In an industry where sequels are the norm, it’s difficult to sift through the hundreds of movies with the same basic title. Luckily, I’ve made this list to help those looking for legitimate horror franchises that are worth following. I concocted this lineup according to my favorites, along with some suggestions from fans of scary movies via twitter.
15. Chromeskull: Laid To Rest 2 (2011)
I love the villain of ChromeSkull. His attire reminds me of a sick, twisted Donnie Darko bunny, with a serial killer’s mentality. The first film is fast-paced and terrifying, with a creepy, quiet murderer who enjoys toying with his prey. While the second is a little slower than the first, the vicious deaths make up for the lack of speed. Also, scream queen Danielle Harris graces the screen with her presence, as ChromeSkull’s right-hand-lady.
14. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)
Yes, that’s Henry Rollins. If that’s not enough reason for you to see this movie, then maybe the fact that Joe Lynch (Chillerama, Holliston) directed it will. Still not good enough? Watch it solely for the reason that you won’t be able to predict exactly who’s going to die, and when.
13. Scream 4 (2011)
This slasher got back to the basics, which any fan of the original Scream can appreciate. It’s just Sid and Ghostface, facing off in a battle to kill or be killed. The old gang gets back together in Woodsboro, along with a new slew of fresh meat waiting to be carved by the hooded killer’s blade. Wes Craven came back to the franchise to direct this return to the classic, and his influence attributes to the movie’s dignity. The ending runs on a little longer than it should, but overall, it’s a sequel that’s worth seeing.
12. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
This movie proposes a change to the classic novel Frankenstein. The sequel to the first adaptation suggests that maybe, if Frankenstein and his monster survived, the reanimated man would desire a companion. Although some scenes from this black and white classic are a little goofy, the movie gave birth to one of the most iconic females in horror history: the bride of Frankenstein.
11. Halloween 4 : The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Scream queen Danielle Harris stole horror fans’ hearts at an early age in this slasher. Ironically, this gifted little actress would go on to star in Rob Zombie’s re-imagining of the Halloween franchise, as Annie, Laurie Strode’s best friend. H4 returned to what made the series great in the first place: Dr. Loomis, Haddonfield, and Michael Myers.
10. Predator 2 (1990)
This sci-fi/horror classic takes the terror from the first film, and places it in the viewer’s backyard. Before, Arnold Schwarzenegger was busy saving our lives far away, in a jungle that most of us would never venture into. However, in the sequel, no one is safe. Danny Glover is great as lieutenant Mike Harrigan, the leader of a group of frustrated cops caught in the middle of a battle with local L.A. gangs. However, once the squad is introduced to the predator, they quickly find that the thugs are the least of their problems.
9. Aliens (1986)
Here’s a sequel so entertaining that some argue that it’s better than the first. An egotistical scientist talks Ellen Ripley into returning to the alien planet by convincing her that his plan is to destroy the foreign beings. However, once the crew is in the deep isolation of space, she finds that all is not as it seems. Ripley kicks even more ass than she did in Alien, which is advantageous to the group aboard the ship, since there are an overabundance of extra-terrestrials to battle.
8. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
In a world where the fate of humanity is doomed, everything is frightening. Ten years have passed since Sarah Connor was informed that Skynet, a computer in the future, aimed to exterminate humans, and her son was humanity’s only hope. Fast-forward to the present: after being wrongfully placed in a psych ward, Connor seeks freedom from her cage, while her orphaned son John merely seeks sanity with his foster parents. Arnold Schwarzenegger shines as the terminator, a lifelike robot programmed to protect John from the other terminator sent to kill him. Linda Hamilton is a beacon of strength, and Edward Furlong gives arguably the best John Connor performance to date.
7. Hatchet II (2010)
This film is spectacular for many reasons: one, Adam Green rightfully replaced the old Marybeth Dunstin with the new and improved Danielle Harris. Two, this movie offers a new take on an already unique tale of vengeance. Three, this movie raises the body count, as any sequel should, and four, Tony Todd got the large role he deserved in the first flick.
6. Hostel: Part II (2007)
What’s great about this sequel is the different perspective that it offers. In the original Hostel, the film is entirely from the victims’ standpoint. However, the second goes into more detail about the evil organization, and tells the killers’ side of the story. Eli Roth shows that he can make a sequel that’s just as scary as the first, even when the audience knows what to expect.
5. Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Camp Crystal Lake, Jason shows his deformed face again. In this film, a group of soon-to-be counselers go to the dangerously infamous camp in hopes of re-opening the area for business, but a certain machete-wielding maniac has other plans. Although Jason Voorhees emerged as a villain in Friday the 13th Part 2, his legendary hockey mask didn’t arrive on screen until Part 3. Plus, this slasher contains some creative deaths, filmed for 3D.
4. A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Nancy Thompson is all grown up, and on a mission to help others like herself. While working as a psychiatrist at a mental institution near her old street, Nancy meets a group of young individuals who all share dreams of Freddy Krueger. Together, she and the kids fight Freddy for the right to their dreams, and their lives. The third film in the franchise contains imaginative deaths, a creepy mental instituion, and Patricia Arquette!
3. Oldboy (2003)
Although the sequels have little to do with the first film, the vengeance trilogy is one of the best to have ever existed in horror cinema. Oh Dae-su is released from an unidentified and unexplained prison, which has held him captive without an answer for fifteen years. Upon his freedom, his is presented with a cell phone, a suit, and a time limit of five days to find out who placed him in confinement and why. This tale of revenge is full of beautifully gruesome fight scenes, fantastic acting, and an ending that will have you lost in thought for days.
2. Army of Darkness (1992)
After being sent to 1300 A.D. in Evil Dead 2, Ash quickly becomes the olden town’s local hero. The people he comes into contact with believe him to be the prophesied one can who search for the book of Necronomicon, which will save their society, and return Ash to his own time. Will the unlikely hero defeat the dead army and make his way back to the life he knew before? Most of you probably know the answer, and those of you who don’t should watch this movie immediately. Bruce Campbell is downright groovy as one of the most memorable characters in all of celluloid history, the defender from darkness. Although timid at first, this wallflower proves that anyone can become a smooth-talking, chainsaw-fighting casanova, as long as they’re Bruce Campbell. Hail to the king, baby.
1. The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
Baby, Otis, and Captain Spaulding are on the run from the start in this sequel to Rob Zombie’s first film House of 1000 Corpses. A new sheriff named John Quincy Wydell is in town, and he wants nothing more than to wreak vengeance on the Firefly family for killing his brother. What starts out as a battle between good and evil quickly turns into a question of morality, as the viewer becomes unsure of which side is just. Every new piece of evidence brings Wydell one step closer to a murderous rampage. Whether or not he is justified in his actions is up to the audience. Rob Zombie displayed extraordinary growth with his second movie, establishing himself as a worthy director with this gem. Sheri Moon Zombie declared herself a bona fide actress as the deadly eye candy with a bloodlust, and Bill Moseley showed that even men who look like hippies can be terrifying. Sid Haig’s performance as Captain Spaulding is simply one of the best horror characters to have ever surfaced in the genre. Haig demonstrated his brutality doesn’t have to hide behind a clown mask to put fear into its victims, or its audience. The film’s soundtrack is beautiful, the cinematography is admirable, and the ending is unmatched. Without a doubt, The Devil’s Rejects is the best horror sequel of all time. I can only hope that Zombie’s next project is as perfect as this cult classic.