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Horror Sequels That Are Better Than You’d Expect
Halloween is right around the corner.
With just a month until October, many (myself included) are gearing up for a month of scary movies. When the leaves begin to turn, we start thinking about what we're going to watch during the spooky season. As you begin to draft your watchlists, consider these sequels you may have skipped before - they're better than you think they'd be.
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Bride of Frankenstein begins where James Whale’s Frankenstein from 1931 ended. Dr. Frankenstein has not been killed as previously portrayed and now he wants to get away from the mad experiments. Yet when his wife is kidnapped by his creation, Frankenstein agrees to help him create a new monster, this time a woman.
The Godfather Part II. Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Batman Returns.
Sequels you could say that are better than the original, if you wanted to be wrong.
But you could put The Bride of Frankenstein alongside The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight.
It's a close one, but I do think Bride edges out the original. It's much more faithful to the original Mary Shelley text (and includes a prologue with a very theatrical Lord Byron asking Mary for some more story), it’s significantly more campy, and it features a whole lot more creatures (albeit not enough Bride). It's a close call, but it just edges out the original.
Akin to The Godfather saga, if you cut Frankenstein and its first sequel together, you'd have one of the great epics. And best literary adaptations.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Chainsaw-wielding maniac Leatherface is up to his cannibalistic ways once again, along with the rest of his twisted clan, including the equally disturbed Chop-Top. This time, the masked killer has set his sights on pretty disc jockey Vanita “Stretch” Brock, who teams up with Texas lawman Lefty Enright to battle the psychopath and his family deep within their lair, a macabre abandoned amusement park.
I have to be honest, I didn't really like TCM 2 the first time I saw it. On Letterboxd, I wrote, "This has its charms, but I just really can’t stand movies with nonstop screaming for two hours."
It took me some time to come around. I think, just as many before me, that I expected this to be scarier. You have to go into this film expecting it to be a comedy. Yes, a comedy! Original director Tobe Hooper surprised Cannon Films, who expected what I expected - scary. He surprised us all. If you can find the black in the black comedy of a film whose title has the words chainsaw and massacre back-to-back, you'll get what Hooper was going for and what he wanted.
Psycho II (1983)
After years of treatment at a mental institution for the criminally insane, serial killer Norman Bates is finally released. Deciding to move back into his long-dead mother’s infamous old house, he soon finds himself tormented by ‘her’ demands and begins to question his own sanity.
Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho is a movie largely dependent on a twist - so what do you do with the story after everyone knows that twist? The whole world knows that Norman Bates is off his rocker, but what if we weren't so sure? 22 years after the events of the original film, Norman is home after being deemed “mentally sound”, but is he really?
When he returns to the Bates Motel, murders begin again. Is it Norman? Is it Mother?
Honestly, it doesn't even sound like that great of an idea, but damn if they don't follow up. Anthony Perkins returns to play Norman and Vera Miles returns as Lila Loomis, the loudest voice in the opposition against Norman's release. It's a nice slow simmer that just explodes at the end. Hyped up as a worthy sequel, I was definitely suspicious. But this really is fun!
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.
Cloverfield came at the beginning of the found footage boom. The camera getting passed around at a going-away party becomes the one that documents an alien invasion. It's a movie that I found scary at the time, but just can't now. During my most recent rewatch, the biggest jump scare was when TJ Miller turned around.
I think 10 Cloverfield Lane is way better. Start with John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. and trap them in a doomsday shelter, stuck inside because of a chemical gas attack.
But wait a minute, that's not the threat in the original Cloverfield - how are the two related? It will keep you guessing until the end.
Halloween II (1981)
After failing to kill stubborn survivor Laurie and taking a bullet or six from former psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael Myers has followed Laurie to the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, where she’s been admitted for Myers’ attempt on her life. The institution proves to be particularly suited to serial killers, however, as Myers cuts, stabs and slashes his way through hospital staff to reach his favorite victim.
The following previously appeared in my piece Ranking the Halloween Franchise.
When I think of Halloween, I think of Halloween II every single time. That's how much I like this sequel - I think of it as one long movie. Two parts that make up a whole.
As Laurie Strode finds herself in the hospital following the attack, Michael heads through Haddonfield to track her down. Along the way, Dr. Loomis scours the city in search of his patient. Picking up immediately where the first film lets off, it's just more of that movie's fun! From the hot tub attack to the fiery explosion of not-Michael to the discovery that Laurie and her attacker are related - I love it all. It's all a part of my personal Halloween lore. This movie is awesome and actually happened and no other timeline can convince me otherwise.
Credit: Each plot synopsis comes from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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