I think it’s a fair observation that the horror genre is a very sequel-friendly one, probably more than any other movie genre, and what better time to celebrate horror sequels than October!
So, if you’re looking for a horror theme to carry you through the 31 days of Halloween month, then I welcome you to consider taking the sequel route, and specifically any of my selections below (listed alphabetically and accompanied by a mini-review). And because not all franchise entries are necessarily good, I’ve also included some movies that are worth seeing, but only once, and in some cases, barely that. (After all, to truly appreciate the good, one must also experience the bad!)
A QUIET PLACE PART II (2020)
This is that rare sequel that comes thrillingly close to joining the original as a modern-day classic. In other words, the perfect double feature!
BRIDE OF CHUCKY (1998)
This is a refreshing, entertaining entry in the franchise, largely due to the introduction of terrific, terrible Tiffany (Jennifer Tilley is a breath of fresh air in whatever she appears in, I reckon). On whose side of the church would you be sitting at this wedding?
BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (1990)
An enjoyable follow-up to the 1985 cult classic, with both hot doctor Bruce Abbott and “misunderstood” scientist Jeffrey Combs returning in their respective roles. A hint of the inevitable arrives near the beginning of the film and is enough to whet the audience’s appetite for what’s to come, especially the rousing off-the-rails (in a good way) finale.
CREEP 2 (2017)
The sequel has co-writer Marc Duplass returning as a serial killer suffering from (among other things) a mid-life crisis. As incredibly creepy and disturbing as the original.
CREEPSHOW 2 (1987)
A fun companion to the 1982 original with three new (less-than-terrifying) tales, and a cameo by Stephen King. The second tale, “The Raft”, is by far the best of the trio, but the third (“The Hitchhiker”) is an unexpected delight given that the woman in control (or so she thinks) very much falls into the present-day category of being a “Karen”.
DAMIEN: OMEN II (1978)
This film may not be as ground-breaking as the 1976 Oscar-winning original, but dare I say that this sequel is as much, if not more, entertaining to watch? The cast, including personal faves William Holden and Lee Grant, as well as Jonathan Scott-Taylor as the title character, are flawless, the script is intelligent, and some of the kills (including one involving an elevator) are creative and pretty damn cool.
DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)
A super enjoyable (and deliciously gory) instalment of the George A. Romero zombie franchise, with some amazing special make-up effects courtesy of Tom Savini. I mean, where else are you going to find a zombie clown, zombie ballerina, and old zombie lady (carrying a shopping bag) all in the same movie?
DOCTOR SLEEP (2019)
An impressive (39 years later) follow-up to The Shining (1980) with the always reliable Ewan McGregor and a fun, invested performance from Rebecca Ferguson. Most will argue that this film isn’t in the same league as the original, but it shines in its own way.
FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011)
This is one sequel that truly delivered for me…and not just because I think male lead Nicholas D’Agosto is cute. The opening disaster scene is spectacular to watch and sets the perfect tone for what’s to come. This is that rare horror film when I felt an unexpected wave of emotion pass over me as the closing credits rolled.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984)
The 4th entry in the Friday the 13th franchise, this film also happens to rank as my 4th favourite (behind Part II, Jason Lives, and the original).
HALLOWEEN KILLS (2021)
Although arguably not much more than a cash-grabbing filler between Halloween (2018) and this year’s highly anticipated Halloween Ends (2022), HK is still entertaining and delivers some mighty good (and gory) scares, none more effective than the massacre in the park and especially Lindsey’s memorable encounter with Michael.
HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (2002)
A more appropriate name for this movie is Halloween: Abomination, a brainless, frustrating unsatisfying kick-to-the-head for fans of the beloved horror franchise. Oddly enough, I also consider it “essential viewing” but for all the wrong reasons, of course.
HELL HOUSE LLC II: THE ABADDON HOTEL (2018)
An effective follow-up to the frightening found footage original from 2015.
HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II (1987)
A surprisingly fun (in-name-only) sequel to the Jamie Lee Curtis 1980 original. More of a supernatural slasher, this film has a clever script, a fully invested and talented cast, some (intentionally) hilarious dialogue, zany 80s hairstyles and fashion, and cool kills, all the while tipping its hat to horror classics like Carrie and A Nightmare on Elm Street. At the end of the night, the movie may not be in classic territory, but I was thoroughly entertained watching it.
IT: CHAPTER TWO (2019)
While the movie is generally entertaining, it’s also generally disappointing, in that it is about a half an hour too long, and there is very little about it that is scary. The cast is talented, and Bill Skarsgard is a blast to watch as bloodthirsty Pennywise, but the final act nearly destroys the film with its excessive and expensive use of underwhelming CGI effects. I suddenly felt like I was watching a video game.
This is a sort-of-but-not-really a sequel to the zombie masterpiece that is Train to Bussan; the virus remains the same, but none of the original cast returns in this outing. Having said that, I very much enjoyed the movie, especially once things really kicked into high gear. There may be less of a focus on developing characters, but the female characters in this sequel are well-written and noticeably superior to their male counterparts. Girls rule, even/especially in a zombie apocalypse!
POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE (1986)
One of the worst horror sequels I’ve sat through. An empty-headed, beyond stupid studio cash grab in response to the massive success of the original (which I love); this is the kind of mess that will give you a headache from all the eye rolling moments it provides to the audience.
PUPPET MASTER II (1990)
This movie has a little something for everyone: killer puppets on a mission, a gloriously over-the-top performance from their Master, an attractive cast (with more shirtless scenes of the male cast than female, a refreshing change), a surprisingly memorable music score, fun kills, and a bonkers finale. In other words, time well spent!
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III (1993)
The film may start off a bit slow (all is forgiven though since the sexy leading man takes his shirt off), but more than redeems itself in its final act with some crazy-good special make-up effects, cool zombie attacks, and an oddly compelling love story that really puts “’til death do us part” to the test.
SCREAM 4 (2011)
Released 11 years after the still-fun-but-failed experiment that was Scream 3 (and I’m not just referring to Gale’s bangs), the 4th installment in the franchise was a welcome return to form and introduced audiences to instant fan-fave Kirby Reed, whose fate in this movie was left hanging for more than a decade until the arrival of Scream (2022).
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 3: BETTER WATCH OUT (1989)
This sequel offers none of the “bonkers” appeal of the first two films. When the Final Girl is immediately more annoying than every other character, you know you’re in trouble, which is entirely the case here. And while the killer may have the strength to effortlessly walk thru locked doors, once that’s happened the only people slower moving than him are his victims. (Seriously, a blindfolded tortoise using a walker would move faster than anyone in this movie.) A better name for this sequel is Better Watch Something Else!
SINISTER 2 (2015)
A well-shot, well-acted sequel to the 2012 original starring Ethan Hawke, with enough jump scare moments to make it a totally worthwhile watch.
STEPFATHER 3 (1992)
This movie may have the gore factor of a made-for-TV movie (because it is), but I still found myself quite (read: surprisingly) entertained by it. The more-than-capable cast is fully committed to the fun screenplay, especially the young actor portraying the wheelchair-bound teen whose mad computer-hacking skills might just help him to expose mom’s mysterious (and psychotic) new love interest before it’s too late. The movie is less predictable than one may think.
THE CONJURING 2 (2016)
The film delivers in so many wonderful ways; not only with a compelling (and often scary, thanks to that damn Nun) story, but also with another opportunity to bask in the sun that is the great onscreen chemistry between Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson (who adds further delight with his singing skills).
THE EXORCIST III (1990)
This movie may not be in the same “masterpiece” category as the original, but it still has plenty going for it. George C. Scott delivers an enthusiastic, great performance, and the film itself beautifully evolves from crime drama into full blown horror as it moves towards its unforgettable climax.
THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA (2013)
An entertaining (and mildly unbelievable in parts) movie, but not as scary as I would have liked it to be. And while the production quality and performances are both top-notch, at the moment handsome Chad Michael Murray appeared on screen, nothing else really mattered anymore.
THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 (2017)
A curious follow-up to the 2014 original. Most of the film feels like a promotional vehicle for fictional (?) haunted house attractions until the final act kicks into an actual horror movie cash-grab at the expense of one of the main characters. Not sure how I feel about this one.
THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT (2018)
This movie offers some intense moments nicely balanced with some satisfying ones right up until the final scene, which would have worked as a dream sequence, but unfortunately isn’t presented as one. Definitely worth watching though!
URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (2000)
I thoroughly enjoyed the original and really wanted to like this sequel, but the more I subjected myself to the movie, the more I realized that for that to happen, a lobotomy would be required. The very attractive, capable cast does what it can to salvage the movie, but DAMN this is one crappy screenplay. Not even an amusing, unexpected cameo in the final scene could rescue this compost-friendly film.
This movie should be re-titled W/T/F 2 but in a good way! This horror anthology is a near flawless found-footage feast for fans of the genre, covering the supernatural, zombies, alien abduction, and most memorably (and goriest) a deadly cult. The story that ties everything together is the weakest part of the film, but I was secretly grateful for it, if only for the fact that it allowed me an opportunity to exhale before the next VHS tape played. What a fucking ride this movie is!
WISHMASTER 2: EVIL NEVER DIES (1999)
A fun entry about an evil genie with an agenda, who once released takes wish-granting a little too seriously…not to mention literally. (Be very careful what you wish for!) Throw in a Final Girl who spends most of her screen time over-emoting, her studly ex-boyfriend (who is now a studly priest) and some creative, gory kills, and VOILA, your wish for an entertaining, somewhat cheesy horror film has come true!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN MONTH!