonna get sued. But for some reason, Italy has a history of making sequels to popular U.S. horror movies and getting away with it. Maybe it has to do with the film titles being translated into another language or maybe it’s just never been worth protecting horror movies like it would be to protect an intellectual property along the lines of Mickey Mouse. For whatever reason, Italy has made several sequels to some U.S. movies and following is a brief summary of those movies, from Dawn of the Dead to Jaws and stuff in between, and how they got made.

Zombi 2

One of the best known “fake” sequels is Zombi 2 from 1979 by acclaimed Italian splatter-movie director Lucio Fulci. Zombie godfather George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead came out in 1978 to much acclaim. In Italy, it was titled simply Zombi. The following year, Zombi 2 was made. Romero was not involved in any way and it has none of the same characters but it involves zombies with roughly the same rules. Zombi 2 had begun filming before Dawn of the Dead was released but once that came out, Fulci added scenes at the beginning and end to tie it into that world, starting in New York with a zombie on a yacht and ending with the survivors returning to New York and seeing hundreds of zombies on the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a very gory movie but not bad at all. Two infamous scenes include a shark battling a zombie and a zombie slowly pulling a victim’s eye into a splintered shaft of wood.

La Casa

la casa 4 with david hasselhoff

In 1981, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead was retitled La Casa (literally, “the house”) for Italy. It was a success and when Evil Dead II came out in 1987 it was similarly titled La Casa 2. Again a hit, Italian filmmaker Joe D’Amato decided to produce an unofficial third movie, La Casa 3. Obviously it isn’t very similar to Evil Dead without director Sam Raimi or star Bruce Campbell. In La Casa 3, a house is dealing with hauntings and ultimately it’s because a funeral director removed a clown doll from a little girl’s coffin to give it to his daughter. The doll is possessed by demons and wreaks havoc. La Casa 4 was released later in the same year, 1988, as La Casa 3. They make these movies fast. La Casa 4 starred Linda Blair and David Hasselhoff. Hasselhoff and his wife head to a Massachusetts island to research witchcraft and are joined by Linda Blair’s character and her husband who want to buy property there. A storm rolls in and they’re stuck on the island while a vengeful witch tries to kill everyone. In 1990, D’Amato released yet another movie, La Casa 5. This time, a priest and his family move into a new house but 20 witches had been burned there many years ago. The witches possess stuff in the house like radios and cleavers and it’s yet another haunted house movie. D’Amato next just released two U.S. movies that were completely unrelated as La Casa 6 and La Casa 7. House II: The Second Story was a 1987 comedy horror that didn’t share any of the same cast or plot as House but was released by the same U.S. studio. It became La Casa 6 in Italy. Then La Casa 7 was the 1989 movie The Horror Show, starring Lance Henriksen. In that movie, Henriksen is a cop who catches a serial killer who goes to the electric chair but then comes back as a spirit to haunt his family and frame him. Just to make things more confusing, The Horror Show was released in the UK and Australia as House 3 even though it wasn’t related. So when the makers of the House movies decided to make a third movie, they actually titled it House 4.

Troll 2

In 1990, Italian filmmaker Claudio Fragrasso made a horror movie that he though would espouse the value of vegetarianism. His villains were strange goblins who transformed people into plants to eat them. But when it came time to release the movie, 1987’s movie Troll had done pretty well and Joe D’Amato was producing so he decided to title the movie Troll 2. Even though there are no trolls in the movie. This movie is infamous as one of the all-time best worst movies made. It was the subject of a very funny documentary called Best Worst Movie, directed by the kid from Troll 2. A completely separate set of Italian filmmakers made a horror movie in 1993 that’s commonly known as The Crawlers and is about monsters created by toxic waste but it is also sometimes called Troll 3.

Cruel Jaws

Cruel Jaws is technically an American direct-to-video movie from 1995 but it was made by Italian director Bruno Mattei. It sometimes bills itself as Jaws 5 but it is not an official sequel. Still, it is about a killer shark and the movie is brazen enough to even reuse footage from the original Jaws. It also uses footage from other killer shark movies like Deep Blood and Great White. It’s the same story as the original Jaws. Just shameless.