“By definition alone, [sequels] are inferior films.” Randy, Scream 2
No other genre in the history of film is as overloaded with sequels as the horror genre. Seven Friday the 13th sequels (sorry horror fans, I believe that this series ended with Jason in Manhattan), six Nightmare on Elm Street sequels, and seven Halloween sequels. The numbers don’t lie. Horror sequels are easy to make and are more often than not cheaply produced copycats. Below are my top ten horror sequels. They aren’t the BEST horror sequels that I’ve ever seen, they are just among the most fun. Prepare to let the arguments begin.
10. Silent Night Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker
A sequel by name only, The Toymaker is one of the strangest sequels I’ve ever seen. A young boy sees his father killed by a toy that was anonymously delivered to his house. After that, he is too traumatized to speak, and his mother must deal with both him and the loss of her husband. Meanwhile, a toy maker named Joe Peto builds some suspicious-looking toys, and a mysterious man creeps around both the toy store and the boy’s house…but who is responsible for the killer toys? The twist at the end needs to be seen to be believed (shades of Sleepaway Camp), The Toymaker is fun with a capital F. I can’t in all honesty say this is a “good” film but I can say that you’ve never seen anything like it. Besides who DOESN’T want to see a horror movie version of Pinocchio?
9. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Ten years after Michael’s original attack on Laurie Strode, Michael is back for revenge and his prime target is Laurie’s daughter Jamie. This is the rare sequel that actually tries to follow the events of the first film while, at the same time, adding something to the story. Jamie Lee Curtis may be gone but Danielle Harris does a fine job as the young Jamie and the ending is sure to make chills run up your spine. Too bad part 5 didn’t have the balls to follow through on the cold and mysterious ending. Easily the best of the Halloween sequels.
8. Scream 4
Seeing Scream 4 just made me feel good, like reconnecting with old friends while making new ones as well. The film is just damn fun from beginning to end. And speaking of beginning, the opening fifteen minutes are terrific. It doesn’t beat the original’s opening twelve, but it certainly toys with conventions while still being witty, dark and quite violent. The final twenty minutes is fucking insane. Hell, some of it is just downright crazy. Everything in between is fairly standard stuff from there with many good, and a couple excellent, moments.
7. Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever
Probably the least known sequel on my top ten list, Cabin Fever 2 is a gory, trip of a movie. The virus has spread to prom and it is up to three friends to save the day before the whole town is infected. The ending doesn’t really work (poor Ti West got his movie taken away from him and had his ending completely butchered just to go in some producer cameos) but this is splatstick at its very best. If John Waters directed a horror film in the 1980’s, it would look something like this.
6. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
If ever there was a horror sequel that screamed the 1980′s, it would be A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Crazy punk chick? Check. Wheelchair Dungeons and Dragons obsessed geek? Check. Zsa Zsa Gabor? Check. Dokken theme song? You better believe it, check! Dream Warriors is both a faithful to sequel to original masterpiece as well the rare sequel that actually advances the story without just being a carbon copy reboot of everything that made the first film great.
5. Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood
Why is The New Blood such a great Friday the 13th sequel you may ask? It’s fucking Jason meets Carrie with a tour-de-force performance by Lar Park Lincoln as Carrie…err….I mean Tina. This movie just works from beginning (a six movie montage narrated by Crazy Ralph, yes please!) to end (the final showdown between Tina and Jason is the most suspenseful the series has been since Part 2. It’s just a damn fun movie. Would have placed higher if it hadn’t been raped by the MPAA (all of the death scenes are cut) and if the final reveal (Tina’s dad) wasn’t as lame. Still a damn good sequel.
4. Poltergeist 3
Poltergeist 3 is, by all means, a film that I should hate. It’s a sequel with only two returning characters (Carol Ann and the ever reliable Tangina), it’s PG-13, and it’s supernatural. By all means, this should be on my worst list of horror sequels. Hell, that’s where most other horror fans would put it. But it’s a good film damnit and it’s a film that I will defend until the day I die. To be honest, I just don’t understand the hate for this film. The mirror effects are cool, the film attempts to bring closure to the story, and it is the late Heather O’Rourke’s last film. Sure they may say Carol Ann would a hundred times too many but it really just adds to the fun of the film. Have a few drinks and do a toast to Miss O’Rourke, one of the genre’s youngest scream queens that was taken far too early.
3. Friday the 13th Part 2
Friday the 13th Part 2 is the kind of sequel that takes a lot of chances and most of them work. The film is well paced, well acted (big props to Amy Steel who does an incredible job as Ginny), and the deaths are effectively gruesome. Also, for what its worth, I’ll take potato head Jason over hockey mask Jason any day. This is a fun sequel that doesn’t exactly advance the series (the godawful Part 3 actually does more to define Jason than this one does) but doesn’t destroy its legacy either. The characters aren’t particularly memorable but they aren’t particularly annoying either. This is really the last point in the series were you actually still feel some affection for the characters. They aren’t quite stereotypes…yet. Furthermore, it contains the two best “jump scares” of the series and the ending is pretty damn scary. Sure the middle act drags a bit but don’t let that stop you, “Part 2″ is a fine slasher film that does the series proud.
2. Scream 2
Although at times I feel as though I am in the minority, I truly believe that Scream 2 is the best film in the Scream franchise. This is that rare sequel that takes everything that works about its predecessor and manages to take it to another level. The deaths are suspenseful, the characters are charming and likable, and the twist ending works better than it has any right too. I also truly believe that this is some of Craven’s finest directing and the “cop car” scene is a hide-your-eyes-behind-your-fingers chiller of a scene.
1. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
New Nightmare is that rare horror film in which everything works. The performances are pitch perfect, lead by a tour-de-force performance by the amazing Langenkamp. The script is full of twists and turns and the movie is quite possibly the best looking of the entire series. What starts out as a maze of mirrors becomes something much more than your typical nightmare. The film examines the role film plays on those who watch it. Something that Wes Craven’s Scream would play out to great effect two years later. I really can’t say enough about this film and homages to the original are expertly placed. It is my favorite horror film of all time and a modern classic.