If there’s one genre of film that knows a thing or two about sequels, it’s certainly horror. From Crystal Lake to Elm Street, the world of slashers and jump scares has garnered quite the reputation for pushing out the sequels and capitalizing on a good box office hit.
And whilst horror movie sequels seem to more often veer over towards ‘Halloween: Resurrection’ levels of plaudits, every so often, the stars align in such a way that us fans are treated to a sequel that doesn’t absolutely bomb and instead stands toe-to-toe with its original counterpart.
Here’s our take on the top 10 Horror movie sequels of all time.
- Curse of Chucky – 2013
Following what had been a pretty dismal return, in terms of both sales and reception, in the Child’s Play series ever since the release of Child’s Play 3 in 1991, original Chucky creator Don Mancini was in need of a hit. The quirky and increasingly meta releases ‘Bride’ and ‘Seed’ of Chucky had some fun moments, however, it was clear that the overall direction had been lost to the fans of the series.
‘Curse’ solves all of these issues by stripping the Child’s Play series back to its roots as a terrifying and classic horror story about a possessed killer doll and introducing enough revamps to give the series that much-needed modern sheen.
The first straight-to-DVD release of the series, ‘Curse’ follows the story of lead girl Nica Pierce and her family being subjected to the usual deadly antics from everyone’s favorite killer doll. The dark, gothic setting of the film lends a real unique style of cinematography, the characters are great, the tension and suspense across the family is palpable and those sweet, sweet kills are some of the best we’ve seen since Chucky’s glory days.
Best points: Nica as the final girl, the gothic household and Chucky’s brutal kills.
- The Strangers: Prey At Night – 2018
Back in 2008, Rogue Pictures delivered us one of the most terrifying home invasion films we have ever seen in ‘The Strangers’. The tale of three psychopaths silently stalking and essentially playing with our heroes James and Kristen were relatable and terrifying, and their ultimate loss at the end of the film left us all with chills.
Following its success with both audiences and critics, a sequel to The Strangers was always going to happen, however, replacing the creepiness and terror of ‘Baghead’ and co. was going to be tough.
Instead, ‘The Strangers: Prey At Night’ marks a big change in style and tone from its original, replacing the eeriness and suspense of a home invasion with the gloss and glamour of a budget slasher. The silent stalking is taken over by more showpiece action setpieces and a much bigger amount of screentime for our antagonists which is great for originality.
The cast of Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison, and Lewis Pullman all put in a great performance as a close, relatable and largely believable family, the 80s synth music is immediately recognizable and the action sets are all truly gripping.
Best points: Baghead and Dollface (sorry Pin-Up Girl), the action setpieces, 80s synth.
- Evil Dead II – 1987
Sam Raimi’s low-budget, cult classic series ‘The Evil Dead’ kicked off in 1981 and triggered rave reviews from fans and critics alike. The acting of lead Bruce Campbell, the terror of the infamous Deadites and the setting of a small cabin in the woods have all become synonymous with the series and they all returned in the sequel.
Whilst the first film had issues with its tone at times, ‘Evil Dead II’ really found its voice, and is undoubtedly one of the few sequels in the world that is comfortably better than the original. Campbell is once again unique and fun, the comedic tone is hammered home but works throughout and the special effects are definitely an improvement on the first film.
The Deadites are an absolutely terrifying villain once again and Sam Raimi’s improvement from behind the camera really throws a spotlight on this. It’s creepy, bizarre and hilarious at times, but Evil Dead II deserves its place as one of the absolute must-watch classic cult films.
Best points: Sam Raimi’s improved direction, Bruce Campbell’s crazy and comedic acting, some pretty terrifying Deadite moments.
- Final Destination 5 – 2011
By 2011, the ‘Final Destination’ series looked to be limping towards a tepid and disappointing finale. One last film had been promised, but the fourth entry in the film had been really lackluster, featuring stale characters and some questionable special effects. Just how good ‘Final Destination 5’ is, therefore, quite the surprise.
The story once again follows the premise of a group of characters surviving a disaster through a premonition, only to be picked off one by one by death itself afterward. Sam Lawton and Peter Friedkin, played by Nicholas D’Agosto and Miles Fisher, act as some of the most capable and equally likable leads in the series to date and the film manages to grip us all from start to finish.
Final Destination 5 features arguably the most ambitious and jaw-dropping disaster scene since the first and second films, marks a huge improvement in character designs and couples a better quality of special effects with some far more memorable kills. It truly is a surprising and fitting way to round off such a unique franchise.
Best points: Tony Todd’s return as ‘creepy guy’, the North Bay Bridge disaster, those sweet, sweet kills.
- A Nightmare On Elm Street: Dream Warriors – 1987
Wes Craven’s unforgettable story of child-murderer turned dreamy serial killer Freddy Kreuger proved so much of a success at the box office in 1984 that a sequel was almost inevitable. The fedora, green and red sweater, quips and finger-knives had created a legend with horror fans all around the world and, even though Freddy only has total screentime of 7 minutes in the original film, people wanted more Freddy.
And whilst the immediate sequel to ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, ‘Freddy’s Revenge’ was a fairly middling entry into the series, Wes Craven’s return to the franchise brought about arguably its best sequel to date: ‘Dream Warriors’.
Dream Warriors largely skips over ‘Freddy’s Revenge’ and acts as an immediate sequel to the first film, following the story of Nancy Thompson, the final girl from the first film played by Heather Langenkamp, as she attempts to stop Freddy along with the remaining children of the families that had initially killed Kreuger.
The film is fantastical, sees Freddy really start to hit his stride and the relationships between Nancy and the Dream Warriors is truly something to enjoy watching.
Best points: Freddy’s improved screentime and quips, the fantasy elements involving the Dream Warriors, Nancy ‘freaking’ Thompson.
- The Conjuring 2 – 2016
Horror is filled to the brim with the ol’ ‘Based on a True Story/Events’ cliche, however, ‘The Conjuring 2’ might just be the best example of taking real-world events and bringing it to terrifying light on the big screen. James Wan’s telling of the classic ‘Enfield Poltergeist’ case in late 1970s Britain serves as the second entry to ‘The Conjuring’ universe, following the cases of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The setting of late 1970s Britain is a perfectly eerie, yet criminally underused in the film world, location for a horror film and Wan captures the mood perfectly. Constantly dark, grey and rainy, the overall feeling of the film is that the terrorized Hodgson family are always trapped in with their foes, with only themselves to turn to.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are obviously great as Ed and Lorraine, there is some really great jump scares that never fail to make us jump, the Hodgsons are all exceptionally believable, the source material is really paid homage throughout and where do we even start trying to praise the real villain of the story…
Best points: Vera Farmiga, 1970s Britain location (and all its rain), our true antagonist of the film…
- Friday The 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter – 1984
‘Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter’ is really where the iconic slasher series hits its peak. By this fourth entry in the series, serial killer and occasional hockey fan Jason Voorhees has donned his iconic look and devised some of the most iconic kills to date.
The premise of the story is almost exactly the same as the three that came before: a bunch of no-good teens trek over to Camp Crystal Lake and are one-by-one picked off by Jason in a bunch of overexaggerated kills. All good fun there. What makes ‘The Final Chapter’ so much better than the previous sequels, is the a.) the cast of Kimberly Beck, Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman and b.) the practical effects produced by the returning Tom Savini.
The Final Chapter really was supposed to be, well, the final chapter in the series. The finale between Tommy Jarvis and Jason Voorhees truly was meant to be the final time we all see the masked killer on the big screen and that billing was probably why the film did so well at the box office. The final effects produced by Savini remain one of the most gruesome and memorable of the franchise and would have been a fitting way to round off the series.
Best points: In a series of shallow teens, the cast here is great, Jason is always a win and Savini’s effects are as on point as ever.
- Saw II – 2005
‘Saw II’ is everything a good sequel should be. It takes some of the best elements of the first film, builds on them in a way that is rewarding for the audience and ramps up the action in a way it couldn’t have done before. In short, everything about the film screams ‘bigger and better’.
With almost every single character from the first film being either dead or missing and the ‘whodunnit’ mystery of the Jigsaw killer being revealed to the audience, the stage is set for Tobin Bell to really shine. Tobin’s performance as the psychopathic yet hugely enthralling Jigsaw is enough to put Saw II on this list alone, and his scenes with Donnie Wahlberg’s Detective Eric Matthews are easily the best in the film.
The trap house is no ‘chained to a pipe in a bathroom’, but it does a great job in keeping the action ticking over through. The increase in gore might not be for everyone, but it’s still a long way off the heights it would reach in the franchise’s later sequels and fits in with the tone of the movie.
Best points: Tobin Bell. (Obviously).
- Halloween II – 1981
John Carpenter and Deborah Hill’s 1978 classic ‘Halloween’ is arguably one of the most influential horror films of all time, remaining a cult classic to this day. Its sequel, ‘Halloween II’, was released three years later in 1981 and is actually much closer to a follow-up story to the original than a direct sequel.
Set on the same night as the original, Halloween II follows the story of final girl Laurie Strode, played once again by Jamie Lee Curtis, as she copes with the night’s events from a hospital bed, pursued all the way by her murderous brother Michael Myers. Donald Pleasence also returns to play Myers’ former doctor Samuel Loomis.
Halloween II takes place almost exclusively in Haddonfield hospital, giving the film an eerie and claustrophobic feel, creeping out audiences as they realize the fierce killer could be lurking around any corner. The film also features much more violence and graphic kills in comparison to the original, making Michael even more terrifying than before.
Best points: Haddonfield hospital, the returning strong cast, and one fiery finale.
- Aliens (1986)
Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ was released in 1979 and instantly marked itself out as one of horror’s most impressive and terrifying releases. The story of a spaceship’s crew being hunted down and picked off by a sinister alien force was chilling on its own, but Scott’s claustrophobic vision and superb character portrayal from the likes of Sigourney Weaver took this series to new heights.
For its sequel, writer and director James Cameron wanted to take the series down a more action-based place in comparison to the silent paranoia of the original. Sigourney Weaver returns as the legendary Ellen Ripley, who is the same absolute badass we saw in the original. The Aliens are given more screentime, showing off their deadly nature against Ripley and her marines and we’re even treated to a final showdown between Ripley and the Alien Queen.
In terms of box office success, the critical reception from fans and critics alike and award recognition Aliens is the ultimate horror movie sequel. It remains one of the most acclaimed films of its time and grossed nearly ten times its budget post-release.
Best points: The diverse selection of characters, the Alien Queen, Sigourney Weaver as Eleanor Ripley.