Horror sequels tend to be turgid affairs, with little-to-nothing to do with the previous films and repeating the tropes and beats of their predecessor without adding much new to the table. Sometimes, however, diamonds in the rough appear, tearing up everything you think you know about horror sequels.
EVIL DEAD II
Sam Raimi is the master of horror – even when he’s doing a horror-comedy.
Evil Dead II is much more than just a sequel in name only, as the timeline of this film and The Evil Dead is complicated – and the previous film gets retconned to make this work. But take nothing away from how good this movie is. Genuinely creepy, really funny, and surprisingly suspenseful – it’s a rare case of a director essentially remaking their own work.
The practical special effects add such magic to the experience, and learning about how they made it adds another layer of appreciation for this film. Seeing Raimi unleashed, combining his two strengths of horror and comedy makes you wonder what he could do with modern-day movie-making techniques. Maybe he’s always been suited to auteur filmmaking?
Evil Dead II also sets up Army of Darkness, which is one of the best movies of all time, so it’s hard to debate this being anything other than a masterpiece.
THE THING (1982)
This one went to the adjudication panel but passed narrowly.
A sequel/soft reboot to the 1951’s The Thing From Another World, John Carpenter’s The Thing is a thrilling horror movie with one of the best cliffhanger, open-ended finales in the modern film canon.
Frequent John Carpenter collaborator Kurt Russell’s charismatic performance as MacReady, alongside Keith David as Childs gives the movie great legitimacy. The film didn’t get a positive reception upon release but has since become a cult classic. I’d be willing to say it’s one of the few movies I’ve been able to recommend just about anyone and had them enjoy it.
“Three more days to Halloween, Halloween, three more days to Halloween, Silver Shamrock“
Long gone is the idea of a good Halloween sequel, with failed sequels like Halloween H20 and the recent release of Halloween Kills. But back in 1982, the only good Halloween sequel was made: Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
What makes Season of the Witch so good is probably that it has almost nothing to do with the story of Michael Myers or any slasher. It’s a descent into madness and the two leads investigate the mysterious death of a man, which leads them onto a massive conspiracy involving hunks of Stonehenge and maybe a bit of mind control.
Halloween can have a little bit of mind control, as a treat.
THE CONJURING 2
There’s a bit of a theme emerging of soft reboot and contentious/vague sequels making up this list, and this entry is no different.
The Conjuring 2 is a follow-up to James Wan’s The Conjuring which followed paranormal investigators (and probable real-life charlatans) Ed & Lorraine Warren as they dived into a series of spooky-doos at a farmhouse in Rhode Island.
Set across the other side of the Atlantic, the sequel follows the Enfield Haunting case and sees the return of the Warrens after even more spooky-doos happen to a family in a council house. This movie does something that I love in horror – daytime horror. Anything can be scary in the dark, but scaring me during the supposed safety of daytime is always an inspired choice.
BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
The first great horror sequel and arguably the most important sequel in cinema history is Bride of Frankenstein. A black-and-white classic, Bride is the ultimate version of the Frankenstein story in celluloid form.
It’s incredible watching this and realising both how far moviemaking has come since 1935, and also what has stayed the same. I wouldn’t call Bride a particularly scary movie with modern-day goggles on, but there is still this magical factor about it.
Since 1935 there have been several attempts to remake Bride but none have come close, and there’s still this constant, ominous, and unerring threat of another remake down the line. Maybe that’s the real monster in all this; our desire to remake what is already perfect.
What do you think of these sequels? Did we miss any? Got any fan theories on The Thing? Sound off in the comments below!