No genre produces more sequels than horror. And let’s face it, most of these horror sequels are cheaply made, easily produced, and generally terrible. It has become customary in the last thirty years that whenever horror hits a home run, to rush to replicate the process as many times as possible. In the 80s, slashers were the thing, and by decade’s end there were eight Friday the 13th films, five for the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, and five for the Halloween franchise. In recent years, the Saw and Paranormal Activity franchises have spit out a sequel a year. Because of this, it is genuinely surprising when a horror sequel comes along that receives both critical and fan praise. After seeing one of those shockingly great horror sequels last week with Ouija: Origin of Evil, I’ve dug up the Top 10 Horror Movie Sequels, right in time for Halloween.
Check out the list below.
Honorable Mentions:Creepshow 2 (1987), Poltergeist 2: The Other Side (1986), Halloween 2 (1981), Son of Frankenstein (1939), Final Destination 2 (2003), Hostel Part 2 (2007).
NOTE – I do not count The Silence of the Lambs (1991) or Aliens (1986) as horror sequels. TSOTL is not a direct followup to Manhunter, just part of the same world. And Aliens is clearly an action movie in a sci-fi setting, whereas the Ridley Scott original was gothic horror in space.
So here we go…
# 10 – Ouija: Origin of Evil – 2016
Ouija (2014) was a run of the mill cash grab horror movie. The only reason I even saw the sequel was the addition of Mike Flanagan as director. Flanagan has become an indie-horror darling with films like Absentia, Oculus, and Hush. His unique style and refusal to conform to modern cliches, turned what should’ve been another dud into the the can’t miss horror film of 2016, a year filled with a shocking number of good horror movies. Ouija: Origin of Evil is technically a prequel (still counts), about the game board that possesses little Doris (Lulu Wilson) and sends her family into a spiral. The characters are fleshed out so you actually care about them when bad things go down, and the mystery behind why everything is happening is really good. Throw in some of the best scares of the year that had my theater literally screaming every few seconds, and you have a great little unexpected gem.
I hesitated putting Army of Darkness on this list, despite the fact it is clearly amazing. It’s just such a ridiculously over the top horror comedy, more Three Stooges than Evil Dead 3. But c’mon! You’ve got deadites threatening medieval Europe, and a chainsaw wielding lothario to stop them. Picking up where Evil Dead 2 (just wait) leaves off, Ash (Bruce Campbell) is sucked into a time vortex and dropped in Medieval Times. He has to win over the non-believers, and before he can go back to his time, he must deal with the Necronomicon again. Of course, being Ash means making a bad situation much worse, and soon he is forced to battle hordes of Harryhausen-esque Evil Dead. Insanely quotable, and totally fun, Army of Darkness is above all else, the grooviest sequel of all time.
Army of Darkness Official Trailer #1 – Bruce Campbell Movie (1992)
#8 – Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
All you need to know here is history considers this the ultimate James Whale Universal Monster film. Better in almost every way to the famed original, Bride brings back Boris Karloff as the iconic monster and Elsa Lanchester as the titled lead in all her screaming glory. If you want to initiate young fans to the true classics, you can’t do better than Bride of Frankenstein.
The Bride of Frankenstein – Trailer
#7 – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
It is very hard to give a long tested and beloved franchise a complete re-envisioning, but Wes Craven was a genius after all. After some pretty mediocre to bad to laughable entries in the Nightmare series (4, 5, 6), Wes Craven came back to face the monster he created by making the most original and meta horror sequel, maybe ever. When Wes agrees to direct another Freddy film with stars Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund from the original, we find out that Freddy (Englund) is actually a demon who is haunting Wes again, and he needs to make another film to keep him dormant. The script starts acting out in real time, and the real life actors are being tortured by a mythical movie villain. I actually put this ahead of the original as it is a much more complete film, and features a genuinely terrifying Freddy, rebuilding him from the wise cracking quipster he had become. It would be the best Nightmare sequel, save for one… spoiler warning.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare Trailer (1994)
#6 – Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives (1986)
Much like the above mentioned Freddy Krueger, hockey masked maniac Jason Voorhees had grown stale. A sequel every year will do that to you (COUGH, Paranormal Activity, COUGH). After being killed off in 1984’s Final Chapter, Part 5’s New Beginning (1985) angered fans by offering a copycat killer. Tom McLoughlin’s Jason Lives is fresh, fun, inventive, and creates the Jason that most fans know and love; that of Frankenstein Jason. Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews), now an adult years after putting a machete in Jason’s face decides to dig up his grave and one lightning strike later Jason is awake and awesome! The kill count rises exponentially, the deaths are hilariously over the top, and it contains one of the best-worst 80s songs, “The Man Behind the Mask” by horror rocker Alice Cooper.
Friday the 13th – Part 6: Jason Lives – Modernized Theatrical Trailer
#5 – Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Yes, I’m serious! I was one of the many who dismissed this film for decades because “Michael Myers isn’t in it!” But as I matured and watched the other sequels over and over it finally hit me… Not only is Halloween III a really good movie, but it’s the best Halloween sequel ever made. Despite the fact that yes, Michael Myers has a bit cameo (the original film is playing on a TV screen), this movie has the feel and tone the other sequels were missing. The musical score for part III including the Silver Shamrock theme song as just awesome, and the film contains great performances by Tom Atkins, and Dan O’Herlihy. It also contains some legitimately great gore, including maybe the most gruesome child death in horror. Give it another chance with an open mind, and Halloween III will surprise you.
Halloween III Season of the Witch (1982) Theatrical Trailer
#4 – Dawn of the Dead – 1978
Top to bottom maybe the best overall film on this list, George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is somehow better in every way than his chilling 1968 original Night of the Living Dead. Dawn is minimalist in nature, with only 4 really fleshed out characters (no pun intended), and a plot that takes the cast to one setting. Sure, that setting is a large shopping mall, but you get the idea. Dawn of the Dead plays as much social commentary as it does zombie horror, but the zombie horror is epic. In full color, unlike the original, we see the pulsing blood from gaping bite wounds and the slow marauding horde of undead are terrifying. The mall is the standout star. It’s massive size becomes increasingly claustrophobic as the zombies break through. All things modern zombie, from The Walking Dead to World War Z owe debts of gratitude to Romero’s classic.
Dawn of the Dead (1978) – Trailer
#3 – Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn – 1987
The original Evil Dead (1981) showed just what a few friends could do with an idea and a pocket-sized budget. So a few years later when they got a slightly larger budget, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell let the freak flags fly, with the utterly ridiculous and marvelously campy Evil Dead 2. As much a remake as a sequel, Evil Dead 2 picks up after Ash had to kill and behead his girlfriend, and he spends half the movie being tortured by the dark forces inside the cabin in the woods. While there are plenty of laughs to be had, Campbell’s one man tour de force performance is something to be seen. From his face to face in the mirror, to his laugh offs with demonic moose heads, to of course the epic encounter with his evil hand. This is the movie that gave us endless quotable lines; “Groovy,” “Swallow this,” and maybe the most iconic horror hero of all time, as Ash re-invents himself with his trusty chainsaw hand.
Evil Dead 2 “1987 Official Trailer” HD
#2 – The Devil’s Rejects – 2005
“I am the devil, and I am here to do the devil’s work.” One of the main reasons why this film appears so high on my list was how shocking it was. Not just from brutality standpoint, of which it is alarming and uncomfortable to watch, but from an angle of pure quality filmmaking. Singer/Director Rob Zombie’s first effort was 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses. Facts are, that film was pretty terrible. Zombie couldn’t decide whether to make a Texas Chainsaw style movie about a psychotic killer family, or do an elongated music video, so he kinda did both at the same time, and the final product was less than stellar. The Devil’s Rejects leaves style behind, and replaces it with utter grittiness and realism. The Firefly family, Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) are ruthless psycho killers on the run from an even crazier vengeance seeking lawman (William Forsythe). On their road to potential freedom they make a motel stop to brutally rape and murder an entire family in the film’s nastiest scene. Zombie strays ever close to making these awful people seem redeemable towards the end, but then brings things together with one of the greatest finales I’ve ever seen. I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say you will never hear Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” the same way ever again.
The Devil’s Rejects (2005) Official Movie Trailer
AND… The Best Horror Movie Sequel of All Time…
TROLL 2… just kidding…
#1 – A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
In full disclosure, I am totally biased with this decision. This was the first horror movie I remember watching, the film I credit all my love and devotion to the genre. And after countless viewings, it is still the best of the Freddy movies and the stand alone best horror sequel of all time. Directed by Chuck Russell, and working with stories and scripts from several writers including Freddy’s creator Wes Craven and a then unknown Frank Darabont, Nightmare 3 got the series back on track. Need proof? First off, the kills are the best in the series, and some of the most iconic ones in horror history. Phillip (Bradley Gregg) turned into one of his own puppets, Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow) gets her big break in TV, Taryn (Jennifer Rubin), has her old heroin marks opened up, John Saxon meets the back of a Cadillac. The mythology is actually explained and made better as well. Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger is both scary and delivers some of the best one liners including the line he wrote in his autograph to me, “Welcome to primetime bitch!” But whereas one movie later, his quips jump the shark into parody, here they’re balanced with scares. Like some of the others on this list, this is a sequel that far surpasses the original. This is not just the best horror sequel, but one of the purely best horror films of all time.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors trailer (1987)
So there you have it. Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below!