TOP 10: Sequels
In the film industry, if a movie does well in the box office, it automatically becomes a candidate for sequelization. The majority of times this is just a quick cash grab on the part of the studio, looking to capitalize on the success of the first movie. However, every so often a sequel comes along that takes us by surprise; expecting a low-budget, half-hearted follow-up, we walk away from the theatre satisfied, feeling that although it wasn’t better than its predecessor, it did justice to the spirit of the first film and was a worthy sequel.
That’s what this list is all about: counting down the top 10 horror sequels that earned their spots as essential films in the horror genre. We will count them down one by one…
Arguably one of the most important sequels of all time, George A. Romero’s iconic Dawn of the Dead single-handedly defined our generation’s understanding of zombies. This classic film about zombie survival within a shopping mall is almost inescapable, standing as a stark example of just how effective the horror medium is as a device for biting social satire (in this case, the dangers of North American consumerism). Although we could stand here and praise the film for its technical and standalone merits, the fact is that much of its importance stems from the impact it had on the horror genre itself; the ripples from its release are still being felt. Without this film, Platinum selling games such as Dead Rising would not exist, and award-winning shows such as The Walking Dead would undoubtedly have a much different look and feel. Romero has never given up on the zombie film, and his contributions to the sub-genre span almost a lifetime. He was making movies about braindead flesheaters when it wasn’t in vogue to do so, and his efforts truly paid off: today’s entertainment is dominated by the very zombies he helped to create.
Not only is this sequel worthy of this list, it’s remake also deserves an honorable mention. Even remakes of sequels can still surpass expectations. Check out our Guide to Gore review for DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004)
“I don’t want to scare anyone, but I’m gonna give it to you straight about Jason.” – the words that secure this sequels place on any list of this nature. The first Friday the 13th was an epic, a fan favorite, and a real leader (in strong company of course) when the genre was hitting its evolutionary breakthrough. Naturally only genre fans consider this, whereas the general public thinks of Friday the 13th and their mind goes straight to the hockey mask. True franchise fans know that the hockey mask didn’t make its appearance until part 3, but it is the legend behind the mask that started it all, which is why Friday the 13th Part II is essential. It introduces us to the iconic machete wielding figure, building his legend and presenting it in the most natural way – a campfire story. The deaths are bloodier and more gruesome than the first and the tone is far less “campy” than the sequels that follow. Maybe it’s that the idea of a deranged man wearing a sack on his head is more frightening than that first glimpse of what most would think is a prankster in a hockey mask. But I digress; most do not remember or care about the sack. What they do remember is the campfire tale and the image of a paralyzed man with a machete lodged in his face, rolling down stone steps in a rickety wheelchair as lightening flashes against the black rain-filled sky. That image alone makes this sequel a strong contender.
Halloween, as many know, was never intended to be followed up with a sequel. When the studio called for a second Halloween film to be made, John Carpenter reluctantly wrote, but let the directorial responsibilities fall to Rick Rosenthal (however, after watching Rosenthal’s film, Carpenter felt it was too tame and shot additional gory scenes that were then inserted into the final cut, much to the chagrin of Rosenthal). The problem with writing the unintended sequel was that it forced Carpenter to explain the reason why Michael Myers was stalking Laurie Strode. This need to expand the Myers mythology ultimately led to Carpenter creating the brother/sister relationship between Myers and Strode. When asked about it, he said: “I didn’t want to direct it and I got forced into writing it… and look, it was 2 o’clock in the morning, I had a six pack of beer, and it was the only idea I could think of.” Yet, as ridiculous (and perhaps cliched) as it seemed at the time, it paved the way for an entire slew of mismatched sequels and remakes, giving Michael Myers an onscreen reign of terror that has lasted for over thirty years.
Sometimes, when sequelization makes a mockery of the original masterpiece, it becomes the responsibility of the creator to step in and give the film back its proverbial balls. After five progressively worse sequels to A Nightmare on Elm Street, director Wes Craven had enough. Though he inked part of the story for the third film in the franchise (which was also a big contender when creating this list) he pretty much stayed away, watching as his iconic movie monster was transformed from the stuff nightmares are made of, all the way to a comedic one-liner spouting sadist. After Freddy met his apparent demise in Freddy’s Dead, Craven saw an opportunity to ressurect the boogeyman and take him back to his original evil roots; the film frequently pays homage to the original 1980 Nightmare on Elm Street, featuring several of the original actors playing themselves. It’s a movie about a movie about a movie… a multi-layered labyrinth which Craven controls with ease. It was his way of injecting credibility back into the franchise which he masterfully accomplished in one fell swoop… as if to say: since you’ve all forgotten, this is how to make a horror film.
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It may surprise some people to see this film so high up on this list, but in my personal opinion, The Devil’s Rejects is Rob Zombie’s most important film; after House of 1000 Corpses, it dispelled any doubts that he was anything short of a brilliant and very capable director. Taking a completely different visual and atmospheric direction than HO1KC, Zombie presents us with an aggressive and savage throwback to the old exploitation films of the 1970s; ultra violent, unrelenting, and unnervingly realistic. Zombie’s penchant for utilizing exactly the right music at exactly the right time creates unforgettable moments, and Bill Moseley’s outstanding acting elevate this into the higher echelon of horror films released in the past 10 years. In the midst of horror remakes, it’s nice to see a film that carries the spirit of the oldschool films we love, while still managing to invent new characters for today’s generation of horror fans. Say what you will, but there is no doubt that Rob Zombie has secured his position as one of today’s most important horror filmmakers.
It’s generally the case that when a sequel is released it automatically tries to recapture the magic of the previous film. However, with the exception of rare titles like Halloween 2 and even Friday the 13th Part 2, this almost never happens. If we understood the formula for what ingredients blend perfectly to create a classic, we’d almost never see a bad film; most of the time, the films we hold closest to our hearts were never ‘intended’ to be as good as they turned out. Tobe Hooper is a gifted filmmaker, but he also understood this. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre he accomplished exactly what he set out to do, so when he had the opportunity to create a follow-up film, he didn’t feel the need to recapture anything from the first film, but was free to set a new tone and direction to the series. The result was an oddball horror/comedy which, with the exception of a few villianous characters returning from the first movie, could easily stand alone as a well crafted horror film. In fact, the sequel has gained fans who don’t even like the other films in the series, probably in part to the very memorable role played by Dennis Hopper, and the infamous chainsaw duel which no good horror fan can resist.
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Those who read my quick and dirty guide to gore review of the first Human Centipede will no doubt be shocked to see the inclusion of its graphic and gruesome sequel. The difference, however, was all in my reaction after the initial viewing… unlike the first film, I immediately knew I enjoyed the sequel. Tom Six walks a fine line; the first Human Centipede is regarded as being one of the most controversial, grotesque films in recent history (it was even banned…wait for it…in the UK!) though I personally can’t understand why. Although the concept is sickening, Six actually presented a movie about ass-to-mouth in a pretty sterile and tasteful way; the odd subtlety is actually what makes it difficult to form a fast and firm opinion on the film. But that’s where the sequel differs. Where the first installment used almost cautious restraint, the shit quite literally hits the fan in the sequel. It’s a dark, convincing portrait of obsession, and serves as a disgustingly good social commentary piece. Almost every frame of Second Sequence is a vile and revolting shit-show… but that’s why it’s so damn good. It’ll make you gag, look away, and when it’s all over, make you question why in god’s name you watched such a despicably depraved piece of celluloid. But that’s what good horror is all about.
Get the Gore Score for the First Human Centipede and check out an audio clip of our viewing experience - http://thebloodtheatre.com/the-human-centipede-first-sequence-guide-to-gore/
Check out our full length review of HC2 (spoiler alert) and listen to the Blood Theatre “Gag Reel” - http://thebloodtheatre.com/the-human-centipede-2/
To quote Rue Morgue writer John W. Bowen, Lloyd Kaufman’s rule of filmmaking seems to be “offend everyone equally” and Toxie IV accomplishes this in spades. After a ho-hum part II and a part III made almost entirely from recycled footage, Citizen Toxie is a gross, offensive, hilarious, shocking piece of determined low budget film from the reigning king of crap. Trans-dimensional travel? Check. A developmentally challenged badass? Check. Gore, puke and explosive farts? Check, check and check! And when Lloyd Kaufman creates a masterpiece, everyone is involved. Cameos from Corey Feldman, Stan Lee, James Gunn and Eli Roth, along with Troma mainstays Ron Jeremy, Debbie Rochon and Lemmy flesh out the massive cast and provide a little something for everyone. Even Mark Torgl, the original Melvin makes an appearance! If you’ve got a cause, chances are this movie makes fun of it, from abortion and adult babies to the developmentally challenged, nazism and crack addiction. Speaking as an unapologetic Troma fan, Citizen Toxie is unlikely to convert anyone to the cult of Kaufman but it stands as the best Toxie sequel (so far) and one of Uncle Lloyd’s best films to date.
While horror fans almost unanimously agree that the first Hellraiser is the highpoint of the series, the sequel is equally deserving of our attention. While not better by any means, there is still a ton to like about this film. Picking up almost immediately where the first left off, the returning stars (Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Claire Higgins and Sean Chapman) cement themselves at the forefront of the story, while newcomers Tiffany (Imogen Boorman), Kyle (William Hope) and antagonist Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham) add to the plot without becoming too overbearing. Many of the crew returned to work on this film as well and it shows; the atmosphere remains consistent with the first, a thick layer of unease covering everything (also helped by returning composer Christopher Young’s score). We get to learn more of the iconic Pinhead and even sympathize with him this time around. All in all, if the first Hellraiser left you wanting more, Hellbound will most assuredly not disappoint.
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Everyone is a suspect; remember the rules. Scream 4 doesn’t just give us more blood, it gives us fresh blood: a new generation of horror obsessed freaks setting out to make their own movie. Whether you admit you like the franchise or not, the proud fans at this site waited 10 years for this sequel and we welcomed it with open arms and minds. Taking the serious tone of the first two films and balancing it perfectly with the comedic tone of the third, Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven managed to give us a new take on what we now consider (15 years later!) to be a 90′s classic. The introduction is violent, fun and contains a handful of modern day scream queens. The audience is smarter and the game has changed. The first Scream placed most of its emphasis on the technology of its time, ie. calling the police through the computer, new fangled garage doors, tricky cell phone reception etc. In the new era, Scream 4 again plays with our ever-advancing technology, adapting with the time. While our favorite survivors are still at the forefront, the focus shifts to a new line of victims to terrorize. These teens watched the films as we did and now they are being tested on their horror survival skills, much like we imagine ourselves doing. This new angle allows the faithful fans to reconnect with the film on a whole new level. We don’t care about the endless line of scorned family members seeking revenge, we care about the rules, the body count, the mockery and the creative violence. Scream 4 gives us all of that and a motive that makes sense in this day and age. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame, and let’s face it: that could be any one of us…
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