Bride of Frankenstein

Weekend Roundtable: Best Horror Movie Sequels

Multi-movie horror franchises are big business in Hollywood, and the ‘Saw’ series serves up its eighth entry this weekend just in time for Halloween. Honestly, though, how many of these sequels are actually worthy follow-ups to their originals? We’ll look at a few in our new Roundtable.

M. Enois Duarte

Rather than immediately jump on any number of classic horror sequels, some love and attention should be given to the recent ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil‘. The prequel to the horrendous 2014 teen slasher genuinely surprised me and quickly became a favorite gem in my household. This is not an easy feat to accomplish, given the number of horror movies released each year, making an exceptional standout somewhat rare. This is even more true of the genre sequels. But Mike Flanagan’s film exceeded all expectations and did exactly what a good horror flick should do, which probably explains why audiences didn’t flock to theaters to see it or why others don’t consider it one of the best of the last couple years. The relatively new director has continuously demonstrated his talent for generating suspense, apprehension and an air of dread since his debut in ‘Absentia’, which he followed up with ‘Oculus’. In ‘Original of Evil’, the story of a struggling single mother in late-1960s Los Angeles quickly immerses viewers into a state of constant terror, and the movie is told in an homage-like style that feels reminiscent of classic ’50s and ’60s supernatural horror films. That’s another reason I love this shockingly good sequel.

Brian Hoss

Though I could easily point to ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’ as one the most important and effective horror sequels, there’s something about ‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II‘ that has it as my pick. With so much of the same cast and crew involved, this bigger and gorier sequel is almost an essential companion to first film. It has qualities that other ‘Hellraiser’ sequels can’t begin to approach, while at the same time calling back to nearly everything that worked well in the first film.

Luke Hickman

For me, ’28 Days Later’ is the perfect hybrid of art and horror. It would be impossible to capture that lightning in a bottle a second time (especially without Danny Boyle back in the director’s chair), so ‘28 Weeks Later‘ didn’t even bother attempting it. Instead, the sequel takes the story in a standard horror direction. In terms of quality, it doesn’t come close to matching ‘Days’, but I don’t think it’s trying to.

I love how the movie works entirely on its own, especially the set-pieces. When I think of ‘Weeks’, I see the kids driving a scooter through empty London streets. I think of the insane outbreak, a key element that wasn’t even portrayed in the first film. I think of the tension and nail-biting suspense in the darkened subway tunnel scene. While the first film was creative in its own sense, the sequel is creative in a completely different way. When it comes to horror movies, I’ve probably seen this sequel the most.

Josh Zyber

Director James Whale and star Boris Karloff created a cinema icon in 1931 with their big-screen adaptation of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. Usually in these cases, sequels fail to live up – especially when the first movie is based on a famous novel with a seemingly finite ending. Somehow, amazingly, the pair’s return for 1935’s ‘The Bride of Frankenstein‘ resulted in a movie that’s more polished, more ambitious, serves up even richer themes, and adds in some delightfully unexpected humor on top. This is the rare case where a sequel betters the original.

I also feel the need to evangelize for ‘The Exorcist III‘ as much as I can. The movie was a box office bomb in 1990, but is very underrated. Although it’s quite different in tone and style than the original film, and noticeably suffers from studio tampering, it’s still truly the only of the ‘Exorcist’ sequels that’s worth a damn. Be sure to watch the theatrical cut first. Flawed though that version may be, the so-called “Director’s Cut” available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory is compiled from a cruddy VHS source and is best viewed as a curiosity.

Tell us your picks for favorite horror sequels in the Comments.


    • NJScorpio

      I always enjoyed ‘Evil Dead 2’ because it felt like a reboot, but also felt like it was a sequel, and it was eerie not having it made clear.

  1. NJScorpio

    If we are open to sequels beyond the 2nd film, I’ll go with ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’. It does a great job of expanding the concept, with great 80’s music and some very clever shots (falling asleep while falling back into the chair). To this day, I tend to just watch the first movie, skip the 2nd, then watch 3 and 4.

  2. Csm101

    Friday the 13th part 2. Bag-over-the-head Jason is much creepier than hockey mask Jason. One best of the series in my opinion.

      • Chris B

        Wait….by “bundle” do you mean the Blu Ray box set? And if so, please go back and grab one more for me! (I’m tottally serious by the way, if you can grab a set for me I’d be eternally grateful). I’ll pay for shipping and make it worth your while.

  3. Jean-Denis Rouette

    DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) manages to both expand the nightmare world depicted in its famous predecessor and enrich the subgenre’s metaphorical meaning. And it’s endlessly fun to watch.

    • Csm101

      Excellent choice! You’ve made me wish I would’ve picked that instead. Dawn is the gold standard for which I hold all other zombie movies to.

  4. Nick Wilson

    @Csm101: It really is worth reading up on all the bull**** they went through with F13tp2 “actor” Warrington Gillette, and how he only did the single shot of him smashing through the window at the end. What a complete d**k.

    I have rather a soft spot for Dracula’s Daughter, with the lesbian theme surprisingly blatant for the time it was made.

    • Nick Wilson

      Good choice – it’s a very worthy sequel, with sincere performances and logical plotting – but I just can’t get past the final revelation about Norman’s parentage.

  5. Nagara

    I’d have to pick Bride of Chucky and Curse of Chucky. Two very different tones for the series, but both worked really well.

  6. Elizabeth

    Aliens. I guess you could argue that Alien isn’t a horror movie, or that Aliens isn’t a horror movie, or that neither is a horror movie. But if Leprechaun 4: In Space is a horror movie, Alien and Aliens bloody well fall into that same category.

    • EM

      The usual argument against Aliens as a horror movie is that it’s really an action movie, albeit with horror elements. I don’t know what the argument against Alien as a horror movie would be. (If there’s an argument that Alien is really a light romantic comedy-musical, I suspect someone’s confusing it with The Creature Wasn’t Nice.)

  7. Poltergeist 2. While the first is still better, Poltergeist 2 did really well expanding the universe and the story.

    Ghostbusters 2. While they are comedies, the second one, in my opinion, was significantly more scary. Two very different tones, and because of that, the second one is very underrated.

    Gremlins 2. So this is kind of the reverse of Ghostbusters – the first was more horror, and the second is more of a comedy. Still, it is one of my favorites.

    One of those movies that transcends generas, I love Terminator 2, which in my opinion, is the best of all the movies in the series

  8. Malickfan89

    I’m in a minority , but I like Hannibal. It works on its own as a film and is oddly beautiful In parts. I think it ranks with the best Ridley Scott films

  9. EM

    You really needn’t go further than Bride of Frankenstein (one of the best film sequels ever, regardless of genre)…but why not go one movie further, to Son of Frankenstein? Bride remains the strongest in the series, but Son is a worthy successor, expanding the mythos with the characters of Béla Lugosi’s Ygor and Lionel Atwill’s Inspector Krogh, both of whom engage in battles of wits against Basil Rathbone’s increasingly manic Wolf Frankenstein. And of course Boris Karloff reprises the Monster role for the final time, going back to basics (mute again) for a curious mixture of empathy and menace.

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