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10.21.2016by: Jake Dee

Top 10 Horror Movie Prequels!

What is it about a horror movie sequel that proves so damn challenging? The high expectations the original left an audience with? The rushed production? Inferior filmmaking talent involved? Could be a number of things, right? Well, same goes for the horror movie prequel, which, chronologically speaking, depicts events set prior to those of the original. The origin story is always a difficult proposition to get right, get consistent, and still deliver fan-servicing goods that won their fandom in the first place. The reason we ask is because OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL hits theaters today, and since was actually far better than the insulting 2014 original, we thought of highlighting 10 worthy horror prequels that have come out over the years.

Now, that's not to say these are prequels that surpass the original in terms of quality. Oh no, they can't all be OUIJA 2. The following is a simple list of our Top 10 Horror Movie Prequels that we deem warrant your attention. See if your favorite made the cut above!

#10. DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST (2004)

Take your pick. Either the 2004 Renny Harlin version, EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, or the one we slightly prefer, the 2005 Paul Schrader remolding of DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST...no matter which way you lean, neither can hold a goddamn flame to the 1973 OG, what is considered by most the all time greatest horror movie ever made. We favor the latter for a few reasons. One, Schrader is a far better filmmaker than Harlan. Two, even William Peter Blatty called DOMINION "a handsome, classy and elegant piece of work." Three, taking the story of Pazuzu back to his roots in East Africa and how it's demonic possession slowly grabs hold of a native tribe when a mysterious effigy is unearthed. We like how it makes no attempt to simply retread the original but go somewhere entirely different.

#9. FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011)

Let's be real. The fact that FINAL DESTINATION 5 ostensibly takes place prior to the plane exploding in the 2000 original is, graphically speaking, rather immaterial. We don't check into this silly franchise for origin stories or complicated plot-lines, callbacks and tie-ins, no, these FD flicks are meant for us to simply enjoy wildly inventive, hilariously over-the-top death modes. And for that, the 5th frame is alone worthy of feting. That said, it is cool to uncover the subtle clues proving the events in 5 came before events in 1. The lack of high-tech cell phones, the use pf pagers, the clunky keyboards in the office, the outmoded NYC license plates, 90s jams from Lisa Loeb and Everclear. Of course, all substantiated at the end when Sam cops a plane ticket that reads May 13, 2000 Flight 180, 9:25 p.m. Should have been FIRST DESTINATION then, ay?

#8. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)

We're not entirely sure the reason is because it happens to be a predated version of the first two flicks, but there's little doubt in our minds that PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 is the sterling standout of the entire franchise. Honestly, I personally loathe this entire skein of films, save for this one entry. Somehow those two dudes Joost and Schulman who teetered on a such a high-wire act of veracity and fiction with the CATFISH movie, were able to pull of a similar feat in P.A. 3. Set in 1988, the state-of-the-art technology of the day, VHS, was used brilliantly as a sort of nostalgic touch, but also in the way the eerily grainy video footage lent for terrifying imagery. Filmed under the title Sports Camp, P.A. 3 is the highest grossing film of the franchise, and ties in perfectly with the picture of Julie taken in the driveway at the beginning of the film.

#7. CUBE ZERO (2004)

It's quite astounding really how the CUBE franchise went from the capable hands of writer/director Vincenzo Natali, then into the lens of longtime DP Andrzej Sekula (PULP FICTION) then ultimately back into a singular voice in Ernie Barbarash for CUBE ZERO and not end up a woefully unintelligible mess. Far from perfect, sure, but for an indie Canadian production made for a mere morsel over $1 million, the ZERO hour is valuable time spent indeed. In a weird way, this one feels less like a CUBE offshoot and more aligned with stuff like SAW, DARK CITY, some MATRIX elements thrown in as well, yet still manages, via the ending sequence, to give a shout-out to the original 1997 installment. When Wynn is shown mentally impaired, the dialogue is lifted verbatim from the first flick.

#6. RINGU 0 BIRTHDAY (2000)

How many of you have seen RINGU O BIRTHDAY? If not, we can't fault you too much, as it somewhat understandably got lost in the weeds of the first and second Japanese installments and the American remakes. That said, RINGU 0 is an extremely competent and well plotted origin story that makes a whole lot of sense when contextualizing it within the entire franchise. How the new movie RINGS addresses this entry, if at all, will be interesting to see. Superb J-horror director Norio Tsurata injects a fresh set of nerves into the story of a young Sadako and how, over time, she became the black-haired, sallow-skinned ghost who tormented all those damn TV sets years later. What a bold, ballsy and brilliant take on a horror flick, flipping it to give us a glimpse into the dark heart, mind and soul of a primary villain.

#5. PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING (1990)

Sure, Mick Garris tends to catch a ton of shite around here (everywhere really) for being the go-to TV remake man, but in 1990, he actually put together a pretty decent prequel in PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING. Of course, the reprisal of Tony Perkins as Norman Bates is what makes the flick work. Hell, linking back to OUIJA 2, Henry Thomas also shows up as an aptly creepy young Norman. The flick further explores the psychological tumult of Norman as he voices legit concerns about whether or not his unborn child will carry the inherent malevolence of his maniacal mother. By this time, 30 years after the original PSYCHO, Norman seemed to have fit inside the skin of Norman in a way few actors ever have with one specific character.

#4. AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION (1982)

While quite derivative of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE OMEN and pretty much all things EXORCIST, the fact Orion Pictures and Dino De Laurentiis gave the reins over to Italian madman Damiano Damiani (BLOOD FEUD) for AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION, is too damn delicious to discount. In fact, we'd love to see the original cut, which is said to feature far nastier things than depicted in the final version. Our man Burt Young heads the Montelli family, who, upon moving into their too-good-to-be-true abode, are slowly beset by the abject terror of their youngest son being overtaken by an inimical force of evil. Great pre-CG Italian splatter FX are on full display here in a hard-R rated horror delight. The script comes by way of Tommy Lee Wallace (HALLOWEEN III, FRIGHT NIGHT 2) in his very first writing credit.

#3. INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 (2015)

Despite losing two key principals in Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson, it was a real treat to see longtime scribe Leigh Whannell get a chance to helm his very own chapter of the INSIDIOUS franchise. And with those losses, Whannell astutely took the opportunity to tell a compelling back-story about how a young Elise Rainier developed her psychic acumen years before aiding the haunted Lambert family. Lin Shaye is a horror hall of fame character actor, always a delight to see onscreen, and along with Dermot Mulroney, really carries the film on her back. Tucker and Specs returning also made for a hilarious umbilicus to prior chapters, giving us a chance to witness a new story without straying too far from the original.

#2. OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016)

Though we included it, based on our fervent belief in writer/director Mike Flanagan, on our Top 10 list of most anticipated autumn horror flicks, pleasantly surprised we still are at how solid OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL turned out. Go see the flick this Halloween season, as it's not only far superior to the 2014 predecessor, it's a very worthy horror flick that takes its time to slowly bubble under your skin and erupt a cauldron of perspiration by the final act. Not perfect (more deserving of a 7.5/10 rather than the 8/10 we gave it), but for a PG-13 studio movie based on a kid's board-game, bringing the story back to the 60s was a wisely refreshing choice.

#1. PROMETHEUS (2012)

Insipid script issues from hackneyed Damon Lindeloff aside, due to Ridley Scott's brilliant casting and sweeping futuristic vision, PROMETHEUS has acquitted itself far better than most out-and-out horror/sci-fi prequels. Fassbender, Elba, Theron, Rapace and A-list company all turn in dedicated performances in a thought-stirring story that presages the harrowing arc of Ellen Ripley in the four-part ALIEN saga. The origin of man, how it came to be and what it holds for the future are lofty themes, no doubt, but Scott handles the material as ever entertaining as he always does. With subtle cues and callbacks to the ALIEN franchise, Scott also sets this one apart as a sturdy standalone structure with enough room to evolve and branch out in furtherance of the future. PROMETHEUS 2 (aka ALIEN: COVENANT) comes out next August!

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