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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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?
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