Horror sequels that don’t suck
It’s been twenty years since the release of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Steve Miner’s continuation of the iconic horrorverse. That’s forty years since Jamie Lee Curtis first played Laurie Strode, and there’s life in her yet as the Scream Queen herself is set to reprise her role in the upcoming instalment for a final confrontation with Michael Myers.
Now, H20 deserves a special mention, and not just for filling the role of Laurie’s son John with ya boy Josh Hartnett and his very questionable haircut. While it pales in comparison to the original, this revisit to the franchise actually turned out to be more than just an opportunity for its creators to cash-in on Halloween’s dedicated fandom.
Instead, we were handed a solid horror that hit all the right slasher beats with kills that are sharp, gruesome, and effective. But it’s also a character study of Laurie as she’s coming to terms with how the masked killer has ruined her life and what she’ll do to make sure the same doesn’t happen to her son. In this sense, H20 went beyond the confines of a classic slasher.
As writer William Bibbiani put it, “Respect Halloween H20 for what it is, a smart and subversive sequel, which starts out as a slasher until it outwardly rejects the premise of the whole slasher genre.” Damn straight.
To mark the film’s 20th anniversary, the original’s 40th anniversary, and no doubt at least another 20 years to come, here are all the horror sequels that don’t totally suck and where to stream them. Let’s get stabby!
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Freddy fans will be pleased to know that the Nightmare on Elm Street films are available to stream on Hulu, including our personal fave Dream Warriors a.k.a. Mr. Sandman’s comedic peak.
As well as pushing his head through a TV set before spouting one of his finest one-liners – “Welcome to primetime, bitch!” – the shape-shifting killer turns his fingers into syringes and uses a boy’s tongue as bed ties. And if the sound of all that doesn’t tickle your fancy, what are you even doing here?
Saw II (2005)
Just enough time since the original to build upon the torture games of the first, but not so much that it had become a window into the ninth circle of Ted Bundy’s consciousness, this gory melange of torture proved a worthy chaser for all those depraved sick pups out there (us included).
Final Destination 5 (2011)
Normally horror franchises are dead by this point, but Final Destination breathed new life into its film series with the fifth instalment, following the same formula as always along with a number of gratuitous and delightfully enjoyable kills – the gymnast, the tractor, the (urgh) laser eye surgery.
But it also made a tweak to the mythology of the originals and incorporated one of the best twists Final Destination fans could’ve asked for. No spoilers here, folks – although if you haven’t seen the film by this point, what have you been doing with your life?
Rec 2 (2009)
Every bit as terrifying and gripping as the first, directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza maintained the momentum of their original zombie flick, taking us back into the quarantined apartment building where a terrifying virus has run rampant, turning the occupants into mindlessly violent, raging beasts.
The shaky camera work is a little nauseating, yes. But what good horror doesn’t make you feel like you need to drink a Pepto Bismol afterwards?
Scream 4 (2011)
Critic consensus? Not great. Fandom consensus? Just the right level of cray. Scream 4 seems an odd choice for a film series with so many good picks, but we’re still living for (spoiler alert) Jill as the most batshit killer of the entire franchise. If you can find the humor in brutal knife stabbings, you’ll find this movie an absolute hoot. Enjoy with a bowl of popcorn and the phone off the hook.
Creep 2 (2017)
The followup to Patrick Brice’s 2014 thriller, Creep 2 delivers on both the comedic and tension fronts. This white knuckle ride of a film sees a video artist who breaks all the horror rules by driving to a remote forest house to spend some alone time with a guy claiming to be a serial killer. It doesn’t take long before she realizes that she made a deadly mistake. Well, no duh!
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Worth a mention for the opening scene alone. Robert Carlyle running through a field as dozens of flesh-eaters close in on him – you know the one.
Danny Boyle’s 28 Weeks Later doesn’t quite reach cult classic status like its predecessor, but as a standalone movie it’s a terrifying depiction of a nation dealing with the fallout of a zombie epidemic, one that’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.
The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
We’re going to go right ahead and say that we prefer Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects to House of 1000 Corpses. It’s gory, it’s rambunctious, and it’s got a woman running down the highway with her husband’s face on her face. Come on now, folks. The Firefly Family really came into their own with this one.
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Yes, the franchise has lost some of its sizzle over the years, but the first Paranormal Activity was a total game-changer in the supernatural sector. However, we’re of the view the third rivals its predecessors by offering a unique occultist edge to the storyline at the heart of it.
Paranormal Activity 3 also acts as a prequel to the first two, is set in the 80s, and features some truly horrifying moments with the use of a rotating VHS cam. In other words, it’s pure nightmare fuel.