There is no shortage of disappointing Horror movie sequels, but here are some of the worst offenders (in my humble opinion): The Exorcist Part 2, Final Destination Part 4, Friday the 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan, Halloween 3, Hellraiser: Hellworld (or pretty much any Hellraiser film after Part 5), Paranormal Activity Parts 2 and 4, Poltergeist 2, Quarantine 2: Terminal, The Last Exorcism Part 2, Saw 4, and Underworld Part 2. All the films I just listed: Bad bad BAD. Stay away. Seriously.
Since bad sequels are so abundant, I decided to honor Horror sequels that are actually good—even great. Yesterday, I dropped the first half of my list: 10 Great Horror Movie Sequels. As promised, Part 2 is now available after the jump.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988): Yeah okay, this franchise descended into puerile rubbish after Part 5 (Inferno) but the first 2 Hellraiser films are Horror classics. Part 2 hardly even feels like a sequel; it’s such a smooth continuation of the first film that it feels like a companion piece. A good portion of Hellbound actually takes place in Hell which is portrayed as a Gothic, Escher-esque maze of staircases and dank corridors. The bizarre Dr. Channard and the Cenobites’ origin story are the highlights of Hellbound.
Dawn of the Dead (1978): George Romero’s follow-up to his 1968 zombie game-changer Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead is an epic, satirical, nihilistic masterpiece in it’s own right. The zombie plague goes world-wide forcing a rag-tag band of survivors to hole-up in an abandoned shopping mall. As the days, weeks, and months tick by, the threats from within the fortified hide-out become just as dangerous as the threats outside. All of this builds towards a shocking climax that even includes a biker gang. The final scene, a helicopter taking off into the night with low fuel and no set destination, is a perfect conclusion to this wicked film. The 2004 remake is also amazing, but that’s for another list.
28 Weeks Later (2007): 28 Days Later (2002) was an unexpected hit that revolutionized the way zombies are portrayed in cinema (fast and rabid as opposed to slow and shambling). So there was a lot riding on the sequel, 28 Weeks Later, and in this case, it did not disappoint. 28WL takes place during the early stages of Great Britain’s re-population of the plague ravaged Island nation. Just when it looks like the Rage Virus has been bested, the sickness reemerges with a vengeance. Robert Carlyle shines as a flawed husband and father forced to face the consequences of his cowardice. Rumors about a film called 28 Months Later that would complete the franchise as a trilogy have been floating around for ages—with absolutely nothing currently in the works. Damn shame.
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011): This franchise seems to be suffering from the “Even-Number Curse”: While the original was great and groundbreaking, Parts 2 and 4 were complete garbage. The saving grace for this franchise is Part 3, which is actually a prequel. Part 3 gives us a more complete history of the demon haunting sisters Kristi and Katie by showing us the origins of the activity. As kids, Katie and Kristi up the creepy factor by about a thousand. By simply attaching a camera to an oscillating fan, Part 3 gave us sweeping panoramic shots that increased edginess and intensity greatly. All in all, a completely unnerving experience. This franchise made a bold move by releasing a spin-off in January; Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (you can read my review: HERE) took the now-familiar mythology into a completely new community, with terrifying results. The gamble paid off in spades. Another PA film is set for release this October. If the “Curse” holds true PA Part 5 will be awesome—unless it turns out to be Part 2 of The Marked Ones, in which case, history says it’s gunna suck.
Aliens (1986): There is, in my opinion, a Trinity of amazing sequels that have actually managed to outshine their origin films. This is especially impressive because the originals were themselves amazing, revolutionary, undeniable hits. I’m speaking here about The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the final entry on this list, Aliens. Say what you want about James Cameron, but he did Ridley Scott right with his amazing follow-up to 1979’s Alien. Aliens has all of the claustrophobic intensity of the original with enough action and firepower to knock a viewer on his ass. Part 3 wasn’t bad, but it was dreary compared to the first 2, and Part 4, Resurrection, is a complete abomination. Clearly, the decision-makers behind this franchise should have quit while they were ahead. The 2011 quasi-prequel Prometheus had potential, but plays out like a convoluted mess. Still, nothing can tarnish the legacy of Aliens—simply the best Horror sequel ever made.