Generally speaking, most horror movie sequels suck. Consider Exorcist 2: The Heretic, for example, which failed to match the terror of the original. And then there’s the Friday the 13th sequels which got worse with each progressive entry. Pet Semetary 2, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, The Rage: Carrie 2, and Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 are just a few of the other horror movie sequels that paled beside their successful predecessors.
Why do horror movie sequels fail? Well, it’s often because the filmmakers care less about horror fans and more about making money. If the first one did well, it makes financial sense for them to make another, even when there is little point, as is the case with the Blair Witch sequel and the other movies mentioned.
Still, there are those horror sequels that buck the trend of bad moviemaking. We have listed a few of them below so if you’re looking for some late-night chills, here are the horror movie sequels that don’t suck!
Damien: Omen II (1978)
Richard Donner’s original is considered a classic of the genre and it still has the power to chill today. It’s also the movie that made parents think twice before calling their newborn child Damien!
Donner didn’t return to direct this sequel but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. Damien is now a teenager and trying to come to terms with his destiny which, in his case, doesn’t mean considering which university course to take after leaving school.
He is, as you know already, the Antichrist, and while he’s not in full control of his powers just yet, he still manages to pull off a few gory kills. Exploding brains, dismemberment by elevator cable, and death by raven are just a few of the gruesome horrors that await his unsuspecting victims as they (and not Damien) experience more than just growing pains!
Sadly, Omen III: The Final Conflict, where Damien works his way up to the Presidency, is another example of a bad horror movie sequel. So, forget that one and end the franchise with this gory horror that is almost as good as the original.
Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1983)
John Carpenter’s Halloween still remains one of the greatest horror movies of all time. The same cannot be said of the sequels that resurrected Michael Myers and traded suspense for extravagant scenes of gore.
This isn’t to say they were all bad, however. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later was pretty good and David Gordon Green’s recent reboot of the franchise is considered to be a worthy successor to the 1978 original. But as for the others? Pretty ropey, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
Well, unless you consider Halloween III: Season of the Witch that is. Wisely moving away from Michael Myers after the disappointing Halloween II in 1981, director Tommy Lee Wallace’s sequel focuses on a mad scientist who launches a line of ‘Silver Shamrock’ Halloween masks that are designed to kill children. Why is he doing this?
Well, it’s something to do with an ancient Celtic ritual and Stonehenge but the plot doesn’t really matter. What people most remember (and care about) when watching the movie is the TV ad with the flashing pumpkin and the ‘x more days to Halloween’ song that sends chills down the spine every time it is given an airing.
People often dismiss this sequel because it doesn’t feature the slasher kills of the others in the franchise. But while it’s never going to be considered a classic of the genre, it’s still a heck of a lot better than many of the Halloween sequels that followed due to its attempts at originality.
Doctor Sleep (2019)
Mike Flanagan, who is currently Netflix’s horror director of choice after making The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass for the streaming service, is the man behind this sequel to The Shining.
It’s both a sequel to Kubrick’s film and the original novel by Stephen King and is, of course, an adaptation of King’s belated sequel novel that was released in 2013.
Danny Torrance is now all grown up and played by Ewan MacGregor. He still has the ‘shining,’ the psychic power that he was forced to come to terms with as a child, and this time he uses his power to protect a young girl who is being hunted down by Rose the Hat, a soul-sucking psychic vampire played by Rebecca Ferguson.
Stephen King famously hated Kubrick’s adaption of The Shining, partly because the film was “too cold” with no “emotional investment.”
In truth, that 1980 movie is considered a classic despite cutting away pieces of King’s novel to make room for Kubrick’s own vision.
Thankfully, Flanagan is more faithful to the follow-up novel and mercifully, King approved of the adaptation. It’s a worthy sequel and an undeniably creepy one and once again proves the talents of Flanagan as a horror director.
Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
“Welcome to Primetime, bitch” says the disfigured Freddy Krueger as he emerges from a TV screen before nastily killing yet another of his victims. It’s a line that actor Robert Englund improvised himself apparently and is just one of the reasons why this sequel is more memorable than the increasingly silly efforts that followed.
While this movie had more daft quips than the previous entries in the franchise, it still managed to bring the chills.
In this one, Krueger turns his fingers into syringes, uses a teen’s veins to pull him around like a puppet, and transforms himself into a snake. It’s also the one where the teens become more than just stock stereotypes and use superpowers to fight back against the antithesis of Edward Scissorhands.
Following this movie, the sequels got progressively worse, although Wes Craven’s New Nightmare did stand out from the pack.
If you’re looking for scares, the first three movies in the franchise are still the best, however, as the ludicrous movies that followed sadly turned Freddy into a parody of himself.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later is still one of the best zombie movies ever made, even surpassing the later George A. Romero sequels that failed to match the first two movies in his ‘Dead’ franchise.
Any fears fans had of director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo failing to match the horrors of Boyle’s original were soon laid to rest as 28 Weeks Later is a pulse-pounding nerve-shredder of a movie that has truly terrifying horror sequences.
The movie is set shortly after the first and chronicles Britain’s attempt to return to normality after the zombie invasion that caused devastation.
Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, and future Hawkeye Jeremy Renner are just a few of the familiar faces you will see as the survivors that are forced to flee for their lives after things go from bad to worse at their so-called ‘safe zone.’
There was never a third chapter but there have been countless other zombie movies since. Very few of them have matched the sheer terror of this masterclass in horror, however, not even the recent Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City that was an adaptation of Capcom’s creepy video game series.
Evil Dead II (1987)
Back in the early 1980s, a number of movies were banned by the BBFC and these included Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, which was considered too violent and damaging for UK audiences.
It was finally removed from the list of ‘video nasties’ in 1985, not that people didn’t get to see it before then as many bootleg copies of the movie existed.
Evil Dead II was Raimi’s sequel to his controversial original although it is as much a remake as a simple follow-on movie.
It retains the hyper-visual camera trickery that Raimi used in the first film and is a more polished effort than its rough and ready predecessor. Bruce Campbell returns as Ash, the poor sap that is forced to battle the forces of evil within a cabin in the woods, and there are lots of fan-pleasing horror moments and funny quips that make this a worthy follow-up.
The third in the trilogy was not so well-received although it wasn’t as bad as some of the other horror sequels that blighted the memory of their originals.
Evil Dead II will always be the sequel that fans consider “groovy” however, partly because this became Ash’s catchphrase after slicing the undead apart with his chainsaw in this gory horror classic.
Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
George A. Romero’s Night Of the Living Dead is arguably the greatest zombie movie ever made. “They’re coming to get you Barbara” is probably the most quoted horror line too.
Making a follow-up to his chilling original was always going to be difficult for Romero but he largely pulled it off with this one mainly because he increased the number of the undead and expanded the setting to encompass a full-on zombie apocalypse.
This one is largely remembered for the shopping mall which plays host to a legion of flesh-eating shoppers who are more interested in taking a bite out of the living than making a retail purchase.
While the movie is as horrific as you might expect, it’s also surprisingly funny, as it takes potshots at consumers who often resemble the undead themselves when shambling around shopping malls on the hunt for a bargain. “What the hell are they?” asks one character in the movie.
“They’re us, that’s all,” comes the reply and that is evidence, if any was needed, of the point Romero is trying to make about consumerism.
Dawn Of The Dead is arguably the greatest horror sequel of all time even if it’s not as tense or as chilling as the 1968 original. It’s certainly miles ahead of the sequels that followed although none of them deserves to be on any ‘bad horror movie’ sequel list.
Before James Cameron drowned Leonardo De Caprio and embedded himself in the land of Pandora, he made this sequel to one of the best science-fiction horror movies of all time. Ridley Scott’s original was unnervingly tense and dripping with menace.
This one largely eschews the haunted house atmosphere of the original in favour of gun-blazing action as a group of space marines (with the help of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley) take on a horde of aliens aboard the U.S.S. Sulaco.
On the surface, this is a movie about macho bravado but as the guys die one by one, it becomes much more about Ripley. She is less a traumatized survivor and more a hardened warrior in this action-packed follow-up, which was something rare during the 1980s when men dominated cinema screens as muscular action heroes.
Aliens isn’t as scary as Alien but it still has moments of horror interspersed with the gunplay. It’s infinitely better than any of the follow-ups though, not least because of the incredible final face-off between Ripley and the Alien Queen.
Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
In 2017’s Happy Death Day, a college student must relive the day of her murder over and over again in the kind of time loop that blighted Bill Murray’s life in Groundhog Day. It was a fun horror movie with a new angle on the slasher genre but it didn’t really need a movie sequel.
Still, a sequel did come along, Happy Death Day 2U, and while it lacks the surprises of the original, it manages to deliver a few solid laughs and scares regardless.
Once again, the movie focuses on college student Tree Gelbman who finds herself in a time loop, but this time in some kind of mysterious alternate reality.
It over-complicates itself when dealing with the complex subject of time travel but as it still retains the slasher elements of the original, you don’t have to worry about that too much.
Happy Death Day 3 is in development apparently so here’s hoping it manages to maintain the high quality of the movies that have come before instead of falling into the Halloween trap of deja vu and over-familiarity.
Psycho II (1983)
“We all go a little mad, sometimes,” said Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 movie so director Richard Franklin can be forgiven for daring to make a sequel to the haunting original.
Still, many thought he was crazy to make this belated follow-up but he largely pulled it off without undermining the power of the movie that came before.
The movie has everything it needs to succeed. Antony Perkins returns as Norman Bates, the man who has a rather unhealthy obsession with his mother.
There are enough twists on the original to surprise fans who may have been expecting more of the same. And while Franklin doesn’t have quite the same flair with a camera as Hitchcock did, he still manages to set up some very clever shots to provide the suspense and tension the story needs.
Psycho III was released a few years after this and that was nowhere near as good, despite being directed by Perkins himself.
Still, it was far better than Psycho IV: the Beginning, which charted the early years of Norman Bates in a mostly unremarkable way. Thankfully, the TV series Bates Motel came out a few years later to right the wrongs of that dire prequel movie.
So, there we have it, 10 horror movie sequels that we think are surprisingly great! Do you agree with our choices? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!