Horror is often the most ridiculed of film genres and for good reason. Most of these movies are severely lacking in quality. The chances of finding some good sequels in this genre are even lower, but they’re still out there. In honor of the scariest month of the year, here are, IMO, the 15 greatest horror sequels.
15) Halloween H20 (1998)
The first post-Scream Michael Myers slasher is noteworthy for a number of reasons. In a very smart move, the makers disregarded all of the events that occurred between the third and sixth films in a franchise that had become increasingly stale. Jamie Lee Curtis returns for the first time since Halloween II, and H20 benefits greatly from her presence. This seventh installment also feels surprisingly fresh and is notable for its early career performances from Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams.
14) Halloween II (1981)
Halloween II is a vastly underrated sequel. Sure, it may not be the landmark slasher that its predecessor was. Instead, it should be viewed as a solid continuation of the events from the first film. The suspense, score, and even the performances are nearly as effective in this sequel. Some of the death scenes were particularly inventive and even disturbing. I would even call the ending satisfying. But perhaps the biggest thing to come out of Halloween II was [SPOILER] the revelation that Michael Myers and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis’ character) were in fact brother and sister. [END OF SPOILER]
13) The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
House of 1000 Corpses was largely just an experimental start by Rob Zombie, but The Devil’s Rejects represented a giant leap forward for the director. It’s not really suspenseful or scary, but the sub-genre of torture horror is supposed to be brutally shocking more than anything, and this film definitely succeeds in that respect. In addition, this sequel benefits from a great 1970’s feel and mood, which is also boosted by an excellent soundtrack.
12) Scream 2 (1997)
Scream started a whole new trend in horror films by making its characters horror savvy. Unfortunately, this formula has been often imitated but with less than satisfying results, except for its own first sequel. Nearly every cast member that survived Scream returned including veterans Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, and Jamie Kennedy. Wes Craven also returned to direct. Fortunately, Scream 2 did not fall prey to the usual trappings of a horror sequel by keeping the series fresh and inventive. The film is still a pseudo-spoof of other horror movies but legitimately scary itself. There are several great scenes, but my favorite is a comedic one in which Jamie Kennedy’s and Timothy Olyphant’s characters debate whether or not it is possible for a sequel to ever be better than its original. Olyphant’s character keeps on coming up with some popular examples, but Kennedy wittingly strikes down every attempt. And while not officially on this list, Scream 3 was a decent and somewhat underrated finale to this horror trilogy.
11) The Exorcist III (1990)
The Exorcist is one of the finest horror films ever made, but Exorcist II: The Heretic was a disaster, to say the least. It’s worth a watch, though, if only to see how truly awful it actually was. Unfortunately, that meant most viewers gave up on the franchise, which is a shame because the series rebounded immensely with this third installment. While not directly linked to the first two films, The Exorcist III is still somewhat related because it was adapted from “Legion”, a book from William Peter Blatty who is the same author of “The Exorcist”. Blatty also directs this fright film, which proves to be a smart choice. The film may not be the easiest to follow, but Blatty provides us with some of the most frightening images I have ever seen on film. And because it is a sequel in name only, The Exorcist III feels quite unique and not in a bad way. (I’m looking at you Halloween III: Season of the Witch.) George C. Scott also gives a strong performance in one of his final on screen credits.
Check back soon when I will reveal my top ten favorite horror sequels.