12 Great Horror Movie Sequels You Shouldn't Miss

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

Like a perfectly-timed jump scare in a slasher flick, sequels to successful horror films are inevitable. Horror movie sequels tend to get a bad rap, whether for relying on ridiculous gimmicks (remember when Jason Voorhees went to space?) or completely invalidating the originals. But for the hundreds of just plain bad sequels out there, there are some gems that occasionally rival—or even outshine—their predecessors.

We spoke with some experts in the world of horror about the second, third, and even sixth franchise installments that deserve a spot on your binge-watching list this Halloween season.

1. BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)

One of the earliest horror movie sequels ever produced also happens to be one of the genre’s best. Not long after Universal found success with Frankenstein in 1931, director James Whale and star Boris Karloff returned to make the second part of the story. Bride of Frankenstein was a commercial and critical success, and is widely considered not only one of the best horror sequels, but one of the best sequels to a classic film ever made.

“James Whale took all that was fascinating, horrifying, and darkly humorous in the original and elevated it all,” James Kendrick, professor and director of undergraduate studies in the department of film and digital media at Baylor University, tells Mental Floss. “A postmodern horror masterpiece before anyone knew [what] postmodernism was.”

2. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987)

Eight Nightmare on Elm Street movies have been released since the original hit theaters in 1984, but not every sequel (or reboot) was created equal. According to Fangoria contributor Anya Novak, 1987’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors stands out from the pack. “It leaves Elm Street behind for the bulk of the story, and it dares to give the victims supernatural agency that they didn't have in the previous two films,” she tells Mental Floss. “It all makes for a fresh entry in the series, a rare win for any third film in a horror franchise.”

3. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)

The Halloween series made a bold move with its third installment by ignoring most of the elements that made the original film successful. Instead of standard slasher fare, Halloween III: Season of the Witch features supernatural themes that play with the holiday’s pagan roots—and Michael Myers is nowhere to be found. “This third installment of the Halloween franchise drew some ire from fans upon its release for dispensing with the franchise’s iconic killer,” Andrea Subissati, executive editor of Rue Morgue, tells Mental Floss. “Still, the years have been kind to it, and it’s now considered one of the superior entries to the franchise.”

John Carpenter and Debra Hill, the creators of Halloween, envisioned the franchise becoming an anthology series of standalone stories all taking place on Halloween, with Season of the Witch being the first. But due to the commercial disappointment of the film, this premise never took off and Myers was brought back for Halloween 4.

4. ALIENS (1986)

James Cameron’s Aliens set the bar high for every horror-sci-fi sequel that came after it. Instead of attempting to recreate Ridley Scott’s original masterpiece, Cameron made the story his own, and produced a instant classic in the process. “When visionary director James Cameron took the reins on this sequel to 1979’s Alien, he imbued it with a generous heaping of action and comedy,” Subissati says. “Good sequels effectively up the ante of the original, and Aliens accomplishes this in spades.”

5. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES (1986)

Friday the 13th is a rare case where the franchise as a whole is more iconic than any one film. But ask horror movie fans to name the best of the decades-worth of sequels and many will say Jason Lives. “While it plays by most of the rules of the Friday the 13th series, it has a tone all its own,” Kendrick says. “Still gory and occasionally scary, Jason Lives is above all funny, a largely enjoyable near-spoof of slasher films in general and the Friday the 13th series in particular.”

In the sixth installment of the series, Tommy Jarvis exhumes Jason’s body with plans to cremate it, but ends up resurrecting the mass-murderer instead. Self-aware humor and scenes that break the fourth wall make Jason Lives one the most original films of the franchise.

6. DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

George A. Romero’s influential Night of the Living Dead (1968) has spawned numerous sequels, remakes, and parodies—the most memorable of which may be its direct follow-up. With Dawn of the Dead, Romero returned to the zombie apocalypse he had created in 1968 to explore new themes, like the pitfalls of modern consumerism. According to Novak, “You'd be hard-pressed to find a better example of acerbic wit than in the cynical allegory of Romero's Dawn of the Dead. It's a devastating masterpiece in the genre.”

7. 28 WEEKS LATER (2007)

If Night of the Living Dead created the zombie genre, Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (2000), which follows the spread of a highly contagious virus, reinvented it. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo had a tough act to follow, but his sequel exceeded many fans' expectations. The film starts with an attack on an isolated farmhouse, and according to Matt Barone, senior programmer for the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, it’s one of the best opening scenes of any horror movie.

“It's one of the few times where on first viewing, a horror sequel convinced me it'd be better than its predecessor within the first 10 minutes," Barone tells Mental Floss. "And yes, I do believe that 28 Weeks Later is the superior of the two films."

8. BLADE II (2002)

Blade (1998), a movie based on a Marvel comic book character who uses his vampire superpowers to protect humans, is more than just a horror flick. It also fits the action and superhero genres, and legendary director Guillermo del Toro embraced all these elements when he signed on to helm the sequel. The result, Blade II, has become a cult classic like this first. “It’s this hyper-violent, pre-MCU comic book horror show,” Fangoria contributor Jacob Knight tells Mental Floss. “It’s essentially the Aliens of vampire movies!”

9. THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005)

For the follow-up to his 2003 directorial debut House of a 1000 Corpses, Rob Zombie made the sadistic villains from the first film his protagonists. The sequel maintains the gory 1970s exploitation style of the original while also demonstrating Zombie’s growth as a director. “How much of a quantum leap forward The Devil's Rejects is for Zombie as a filmmaker following House of 1000 Corpses can't be understated,” Barone says. “Whereas its predecessor showed promise but ultimately felt like a horror fan just having fun with some new toys, The Devil's Rejects is a heart-attack serious cinematic middle finger aimed at American horror's inability to produce any real in-your-face nightmare fuel in the wake of Scream [1996]."

10. EVIL DEAD II (1987)

In 1981, Sam Raimi shocked theatergoers with his gore-fueled horror flick The Evil Dead. The movie grew into a cult classic, and instead of following it with a more conventional sequel, Raimi decided to give 1987’s Evil Dead II a comedic spin. 

“Is it a remake? A sequel? It’s both," Kendrick says. "The brilliance of Sam Raimi’s rehash of his low-budget debut is that it takes everything that was wonderfully demented and outrageously gory and pours it on even heavier.” The third installment in the franchise, Army of Darkness, was also well-received by Evil Dead fans.

11. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)

Despite its visceral name, Tobe Hooper’s original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre took a minimalist approach to gore, choosing to keep most of the carnage just off-camera. With The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, the director abandoned that style, and many fans were happier for it. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is everything a horror sequel should be: bigger, bloodier, and a lot more fun,” Novak says.

12. THE EXORCIST III (1990)

Largely due to the underwhelming mess that was Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), the third part of the series has largely been forgotten, but if you’re a fan of the original it’s worth checking out. William Peter Blatty, who wrote the screenplay for The Exorcist (1973) and the novel upon which it’s based, returned to write and direct The Exorcist III. The movie may not fully recapture the horror that made William Friedkin's original film a classic of the genre, but it does provide some genuine scares.

“[It's] one of the more overlooked and underrated sequels of all time,” Subissati says. “George C. Scott and Brad Dourif offer some of their best performances on the screen in this cult classic.”

Disney+ Users Are Already Facing Technical Problems

Pedro Pascal in The Mandalorian (2019).
Pedro Pascal in The Mandalorian (2019).
© 2019 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved

It seems that the highly anticipated Disney+ release did not go as smoothly as the company had hoped. Variety reports that the streaming service launched this morning, only to find its IT department being flooded with phone calls, tweets, and emails from angry users complaining of malfunctions.

Many customers took to social media to vent their frustration that they either couldn’t login into their account or couldn’t watch certain content.

The service did offer an explanation for all the technical issues via Twitter, posting, “The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our high expectations. We are working to quickly resolve the current user issue. We appreciate your patience.”

Too bad a little Disney magic couldn’t help them with these tech glitches.

[h/t Variety]

8 Surprising Facts About James Stewart

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

For a good portion of the 20th century, actor James Maitland “Jimmy” Stewart (1908-1997) was one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men. Stewart, who was often called upon to embody characters who exhibited a strong moral center, won acclaim for films like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Vertigo (1958), and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). In all, he made more than 80 movies. Take a look at some things you might not know about Stewart’s personal and professional lives.

1. Jimmy Stewart had a degree in architecture.

Acting was not James Stewart’s only area of expertise. Growing up in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where his father owned a hardware store, Stewart had an artistic bent with an interest in music and earned his way into his father’s alma mater, Princeton University. There, he received a degree in architecture in 1932. But pursuing that career seemed tenuous, as the country was in the midst of the Great Depression. Instead, Stewart decided to follow his interest in acting, joining a theater group in Falmouth, Massachusetts after graduating and rooming with fellow aspiring actor Henry Fonda. After a brief turn on Broadway, he landed a contract with MGM for motion picture work. His film debut, as a cub reporter in The Murder Man, was released in 1935.

2. Jimmy Stewart gorged himself on food so he could serve the country in World War II.

Colonel James Stewart leaves Southampton on board the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth, bound for home in 1945.
Express/Getty Images

Stewart was already established in Hollywood when the United States began preparing to enter World War II. After the draft was introduced in 1940, Stewart received notice that he was number 310 out of a pool of 900,000 annual citizens selected for service. The problem? Stewart was six foot, three inches and a trim 138 pounds—five pounds under the minimum weight for enlistment. So he went home, ate everything he could, and came back to weigh in again. It worked, and Stewart joined the Army Air Corps, later known as the Air Force.

3. Jimmy Stewart demanded to see combat in the war.

Thanks to his interest in aviation, Stewart was already a pilot when he went to war; he received additional flight training but wound up being sidelined for two years stateside even though he kept insisting he be sent overseas to fight. (He filmed a recruitment short film, Winning Your Wings, in 1942, which was screened in theaters in the hopes it could drive enlistment.) Finally, in November 1943, he was dispatched to England, where he participated in more than 20 combat missions over Germany. His accomplishments earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf clusters, among other honors, making him the most decorated actor to participate in the conflict. After the war ended, he returned to a welcome reception in his hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania, where his father had decorated the courthouse to recognize his son’s service. His next major film role was It’s a Wonderful Life.

4. Jimmy Stewart kept his Oscar in a very unusual place.

After winning an Academy Award for The Philadelphia Story in 1940, Stewart heard from his father, Alex Stewart. “I hear you won some kind of award,” he told his son. “What was it, a plaque or something?” The elder Stewart suggested he bring it back home to display in the hardware store. The actor did as suggested, and the Oscar remained there for 25 years.

5. Jimmy Stewart starred in two television shows.

Actor James Stewart is pictured in uniform
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

After a long career in film through the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, Stewart turned to television. In 1971, he played a college anthropology professor in The Jimmy Stewart Show. The series failed to find an audience, however, so was short-lived. He tried again with Hawkins in 1973, playing a defense lawyer, but that show was also canceled. (Stewart also performed in commercials, including spots for Firestone tires and Campbell’s Soup.)

6. Jimmy Stewart hated one version of It’s a Wonderful Life.

While Stewart had just as much affection for It’s a Wonderful Life as audiences, one alternate version of the film annoyed him. In 1987, he sent a letter to Congress protesting the practice of colorizing It's a Wonderful Life and other films on the premise that it violated what directors like Frank Capra had intended. He described the tinted version as “a bath of Easter egg dye.” Putting a character named Violet in violet-colored costumes, he wrote, was “the kind of obvious visual pun that Frank Capra never would have considered.” Stewart later lobbied against the practice in person.

7. Jimmy Stewart published a book of poetry.

In 1989, Stewart authored Jimmy Stewart and His Poems, a slim volume collecting several of the actor’s verses. Stewart also included anecdotes about how each one was composed. His best known might be “Beau,” about his late dog, which Stewart read to Johnny Carson during a Tonight Show appearance in 1981. By the end, both Stewart and Carson were teary-eyed.

8. Jimmy Stewart has a statue in his hometown.

For Stewart’s 75th birthday in 1983, his hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania honored him with a 9-foot-tall bronze statue. Unfortunately, the statue wasn’t totally ready in time for Stewart’s visit, so they presented him with the fiberglass version instead. The bronze statue currently stands in front of the county courthouse, while the fiberglass version was moved into the nearby Jimmy Stewart Museum.

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