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.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939)
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Evil Dead II (1987)
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
The other half of the list at the source