As hard as it is to make a good sequel to a horror movie, it’s almost impossible for a comedy. There are exceptions, like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Wayne’s World 2, but for the most part, they’re almost always terrible. Even more than horror—way more, I think—they fall into the territory of completely rehashing the original. Recycling jokes, trying to give people more of the same, but repackaging it as something new.
Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey is a completely different film than the first. That’s so rare that it kind of succeeds on that level alone. But not only is it different from the original, it’s just, well, different. It’s a movie that does its own thing. It gives me so much faith in the world of filmmaking just to think that someone walked in and pitched this and it actually got green-lit.
Everything about it is ridiculous and absurd, and that’s the point. Bill and Ted were successful, dopey, charming leads and now we have a sequel that kills them off about fifteen minutes in. The time travel gimmick, which was the major conceit of the first, is taken care of right off the bat with a villain who sends evil robot versions of Bill and Ted from the future back in time to wipe them out. That’s basically the most we get with time travel in this one, because it’s been done.
Instead, it moves into completely new territory. And that territory is horror. It’s comedy, of course, but Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey relies on so many really specific horror tropes that it’s kind of amazing. As you go on this bogus journey, you see ghosts, possession, a trip to Hell, the Devil, a demonic Easter Bunny, a grandmother who’s almost Zelda levels of scary, murderous robots, and Death himself.
It’s amazing that this is a real movie. Each one of these plot points would have been absolutely insane to suggest as a sequel to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Putting them all together? That’s kind of genius.
This is a bizarre movie, and it just builds as it goes. Each scene is more insane and off-the-wall than the last, and that’s what makes Bogus Journey so entertaining. By the end of it, we see Bill and Ted recruiting the smartest minds in the galaxy to build them good robot versions of themselves to battle the bad versions of themselves.
Bogus Journey is cold stone proof that just because a film is a sequel, that doesn’t mean it can’t be shockingly original. Honestly, the whole thing’s worth it just to watch the boys face off against Death in games of Battleship, Twister and Clue. If it made no other contributions to cinema, it would still have that.
As strange as it gets, though, Bogus Journey utilizes horror tropes from beginning to end. And weirdly enough, these might be the factors that actually ground the movie. Ghosts and possession are easier to swallow than good robot versions and bad robot versions of the titular characters. The horror tropes are the entry point for the audience.
The core of the story is also kind of archetypal. As perfectly ridiculous as nearly every aspect of the movie is, the journey through the underworld is a fundamental, timeless trend in storytelling. From the Greek myth of Orpheus to Hellraiser II to Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come and its film adaptations, there are hundreds of takes on this idea throughout centuries of literature. This one happens to star Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan.
For that very reason, it’s one of the most memorable, funny and surprisingly heartwarming trips through Hell you’re ever apt to take. The title isn’t wrong. The journey is bogus for the poor guys who have to suffer it, but it’s still no less of an excellent adventure for the viewer.
Despite not exactly being critically acclaimed, I don’t think I need to sell anyone on how genuinely watchable this movie is. It’s not only a rare sequel that lives up to the original, it manages to be one of the only comedy sequels in history that stands on its own two feet by being completely different. It is its own thing, and that alone is commendable. Yes, it’s weird. It’s really weird. But that’s exactly what makes it work so well.
Yeah, it might not actually be done with the intent of scaring the audience (except that scene with Granny Preston, Esq.) but there are dozens of beloved horror comedies that fans hold near and dear, and Bogus Journey has definitely earned its place among them.