The horror genre continues to be a big draw for movies goers world wide and a successful franchise can mean big bucks for a studio. Candyman, Halloween, The Purge and Resident Evil are just some of the well known horror franchises set to release new instalments over the next 12 months. Unfortunately, and probably more so than any other genre, studios have often focused on quantity over quality and rushed sequels and freeboots to market without paying any mind to script quality. For every Aliens and Evil Dead 2 there are 10 Leprechaun in the Hood and Jaws: The Revenge. To save yourself from being consumed by the hundreds of these unwatchable 'movies' lurking out there in the darkness, we've put together the list below to allow you to explore 13 of the very best horror sequels there are offered.
Evil Dead 2
In 1981, Sam Raimi stunned the world of horror by creating the ultra shocking, ultra gory film, Evil Dead on an ultra low budget of just a few hundred thousand dollars. The film received high critical praise, won Raimi a legion of fans, and even earned the respect of the master of horror himself, Stephen King. The movie left audiences clamoring for more and six years later Raimi delivered in the form of Evil Dead 2. Part sequel, part remake, Evil Dead 2 sees the super charismatic, chiseled chinned Bruce Campbell returning as Ash, as he heads out to a cabin in the woods for some relaxation time. This time he is joined by his girlfriend Linda and, as expected, their trip is anything but relaxing. The pair are persistently, and outrageously (think possession, tree rape and dismemberment), haunted by the surrounding supernatural entities. Raimi had a slightly larger budget to play with this time around, and while it was still miniscule in comparison to Hollywood's blockbuster counterparts, he made every penny of it count. Admittedly, it appears most of the budget went on blood, Raimi took everything that made the original Evil Dead so enjoyable, and cranked it up to 11. The movie was so over the top that it occasionally slips into the realms of parody. Fortunately, this was not lost on Raimi and Campbell, who fully embrace the humor, resulting in a twisted black comedy horror hybrid that has truly stood the test the time and is arguably one of the few horror sequels in existence that outshines its predecessor. Evil Dead 2 was followed by another sequel Army of Darkness that, for many, lost the magic of the original two. For a far more serious, less comedic take on the material it also worth checking out the 2013 Evil Dead reboot for some genuinely terrifying thrills.
While initially packaged as an all out reboot, it soon became clear that Halloween, a film done in 2018, and the 11th installment in the franchise, was, in fact, going to be a direct sequel to the original 1978 Halloween, featuring the return of original cast member and fan favorite, Jamie Lee Curtis. The movie is set in the present day, 40 years after the original and the audience is led to completely disregard everything that has happened in any of the sequels that have been released in that time. This certainly wasn't a bad thing as many fans of the franchise felt that it had lost its way as the plot was becoming increasingly difficult to follow with the introduction of mystical and supernatural elements and more twists that one could shake a stick at. While it was certainly refreshing to go back to basics, Halloween does more than just play lip service to the fans. Expertly directed by David Gordon Green, the suspense is palpable throughout and the audience is treated to the creepiest and scariest iteration of serial killer Michael Myers to date. It's Jamie Lee Curtis's character Laurie, however, that provides us with the most pleasant of surprises. No longer is she the damsel in distress, such a popular trope in the slasher movies of old, but now she is strong, mentally and physically, she is prepared and ready for action. This change in dynamics makes for a fun and refreshing addition to an over-crowded franchise (and genre).
Okay so no technically a sequel, this movie has been included because, to me, it is the spiritual sequel to 2004's Shaun of the Dead, and is officially the second instalment of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. Hot Fuzz is a 2007 horror action comedy film directed by Edgar Wright, and co-written by Wright and Simon Pegg. Pegg and Nick Frost star as a couple of police officers investigating a series of mysterious and gruesome deaths in a small West Country village in the United Kingdom. Interestingly, while maybe not as culturally impactful as Shaun of the Dead, it is the most successful of the trilogy, financially speaking. Horror comedy is a notoriously difficult sub genre to get right but Wright makes it look easy. The on screen chemistry between Pegg and Frost certainly helps, also blood, lots of blood. Visual effects supervisor Richard Briscoe hit the nail on the head when he said "In many ways, the more extreme you make it, the more people know it is stylized and enjoy the humor inherent in how ridiculous it is". Hot Fuzz is certainly extreme and most definitely humorous, and to top it off the plot is fun and engaging, drawing inspiration from a number of major blockbuster action flicks of the 80s, 90s and 00s.
The Purge: Anarchy
The original 2014 Purge film was a somewhat enjoyable, by the numbers, home invasion thriller starring Ethan Hawke. The thing that really made the movie standout, however, was the concept that led to the invasion itself; the actual purge. The Purge is a newly introduced annual holiday; a night during which all crime, including murder, is temporarily legal. The reasoning behind this seemingly insane law is that it allows people to release their pent-up aggression and become better, harder-working citizens the rest of the year. As the series of films progress a number of conspiracies are introduced involving the upper class elite and the implementation of the purge nights. While the first Purge mainly focuses on a singular home invasion, its not until the second movie, The Purge: Anarchy that the scope of the purge concept is fully explored. What this basically means is that we get 100 minutes of masked maniacal mayhem reminiscent of John Carpenter's Escape from New York with
hints of the 1979 cult classic The Warriors.
10 Cloverfield Lane
A film produced in 2016, is a claustrophobic psychological horror that tells the story of a young woman who, after a car crash, wakes up in an underground bunker with two men who insist that an event has left the surface of Earth uninhabitable. As the story progresses the woman begins to feel more uneasy and captive as she questions the legitimacy of the men's claims. Has she been saved or has she been kidnapped? 10 Cloverfield Lane is an interesting entry on this list as it bears little to no resemblance, stylistically, tonally or plot wise to its predecessor, 2008's found footage sci-fi blockbuster Cloverfield. Where Cloverfield is all about the action, this is about the tension. With pretty much the entirety of the film shot in one location and focusing on just three characters, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead , John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr, it's lucky that each of these actors played their roles with tremendous conviction. John Goodman, in particular, delivers a possible career best as Howard, a man whose flashes of jealousy and rage slowly begin to come to the forefront of his personality, as he does everything in his power to prevent the woman from leaving and exposing them to the dangers he's told her are outside.
More of an action-horror than the slow burn, suspense filled original 1979, Alien, Aliens, is another example of a sequel that, in a a lot of people's opinion, surpasses the original. Ridley Scott's original was undoubtedly a game changer and a masterclass in sci-fi horror. It was ahead of its time and influenced thousands of imitations over the following four decades, released to varying levels of success. When James Cameron took the reigns and stepped in to direct the sequel, he had some very large shoes to fill. Instead of falling into the common trap of simply rehashing the original's ideas, he took a gamble and completely changed up the tone, style and format. Needless to say, the gamble paid off. What we ended up with was Sigourney Weaver returning as an even more bad ass Ellen Ripley, think Rambo in space, in a balls to the wall, alien slaying, non-stop action horror fest. The acting is on point, the effects are incredible (especially for the time), the score is ruminative and Ellen Ripley is still one of the most iconic female leads in cinema history and should serve as inspiration to anyone looking to cast strong women in action and horror movies.
Dawn of the Dead
Following the events that played out in George A. Romero's 1968 definitive zombie flick Night of the Living Dead, the world has been devastated by the ever increasing plague of flesh-eating zombies. Society has disintegrated and the remaining survivors desperately seek refuge. Dawn of the Dead, essentially repeats what made Night of the Living Dead a success, but on a larger scale. This time the protagonists are trapped in a shopping mall as opposed to a cabin and the hordes of zombies have increased exponentially in size. While perhaps, not as ground breaking as the original, there's still a hell of a lot of fun to be had in Romero's follow up. The practical special effects are particularly gruesome and may leave some viewers yearning for a time before everything effects related was immediately sent to the CGI department. Additionally, and rather ingeniously, alongside the relentless gore and graphic violence, Dawn of the Dead manages to serve as a subtle social commentary on our materialistic society.
Final Destination 3
The Final Destination franchise is an interesting one in that there is no villain per se, instead, literally anything and everything is the potential enemy and could be the cause of your untimely death. Much like the other installments in the series, the movie begins with one of the lead characters having a horrific premonition of some sort of disaster in which multiple lives are lost. In this case Wendy Christensen, played brilliantly by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, envisioned a roller coaster she and her classmates are riding being derailed. As a result of having this premonition, she is able to quickly act and save a number of lives that would have otherwise been lost in the crash. But, when your time is up, you can't escape your fate. An invisible supernatural force representing Death itself begins hunting the survivors. The fact that Death can strike at any given moment, and can manipulate any inanimate objects in its wake to do the deed means that there's a constant sense of impending doom and anxiety present throughout. Whilst the plot adds little new to the series, the increased body count, elaborate set pieces and added elements of dark humor make for one of the most entertaining entries in the Final Destination Series. This was certainly not lost on the fans and critics either as the movie was nominated for the Highest Body Count, Line That Killed (Best One-Liner), Sickest FX (Best Special Effects) and the Most Thrilling Killing at Fangoria Chainsaw Awards.
28 Weeks Later
The aptly titled 28 Weeks Later is the sequel to the Danny Boyle directed 2002 film 28 Days Later. Robert Carlyle stars alongside Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner and Idris Elba with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo taking the director's seat. The flick takes place after the events of the first film, two young siblings break regulations to go on a hunt for their infected mother which leads to the Rage Virus being reintroduced to London's safe zone, resulting in the expected insanity. Although it never quite reaches the heights of the original in terms of characterization and drama, it's not far off and it still pretty much delivers an A-Z of everything an avid zombie horror fan has grown to expect from a top genre movie. While the first flick was a masterclass is utilizing a low budget to create an effectively terrifying horror, 28 Weeks Later had a slightly inflated budget, but what we lose in suspense and tension, we gain in all out carnage.
The Conjuring 2
One of the more recent entries to this list, the franchise has become somewhat of a modern phenomenon of modern horror cinema. Since 2013s The Conjuring, there have been a further 7 installments in the supernatural based Conjuring universe, with a further two in development. The original was a critical and commercial hit, but then things went awry with the 2014 spin off Annabelle, which was lampooned by critics. Fortunately, the next attempt and direct sequel to the original Conjuring fared far better with critics. While not quite matching the same level or critical success as the first, The Conjuring 2 was not at all far off, becoming one of the most highly rated horror sequels of all time. The film sees Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprising their roles as paranormal investigators, investigating the notorious 1977 Enfield poltergeist case in London. Not relying solely on jump scares like some many of its supernatural counterparts have fallen victim to, the movie manages to build a constant sense of dread that haunts throughout in this expertly shot modern horror classic.
Scream 2 directed again by horror legend Wes Craven, takes place a year after the events of the first film as a copycat killer using the guise of the now legendary Ghostface wreaks havoc once again. The all star cast includes original actors David Arquette, Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox alongside new faces Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jada Pinkett-Smith. What makes Scream 2 such an entertaining ride is, like its predecessor, its ability to seamlessly combine the violence of the slasher genre with elements of comedy and mystery. This time the audience is treated to an extra layer of satire and it perfectly sends up the clichés associated with the cash grab obligatory horror sequel. More than just parody, the clever satire doesn't feel forced and is at times surprisingly sharp. There are some genuine scares and the plot keeps the viewers engaged throughout whilst all the time keeping its tongue placed firmly it its cheek, albeit hidden behind that iconic mask.
A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Freddy Krueger is one of the most recognizable villains in horror history, the clawed killer is literally the stuff of nightmares. It's easy to forget, however, how genuinely terrifying the concept of a killer that targeted teens in their dreams really was. There has been a never-ending supply of sequels and reboots in the Nightmare on Elm Street cannon and somewhere along the lines they began to descend into all out parody and the goofiness took over. While some of the later reboot efforts did try to recapture the darkness of the earlier entries, Dream Warriors is arguably the one that got the tone closest to what audiences loved so much about the original. Freddy Krueger was scary, twisted, viscous and sadistic, but there's still hints of his famous humor that trickle through in his one liners and elaborate choice of outrageous kills. Although some parts may come across a little dated, the practical effects as a whole still hold up surprisingly well by today's standards and the film still remains a classic.
Quiet Place Part II
Released only about month ago, A Quiet Place 2 has become the year's runaway success story, setting several box office records, including the biggest opening weekend of the pandemic. It has grossed over $248 million worldwide, already making it the fifth highest-grossing film of 2021. Using the same simple yet highly original and effective concept of the original, the movie reunites audiences with the family from the first movie as they strive for survival in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by sightless aliens with an enhanced sense of hearing. John Krasinski returns as the film's director as well as writer and producer. Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe reprise their roles from the first film while Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou were added added as new characters. With almost no spoken dialogue, the movie amazes in its ability to create an engaging narrative, through visual story telling alone. Employing, a less is more approach, even the monsters are rarely seen but the audience are still biting nails and at the edges their entire seats.