In the horror fan community, we’ve had to get used to sequels – good, bad or otherwise. Today’s entry is on the topic of great sequels, those films that somehow managed to be enjoyable pieces of cinema on their own merits rather than just a clumsy cash-in.
As always, unless actively described as such, my lists are a collection of good examples. This is not a list of the best horror sequels and it’s not even arranged in alphabet or date order, let alone order of merit.
Oh, it’s very slasher-centric, because that’s where my interest lies and that’s where sequels live. I’m also going to avoid films I’ve already discussed, because you already know I like Friday the 13th Part II and Wrong Turn 2.
As most fans of the series will know, the intention for movies following Halloween was to use the Halloween title as an umbrella for a series of unrelated movies, but the success of this film and the relative failure of Halloween III: Season of the Witch put paid to that idea.
Halloween II is certainly no Halloween, but it’s streets ahead of parts 4 and 5. Where the first film was genre-defining (or, at least, sub-genre defining), the second part is merely a competent slasher movie. It’s a shame Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode has so little to do, but thankfully there’s enough Michael Myers to make up for it.
Yes, seriously. I never really rated the original move or its sequels as much more than OK, but this is joyous fun. Chucky has always been a giggling psychopath, but this movie cranks that up to eleven. The character of Tiffany gives Chucky someone to talk to who’s not a shy little kid desperate to be believed, and thus opens him up to longer and more dialogue-intensive scenes. Plus, she’s Jennifer Tilly. That always helps.
Is this film sexist for replacing the original’s all-male cast for an all-female one, leading to scenes of women being tortured? Or is it striking a blow for feminism, showing that women are just as skilled as the men when placed in a similar situation?
Actually, don’t bother. There’s a perfectly reasonable argument to be made for either side, so I’ll hover in the middle. Though I will say that it was interesting to me as a Desperate Housewives fan seeing Roger Bart and Richard Burgi together.
More over-the-top gore and splatter fun in the swamps with this one. Danielle Harris stepping into the Tamara Feldman role is a great improvement, and the expansion of Tony Todd’s Reverend Zombie from his cameo in the first one just adds to the fun.
This film may also have the most cameo appearances by film directors outside of a John Landis movie. Is that a good thing...?
Striking an imperfect balance between the scary Freddy of the first movie and the wisecracking Freddy of the rest of the series, this is probably my favourite of the original Elm Street series. It’s also the first one I saw, which may be connected.
As villain origins go, “bastard son of a hundred maniacs” is a pretty good one, and if you’re going to take your sequel away from the original location, hospitals do seem to be the default option...
When discussing horror sequels that aren’t just a clumsy cash-in, this one has to go to the top of the list. Psycho III and IV are both perfectly reasonable movies, but they’re nothing special. This one, however, really stands out as a great film.
Watching Perkins as a man struggling to keep hold of his hard-won sanity, you realise just how good an actor he was. You find yourself torn between wanting him to keep his head while those around are trying to make him lose it, and wanting him to snap and let Mother back in so she can take care of the troublemakers.
It’s not completely perfect – the final twist with Mrs Spool is an unnecessary complication which is fixed in the sequel – but it’s so much better than it needed to be.