Sequels more times than not suck balls. They rarely ever capture the spark of the original. The Horror genre is known to have the widest array of unfocused and ill conceived follow-ups, and if somebody makes a successful horror film the chances of getting a sequel or kick-starting a profitable franchise are very high indeed. Sequels are made with extra helpings that tend to drown out and dumb down all of the potency that made the predecessor so good in the first place. However sometimes you do get some admirable and well intended sequels that fail with audiences and critics and become lost in time, shrouded by the muck of other sequels spewed out by the same franchise. Here are ten Horror sequels which have a bad rep but deserve to be rediscovered.
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)
The producers of the first two Halloween films got a little bored of our Villain Michael Myers after the second instalment so decided to get rid of him completely for this Invasion of the Body Snatchers-like sequel. This was unfairly overlooked when it was released. It’s obvious lack of slashing, teens and Myers himself play a part but I really think everyone missed the trick with this one. The satirical slant with a horror twist is so 80’s Reganomics. The score composed again by the Original’s Writer/Director John carpenter (who didn’t direct this one) has a doom laden robotic quality adding to the film’s sci-fi & mystery themes. The movie is particularly dark & edgy, which you can probably credit to the original scriptwriter Nigel Kneale (Quatermass) who, for many reasons, removed his name and association from the picture but left his dark, doom-laden paranoid mark on the final film.
Exorcist 3 (1990)
Criminally overlooked third part of the saga directed by the author/screenwriter of the original, William Peter Blatty. This film acts as if Exorcist 2: The Heretic (Which Blatty hated, like everyone else) never happened and picks up fifteen years after the first. Lieutenant Kinderman (George. C .Scott) is led back to the case of Father Karris’s (the returning Jason Miller) death by his apparent resurrection in the form of The Gemini Killer. I realize reading that plot sounds like a load of shit, but it really knits together extremely well, mainly because of Blatty, who sticks to his guns and gives it enough attention and detail to make the plot plausible. The film, in moments, is terrifying (the nurse murder scene), and had this been released before The Exorcist (or under its Original title Legion) I believe it would have picked up a mass audience instead of the cult one it steadily builds.
Damien: The Omen 2 (1978)
You can’t beat the first Omen film, the score is landmark and it remains one of the scariest and most cleverly conceived horrors of all time, introducing an ominous and timeless presence with the number 666 and the name Damien. The original’s music composer Jerry Goldsmith returns and instead of recycling the Omen score composes a whole new one (albeit in the same vein as the first). William Holden fills Gregory Peck’s shoes as the films noble protagonist, and some of the most Gory and inventive deaths in cinema are applied well with high tension and dark humour, replacing the first Omen films open subjectivness. Damien: The omen 2 is clever enough for its own right and pretty well acted, the scenes showing Damien wrestling with the weight of being the Devil’s kid show genuine meat.
The Texas Chainsaw massacre II (1986)
According to Tobe Hooper, “People didn’t get the first film’s humour”. If they didn’t he definitely makes it clear enough in this strange yet madcap follow up to the 1974 shocker. Leatherface and co are back this time killing out on the highway and open road. Compared to the first Texas Chainsaw this follow up is more focused in its aim of revealing an obvious main character and a revenge subplot (involving Dennis Hopper’s psycho sheriff). Though this is much more of an obvious comedy than its precursor, it’s just as enjoyable an offering as the first. Compared to Tobe Hooper’s original classic, it will never scare in the same way, but I think he crafted a follow up with enough blood guts and memorable characters to hold up well. And after watching it you may go back to the first film and get Tobe’s point.
Poltergeist 2 (1986)
I don’t much rate the original Poltergeist film as a horror, I see it much more as a fantasy which would explain the involvement of Steven Spielberg as screenwriter and (possibly) Director. This sequel to Tobe Hooper’s (again!) Haunted House chiller however is much more in the horror vein than its predecessor, introducing one of the most creepy movie villains of all time in Pastor Kane (Julian Beck). His skeleton like appearance (he was dying of cancer at the time) adds face value to his characters Demonic look. Unlike the first film, Poltergeist 2 contains some true moments of terror.
Friday the 13th part 3 (1982)
Finally Jason puts on the infamous Hockey Mask for the first time. Originally shot in 3D and Directed by part 2 helmer Steve Miner the film takes place directly after the last one, Jason now finds himself at a new lake terrorizing a bunch of young holiday guests staying at one of the soon to be doomed cabins not so far from Crystal Lake. Apparently when released this Kick-started a slight and short lived resurgence into the 3D gimmick for movie’s in the 80’s, this meant most second sequel horror films would be immediately shot for 3D. Viewing it now is odd and brilliant in equal measure as everything in the movie plays very close to the screen, such as the eye popping scene (which is ridiculously brilliant).
Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
How do you explain why Michael Myers is the way he is? Easy, he belongs to a secret coven. After the commercial flop that was Halloween 5 the franchise was bought by Miramax which meant it had to go through the dreaded test screening (which, as it usually does, went bad). Actually not many things went right for Halloween 6, the sadly missed Donald pleasance’s untimely death just before the end of principle photography, numerous script re-writes and arguments over the film’s final cut (meaning at least two other versions of this film exist) were all huge road blocks in its production. As expected from any sixth entry in a franchise it was panned by critics and largely forgotten about but like Friday the 13th pt 3, charm comes from just how crazy it all is.
A Nightmare on Elm street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Many critics snigger at this film’s obvious allusions to Homosexuality and AIDS during the 1980’s panic, one scene showing the main character Jesse being possessed by Freddy in front of his friend as he yells “He’s inside me!”, a cheeky nod to the cultural zeitgeist. It’s different and it aimed to steer more towards the body horror genre than its original (but still evident) slasher roots, which fits a lot better than it should. On release nobody took to the film, probably because Freddy’s total screen time is a strange 10 full minutes. There was no involvement from the series creator Wes Craven and the lack of wit from its usually reliably comic Freddy is evident.
Ring 2 (1999)
The Ring and Ju-on series are Japanese horror at its most original and terrifying and this often dismissed sequel to Ring is a real gem. Loosely remade by its original director Hideo Nakata in 2005, the film picks up right from the first films events. Mai is now searching and looking for clues to what went wrong to create Ryuji’s death and the first films villain Sadako now seems to be feeding some of her abilities to the boy Yoichi. A genuinely unsettling follow up that was a tough sell considering the original’s ever building fan base and cult status in America and Europe. Even if it does suffer from a slight ‘is that it?’ ending, it’s still a classic piece of shit-your-pants scary JHorror. I saw it on T.V once and it was rated 12. Why no parents have filed a class action child abuse law suit against the BBFC baffles me to this day. DO NOT LET YOUR 12 YEAR OLD WATCH RING 2!
The Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows (2000)
The much maligned sequel to one of my all time favourite horror films, Book of Shadows doesn’t follow the same path as its 1999 predecessor, nor does it fulfil the same promise. This film isn’t the greatest but it still presents a daring and playful swap of film techniques, converting to a conventional horror style as oppose to the originals landmark found footage method. The slightly mad (and postmodern) plot plays out as if the main characters of the movie are super fans of the Blair Witch documentary who get together deciding to venture into the woods themselves, succumbing to the same evils. Blair witch 2 is certainly a guilty pleasure, it would usually come under the ‘so bad its good’ tag, but it’s worth watching again and closely, not taking too seriously and I believe it can be seen as another smart, witty send up to 90’s Horror. Read the script and you’ll see just what they wanted to achieve (but perhaps didn’t quite) in their original conception.