Most horror sequels are pretty terrible--which is why it was refreshing that "Insidious: Chapter 2"--rather than retreading the ground laid by the first film, opted to strike out in its own, oddball direction. With that film out in theaters this week, and today being Friday the 13th, we thought we'd take a look back at some great horror sequels from years' past and how they affected the horror movie landscape.
13. "Demons 2" (1986)
"Demons 2" is not precisely a good movie, but it is a terribly inventive one from director Lamberto Bava. While the first film saw theater goers at a free horror movie screening attacked by the carnivorous monsters in film, the sequel sees an entire apartment building under attack by toothy demons when the same movie gets broadcast on TV. What works is the way that the demonic presence is allowed to spread, infecting viewers and then those viewers infecting others with bites or scratches, creating little pockets of survivors in their own apartments. Sure, some of it is hokey and a little too silly like the musclebound body builders battling demons in the garage--and yet again, we have a side story about Italian teens driving around aimlessly--but underneath it all is a clever bit of commentary on the disconnection of modern living.
12. "Halloween III: Season of the Witch" (1982)
We debated the inclusion of "Season of the Witch" or 1988's "Return of Michael Meyers," which ultimately reinvigorated the slasher series. In fact, "Halloween III," with its druids and killer masks premise was supposed to be the first entry in a planned series of annual "Halloween" movies that nearly killed the line as a whole. Nevertheless, when boozy doctor Tom Atkins goes searching for the source of the android murdered a hapless store clerk, he uncovers a bizarre and creepy conspiracy that will have you checking the inside of your Halloween mask for the Silver Shamrock label.
11. "Ring 0: Birthday" (2000)
Actually a prequel, "Ring 0" is the rare movie of its type to look at its villain's past and make them sympathetic. In this case, it's Sadoko, the videotape-spawned killer from Hideo Nakata's "Ringu," back this time in her original earthly form before she became the reason that VHS tapes seem extra creepy now. Far from being a long-haired weirdo, 70's Sadako was an aspiring actress with a tortured past attempting to escape her family's reputation (and her own unearthly psychic abilities). Unfortunately, the past is never done with us, and before she knows it, our heroine is caught in a cycle of murder and revenge.
10. "The Devil's Rejects" (2005)
Rob Zombie followed up his mostly uneven first effort, the grindhouse homage "House of 1000 Corpses," with a movie that's one part road trip, another part a grimy, bloody look at human extremes. Taking place after the first film, we see the Firefly family on the run, with Otis, Baby, and Captain Spaulding fleeing the clutches of vengeful sheriff Wydell. There are no good guys here: Wydell is ready to do whatever it takes to capture and torture those responsible for his brother's death, even if it means enlisting a pair of murderous bounty hunters. By the time the final scene rolls, as "Freebird" starts to play and the Firefly clan is bleeding out, you start to feel something approaching sympathy for this gruesome brood.
9. "The Beyond" (1981)
Like "Inferno," this wasn't a clear sequel to its predecessor--instead, director Lucio Fulci continued exploring the idea of seven gates of hell spread around the world which began in "City of the Living Dead" (1980). Here, yet another small town is caught in the grip of walking, murderous corpses, creepy crawly animals, and lots of dead locals as a new infernal doorway is opened underneath a decrepit Louisiana hotel. New owner Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl) finds out there's more than rotten floorboards in the old hotel which was the site of a warlock's murder a century ago. Sure, some bits are a little silly (see the creeping spider death) but the final 10 minutes are some of the best and craziest in 80's horror.
8. "The Exorcist III" (1990)
It's best you ignore the overblown, locust-filled "Exorcist II: The Heretic" and check out this film written and directed by "The Exorcist" novelist William Peter Blatty. This time out, George C. Scott's Georgetown cop is on the trail of a serial killer who may have ties to a mysterious patient played by Jason Miller (Father Karras in "The Exorcist"). Sure, it might not have a ton of scares--but its slow build allows "The Exorcist III" to work its sick magic over you, a portrait of mourning and fear that might keep you up at night.
7. "Return of the Living Dead" (1985)
Yet another spiritual successor and not quite a sequel in its own right, "Alien" screenwriter Dan O'Bannon imagines what if "Night of the Living Dead" were a film inspired by real events--and one of those carefully quarantined zombies had somehow gone astray. Don't let the punk rock clothing, 80's fashion, Clu Galager, and the bitching soundtrack fool you--"Return of the Living Dead" is nihilistic a zombie movie as you'll ever see, a movie about people playing foolish games of CYA who end up dooming us all.
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