Sequels are going to happen. Like death and taxes, successful horror movies – even by modest standards – are going to spawn follow-ups. No expects these sequels to rival their inspirations. In most cases, fans just want to re-visit what made the first experience so much fun. Occasionally, critics and fans revolt against the Hollywood sequel assembly line. Some of these sequels deserve the scorn heaped on them. Jaws: The Revenge, we’re looking at you. But every once in a while the horror world turns its back on a sequel that deserved a better fate. Below are eight of the more under-appreciated horror sequels.
The Collection (2012)
The Collection is to The Collector as Aliens is to Alien. Okay, neither The Collector nor The Collection is on par with any movie in the Alien franchise. Though its ‘Torture Porn’ sensibilities were a little long in the tooth by its release, The Collector had enough genuine shocks to earn a small following. When the sequel arrived three years later, it took the concept and doubled down on just about everything. The Collection is bigger in just about every way – more elaborate traps, more dead bodies, more gore. Nothing about this sequel is rooted in any sort of tangible reality. And it’s all the better for it. Just the opening rave scene is worth the price of admission alone. Who cares if critics hated it – The Collection was 90 mph of gore and adrenaline.
The Curse of Chucky (2013)
Curse of Chucky had no business being a good movie. It’s a belated sequel to a franchise that had run its course. But Curse of Chucky is actually quite a good little horror movie. Like Bride of Chucky, Mancini re-directs the series, stripping it down and opting for a more straight-forward horror approach. For the first time in the franchise, Don Mancini also takes over directing duties. The result is a Child’s Play movie that feels refreshingly original. In addition, there’s some element of mystery and surprise. Chucky is used much more sparingly in this sequel, which makes the character feel a little more menacing again. Fiona Dourif, as Nika Pierce, is a fantastic addition to expanding series’ mythology. Mancini even manages to bring the franchise full circle with some welcome retconning. Simply put, Curse of Chucky was an unexpectedly fantastic addition to the Child’s Play world.
Final Destination 5 (2011)
Once a franchise hits its fifth entry, expectations are justifiably low. And the Final Destination series had a pretty simple premise with which to work. After The Final Destination, all evidence pointed to a franchise out of gas. Enter Final Destination 5, a fun sequel that almost surpassed the original. Let’s face it, no one is watching these movies for rewarding characters arcs or deep subtext. And Final Destination 5 gets it, delivering some of the series’ most inspired death scenes. If you didn’t cringe during the laser surgery scene or the gymnastics death, you have no soul. Throw in the unexpected connection to the first movie, and Final Destination 5 is a sequel that earns its pace in the franchise.
Psycho II (1983)
No one was asking for a sequel to Psycho. In fact, it’s not a stretch to suggest that attempting a sequel (or remake) to any Alfred Hitchcock movie was a ballsy move. And while it’s clearly not the original 1960 original, Psycho II was better than it had any right to be. Like most of the sequels on this list, Psycho II diverges from its predecessor rather than attempting to recycle what previously worked. Not surprisingly, the sequel is bloodier, giving in to the decade’s modern sensibilities. Still Psycho II tells a pretty compelling story with more mystery than one might have expected. Moreover, Anthony Perkins turns in a strong performance, giving Norman Bates some added layers.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)
Over a decade after the original, Tobe Hooper returned to his masterpiece. Too bad things didn’t quite work out. What Hooper gags audiences was arguably one of the more misunderstood sequels ever committed to the screen. Much of the problem stemmed from the director’s refusal to give people what they wanted. That is, Hooper refused to give audiences a traditional sequel. Unlike the cookie-cutter sequels that dominated the 80’s, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is a completely different beast from its predecessor. More dark comedy than straight horror, Part 2 is a gonzo experience that feels like a descent into madness. The violence is shocking, the performances are appropriately over-the-top, and the final third is Grand Guignol horror at its best.
The Exorcist III
If The Exorcist is a classic horror movie, then The Exorcist II: The Heretic is a trainwreck. Don’t believe me. Try watching it. The Heretic belongs among the worst sequels of all time. This makes the The Exorcist III all the more impressive. At the time of its release, audiences and critics dismissed The Exorcist III. Today, horror fans and writers have rightly reconsidered Blatty’s sequel. Thank you. Though not everything in the movie works, The Exorcist III disturbs, scares, and cleverly spins off from the original movie. Blatty takes his story in a new direction, mixing genuine mystery and horror in equal parts. And The Exorcist III boasts one of the best jump scares ever filmed. Consider this is another maligned 90s horror movie that has earned critical re-evaluation.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
A lot of horror fans will vehemently protest including A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge on this list. Frankly, the first franchise sequel was much better than its reputation in horror circles. Yes, Freddy’s Revenge certainly has some convoluted logic around its re-introduction of Freddy Krueger. But it’s not like 80’s horror films were known for their attention to continuity. And it’s is arguably the most tonally consistent sequel in the franchise. Case in point, Freddy Krueger still spends most of the sequel in the shadows, thereby maintaining his sinister aura. Most importantly, Freddy’s Revenge still wants to scares audiences. That opening school bus nightmare is still one of the scarier franchise moments.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Today, this entry on the list is a bit of a no-brainer. Despite its flaws and some dated effects, Halloween III: Season of the Witch has aged well. Upon its release, audiences and critics alike shunned it. Much of the backlash likely stemmed from fan expectations. Take out ‘Halloween III’ from the title and, without the anticipation of more Michael Myers, would the movie have been so harshly reviewed? Without the burden of being a Halloween sequel, Season of the Witch is a creepy, occasionally scary, movie. And after nearly 40 years, its central premise has only become more relevant. Besides, any movie that casts Tom Atkins (Night of the Creeps) as the lead gets bonus points.