The horror genre is one of countless sequels and remakes. Any chance for the studios to cash in on more of a good thing is generally given the green light. What this means for audiences is usually more of the same mindless drivel that’s thrown our way each Halloween. There are, however, several exceptions to this rule, as some sequels prove to be just as engaging, rarely even more so, than the originals they follow. Below are 10 such films that will provide you with a great night of terror. I’ve left out any remakes, as there will be a Top 10 list of those at a later date. But for now, revel in the horrific glory that fills the frames of these pictures.
10. Paranormal Activity 2 — Despite the fact that the found footage concept has been drained dry of any hint of horrific creativity, Paranormal Activity 2 arrived when the idea was still mildly fresh and engaging. While it may not be as tight and low budget scary as it’s predecessor, the film delivers some quality thrills with a larger budget. For some, this increase in funding may take away from the greatness of the first film, and that is completely understandable. But for me, I found Paranormal Activity 2 to be very entertaining and just as intense as the original.
9. Predators — This choice may seem a bit controversial, as I feel like I’m one of the few people that actually liked this film. But, I stand by my decision here. Predator 1 and 2 are clearly not masterpieces, but what this film does is update the series in a way that breathes new life into the franchise. Adrien Brody seems a very unusual choice for an action hero, but he pulls it off greatly while adding a bit of acting credibility to the character. Laurence Fishburne and Danny Trejo turn in fun performances here, as well.
8. Bride of Chucky — This cult classic film, a new direction for the Child’s Play franchise, the homicidal doll Chucky does indeed find a mate in Jennifer Tilly’s Tiffany. Trading in terror for laughs, the series knew its audience quite well by 1998 release. Upping the campy factor, Bride of Chucky is a film that is extremely entertaining. While mildly creepy in it’s sexualizing of two dolls, the flick sets itself apart from the Chucky films before it, and gives viewers what they really wanted, more of Chucky having a good time.
7. The Bride of Frankenstein — Continuing with the bridal theme and building upon the classic Universal monster legacy of the original Frankenstein, this follow-up presents the creation of Dr. Frankenstein with a bride of his own. The film begins with Mary Shelley telling the tale to a group of partygoers, among them Lord Byron and other literary figures. The filmmakers have fun with this by casting with Elsa Lanchester, the same actress that plays the Bride, herself. Employing fun and incredibly innovative special effects for the 1930’s the film holds up incredibly well today, and is one that should be viewed every year at Halloween.
6. Nightmare on Elm Street III: The Dream Warriors — Where Nightmare 2 had failed to provide any real scares or clever Freddy-isms, Nightmare 3, turns the franchise back in the right direction. With Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy back as the guide to the new group of Freddy’s sleep-deprived victims, the film gives viewers a chance to see the aftermath of the original horror that Nancy experienced, allowing her to develop even further as a character. Also, there’s a really catchy theme song.
5. Aliens — While technically more of a science fiction film than a horror flick, Aliens provides enough scares and thrills to be featured on this list. Not only is Sigourney Weaver’s Lt. Ripley a great example of an empowered female protagonist, this film gives her one of cinema’s most iconic confrontations, as she attacks the alien queen in her huge yellow metal lifter.
4. Scream 4 — There’s nothing like a sequel made more than a decade after the original feature that dons all of the three main characters and manages to be more entertaining than the previous two films in the franchise. Scream 4 would be a rare example of breaking the mold that created a new era of horror. While entries 2 and 3 attempted to expand on the freshness of the original, they became more of the same and eventually laughable. Scream 4 creates new horror rules for the digital age, and enforces them on a new teen cast.
3. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter — When one hears the title of this particular Jason sequel, it’s hard not to laugh, as there were six further sequels, one cross-over, and a remake in the franchise. 1984’s Final Chapter features some of the most legendary moments in the history of Camp Crystal Lake, including an out-of-this-world dance by Crispin Glover and a young Corey Feldman as Jason’s main adversary, Tommy Jarvis.
2. The Silence of the Lambs — There are so many subgenres within the horror genre, that it’s hard to separate thriller from slasher, and that is what is so brilliant about Jonathan Demme’s Oscar-winning horror masterpiece. A sequel to 1986’s Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs combines elements of thriller, crime drama, and slasher to create a thoroughly compelling story of collaboration between a rookie FBI agent and a sociopathic, yet very personable, cannibal. The banter shared between Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins’ Dr. Hannibal Lector is that of cinematic legend. Both received incredibly well deserved Academy Awards for their performances in this film that gave the horror genre a bit of Hollywood prestige normally reserved for traditional dramas. Many debate whether Hopkins is a better Hannibal than Manhunter‘s Brian Cox, but after viewing this film, I think the answer is an obvious yes. You simply cannot call yourself a horror fan if you have not seen this classic.
1. Halloween: H20 — It all lead up to this. The epic showdown between Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her murder stalker, Michael Myers. The Halloween series took a wonderful turn back towards legitimacy with it’s 1998 seeming conclusion, as it brought Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie back from an apparent death. Filled with teenage stars of the late 90’s, including a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt, H20 serves as a prime example of everything that is right within the slasher subgenre. More character driven than reliant upon mindless gore, Steve Miner’s film returns to the suspenseful style of the first film, taking its viewers back to the 1978 beginnings of the successful franchise. *Of special note in the film is the tremendous scene shared between Curtis and her real-life mother, Janet Leigh.
Honorable Mentions: Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Leprechaun 4 (That’s the one in space!), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, and Final Destination 2.
Want even more exciting horror films to watch? Then be sure to check out some of the great horror flicks released by MTI Video here. Disagree with some of my choices, or want to make your own Top Ten List? Leave some feedback below.