It is extremely hard to make a sequel as good as an original. In fact, sequels are often much worse. Need an example? How about The Hangover Part II and III? Horror movie sequels are no exception. Child’s Play, Halloween, and The Howling were all followed by epic sequel failures. But on occasion, the follow-up movie manages to avoid the sophomore slump. Here are seven horror movie sequels that were better than the originals.
1. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
The original Friday film focuses on Jason Voorhees, a boy who not only was bullied at Camp Crystal Lake but ended up drowning due to neglectful camp counselors, according to What Culture. The camp re-opens years later, triggering a series of deaths. While the film sets it up so that it seems as though Jason has come back for revenge, it is actually his mom, who now believes all camp counselors are evil. The movie’s heroine, Alice, saves the day, killing Jason’s mother.
Fast-forward to Friday the 13th Part 2, and the film starts with Alice finding Jason’s mother’s head inside her fridge. Sadly, our heroine is quickly killed by Jason himself, per What Culture. Years later, it’s back to Crystal Lake where a group of teenagers plan to open a counselor training facility right next to Camp Crystal Lake. Jason appears, killing them one by one. Even creepier — he’s been living in a cabin in the woods along with his mother’s mummified head.
2. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The original film was titled Night Of The Living Dead, a movie about bloodthirsty zombies. The original centers around Barbra and her brother, Johnny, who are randomly attacked by a strange man. Johnny is murdered and Barbra runs to an isolated farmhouse, locking herself inside. She soon finds a man, Ben, who is also trying to escape. Eventually, the two hear on the radio that radiation from a satellite returning from Venus has somehow reactivated the brains of the dead, otherwise known as zombies.
Complex writes that the sequel works “magnificently as a social allegory, positing its survivors’ decision to hide out inside a large shopping mall as the ultimate shopaholic solution. More importantly for horror goons, though, Romero’s second living dead flick is impeccable as a scare-show, packing ridiculous amounts of suspense, carnage, flesh-ripping, and inventive zombie kills (scalping with helicopter blades, for example) into its epic two-plus-hours running time.”
3. Evil Dead II (1987)
The Evil Dead was the original here, centering around five friends who go to a cabin in the woods where they uncover evil all around them. Eventually, they uncover a tome called the Necronomicon, Book of the Dead, along with a tape that translates the text. Once the tape is played, the evil is released, possessing the teens one by one.
Shock Till You Drop writes that the sequel is very similar in some ways. The viewer sees Ash (Bruce Campbell) traveling with his girlfriend rather than a group of friends (the teens who were possessed in the first film), and similar possession events occur. What makes this film better is the touches of comedic elements throughout. This film also had a bigger budget than the original, resulting in better effects.
4. Psycho II (1983)
Many people were skeptical of the sequel to the Alfred Hitchcock original. Honestly, how could Psycho be topped? Amazingly, many would argue that it exceeded its 1960 original. As it turns out, revisiting Norman at the Bates Motel was a great concept for a horror movie.
The sequel’s plot thought of everything, including explaining Norman’s 20-year absence from the big screen, according to Horror-Movies.ca. Anthony Perkins returns as Norman, and viewers are taken on a roller coaster ride as the plot thickens, twists, and turns. In the sequel, Norman is declared legally sane, released from a mental institution, and returns to his motel to lead a life of solitude. Unfortunately, things never go quite as Norman plans.
5. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein is the original, and many would argue that it symbolizes the very beginning of American horror, per Complex. It’s a great movie; there’s no denying that. However, Bride of Frankenstein epitomizes director James Whale’s horror career and showcases Universal’s fantastic monster movie spree in the ’30s.
Somehow, this movie has managed to top many of the horror flicks we see today. It has great acting and stunning special effects, both key qualities in a good scary movie. The first film ended with Frankenstein surviving a burned down windmill. The second rewards him with a deceased female companion (the bride), Complex writes.
6. The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
The sequel, much like the 2003 original House of 1000 Corpses, focuses on the Firefly clan on the run from the law. Mother Firefly is arrested, but Otis and Baby Firefly manage to escape the siege.
The entire clan reunites at an isolated motel, kidnaps two families, and uses sadism and violence against the poor, innocent people. Meanwhile, the police hunt continues. According to Shock Till You Drop, this horror flick is pure evil and manages to be more brutal than its original. Rob Zombie was definitely in the zone with this movie.
7. Aliens (1986)
A follow-up to Alien, the sequel manages to combine exceptional horror with great action scenes, writes Horror-Movies.ca. Director James Cameron really made this film his own, giving each character their own strong personalities. He was able to capture more feeling and emotion than Ridley Scott’s film, Alien.
What’s the sequel about? The viewer fast-forwards 57 years after Ellen Ripley survived her horrible ordeal from Alien. Back on earth, nobody believes her story about aliens. The “Company” asks the colony on LV-426 to investigate, but all communication has been cut off. Ripley is then sent with a team to determine if there are aliens or survivors. Essentially, she’s asked to relive her worst nightmare.