Horror movie sequels are a dime a dozen and there’s so many it was hard to dwindle this list down to 21 picks. I left out a lot of great films (there are only so many hours in a day), but out of all the sequels out there, these are my favorites and worth spending your time on.
PHANTASM II (Don Coscarelli, 1988)
Phantasm is one of my favorite horror films, so it’d be hard to top in my book. One thing this installment is more successful with is the special effects and the cinematography (which gives the film a Sam Raimi vibe at times) is incredible. Director Don Coscarelli had to make a lot of concessions with Universal, including adding a love interest and getting rid of some of the original cast, which I don’t think necessarily hurt the film, but they don’t heighten the film either. It’s a valiant attempt to outdo the original and a film worth checking out.
HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY (Ethan Wiley, 1987)
Beside the fact that it takes place in a house, House II bares no resemblance to House. This film is in no way scary, it’s more of a comedy with some horror tropes, practical effects, and puppets. I can’t really think of anything negative to say about House II, it almost seems silly that anyone could bash it. It’s intentionally goofy and has this weird charm to it that I love.
SCREAM 2 (Wes Craven, 1997)
There’s a very meta moment in Scream 2 where Jamie Kennedy refers to a set of rules a horror sequel should follow. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate – more blood, more gore – *carnage candy*. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead. Scream 2 absolutely follows through on that checklist, and while I don’t like it as much as Part I, I still think it’s great.
INFERNO (Dario Argento, 1980)
The best film in Dario Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy is Suspiria, but coming in as a close second is its predecessor Inferno. The film’s aesthetic reminds me of Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath, with colors and lighting that set an eerie mood throughout its runtime. The set pieces are really fantastic and there’s tons of insane imagery scattered throughout. The practical effects are every horror fan’s dream come true, especially the knife through the throat and the floating corpse.
LEPRECHAUN 5 – LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD (Rob Spera, 2000)
This is a great idea for a Leprechaun movie, and they do a good job pulling it off. They take the Leprechaun to South Central LA (AKA The Hood) and totally create a campy and cheesy film, but one that’s still a lot of fun. It stars Ice T (this is the performance that landed him the gig on Law & Order) and like all other Leprechaun films, his gold is stolen and he comes back for it. But this time he smokes weed and fucks people up, it’s pretty much perfect for what it is.
SAW III (Darren Lynn Bousman, 2006)
I feel like you’re either a fan of these films or you are not. I happen to enjoy them, especially Saw (Part I). Of the other 6 films, Saw III is probably in second place. Saw movies always try to throw a unique twist into the mix and Part III has a great one, along with the torture and gore you’ve come to expect.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY III (Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, 2011)
Paranormal Activity should have ended its run with Part III. It takes the best parts of these films and makes a classic found footage horror that’s both unsettling and creepy. I think this nudges out Part II for second place, but not by much.
GHOULIES II (Albert Band, 1988)
Ghoulies II takes everything from the original and improves on it. This is by no means a masterpiece, but goddamn if it isn’t a good time. It’s practical and funny while not taking itself too seriously. Plus setting the location at a carnival helps add to the absurdity of the film.
INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER II (James Wan, 2013)
This is the second chapter in the Insidious trilogy and it might be the best of the whole lot, although it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the first film. Wan picks back up where he left off and delivers heavily on the scares. This movie is terrifying at times and really stretches out the tension until the end.
CREEPSHOW II (Michael Gornick, 1987)
I definitely enjoy Creepshow II as much as Part I and running both of the films back to back makes for a great time. Every story within this anthology works well and unfolds at a reasonable pace, my favorite being “Old Chief Wood’nhead”, which will make you never look at a cigar store indian the same way again.
HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II (Tony Randel, 1988)
Hellraiser II is the origins story for the Cenobites and is pretty much just as effective as the first movie. There’s tons of gore, more Pinhead (everyone loves Pinhead), and nightmarish visions of hell. As scary as they tried to make hell in this film, the one place that might be even more terrifying is that mental hospital. What kind of fucked up place is that?
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (Tommy Lee Wallace, 1982)
Halloween II could easily make this list and is about as good, if not better, than Season of the Witch. I went with Part III because I think it’s a fantastic title, that gets overlooked because there’s no Michael Myers in it. This film feels like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone, but with a lot more gore. Highlights for me were: 1. The overly catchy shamrock song and masks. 2. The hook up line “Where would you like to sleep, Dr. Challis?” 3. The score. 4. The creepy old lady knitting. 5. The kid being murdered… that’s always fun.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (Chuck Russell, 1987)
I thoroughly enjoy most of the Nightmare films, but if I had to pick, the original film and Part III are my favorites (New Nightmare is close). Dream Warriors sets the protagonists up as a force to be reckoned with and gives a unique twist to the series. Robert Englund is as awesome as ever and delivers the scares right where they should be.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 (Steve Miner, 1982)
This installment cemented the franchise’s lineage and is the best of the lot (although Part IV is pretty awesome too). The cast are memorable and cheesy (in a good way), the gore is at its peak, and there is lots of T&A… basically everything that keeps these fine machines oiled. Jason is also in 3D, not like Avatar 3D, but more like a campy drive-in 3D… and it rules. Biker gangs, an annoying fat guy with a fro, and a spear gun murder… what more could you ask for in a Friday the 13th movie?
THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (Rob Zombie, 2005)
If I had to sum this movie up in one word it’d be “exuberant”. It’s filled with intensity and balls-to-the-wall southern fried excess, all while nodding its head to films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Eaten Alive. If you’re not a fan of the word “fuck”, I’d avoid this film. Actually, that may be one of the most tame things about The Devil’s Rejects.
28 WEEKS LATER (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 2007)
After watching 28 Days Later, I thought it’d be next to impossible for any sequel to live up to it. 28 Weeks Later does just that, while almost surpassing the original. The aftermath of the infection and the world created around it are fascinating and the anxiety developed in the original is recreated perfectly.
GREMLINS 2 (Joe Dante, 1990)
Dante returns to direct this follow up and it delivers a cracked out version of Part I. It’s pretty extreme and goes a bit over-the-top, but in a fun way. Like Part 1, there are a lot of homages to other classic films: Rambo, The Wizard of Oz, King Kong, and Phantom of the Opera. This is a horror comedy I could never see being made again, it’s a unique time capsule that’s hilarious to watch unfold.
THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (James Whale, 1935)
Don’t let the title fool you, there’s very little Bride in this sequel to Frankenstein. This film turns the horror genre on its ass and makes you care about the monster. You find yourself siding with him and putting yourself in his shoes. He’s lonely and misunderstood… and hated by many. I absolutely loved the direction this film took and it’s an extreme stand out in the world of horror. Tonally it’s dark but humorous at times and I wouldn’t say there’s anything here that’s really scary. It’s a groundbreaking movie that every horror fan should experience.
DAWN OF THE DEAD (George A. Romero, 1978)
This is the best of the Romero zombie films, that’s right, it’s better than Night of the Living Dead. That may be sacrilegious to some, but I don’t care. It’s rewatchability is insane, it never feels like it gets old. Most of the fun of this film is getting to watch everyone live in a mall, as a kid I wanted nothing more than to live in that mall and fight zombies.
EVIL DEAD II (Sam Raimi, 1987)
This is basically a better version of The Evil Dead. Some may disagree with that statement, but they’d be wrong. The two are practically the same story, only Part II looks better and has a real budget. This is one of my all time favorite films, so I could go on and on about how amazing it is, but trust me, you’d get bored. Just watch it already.
ALIENS (James Cameron, 1986)
Aliens is a suspenseful ride into a claustrophobic environment that produces harrowing action and extraordinary scares. James Cameron’s flawless direction rules with an iron fist and includes art design and a score that are next level. This is absolutely one of my favorite sci-fi horror movies ever and my favorite in the series (sorry Alien, you come really close though). I don’t know if it’s nostalgia or what, but I could watch this over and over.