A good sequel is one of the rarest beasts in the Hollywood kingdom, and a good horror sequel might as well be a mythological creature. Even the best horror films regularly spawn the trashiest of sequels — it’s almost a rule. Of course, there are a few exceptions to that rule. We’ve managed to scrounge up seven horror movie sequels that are actually, truly good.
1. Evil Dead 2
Maybe the only film on this list to outdo its predecessor, Evil Dead 2 retells the story of the original low-budget Evil Dead with an emphasis on gory physical comedy, turning macho-man star Bruce Campbell into a living Looney Tune. Director Sam Raimi has so much fun with all the demonic horseplay, using his camera to weave through this dilapidated cabin in creative and exciting ways and conjuring up new ways to creep you out and entertain you. Evil Dead 2 is a perfect blend of horror and comedy.
2. Rec 2
The blood-pumping Spanish “found footage” film, Rec, gets the sequel it deserves here, as directors Paco Plaza and Jaume Balagueró return to the plagued apartment building immediately after the events of the first film, following a medical team sent into the quarantined area to, predictably, fall prey to the same terrifying infectious disease that their predecessors did. However, the directors find new and creative ways to dispense of their characters, and they find room for a few twists and one unexpected return character that will keep viewers guessing throughout the film rather than simply yawning with familiarity.
3. Bride of Frankenstein
The original Frankenstein is a classic, but its sequel comes close to equaling it in quality. Elements of both films have certainly aged in the intervening years, but the one-of-a-kind sets and atmosphere lend the film a timeless creepiness that still holds true today. Most of the performances, especially the now-iconic one by Boris Karloff as the monster, give the material the weight it deserves. By expanding upon Mary Shelley’s original story, they find new and scarier avenues to explore without losing sight of the original.
4. Dawn of the Dead
George Romero got zombies just right with his sequel to the similarly stellar Night of the Living Dead. While that film was gritty and constrained by its low-budget location and actors, Dawn of the Dead makes brilliant use of a new setting — a shopping mall — and stronger actors to tell the story of a zombie apocalypse from a different angle, one that affords some genuinely hilarious social commentary alongside true terror. Some sequences will have you busting up from laughter, as when the zombies stumble woozily down a working escalator, and others will have you weeping with fright, as in one where a main character first turns into one of the living dead.
5. New Nightmare
No sequel could ever really hope to equal the surreal slasher goodness of Craven’s original Nightmare on Elm Street, but Wes Craven returned to the franchise once to try. It plays almost like a dry run for the meta-slasher of Scream, following the actors who starred in the original Nightmare as they slowly begin to realize Freddy — only the current manifestation of an ancient shapeshifting demon — is invading their own world. It’s nowhere near as scary as the first film in the franchise, but it makes up for its flaws in pure originality.
6. Ginger Snaps 2
The original Ginger Snaps is a great independent foray into werewolf lore, combining the inherent body horror of the creature with the real-life struggles of adolescence to chilling effect. Even with the title characters dispensed of, its sequel Ginger Snaps 2 manages to explore the same vein with a few new narrative twists to keep Ginger’s sister Brigitte guessing even after she’s figured out the details of her lycanthropy. Like the first, it’s clever, disturbing, scary, and just a touch funny beneath it all.
How could a sequel hope to equal the Lovecraft-ian outer space horror that is the first Alien film — a movie so nightmarish in its imagery and convincing in the power of its adversary that the main characters never had any sort of hope of defeating the titular monster. Aliens more or less eliminates much of the first movie’s horror in favor of an ass-kicking outer space adventure. The film starts slow but builds to a relentless climax that seems to last almost an hour, as the only surviving crew member from Alien, Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, dukes it out with a whole army of terrifying but slightly weakened aliens alongside a group of rowdy space marines. It’s not as scary as the first, but it certainly is exciting.
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