in Shocktober, Top Ten

Shocktober: Frightening Followups

No genre has seen the dark side of sequels quite like the horror genre. With movies like Saw VI or Friday the 13th Part VII it’s easy to see that a lot of studios just take it too far. They pinch out the last few pennies of a once good idea but sometimes they can’t even capture what made the first film popular in the second installment. Most horror franchises simply up their kill counts in sequels but every once in awhile you’ll get lucky. I didn’t plan on including multiple movies from the same franchises but surprisingly, good horror sequels don’t happen that often.

10. Halloween II (1981)
Though it was released almost three years after the original, Halloween II starts right from where the last one left off and it’s seamless. It’s almost like an extension of the original film, like it’s some expanded directors’ cut with essentially the same people (minus director John Carpenter, though he did film some additional scenes). It may not have the same atmosphere or charm of the first but it’s still an entertaining slasher filled romp (set entirely within a hospital) and it’s a hell of a lot better than any of the following sequels or remakes.

9. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
Who would of expected the Nightmare series to make comeback with it’s seventh installment? Well actually this one is set outside of the series continuity. You see Wes Craven was more or less fed up with all the terrible sequels to A Nightmare on Elm Street (according to him only the first one and this one truly count) so he set this film in a universe where the original movie was no more than a movie. Thus we follow Heather Langenkamp the star of the original being stalked by Freddy who’s made his way into reality. It’s a bizarre concept but fairly clever and a solid horror film.

8. Scream II (1997)
I’ve always loved how the Scream series are slashers movies that parody the genre and here that’s brought to an even more amusing level. The characters are still self-aware of the “rules of horror” and there’s even a cheesy movie within the movie called Stab based on the events of the first film. The same cast, director and writer return and it’s just as much bloody fun as the original.

7. Day of the Dead (1985)
Set on a larger scale than any other installment in the Dead Series, George A Romero’s third dead movie is a zombie blockbuster. There’s just a ridiculous amount of walking dead swarming all around a group of scientists and soldiers trying to survive in an underground military base. It may sound kind of stupid and in certain parts it is a little melodramatic or conventional for horror but if you ask me this is scariest installment of the series. This is a perfect example of why slow zombies are scarier than the fast zombies of this day and age. It’s not the chase that’s scary it’s the idea of waiting to die as their numbers grow and grow everyday. Thus the climax is excellent and the makeup effects (by the legendary Tom Savini) are just outstanding.

6. 28 Weeks Later (2007)
Set well uhh… 28 weeks after the initial outbreak 28 Weeks Later presents a world that is seemingly under control in certain quarantined areas and slowly overcoming the pandemic, at least for a little while. We follow the journey of two children along with their grieving father (Robert Carlyle) as they attempt to survive a world crumbling at the seams. Lessening some of the drama for a significantly more action packed experience, 28 Weeks Later is a violent, high adrenaline thrill ride that still manages to capture the spirit of the original. The opening is one of the most exciting I’ve ever seen in a film and a strong supporting cast including; Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner and Harold Perrineau that give the film a good deal of heart and soul.

5. Army of Darkness (1993)
Slapstick comedy meets Jason and the Argonauts is how I’d describe this zany horror comedy. The third installment in the Evil Dead Trilogy picks right up from where the last one left off. Ash is sucked back into the dark ages and now must face an entire army of the undead (though the whole fiasco is his own fault). Great fun, though it’s not much of a horror film it’s inventive and incredibly quotable. “Give me some sugar baby”, “See This? This is my boom stick!”, “Hail to the king baby”, or how about ” Good, bad… I’m the guy with the gun.” and the list goes on. This overly macho version of Ash would of course go on to inspire video game tough guy Duke Nukem and reel in an even wider Evil Dead fan base. Plus it’s even cooler to me after realizing that the head sorcerer was played by Ian Abercrombie (he played Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld.)

4. Evil Dead II (1987)
Edging out it’s more comedic followup, Evil Dead II is strange in that it’s both a sequel and a borderline remake. Ash returns to the same cabin but it’s presented as his first time through a collection of confusing recaps. That all aside it basically takes the original idea and kicks it up a notch. There’s more gore, more elaborate effects, more comedy all packed into one smorgasbord of blood filled chaos and I love it. Actually Now I have trouble deciding which Evil Dead movie I like better. The first one has an independent charm to it but this one is just hilarious and obserd. Gotta love Ash using that chainsaw as well.

3. Aliens (1986)
Though I’m not sure if you’d technically call Alien a horror movie, it was damn scary so that’s good enough for me. Aliens, although still creepy really takes the series in a more action packed direction. James Cameron takes on the role of director/writer and really pumps some adrenaline into a series that was originally a slow, brooding monster movie. Sigourney Weaver returns in an Oscar nominated performance as Ripley and is joined by a strong cast including; Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen and Carrie Henn.

2. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
A film that’s definitely “out there”, Bride of Frankenstein is a spooky classic that rivals the original for horror greatness. Giving Boris Karloff an even meatier part, as the Monster learns to speak, this is definitely Boris’ best performance in the series. There’s a lot of oddball characters and a great deal of humor as well, plus you got James Whale returning to direct. All in all it’s a classic horror flick of the golden age of cinema.

1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Arguably George A. Romero’s greatest accomplishment as a filmmaker, Dawn of the Dead is a milestone in the genre. The sequel to Night of the Living Dead (released almost ten years after the original) Dawn tells the story of four people held up in a mall attempting to make the best of a bad situation, in this case an all out zombie invasion. With commentary on consumerism and the decadence of the 70s lifestyle Dawn of the Dead is a complex film and excels in just about every department, if you haven’t seen it than maybe someone should eat your brain.


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