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.”

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Surprising Characters on Friends Who Were Originally the Show's Main Couple

Everyone was enthralled by Ross and Rachel's romantic drama—but how would you feel about Monica and Joey's?
Everyone was enthralled by Ross and Rachel's romantic drama—but how would you feel about Monica and Joey's?
Getty Images

When you think of Friends, your mind probably goes to all the hilarious one-liners, such as Joey's "How you doin'?", or all the romantic relationships in the show, most importantly Ross and Rachel's. We watched the pair's love story blossom since their first kiss back in season two, and the couple is widely regarded as one of the best in TV history.

Well, there was another couple planned that didn't make the cut. Just as Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc wanted their characters Phoebe and Joey to get together, showrunners planned for Monica and Joey to be an item. And they weren't just going to be a fling—the two were originally the Ross and Rachel of the show.

Vulture reports that Friends creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman initially had Monica and Joey coupling up, explaining:

"It would’ve unfolded like this: Joey, a 'perpetual horndog,' would’ve eventually been lured and 'tamed' by Monica as he continued to climb up in the world of acting. Crane, however, found himself 'bored' by this version of Joey; he retooled Joey to be a funnier and warmer character within the friend group, and dropped the romance with Monica altogether."

Would've been weird, right? According to Entertainment Weekly, it wasn't just Crane who didn't like the idea. LeBlanc himself, who played Joey, wasn't into his character trying to pursue Monica, not wanting to play someone who was perceived as creepy and hit on everyone.

It seems Joey went through some serious revisions before Friends became what it is today, and it's probably for the best. He doesn't end up married in the end, but at least Monica gets her happily ever after moment with Chandler.

[h/t Vulture]