Top Five Horror Sequels

Posted: October 31, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists

A few days ago, I watched Ouija: Origin of Evil, a prequel to Ouija, which ended on a post-credits stinger that teased further follow-ups. We also already have three Insidious movies, two Sinisters, two Conjurings, a spin-off called Annabelle, and a bunch of Paranormal Activity movies. Clearly, there is a lot of sequelization going on with horror films, which is distressing when you consider most horror sequels suck. There are however some exceptions and with today being Halloween, it seemed appropriate to celebrate five best horror sequels ever made.

5. 28 Weeks Latertwenty_eight_weeks_later

Making a sequel to Danny Boyle’s well-regarded zombie movie 28 Days Later would not seem very intuitive given that film’s highly specific style and ending, but director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s follow-up proved more than worthy. The filmmaking on display is still sharp and the use of real film as opposed to digital is also a welcome change. The film opens like gangbusters with a really awesome chase sequence and the rest of the chaos which ensues is also well-rendered. The film also serves as a solid little analogy for the military mismanagement of the Iraq war. Great final shot too.

4. Evil Dead 2evil_dead_ii_poster

The Evil Dead is one of the most inspiring low-budget success stories in all of film and it also launched the career of one Sam Raimi. It is the sequel however that has perhaps become the more iconic film, most likely due to the film’s zany tone. While the original was more or less a straight-horror movie, this sequel is basically a wacky comedy wherein the protagonist Ash is attacked by all sorts of demons in a small cabin. This is a movie that features an extended set-piece where Ash wrestles with his possessed hand for several minutes and ultimately ends with said hand being severed and replaced with a chainsaw. Raimi is clearly having a lot of fun inventing zany set-pieces and the film is also a great showcase for the talents of leading man Bruce Campbell. I don’t love this like a lot of the hardcore fans do, but Evil Dead 2 is certainly a fun ride with a lot of memorable moments.

3. The Devil’s RejectsDevils_rejects_ver2

The Devil’s Rejects has the distinction of being the only film in this list that is inarguably superior to the original film. I don’t hate House of 1000 Corpses, but that film is a mess which crumbles under its own style. The Devil’s Rejects hits a much better balance of 70s kitsch style with genuine characters and story. The serial killers at the center of this film aren’t exactly realistic, but they’re well-defined, horrific, and bizarrely funny. While the film does depict a lot of graphic violence, the torture porn label it tends to carry is not exactly fair. Rob Zombie is interested in more than just grossing out an audience, but also creates interesting people and makes some efforts to play with audience sympathies. Zombie also grew a lot as a filmmaker between Corpses and Rejects. This has a much more polished look, the set-pieces are more memorable, the performances are better, and the soundtrack is also a lot smarter. It’s not a film for everybody (there’s some pretty grizzly content here), but for those who can appreciate this type of perverse filmmaking, The Devil’s Rejects is a treat.

2. Dawn of the Deaddawn_of_the_dead78

With Night of the Living Dead, George Romero created a new iconic horror villain (the zombies) and also created an unprecedented horror experience. In making his follow-up, Romero decided to go bigger. The locations are more dynamic than in Night, the deaths gorier, the set-pieces more numerous and complicated, there are a lot more zombies, and of course, the whole thing is in colour. It’s great to see a bigger vision of a zombie apocalypse and Romero finds a lot of fun ways to depict all of this, but the film also explores new ideas too. Much has been written about how the zombies in the mall reflect real shoppers and endless consumption, but there is another layer regarding the ways in which human beings will accept horrid conditions provided their own comforts are not taken away. While our main cast is initially horrified by what has become of the world, they slowly start to become complacent in the middle as they have their fun in the mall. As far as sheer horror experiences go, Night of the Living Dead is probably superior, but Dawn of the Dead still excels thanks to its energy, creativity, and social commentary.

1. Bride of Frankensteinbride_of_frankenstein

I struggled for a long time between Bride of Frankenstein and Dawn of the Dead for the top spot. What ultimately gave the former the edge is that while Dawn of the Dead is technically a sequel, there are no returning characters or even locations from Night of the Living Dead. Bride of Frankenstein, on the other hand, is a direct continuation of Frankenstein. The film draws more content from Mary Shelley’s novel and continues to explore the work’s major themes. In particular, the price of Frankenstein’s ambitions, the depths of man’s inhumanity to The Monster, and what it means to be alive. We see Frankenstein continually plagued by his obsessions, while The Monster remains a victim of hatred and prejudice. The parallels between the two resonate and it’s especially rewarding to see the two forced back together in the third act. Colin Clive’s Frankenstein is a bit more sympathetic this time around and Boris Karloff excels as The Monster. He actually gets to speak in this entry and it brings greater opportunity for emotional resonance. The scenes between The Monster and the blind man are particularly emotional.

James Whale returns as the director and brings the same level of craftsmanship that made the original Frankenstein so atmospheric. The film has the classic foggy sets, tombs, and graveyards which define Universal Monster movies, but Whale also goes beyond those films and really brings a sense of production to the work. Whale also knows how to craft compelling horror set-pieces. Whether it be The Monster creepily emerging from the waters in the opening to his torture at the hands of townsfolk, it’s all highly compelling. It is the climactic creation scene however that stands out as the film’s most exciting moment. Bride of Frankenstein is amazing, perfectly able to function as an atmospheric horror film with fun set-pieces, while also providing genuine substance and an emotional story.

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