Making a sequel is a gamble. Take a hit film with a good following: If the sequel is well done you’ve got happy fans and a chance to turn a one-shot movie into a franchise. Make a bad sequel, however, and you piss off the legions while potentially tarnishing the original’s legacy.
Unfortunately, it seems most sequels (Horror or otherwise) can’t help but disappoint. Maybe it’s simply impossible to recapture that first-time magic. Often, a sequel becomes the victim of groupthink and creative corruption, feels sanitized, and fails to make the same impression as its predecessor. The worst is when a studio makes a sequel that they know is shitty, just for a quick money grab—knowing full well that they are doing a disservice to the fans AND the source materials. Believe me, this happens all the fucking time.
But good sequels, even amazing sequels, are not impossible. After the jump, find my list of 10 Great Horror Movie Sequels (Part 1).
Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013): Insidious: Chapter 2 is a model example of a sequel done right. It was release less than 2 years after the original; this meant returning to the market while buzz was still strong for the first one. Also, a fast turn around means the kids haven’t had time to grow-up yet, so there is a visual continuity. All of the main actors returned to reprise their roles, which is important. Chapter 2 was just as scary as the first one, picks up exactly where the first one ended, and expands on the most interesting themes. Chapter 2 even gives us a bit of a mystery to gnaw on. Good job!
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009): The first one was pretty good and the second one sucked but the third offering in the Underworld franchise (chronologically the first, it’s a prequel) is the best of the bunch (and don’t get me started on how awful Part 4 was). Rise of the Lycans is Underworld at its best, returning to a Gothic era centuries past. It’s visually stimulating and action-packed with never a dull moment. It’s also great to see scenes that were merely described in the original. At its heart, Rise of the Lycans is a reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet, so you know, chick will probably dig it too.
The Devil’s Rejects (2005): Watching House of 1000 Corpses was like trying to understand an inside joke I wasn’t privy to. Its sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, however, finally gave me a reason to like Rob Zombie as a writer/director. The Devil’s Rejects is like a 70’s grindhouse throwback. It is also a tribute to slasher films of the 1980’s. In the end, The Devil’s Rejects becomes a spree-kill movie that rivals some of the best, like Natural Born Killers and even Bonnie and Clyde.
Final Destination 5 (2011): This one completely surprised me. I saw Final Destination 5 while I was still working for Film Sponge. It was an assignment. I was “the Horror guy”, so I basically had to check out all new genre releases—whether I wanted to or not. I wasn’t a big fan of FD to begin with and was totally ready to hate this one. So I was surprised to like it and stunned to love it. FD5 is the best of all the sequels, even rivaling the original. It’s like a tribute to the entire franchise and manage to wrap everything up in a tidy (if very bloody) bow. The last 3 minutes are the best of any film in the franchise and even the credits honor to the best kills from all 5 films.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984): It’s funny because this film, Part 4 in the Friday the 13th Franchise, is anything but “The Final Chapter”. In fact, it’s not even at the halfway point yet! I guess Jason Voorhee’s longevity was vastly underestimated at the time. Still, this film is the best of any Friday sequel. Corey Feldman saves the day as young Tommy Jarvis who manages what countless others couldn’t: He “kills” Jason. The scene where Tommy unleashes his fury, turning Jason’s own machete against him, is exhilarating and terrifying all at once. If Jason had actually stayed dead, perhaps the Friday Franchise would have a better overall reputation (as all of the following sequels sucked to a varying degree and definitely brought the entire series down).
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of 10 Great Horror Movie Sequels.