Not All Horror Sequels Are Flops! These 11 Sequels Will Chill You to the Core
Horror franchises dominate pop culture. Still, it’s no secret that the films that follow original installations often suffer from sequel exhaustion. So, are any scary sequels – or, as is often the case, universe-expanding prequels – worth your time? Are there any that outshine the original? The answer is a resounding yes. With cases like Ouija and Annabelle, audiences have seen firsthand how critical reception pushed for better filmmaking, e.g. less cheesy jump scares and more deep-seated terror. Indeed, not all follow-up scary movies are terrible or merely cash cows. Keep on reading to find the best horror sequels out there for a healthy dose of spooks – including movies that are even better than the original.
This inclusion isn’t a dunk on the first Scream movie, a fun metacommentary on the horror genre that deals out plenty of grisly surprises – remember the garage scene? But the franchise didn’t lose its momentum in Scream 2, which is just as delightful (perhaps even wittier and faster-paced) as it pokes fun at horror sequels. After coming up against Ghostface, Sidney and the other survivors are back on another murder-mystery trail.
Evil Dead II
Straight out of school, Sam Raimi directed The Evil Dead, a punchy and gruesome horror-comedy masterpiece in its own right. He returned in 1987 with Evil Dead II, which some consider even funnier and gorier than the original. Here, we have yet another cabin-in-the-woods situation, now with a headless body wielding a chainsaw.
There’s no stepping around the fact that the original Halloween is a classic that introduced us to the nightmarish Michael Myers. In comparison to the other middling installations in the series, the direct 2018 sequel is an excellent film that stands on its own as it explores how Laurie Strode’s trauma impacts the people around her, particularly her daughter and granddaughter.
The Devil's Rejects
Critics panned House of 1000 Corpses for its excessive gore and lack of a discernible plot. Its sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, was met with a more average to positive reception. While antagonists in the original film, the murderous Firefly family members center the story in the second movie as they run from the police. We get more characterization here, but be aware that the film is still definitely not for the faint of heart.
The Bride of Frankenstein
Frankenstein is a classic, but so is The Bride of Frankenstein, which is considered one of the greatest sequels of all time. The Bride doesn’t appear in the original film, but she gets an appearance in the flesh here. Mary Shelley, author of 1818’s Frankenstein, is depicted in the sequel as well. The film is campy and creepy (as well as Halloween costume inspiration), with skillful monster acting from Elsa Lanchester (who plays both the Bride and Shelley). We can’t forget the iconic wig!
Critics and viewers generally panned Annabelle for its less-than-perfect effects and story. But its prequel, Annabelle: Creation, came back strong with the demonic doll. The film offers a plot with stronger emotional stakes as we meet the grieving Mullinses and the girls who fall under their care.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
There’s no denying the terror of Freddy Krueger in 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. But Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is a playful and meta installation that’s worth a watch. The film features director Wes Craven and actors Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund as themselves, with Langenkamp’s son becoming terrorized by Krueger.
Ouija: Origin of Evil
Ouija: Origin of Evil gives the poorly reviewed 2014 film Ouija a fresh backstory. In the prequel, set in the late ’60s, a widow introduces a Ouija board to her seance business, unwittingly bringing out a spirit that possesses her daughter. Director Mike Flanagan wanted to work on a period piece with a family dynamic, and he did exactly that. Critics praised how the story and atmosphere here are better than the original film’s.
V/H/S is a fun and gory anthology, consisting of short films framed around a group of thieves who come across a dead body and mysterious tapes. V/H/S/2, another anthology, is based on a similar premise, this time with two private investigators who encounter some creepy footage while on the hunt for a missing person. The sequel comes with grislier and slicker visuals for horror enthusiasts. The story “Safe Haven” is a fan favorite.
The Conjuring 2
Following the paranormal investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 are both well-loved by horror fans. Along with a strong central story about a struggling family, The Conjuring 2 offers spirits that are even more terrifying – not to underplay Bathsheba, but Bill Wilkins and the Crooked Man are absolutely freaky. And must we say anything more about Valak?