Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
The Dreadful Ten: Top 10 Underrated Horror Sequels!Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
At this point in the genre, sequels and horror are nearly synonymous in nature. Hell, there’s nary a horror parody, spoof or send-up that doesn’t exploit that the myriad horror sequels from throughout time. Yet due to the reactionary nature of many horror fans, there’s many horror sequels that unjustly get labeled as the genre’s black sheep for one reason or another. So for this week’s Dreadful Ten, FANGORIA has decided to give credit to ten horror sequels that are much better than their reputation lets on!
Now, before we begin, I just wanted to list what qualifies as a horror sequel for this particular list: there are no franchise reboots/remake-quels (i.e. THE THING 2011) on this list, and all films on the list must be a canonical sequel to the franchise at hand. Furthermore, films that exist in a shared cinematic universe but are not direct sequels are exempt from inclusion, and prequels are not included either although a sequel with time travel elements could be included as long as the events are chronologically after the original film.
- JAWS 2
While JAWS 2 will always unfortunately exist in the shadow of its classic predecessor, the film is still an excellent sequel that never quite gets its due diligence. If JAWS is a monster movie in its own right, JAWS 2 takes the shark tale into slasher territory with a bloodier, more visceral entry. But thanks to incredible production design, special FX and the returning Roy Scheider, JAWS 2 is a superb, genre-centric follow-up that deserves more respect than it gets.
- WISHMASTER 2: EVIL NEVER DIES
Though WISHMASTER is a polarizing horror film among fright fans (even if it’s one of this writer’s personal favorites), WISHMASTER 2 is still one of the better direct-to-video horror films produced. Even with a reduced budget and a smaller scope, WISHMASTER 2 embraces the absurd nature of the concept and offers plenty of memorable, insane kill scenes. Plus, the swan song of Andrew Divoff as the Djinn shows the actor still having fun in the role, especially as the titular terror makes his way through the criminal underground.
- SAW VI
Truth be told, many of the SAW films don’t quite hold up as well in retrospect, with many of the stylistic and narrative choices being quite indicative of the time they were produced and released. However, SAW VI is undeniably one of the strongest outings of the franchise, with excellent, shocking traps and impressive performances that push through a solid narrative throughline. Factor in one of the stronger Hoffman subplots and an appropriately nasty ending, SAW VI remains a strong contender for SAW II’s “top sequel” title.
- HELLRAISER: INFERNO
A petrifying procedural refashioned into a HELLRAISER story following the debacle of BLOODLINES, INFERNO contains one of the stronger stories of the later HELLRAISER movies. Featuring spot-on direction by Scott Derrickson in his feature length debut, INFERNO made the HELLRAISER franchise disturbing once more while providing a great platform for characters actors such as James Remar and Craig Sheffer. Additionally, INFERNO allowed Doug Bradley to once again play Pinhead with gravitas, reminding audiences just why the character was so damn scary in the first place.
- SCREAM 3
Although it may not be up to par with the rather superb SCREAM 2, SCREAM 3 is much, much better than the reputation that precedes it. With at least two of the scariest scenes in the franchise’s history and some strong cast additions, including the legendary Lance Henriksen, SCREAM 3 is often frowned upon for some of the studio-mandated oddities and cameos. But SCREAM 3 is a solid successor to the films came before it, and Craven feels as if he can finally have fun with the franchise while going into weirder territory evocative of his pre-SCREAM output.
- THE OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT
While I shouldn’t have to sit here and defend a Sam Neill movie under any circumstances, THE OMEN III always feels as if it’s the red-headed stepchild of the franchise considering how revered OMEN and OMEN II are. Yet OMEN III perhaps carries the meanest streak of them all, and Neill’s performance as an unabashedly evil adult Damien Thorne gives a new dimension to the character that hadn’t been seen before. Even the deaths fall into crazier territory, with the baby massacre scene deserving a spot among the top horror movie shocks of all time.
- HALLOWEEN VI: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS
To fans of the HALLOWEEN franchise, the biggest crime a film could commit is being different. It’s why HALLOWEEN III is so wrongly maligned and why HALLOWEEN VI is frequently cast aside as incomprehensible nonsense, although each of those films is much more reinvigorating than the film that came before it. And with HALLOWEEN VI, which features some of the most gorgeously shot kill sequences, the producers tried to tie together a legacy of an unstoppable mass murderer with an insane plot revolving around an ancient curse. Unfortunately for the film’s detractors, it certainly doesn’t make the film any less fun, which is certainly why the film has grown a steadfast and vocal cult following.
- FRIGHT NIGHT PART II
While FRIGHT NIGHT PART II would never quite match up to the glorious first installment, Tommy Lee Wallace once again helms an underrated sequel with glorious practical FX and a memorably macabre villain. In fact, it’s the addition of Julie Carmen’s femme fatale vamp (as well as Jon Gries and Brian Thompson as her underlings) that makes FRIGHT NIGHT PART II such an excellent and appropriate sequel, as well as some of the most impressive practical FX of the era. And, of course, the returning Roddy McDowall and William Ragsdale offer a charming narrative connection between both films that is unfortunately absent from the recent reboots.
- FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN
Don’t complain that Jason is barely in Manhattan, as if Jason could just go anywhere, what would be the point of the franchise? Instead, we get an awesome FRIDAY THE 13TH featuring Kane Hodder at his best and some of the coolest kills of the franchise. Factor in some truly fantastic visuals and a chaotic climax in New York City and you have a solid FRIDAY, and one that still to this day gets unnecessary shit from franchise fans for the silliest reasons. I mean, it’s at least better and more fun than V, VII, IX, and X!
- WAXWORK 2: LOST IN TIME
The WAXWORK films may be two of the most underrated horror titles of all times, and while one might think it’d be difficult to live up to the fun frights of the first film, WAXWORK 2 does so and then some. With some disembodied hand action, excellent cameos from Bruce Campbell & David Carradine and a truly awesome narrative spell that allowed director Anthony Hickox to put his unique twist on iconic horror properties, WAXWORK 2: LOST IN TIME is a badass blast of a time that is far too underseen and underrated.
And now, here are some honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut…
Terror in Triplicate: PSYCHO 3 / CHILD’S PLAY 3
While both of these films take their iconic antagonists into dark and imaginative new places, their reputation as underwhelming sequels isn’t exactly undeserved.
Underseen Halloween: HALLOWEEN 3 /ROB ZOMBIE’s HALLOWEEN 2
If HALLOWEEN 3 gains more supporters and fans as time soldiers one, this writer suspects that the bonkers, if flawed, HALLOWEEN 2 will remain Rob Zombie’s strongest contribution to the franchise.
Superb Seconds: HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY / FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2: TEXAS BLOOD MONEY
Though not nearly as good as the first films, both HOUSE II and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2 effectively branch off their predecessors to keep the frights fresh and compelling in their own unique fashion.
Sinister Sci-Fi Sequels: PREDATOR 2 / ALIEN: RESURRECTION
Much of the hatred that goes towards PREDATOR 2 and ALIEN: RESURRECTION comes from that they decide to do something different than last time, despite both films being gruesomely good from start to finish.
Corrective Chapters: RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP / PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES
While RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP allowed Robert Hiltzik to bring back the mean streak and insane kills that made SLEEPAWAY CAMP so memorable, THE MARKED ONES made the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise fun again following the dreary and dull PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4.