12 Horror Sequels That Don’t Suck
Let’s face it, most horror movie sequels suck. Either they go overboard and become ridiculous or they invalidate what made the first film so great. Most of these sequels end up getting terrible reviews and becoming straight-to-dvd features. However, occasionally there are some horror sequels that manage to be just as enjoyable and just as good a film as the first. Here the writers of House of Geekery come together to talk about some horror sequels that don’t suck.
The Universal Monsters continued to make boatloads of money for Universal Studios, but it failed to save the owners and the company was bought out. Hoping to strike gold once again, the new owners tested the waters by re-releasing the movies that started it all, Dracula and Frankenstein, only to discover the enthusiasm for the monsters was still there. They brought back Boris Karloff to don the flat top once again in the Son of Frankenstein. It is the tale of the offspring of Dr. Frankenstein confronting the legacy of his father and being drawn into the family business of monster making. Whereas the Bride of Frankenstein was a thoughtful examination of society and meaning of being human, the Son of Frankenstein was a straight forward fun horror flick. The creature’s ability to speak was lost mysteriously but Karloff still gave an incredible performance as did veteran actor, Basil Rathbone in the title role. But the real stand-out cast member is horror icon, Bela Lugosi as the iconic Ygor, the hunchbacked assistant. This strange character gave the Hungarian actor a chance to show the range he had not been allowed to display for American audiences. This would be the last time Boris Karloff would play the role that made him famous, as he wisely saw that the character was dangerously close to becoming a cartoonish character. His final film as the creature will surely entertain any horror fan. - Josh P.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warrios (1987) and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
The Nightmare on Elm Street series has nine films (including the remake) that span from 1984 to 2010. If you ignore the craptastic remake you are left with 8 films in the same continuity. The original ANOES is one of the best slasher films ever made but as the sequels went on the films became cheesier and more ridiculous. There are two sequels, however, that stand out from the rest. The first of those is Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. While the second film abandoned the cast (and basic premise) of the first, Dream Warriors came back full swing and not only tied in perfectly with the first film but brought back Nancy Thompson, one of the best horror heroines out there. Nancy seems to be the key to a good ANOES sequel since the other one on this list is Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, the 7th film in the series. New Nightmare is a clever story that brings Freddy Kruger into the life of the actors from the series and Heather Langenkamp, the actress who played Nancy, gets to face off against Freddy herself. For fans of the ANOES series, there are only 3 films worth watching and they are known as the holy trinity of Freddy Kruger: A Nightmare on Elm Street, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. -Jamie Z.
When discussing great horror sequels, the Friday the 13th franchise comes to mind. Are they great movies, or will they win Oscars? Hell no! But no one cares about that? The films are fun gory and scary times! I adore this franchise and I believe it has some of the best sequels, but if I had to choose one I would say part 4 would be the best sequel of the series. Friday the 13th Part IV, with the subtitle of The Final Chapter, is anything but a final movie. This movie takes everything that worked with the first three and upped the ante! The gore is at its highest and the deaths are both brutal and inventive (the meat cleaver scene is one of my favorites!). The characters are fun and likable, but far from developed and I’m okay with that. The film also ups the sexual content, which all the straight men and lesbians will love! A lot of women take off their clothes, without hesitation. The dialogue is incredibly clever and there are some laughs to be had. Granted the final girl isn’t as good as Part 2’s Ginny, but she is likable enough, and in the end we have a fantastic slasher film that works as a sequel and as a damn great movie on it’s own. -Bryan
Curse of the Cat People (1944)
In Curse of the Cat People the couple terrorized by Irena in the original Cat People have gone on with their lives and now their daughter is seeing the ghost of the sad panther-woman. Curse of the Cat People is a great sequel for a few reasons. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to characters after a horror movie is done, this movie answers those questions. It’s years later for the characters from Cat People and they are still dealing with the events of the film, in ways both supernatural and within their relationship. Unlike most sequels, this movie isn’t the same as the first one or even similar. It has the same characters but a completely differently plot that is refreshing and emotional. Curse of the Cat People is a great example of a horror film that does something different while still staying true to the original. -Jamie Z.
Jeepers Creepers II (2003)
Jeepers Creepers was one of those creatue features that managed to work on multiple level: good character development, an original monster, and an enticing storyline. The sequel may not be quite as good as the original but it offers up a lot of fun and delivers on most of the things that worked in the original. Although we don’t have a clear-cut main character, the interaction between the teenagers and their reactions to being pursued by The Creeper are well done. The Creature is more extreme then ever as we see more outrageous kills and find out more about him and what he does. Another thing I like about this sequel is that it takes place within the same 23 days of the first film (the creatures time slot for coming alive to feed on unsuspecting young adults). Fans of the original should check this out out. -Jamie Z.
Aliens is the perfect example of how to make a sequel that pays homage to the original without copying it step for step in every conceivable way. It’s regarded as one of the best sequels of all-time because it succeeds in being something different without distancing itself too far from the original. It takes everything you know and love about the first one and amplifies it by 1000. One alien.. scary right? Here’s an entire colony. A rag-tag group of survivors with a couple of flame throwers? Here’s a marine squadron with smart-guns and an arsenal of pulse rifles. One would look at those additions and wonder how the hell it can even come close to matching elements from the quiet and confined horror of Scott’s Alien. The answer to that is in the way the movie is shot, edited and written. It’s a war movie set in the future but rooted in the past. This is evident for me in how Cameron spent a good amount of effort and detail staging the alien attacks in hot, uncomfortable spaces with dim lighting that made the audience feel claustrophobic and uneasy the entire time. It’s essentially the Vietnam war on a distant planet against an alien foe which helps us relate to the movie in a way that other science fiction films seem to forget: It’s a future that feels real and immediately draws connections with its audience. Where Alien was basically a slasher movie in space this one is more of an action/horror mash-up that relies on elements from both genres. What that does is make the slow, quiet moments of horror that much scarier since they’re few and far between (Ripley and Newt attacked by the face-huggers, Newt kidnapped in the water). Aliens is able to regain some of the core elements that made the first one so iconic and scary but distance itself enough to be its own idea and entity. – Paul C.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Like Aliens, 28 Weeks Later is another horror sequel that took the confined and small scale of its predecessor and expanded to a larger look at the universe it’s set in. While in 28 Days Later Oscar winner Danny Boyle gave us a small look at the aftermath of a zombified “rage virus” that turned most of London into a barren wasteland through the eyes of 3 characters, 28 Weeks Later looks at the rebuilding process and the repercussions of that event. The scale is amplified to a larger view of the city and a wide variety of characters that jump from military soldiers, scientists and a family of civilians that anchors the dramatic story. It boasts an incredibly talented cast in Jeremy Renner, Imogen Poots, Robert Carylyle, Rose Byrne and the great Idris Elba and it uses a variety of horror tactics to effectively build the tension. The most memorable scene in the movie is the opening sequence that focuses on a group of survivors locked in a dark and quiet house as they’re attacked by a mob of infected carriers. That scene balances everything from pure horror to quite jump scares and brutal violence as it ends in a heartbreakingly shocking decision that sets the stage for the rest of the movie. While 28 Weeks Later goes in a slightly different direction from what Boyle’s message so eloquently conveyed in the first one it’s still an incredibly worthy horror movie that stands as its own creation. It’s one of the finer entries in that genre in my opinion and a movie that works as the perfect horror sequel in many ways. –Paul C.
Saw III (2006) and Saw VI (2009)
Saw III gets very mixed feedback, however in my opinion I think it is the best sequel. Saw really works best when it is focused on a small amount of characters and it becomes psychological. With Jigsaw, this is where we really get to learn about the character, what he’s doing and why. Tobin Bell absolutely shines, as does Shawnee Smith and the Amanda/Jigsaw relationship is handled excellently. Angus Macfayden is fantastic as the man in a trap, dealing with his inner demons. This film contains drama, great dialogue, horror elements and gore – it is a great blend that comes together nicely. I agree with the consensus that the sixth Saw film really brings forth a great film. While I did like V and it’s cat and mouse games, I think VI has more excitement and the core story is both intriguing and very relevant. I think like he was in V, Costas Mandylor is the star, he’s really fantastic and I am such a fan of Hoffman, this film completes his trilogy. The main trap is brutal, but it actually is engaging and makes the audience question what they would do. We also have Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell) who is great, and her storyline gets very interesting. This is one intense ride and it is a series highlight. - Marcey
Halloween II (1981)
The original Halloween is a classic, it really jump started the slasher craze and gave us The Shape Michael Myers. A follow up seemed inevitable, but where to go? How about start the sequel right where the original left off, and continue Michael Myer’s spree of terror. The film is mainly set in the hospital with our heroine Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael has made his way there. There is a great feel to the film, at night hospitals are not overly busy so it’s the perfect playground. This is white knuckle stuff, the scares are there and most importantly it is a well made film that continued the story. A must see follow up, and it was just down hill from here with the Michael films. - Marcey
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)
The first Wrong Turn was a decent little backwoods slasher that sports a good cast and kills, but mostly settles on the Deliverance/Texas Chainsaw Massacre table of mediocrity. Then the sequel was made and of course I was hesitant. It was a straight to DVD title, a sequel to a movie I didn’t care for, directed by a then unknown Joe Lynch, and it had the recipes of a failure. Thankfully I was proven wrong and it ended up being one hell of a ride. Wrong Turn 2 takes everything set up in the first Wrong Turn, throws away all the mundane elements, and just goes insane. The setup involving a reality show filming in the area where the inbred killers live isn’t new, but they do enough to where it is entertaining. The cast does really well with Erica Leerhsen as the lead and Henry Rollins kicks ass as the former Marine colonel turned reality TV show host. The kills are mostly done via practical effects and they are gloriously gory and the movie just has fun with its implausible storyline. It knows it’s stupid and revels in it harkening back to old school slashers like Madman, Intruder, and of course a little requisite Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the mix. A great example of a straight to DVD horror sequel that works. -Omar
Equal parts a sequel/reboot/remake, Evil Dead 2 gave the world the perfect Evil Dead film where everything worked and worked perfectly, Campbell’s manic yet bad-ass performance as Ash showed a natural transition form scared and terrified to the Groovy ass-kicker we all know and love, Raimi’s direction was the exact blend of surreal humour and violent horror, putting the two together to scare the audience as they laugh themselves silly and the FX work is unparalleled in it’s use of practical work to help the film feel all the more sick and twisted. It’s perhaps that humour/horror blend that makes Dead By Dawn a superior film to the first Evil Dead film, where that was a more horror focussed with small moments of comedy – and later Army Of Darkness which was more comedy focussed with moments of horror – Dead By Dawn had the absolute ideal mix of the two genres that gave this film it’s unique appeal. Scenes like Ash cutting off his hand, the laughing house – every film needs a laughing moose head in it – , the eyeball in the mouth, Ash fighting his own severed hand, all of that is scary but because of Raimi’s manic energy in creating these moments the humour, in all it’s freaky and surreal nature, comes naturally, it’s a directing trait that Raimi has become known and loved for ever since.
Alongside Raimi is Campbell as Ash, in the previous film he was just the guy who survived the longest but in this film he comes into his own, his slowly dissolving sanity is, again, stuff made in horror but done with a sense of humour about it, the slapstick aspect of his performance where he’s literally fighting his own severed hand is genius work on Campbell’s part, especially since he spends the majority of the movie on his own with just the house and the dead for company and yet he still manages to hold our attention for the entire time he’s onscreen. The transition into bad-ass Ash with the chainsaw arm and the one-liners feels natural and gives us the Ash we all know and love. Evil Dead 2 is, without question, the best in the franchise. Raimi’s manic energy and mix of horror and comedy as director is the best it’s ever been, easily beating it’s predecessor and never beaten by it’s own sequel or even the remake, coupled with Bruce Campbell’s incredibly deranged turn as Ash and the film just works on ever level. -Matthew
When talking about zombie films there’s one name that will always pop up, George A. Romero, the man practically invented the genre with Night Of The Living Dead, a film whose influence is still felt to this day. But where Night invented the genre, it would be it’s sequel, Dawn Of The Dead, that would immortalise it. While not a traditional sequel in the sense of following the same characters or storyline, Dawn actually takes place in the same universe as Night but much further on into the outbreak, where the zombies have already risen and the evacuations have begun, because of this Dawn not only stands as a great sequel, building upon the first film and improving, but also as a stand-alone film in it’s own right. And Romero does improve vastly between the two film, both film tell the same story about humanity and survival but Dawn is much louder in it’s message and what it tries to get across. The use of the Mall and the zombiefied shopping culture is clear and holds an even bigger credence in today’s age, scenes like the Biker invasion and the custard pies show a desensitized nature towards death and violence, an almost warning to humanity that when the sh*t hits the fan we may end up no better than the walkers.
While the message may be more obvious it’s delivery is better, this film is a lot more fun than Night which by contrast is quite stark and brutal throughout, here Romero allows the characters to relax, have fun, use the Mall as a playground, hence the messing around scene, it helps the characters to settle, be safe and feel secure, so that when it all goes to hell with Roger’s bite, the invasion and the final escape it hits so much harder because the film has fooled the characters and the audience into thinking there was a happy ending. I haven’t even mentioned the incredible effects by Tom Savini, easily some of his best work and his most iconic, the plaid-shirt zombie who appears on the poster has been payed homage to several times over, the kills throughout the film including helicopter decapitations, shotgun head explosions, limb dismemberment and disembowelment are all incredibly gruesome and never bettered than this film. Dawn Of The Dead is not one of the best sequels ever made, it is easily the best zombie film ever made, easily surpassing it’s equally iconic predecessor and never bettered since by it’s own creator or any imitators. - Matthew
What are some horror sequels that you think go above and beyond the typical crappy horror movie follow-up?