Sequels are everywhere today, and the horror genre might be the king of sequels. Unfortunately most of them are uninspired, boring and worst of all: not scary. There was, however, an abundance of material to sift through. Horror films can be really cheap to make, which is why there are so many, and over the years many young entrepreneurial directors have tried their hand. Often working with small means they had to get creative, and this is one of the strengths of the genre. It forces people to think outside the box.
When coming up with this list, one of the main criteria was: does the director (and his team) care about this film? Did they find inspiration in the movie and its themes? Did they get creative in making you scared? Making you flinch? Or in using horror to explore other themes?
Unfortunately when watching horror sequels, these questions are usually answered with a resounding no. But finding those diamonds in the rough, where these questions are answered with a yes, is made even more exciting by their rareness. Especially for those with a passion for horror.
10. Ouija: Origin of Evil
Having seen the first ‘Ouija’, one could easily come to the conclusion that this series would be useless. Fortunately this sequel by Mike Flanagan is vastly superior to the original film.
‘Origin of Evil’ fits for the fans of films like ‘The Conjuring’; that is, family is living in a creepy old house with spirits roaming and suffers the consequences. Director Flanagan and his writing team deliver a tightly shot film that starts of slow but is never boring. Especially the middle of ‘Origin of Evil’ is strong and there are some really creepy scenes with the youngest daughter (are kids in horror films ever not scary?).
The ending of this film hits harder than I expected going in, and that is a welcome surprise in a horror film. That the cast is on the whole quite solid as well only helps.
9. Alien 4
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Alien: Resurrection’ is an odd one in the Alien series. Often unfavourably compared to the classic first two instalments, it might be skipped by casual watchers, and that is a shame because ‘Resurrection’ has a lot to offer.
Whereas ‘Alien’ is more of a slow burn, ‘Resurrection’ goes for overall chaos and insanity. Scientists use Ripley’s blood to not only clone her but also new xenomorphs for testing. As expected things go out of hand and Ripley finds herself stranded on a spaceship with numerous xenomorphs and a crew of oddballs (played by Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon). With the rub; in the cloning Ripley got some of the xenomorph characteristics as well, like increased accuracy and strength and, not to forget, a strange connection with them too.
Jeunet’s bizarre mix of body horror, drama, action and sensuality was not easy to swallow for the unsuspecting viewer, even if it makes sense for the watchers of his earlier horror-comedy ‘Delicatessen’. ‘Alien: Resurrection’ is certainly not perfect, but it is most definitely unique(-ly gross) and entertaining. The colourful cast is fun to watch. Especially the scene where Ripley meets her failed clones is memorable, and so often parodied that people don’t even seem to remember where it originated.
8. Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Third instalment of master of horror Dario Argento’s ‘Animal Trilogy’, because no horror-list is complete without a giallo film. Like so many Argento’s films, ‘Four Flies’ has an intricate plot related to a killer whose POV we often see without knowing their identity.
Drummer Roberto accidentally kills a man that has been following him, immediately he realises he was set up by a masked stalker. The rest of the film consists of Roberto trying to get out of his predicament meeting a colourful set of characters while those that know too much get killed off.
Argento skilfully builds the tension in this horror-mystery but the strength in the film lies in its inventive, stylish visual direction. ‘Four Flies’ uses slow-motion bullet effects way before the Hong-Kong action films do, and certain shots have inspired many films to come (especially the scenes in the park). Add a cool soundtrack by Ennio Morricone and you’ve got a classic giallo!
7. The Devil’s Rejects
One would be forgiven to not carry high hopes for a sequel to ‘House of a 1000 Corpses’ by Rob Zombie. ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ is a bit more down to earth and its gritty feel makes the violence and horror stand out much more. In this sequel, three of the Firefly family members are on the run from the force of law, which is personified in a demon-like sheriff that is ethically barely above the criminals he chases. Despite being hunted, the Fireflys take every opportunity to brutalize people they run into and their hostages.
There are some truly demented scenes in this film that might make even the more grizzled horror fans flinch. Rob Zombie’s direction and design here creates a dirty but much more realistic Southern US vibe that fits well with the cat and mouse game being played out on the screen. For the lovers of a Tobe Hooper-like vibe that are not afraid of a little violence.
6. Final Destination 3
‘The Final Destination’ series is all about creative and gruesome deaths. People that stopped watching the series after the second instalment can rejoice that the third one lets go of the more pompous plotlines of the second film and goes straight for the horror.
‘Final Destination 3’ above all excels in finding new Rube Goldberg-esque ways for ‘death’ to reign back in its cheaters. Think of such creative ways as tanning beds and a complicated series of events involving gym equipment (which will give you some new phobias in the process). This third chapter in the series also boasts one of its darkest finales.
It is worth mentioning that Mary Elizabeth Winstead is arguably the strongest lead in a series plagued by mediocre acting, and her role elevates the tension by creating a character that one actually cares about. That some deaths have ironic and darkly hilarious elements only adds to the experience.