Encore! 12 Satisfying Horror Movie Sequels

When once just isn’t enough.

A sequel can be like a gift or a slap in the face.

When a film has such a profound resonance that story begs for a continuation, a well-made sequel is incredibly satisfying. On the other hand, it’s become fairly commonplace for studios to attempt a cash-grab when they have a hit; in these cases, when more attention is paid to the bottom line than the craft itself, a sequel is doomed to suck. The worst kind of sequel is one that is simply mismanaged, for whatever reason, to the point where it actually desecrates the reputation of its predecessor (*cough… Jeepers Creepers 2… cough cough*).

The list of underwhelming horror movie sequels is long and disheartening (including such abysmal failures as: Poltergeist 2, Jaws 3, The Fly 2, and the Exorcist 2) which is why it’s important to take a moment to praise those that truly live up to their potential. To that end, please enjoy the following list:

12 Satisfying Horror Movie Sequels

 

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

Director: James Wan

Writers: Leigh Whannell (based on characters created by),James Wan (story)

Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey |

1a-Insidious chapter 2

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’s 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! Now let’s just hope the franchise doesn’t go to hell with the release of Insidious: Chapter 3 next year.

 

 

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

Director: Patrick Tatopoulos

Writers: Danny McBride (screenplay), Dirk Blackman(screenplay)

Stars: Rhona Mitra, Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy |

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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, chicks will probably dig it too.

 

 

The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

Director: Rob Zombie

Writers: Rob Zombie

Stars: Sid Haig, Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley |

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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.

 

 

White Noise 2: The Light (2007)

Director: Patrick Lussier

Writer: Matt Venne

Stars: Nathan Fillion, Katee Sackhoff, Craig Fairbrass |

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My biggest complaint about White Noise 2: The Light is that it didn’t need to be a sequel at all. Considering it doesn’t have any characters returning from the original and basically only uses Part 1 as a jumping-off point, it could have been a successful stand-alone—or even its own franchise. Whereas the original was grounded in the paranormal niche known as EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena), White Noise 2 ventures into territory more familiar to films like Final Destination, The Dead Zone, and The Butterfly Effect. When Abe Dale (Nathan Fillion) returns from a near death experience, he is suddenly able to identify those who are on the verge of death. His first instinct, to save as many of them as he can, turns out to have deeply unsettling consequences. White Noise 2 also includes a hefty does Satanic Ritual horror, which really takes things into bizarre new frontiers. There are some great twists and a very bleak ending.

 

 

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Director: Joe Berlinger

Writers: Daniel Myrick (characters), Eduardo Sånchez(characters)

Stars: Jeffrey Donovan, Stephen Barker Turner, Erica Leerhsen |

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Here’s the entry that’s probably going to get me shafted. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is often included on lists of the worst horror sequels of all time, but I couldn’t disagree more. First of all, I think the original is totally overrated. It is often credited with launching the “found-footage” subgenre, which it certainly did not! I have mad love for indie actors and filmmakers, but I found the trio featured in The Blair Witch Project to be completely insufferable. Most unforgivable—the movie wasn’t nearly as scary as advertised. Book of Shadows, on the other hand, has excitement and mystery and scares, great production and even a bitchin soundtrack. The characters are played by real actors, and the story has a clear First, Second, and Third Act. Say what you will, I was bored to tears watching the first Blair Witch while I found Book of Shadows to be entirely entertaining.

 

 

Final Destination 5 (2011)

Director: Steven Quale

Writers: Eric Heisserer, Jeffrey Reddick (characters)

Stars: Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Arlen Escarpeta |

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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 pay homage to the best kills from all 5 films.

 

 

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

Director: Joseph Zito

Writers: Victor Miller (character creator), Ron Kurz(character creator)

Stars: Erich Anderson, Judie Aronson, Kimberly Beck |

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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—and the best in the entire franchise in my humble opinion.  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).

 

 

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Director: Tony Randel

Writers: Clive Barker (story), Peter Atkins (screenplay)

Stars: Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Clare Higgins |

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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)

Director: George A. Romero

Writer: George A. Romero

Stars: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger |

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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)

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Writers: Rowan Joffe (screenplay), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo(screenplay)

Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, Robert Carlyle |

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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)

Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Writers: Christopher Landon, Oren Peli (film “Paranormal Activity”)

Stars: Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Christopher Nicholas Smith |

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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 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)

Director: James Cameron

Writers: James Cameron (story), David Giler (story)

Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn |

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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.

 

Did your favorite horror movie sequel make the list? Let me know in the comments.

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7 Comments on this post.

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  • Jennifer
    13 November 2014 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    I didn’t like the first White Noise–I was really hoping it was going to be good, but I was bored. I was so bored that I can’t even remember what I didn’t like about it. Totally forgettable movie, in my opinion. Your description of the second one sounded interesting until you brought up the Satanic stuff, which I find tends to be pretty cheesy in film.

    I have to disagree with you on 28 Weeks Later. I absolutely LOVED the first one and the second one seemed to try to ride on the coattails of what made the original great, but slipped and fell flat on its face after the first ten minutes.

  • Josh Millican
    13 November 2014 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your comments Jennifer! I’m a huge Robert Carlyle fan (Trainspotting, Ravenous, The Full Monty), which might be why I like 28 Weeks later so much. Also the film’s sense of justice, with Carlyle’s character getting what he deserves for acting so cowardly. All in all, I thought it was an excellent expansion of the original. Now give me 28 Months Later!

  • Evan Baker
    13 November 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    So many things I’d like to say here, but I’ll try to limit it for the moment.

    First off, you left off what I consider the absolute masterpiece among masterpieces of horror movie sequels, The Bride of Frankenstein. That is my go-to example for how effective sequels of any genre can be. 🙂

    I can’t exactly back you up on Blair Witch 2, because I didn’t think it was a very good movie, but I would call it an interesting failure. The first movie was made by narrative fiction filmmakers, but presented as documentary, whereas the second was made by a documentary director, but presented as a fictional movie about people investigating the “true” story behind the in-universe fictional movie The Blair Witch Project! I mean, good movie or not, the approach is audacious enough to deserve some credit.

    While I understand the reputation of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, and certainly rank it among the best of the sequels, for me the real gem of that franchise is Friday the 13th part II. A lot of that is just down to the effectiveness of the camerawork, lighting, and cutting, but also the portrayal of Jason and the development of the counselor characters; I find it to be the most effectively suspenseful, scary, and involving of the franchise. Really (and I’m not going to go too in-depth on the following point, because it’s part of an article I have in mind to write down the line), I think parts 1 and 2 are an amazing complementary pair, stylistically opposite takes on the same basic structure that enhance one another.

    And then there’s Aliens. I mean, of course it was gonna be on here. It’s a damned good movie, and it deserves a place on just about any list of great sequels. But, to me, it’s not even in the same league as the original – though, to be fair, it’s also not playing the same sport. The original is a masterpiece of a naturalistic approach to a far-out concept and setting. The sequel… feels very movie-y. It shows its work a lot more than O’Bannon and Scott’s film (sorry, I insist on always crediting O’Bannon along with Scott – part of another article I intend to write at some point). Not to disparage Aliens – it’s by far the Cameron-bot’s best attempt ever at conveying those things hu-mons call ee-mo-shuns – but to my tastes, it’s too busy, too noisy, too cutty, and too… well, like I said, movie-y. It feels like a masterful technical exercise, where the original is so engrossing that it feels completely real.

  • Josh Millican
    13 November 2014 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    I was still pretty young when I saw Aliens so, to me, I found it just as frightening as Alien. While Aliens has less suspense, the chest-buster scene scared the shit out of me (as it did in Alien). I found the tension of the final chase/escape-from-the-colony/Ripley & Mama Alien show-down to be just as intense as the original. I might not feel the same if I were to watch both movies again today. As for Ft13, I thought part IV had the most intricate plot and, again as I was pretty young, Tommy Jarvis as the hero was like imagining myself defeating Jason, which was an incredibly exhilarating and empowering idea. Also, I think Tommy’s mom and sister brought alot to the film, and it made it more real to me as a pre-pubescent who has never been to Summer Camp. As for Book of Shadows, I know I’m on the wrong side of history as far as that one is concerned, but when I compare the way I felt while watching each Blair Witch movie, I was definitely more engrossed and interested in the second–and came away feeling much more satisfied!

    Josh

    • Evan Baker
      13 November 2014 at 7:03 pm - Reply

      With both Alien vs. Aliens and F13 II vs. IV, it’s largely a question of personal tastes, because in most respects the movies being compared are pretty much on par with one another, just wildly different in approach (with the F13 movies, far more different than most people give them credit for).

      I absolutely agree that F13 IV is the most intricately plotted in the series. But I also find it kind of cold and cruel.

  • Brandon Lee
    13 November 2014 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    I love to see some Book of Shadows love but I would replace The Devils Rejects with Halloween Resurrection.

  • Top 12 Worst Horror Movie Sequels
    24 November 2014 at 5:23 pm - Reply

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