Top 10 Horror Film Sequels

Top 10 Films delves into the overpopulated world of the horror film sequel in an attempt to discover the best of the best. Here’s our favourites…

It’s a staple of the horror film universe. There’s almost always a sequel. Back in the 1980s, with Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street in full flow, we were seeing dozens of sequels arriving every year. The reason behind them is purely financial but fans, myself included, love to see their favourite characters return for – ultimately – more of the same.

Certainly in recent years, brand recognition has driven the studios to develop franchises from the get-go – the Marvel superhero series with Iron Man, Thor and the rest of The Avengers is a good example – which has produced some stunning sequels (of which Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy leads the way). Indeed, 2013 is shaping up to be another year dominated by sequels.

But most of the time, as the films listed here highlight, horror movies are standalone entities that have proven popular and need to be milked. Here’s my favourite horror film sequels…

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10. Friday the 13th 2 (Miner, 1981)

Top 10 Films Horror Sequels
Some say this is a better film than the original. It is certainly a good horror movie to know for that bit of Pub Quiz trivia that often finds its way into film-related questions. Was Jason Voorhees the killer in Friday the 13th? Well, no, he doesn’t appear until Part 2. Following the same formula as the first film, Friday the 13th 2 is conventional and predictable but great fun for slasher fans.

9. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Russell, 1987)

The second sequel in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise is a great addition to the series and worthy standalone film in its own right. Nancy, the “final girl” from the original film, is now a specialist in the field of dream research. While working with a group of teenagers at her research base she begins to see convincing evidence that Freddy Krueger has returned to stalk more victims while they sleep.

8. Halloween 2 (Rosenthal, 1981)

Top 10 Films Horror Sequels
Following immediately after the events of John Carpenter’s brilliant Halloween, the sequel sees Laurie Strode again stalked by Michael Myers. The seemingly unstoppable killer tracks Laurie to the local hospital where she is trying to recover from the wounds inflicted in the first film. She doesn’t, however, have much time to recuperate.

7. Scream 2 (Craven, 1998)

Top 10 Films Horror Sequels
Wes Craven’s sequel to the popular slasher horror Scream was, in some people’s eyes, better than the original. From the self-referential opening in a film theatre (I first saw it in Scotland and believe me when I say it is more than enough to put you off checking the local cinema listings Edinburgh for fear of your life!) to film school classmates mulling over the virtues of film sequels, the film celebrates the very fact it is a movie. The cast – those who survived the first film at least – all return for more as screenwriter Kevin Williamson again plays on the conventions of the genre to produce a funny, scary and, at times, intensely thrilling film.

6. The Exorcist III (Blatty, 1990)

Top 10 Films Horror Sequels
Unhappy with the nonsensical sequel to the classic horror he created when he wrote the novel, author William Peter Blatty takes the director’s chair for his own addition to The Exorcist story. This tightly constructed murder-mystery is a great addition to William Friedkin’s original. While it doesn’t have The French Connection director’s ferocious presence behind the camera it does benefit from Blatty’s writing skill and passion for religious mythology.

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5. A Nightmare on Elm Street: A New Nightmare (Craven, 1994)

Top 10 Films Horror Sequels
Wes Craven’s smartly conceived post-Scream horror adds to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise with defined air of self reference. Long after the original film’s success, the cast and crew are celebrating its 10th anniversary when the “nightmare” becomes “reality”. Heather Langenkamp, who played chief protagonist Nancy, and Robert Englund, who plays Freddy Krueger, appear as themselves in the film.

4. Evil Dead 2 (Raimi, 1987)

Top 10 Films Horror Sequels
Slicker than the original film, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 sees Ash (Bruce Campbell) back in a secluded woodland cabin battling demons and demonic possession. Some sparkling in-camera special effects (including a brilliant sequence involving a severed hand coming to life) and Campbell’s stellar performance make this one of the best horror film sequels ever made.

3. Aliens (Cameron, 1986)

Top 10 Films Horror Sequels
Unsurprisingly, Aliens, which combines elements of action, war, science-fiction, adventure and horror, has it all. Following on from events in Alien, survivor Ripley is sent back to the planet where she encountered the monster that killed her entire crew. This time she’s armed and dangerous but even the military might she has with her isn’t enough to stop a horde of bloodthirsty creatures devouring all that stand in their way.

2. Bride of Frankenstein (Whale, 1935)

Top 10 Films Horror Sequels
One of the classic sequels of the studio era, James Whale’s sequel to 1931’s Frankenstein sees the monster’s creator coerced into making another reanimated individual – this time a female mate for Frankenstein.

1. Dawn of the Dead (Romero, 1978)

Set almost entirely inside a mall, Romero’s sequel to Night of the Living Dead gains plaudits for its satirical depiction of society’s growing reliance on consumerism. Funny and frightening, Dawn of the Dead has intelligence to go along with its brain-hungry undead.

Written and compiled by Daniel Stephens.

Top 10 Films asks: what are your favourite horror film sequels?

More on Top 10 Films you might like: Top 10 Sequels of All Time | Top 10 Sequels of the 1980s | Analysis of the Slasher Film | Top 10 Friday the 13th Films | Top 10 Dumbest Friday the 13th Moments | Halloween 1978 versus Halloween 2007 | Top 10 John Carpenter Films

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Bill Thompson Reply

    Can’t argue with any of these picks, except maybe for Friday the 13th: Part 2. It’s a perfectly fine slasher, but of all the Jason sequels I think Part 4 is far and away the best sequel and the best film of the series in general.

  2. Avatar
    Mark Reply

    Good and interesting list …

    I’m not much of a horror fan, but I agree with the inclusion of Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors – I always throught it was the best of the franchise.

    I also preferred Evil Dead II to the original.

    And yes, Exorcist III wasn’t anywhere as silly as the John Boorman sequel.

    Given Night of the Living Dead was remade by Tom Savini, it’s arguable that Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead could be considered a sequel of sorts (and therefore a legitimate consideration for the list).

    Bride of Reanimator could also be a possibility, although it wasn’t as funny as the original.

    Also Rec’d II (or however you spell it) – turning it from a plague story into a church thingie added a wee bit of intrigue.

    Also, also – Hannibal … didn’t have Jodie Foster, but Gary Oldman was funny; plus it was a handsome looking film.

  3. Avatar
    le0pard13 Reply

    Oh yes, and especially for EXORCIST III, Dan.

  4. Avatar
    Evan Crean Reply

    I was worried I might not have much to say about this list since I haven’t seen the first few films on it. However I was relieved as soon as I saw Evil Dead 2 and Aliens which rank among my all-time favorite sequels, and Dawn of the Dead which is an amazing movie on its own, regardless of the fact that it’s a sequel. Zach Snyder’s remake was pretty solid, but it still can’t hold a candle to Romero’s version.

  5. Avatar
    Pete Turner (@ilovethatfilm) Reply

    Great list! Evil Dead 2 is my fave! Very pleased to see Friday 13th 2 on there though. One of my faves of the series (along with 7). Very creepy film!

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    Fogs' Movie Reviews Reply

    Nicely done, Dan. A solid list. I dont think of “Aliens” as a horror movie much, but it was a sequel to “Alien”, which dfeinitely was, so… 😀

    Nice ranking. Very good choices.

  7. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    My favourite topic, Dan.

    Really nice list. I’m glad you put some of the classic on here like Friday 2 ( although I agree Bill that IV is the best Friday). Having WC Nightmare on there too is excellent. A perfect film for the Nightmare series.

    IMO, here are the ten best horror sequels:

    1) Aliens
    2) Friday the 13th Final Chapter
    3) Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
    4) Amityville Horror 2
    5) Halloween 2
    6) Jaws 2
    7) Texas Chainsaw III (just a personal fave)
    8) Scream 2
    9) Final Destination 2 (The opening highway scene is one of the best directed scenes ever in the history of film imo)
    10) Friday the 13th III (Jason gets his mask)

  8. Avatar
    Alex Withrow Reply

    Great list here Dan, love all your picks.

    A New Nightmare is so very smartly conceived. Not a great film, but such a unique take on the genre.

    And Scream 2… man, I just loved those first three movies.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    Good list, but you missed one major sequel and that is Psycho part 2. What an amazing follow up to the original, Anthony Hopkins is creepier than ever in the Bates Motel saga.

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    Josh Reply

    Silence of the Lambs. Yes, its a blend of genres so its a bit hazy there and not immediately recognized as horror, but if Aliens can be included, then I would think Silence of the Lambs could be. And technically it is a sequel. I’d have to put that at the top.

    Other than that, which is a grey area, nice list. I would like to see Halloween 2 higher though.

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    Lights Camera Reaction Reply

    LOVE these picks:

    Friday the 13th: Part 2
    Evil Dead II
    Halloween II
    Scream 2
    A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

    Overall, a great list!

  12. Avatar
    niels Reply

    It would be interesting to see this list if it also included remakes, which are plentiful in the horror genre.
    I can’t say I can argue with your picks, especially the first three. I’m not so sure I would classify Aliens or even The Bride of Frankenstein as horror though.
    By the way, I thought the remake of Evil Dead was pretty decent, at least it was unapologetically gory, with some pretty decent scenes.

  13. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    Someone should do a top 10 horror remake essay. 🙂

  14. Avatar
    Colin Biggs Reply

    Love most of these picks, Exorcist III always seems to get the shaft when it comes to horror sequels. One of the few films to make me jump out of my seat.

  15. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    I’d like to add Paranormal Activity 2 now as well.

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