Top 10 Horror Sequels of All Time (Video Edition)
INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 is hoping to do what most horror sequels are incapable of doing and not suck. The first film was a surprisingly effective horror offering from the guy who brought us SAW, a franchise that wore out it's welcome. Horror has always been the genre to churn out cheap sequels without regards to the quality of the product. But, there are a select few sequels that manage to be really great if not superior to the first movie in their respective series. Here are our picks for the best horror sequels. Feel free to post your choices in the Talk backs below.
While not nearly as good as the original POLTERGEIST, the second film is a decent horror flick. I include it here simply because the Reverend Kane character is one of the single most terrifying characters from my childhood. I can watch the first film like a horror version of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, but the second film scares me shitless. Thanks, Carol Anne.
I despised HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, so anything would have been an improvement, but THE DEVIL'S REJECTS manages to actually be a really good movie. Taking the majority of the horror out of the equation, Rob Zombie instead crafts a grindhouse revenge movie that relies more on being terrifying than disturbing. Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, and Sheri Moon Zombie reprise their roles in what is now a BONNIE & CLYDE-esque western full of blood and guns. A huge improvement over the original.
Don Coscarelli's PHANTASM series has always been an acquired taste. The first film was made with a very low budget and and cemented a dream-like world populated by The Tall Man and his deadly orbs. The sequel was given a bigger budget which allowed Coscarelli more toys to play with. The sequel increases the violence, the gore, and the surreal nature of the story which would continue for two more films. While the original wins for the creep factor, this film is definitely the better crafted movie.
Like PHANTASM, Sam Raimi reached cult status with EVIL DEAD. When the time came to make a sequel with a bigger budget, Raimi decided to essentially remake his first film with the additional effects he couldn't afford the first time. EVIL DEAD 2 is much funnier than the first movie and lives up to the splatstick sub-genre it helped to invent. It is hard to compare the first and second films because they are so different in tone. But, if I want to see a scary movie I go to EVIL DEAD. If I want to laugh, I go with EVIL DEAD 2.
Clive Barker is one f*cked up dude. The original HELLRAISER is a bizarre movie and one that did not benefit from having the competing voices of director and writer since Barker served as both. The story is hard to follow and doesn't make a lot of sense. HELLRAISER II manages to keep Barker's visual style and crazy characters but put them into a much more logical film. I know it is hard to discuss logic when talking about Pinhead and the Cenobites coming from Hell wearing costumes from THE MATRIX, but if you cannot watch a movie without having to rewind it a half dozen times to know what is going on, that is a bad sign. HELLRAISER II solves that.
The classic example of a great sequel, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN was James Whale's attempt to make a movie that was more fun than the original rather than better. The result is less restrained and surpasses FRANKENSTEIN by enhancing the story without watering it down. Forget the horror genre, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is one of the few examples of a truly great movie that happens to be a sequel. Boris Karloff manages to flesh out his performance as The Monster and the immortal image of Elsa Lanchester as The Bride will forever be a part of cinema history.
No other series of films can claim to have both one of the worst and one of the best sequels. The original EXORCIST is a masterpiece while EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC is a laughable failure. Fastforward thirteen years later and author William Peter Blatty directed his own novel LEGION as the third chapter in the series. Producers forced in an exorcism subplot to link the films more directly than just by the inclusion of Detective Kinderman, previously played by Lee J. Cobb, and here played by George C. Scott. What follows is a disturbing and effective serial killer movie. Even with the studio-imposed edits and subplot, THE EXORCIST III is still a great movie. Hopefully one day we will get to see the long-rumored director's cut.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is immortal, but DAWN OF THE DEAD is the true masterpiece of George Romero's career. Where NIGHT dissected the fear of the unknown rooted in the racism of the 1960s, DAWN uses the zombie as a metaphor for the consumerist society of the 1970s. That and the gore, scale, and quality of the film is bettered in every way. DAY OF THE DEAD is a good movie as well and increases the quality of the production, but it lacks the epic nature that DAWN OF THE DEAD pulls off so well.
Another case of a sequel carrying on the story of the first film but taking it in a completely different direction. While Ridley Scott's ALIEN is a claustrophobic haunted house movie in space, James Cameron's ALIENS is a war movie in a science fiction setting. While ALIENS is still rooted in the terror of what may be lurking around every corner, it amps up the action with big ass weapons and hand to hand combat with the Xenomorphs. It is hard to compare these two films as they are so markedly different and both brilliantly executed.
Hard to believe that after five sequels that Wes Craven found a way to make a great follow-up to NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but he did. How? By completely flipping the series on it's ear and making a movie about making the Freddy Krueger franchise. By having the actors play themselves, including Craven, and bringing Freddy out of the nightmares and into the "real world", NEW NIGHTMARE became something more than a sequel. If you have never seen it, check it out. It exists outside of what we normally think about sequels and provides a rarely used template on how to impress audiences who think they have seen it all.
Hail to the king, baby! ARMY OF DARKNESS deserves the top spot here by bridging the horror of EVIL DEAD and the humor the sequel while creating an entirely new world for itself. Continuing the comic elements of DEAD BY DAWN, ARMY OF DARKNESS manages to become a distinct movie all it's own and gave the world the hero version of Bruce Campbell's Ash that we have come to love. When you think of Ash battling Deadites in video games, comic books, or fan fiction, this is the version you are imagining. While the EVIL DEAD reboot was quite good, I am still holding out hope for the post-apocalyptic ARMY OF DARKNESS sequel we have been craving. Maybe then a third Raimi film will make this list.