5. Dead Snow 2
It is not often that a sequel surpasses the original film, ‘Dead Snow 2’ is one of few flicks that has this earned distinction. Like most sequels it significantly ups the stakes, and let that be the exact thing the original ‘Dead Snow’ needed.
Like the ‘Evil Dead’ series, ‘Dead Snow’ inhabits a world where everybody bleeds buckets of blood and guts are spent by the kilos. In the second instalment the effects have definitely gotten better (read more disgusting). But where ‘Dead Snow 2’ really surpasses its predecessor is in overall insanity. Nazi Zombies attacking a group of friends out camping to get back a treasure? Well what better to fight Nazi Zombies than by resurrecting Soviet Zombies!
As one could expect is not for the squeamish, with some very unexpected, gross and brutal moments. Luckily ‘Dead Snow 2’ is also darkly hilarious with some scenes taking surprising and funny twists. I expect few people to see the ending coming! Just that unpredictability elevates ‘Dead Snow 2’ above the rather sucked dry zombie genre, and its own predecessor.
4. Damien: The Omen II
Darkly stylish and blessed with a great cast, this sequel to ‘The Omen’ is certainly worth the watch. William Holden and Lee Grant make up the new adoptive (and not very attentive) parents of Damien. Damien himself is played by Jonathan Scott-Taylor. Throughout the film the Antichrist is becoming more aware of his powers and his role to play, and he is subtly helped and mentored by other dark figures.
Along the way multiple characters start figuring out Damien’s identity, and when they do it is of course bad for their health. Freakish deaths usually follow, including a raven, an elevator and a chilling scene involving ice (pun not intended).
Jonathan Scott-Taylor adds an extra layer to the film with his portrayal of Damien as surprised and burdened by his faith, below his mostly cold as ice exterior. Though in the end, he wilfully accepts his role.
3. Zombi 2
Perhaps it is cheating because ‘Zombi 2’, like some other Italian exploitation films, is only an unofficial sequel to Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (there exists no film named ‘Zombi’). But that should not detract from the crazy ride Lucio Fulci has prepared for the willing horror connoisseur.
Something of a cult-classic, ‘Zombi 2’ seems mostly remembered for its impressive special effects, but that is not all the film has to offer. The story is relatively simple but serves to show the watcher an eclectic ride with lots of nudity, thrills and violence as is to be expected from an Italian-made exploitation film, and at least a few moments that’ll make you flinch. If that is not enough to convince you, we have a zombie versus shark fight. What’s not to like?
2. Rec 2
‘Rec’ was a simple but highly effective horror, and where ‘Rec’ was bloodcurdling near the end, ‘Rec 2’ can be nearly unbearably tense. Keeping the found footage theme (and the same directors) ‘Rec 2’ now follows a special forces team put together to get a blood sample in the quarantined building. Forget starting quiet, this sequel begins with tension and never lets go.
The apartment building of ‘Rec’ is now a dark, labyrinthine hellhole with infected people lurking at every corner. A few twists keep you on edge throughout this entire experience, but mostly serve to keep the action going. The directors also go deeper into the Christian/exorcism themes that were always lurking underneath.
1. The Exorcist III
“It’s a horror film and much more… It’s a real drama, intricately crafted with offbeat interesting characters… and that’s what makes it genuinely frightening.” The above quote by George C. Scott says it all. Besides Scott himself, this sequel brings together a talented team: William Peter Blatty writer of the book and ‘The Exorcist’, and a shared role by Jason Millor and Brad Dourif. It is clearly a team that cares deeply about the story that unfolds in ‘The Exorcist 3’.
Fundamentally the film is a detective story. Detective Kinderman, brought to life by George C. Scott in a magnificently sensitive way, researchers a series of gruesome murders… following the modus operandi of a killer caught more than a decade ago.
Kinderman has a personal connection to the murders, and the scenes between him and Patient X (played by Millor and Dourif) form the terrifying psychotic heart of the film. Director Blatty plays with the light and alternatively makes Patient X and Kinderman appear and disappear from stage, or slyly partly lights their faces to underline emotions. It is these characters and the way they are brought alive that make this film stand out and makes you care. Though there should be mention of how well-crafted the horror scenes are, how Blatty plays with the expectations of the viewers and manages to scare you.
What overshadowed this film was the disastrous ‘The Exorcist II’ and the fact that the first instalment of the series was such a monumental achievement. Don’t let that blind you from the reality that ‘The Exorcist III’ is a very deliberately put together film, well-acted, and made by a director with a vision. And a film that makes you jump out of your seat as well.