Happy Halloween, readers! We hope this night brings you plenty of treats (and all the right kind of tricks). In honor of this, the awesomest of holidays, we’d like to save you precious downloading time by sharing with you Laura’s breakdown of which scary movie sequels are worth watching, and which ones would better be left to rest in peace.
1. Evil Dead II (1987) – Sam Raimi’s follow-up to the extremely low-budget first Evil Dead film was an improvement over the first thanks to its darkly comedic script, which has Bruce Campbell’s Ash fighting a demon, his zombiefied girlfriend, a team of well-meaning archaeologists who only screw things up further, and, famously, his own hand. The third film in the series, Army of Darkness, is fun as well, but the whole Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court gimmick gets a little tired. The sequel is where it’s at.
2. Dawn of the Dead (1978) – After Night of the Living Dead turned George Romero into an overnight horror hero, he had to find a way to top the first movie’s scares. And like Sam Raimi did, he accomplished that by expanding the scope of the film. No longer restricted to a single house, the film looks at the effect of a zombie pandemic on society at large. Our team of heroes has been dealing with this zombie nonsense for a while, and they’re forced to take refuge in a mall, thus adding the deep themes Romero’s films are known for—consumerism, America’s naive nature and the ineptness of its government, to name just a few. Plus there’s lotsa scary zombies.
3. Aliens (1986) – What’s better than one alien? Lots of little aliens! Here we find out more about the military/government conspiracy that led our hero, Ripley, to be attacked by evil aliens in the first place. She’s also been asleep for 57 years like some kind of sci-fi Rip Van Winkle. And for some reason there’s a little girl hanging out with the aliens—maybe she got there through the poltergeist TV.
4. Hostel: Part II (2007) – Eli Roth got help from Quentin Tarantino making this sequel to the hit horror flick Hostel, and whatever Quentin did seemed to have worked. Although the first Hostel benefited from the mysterious nature of the plot–keeping us in the dark almost as much as our hapless protagonist—the sequel assumes the audience will be familiar with the process the victims go through, so it lets us in on what’s going on from the other point of view. Namely, it shows us how and why the evil Hostel operates and gives us a sort of sympathetic figure in one of the torturers. Of course, neither he nor our female victim-hero will come out of the film entirely heroic or innocent.
5. Final Destination 2 (2003) – The Final Destination films are all about establishing and then playing with ground rules—something horror movies seem to be especially fond of (think about how complicated vampire and zombie mythology has become). So as with Back to the Future, the sequel was all about repeating the events of the first film, but with plenty of twists to keep things interesting. Instead of a plane crash to open the film, we get an impressive and cringe-inducing highway pileup. The complex Rube-Goldberg devices Death and/or Fate uses to knock off the film’s victims are more hilariously indirect than ever. And even though the plot resolution is kind of dumb, at least we get a last-minute visual gag that will turn you off BBQ for at least a week.
1. Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) – The first Poltergeist movie was awesome—the rotting face scene, the pool full of corpses scene, the wacky midget spiritualist—but then we got this heaping pile for a sequel. The only thing that could do more injustice to the original is Poltergeist 3. Rent neither.
2. Scream 2 (1997) – OK, this is kind of a spoiler, but why’d they have to kill Jamie Kennedy? He was the only mildly amusing character in this poopfest of a sequel. For all their overanalyzing and self-referential bad sequel conversations, this film made all the same mistakes everyone else does. And when the killer is revealed, it’s really dumb.
3. 28 Weeks Later (2007) – I really liked 28 Days Later for its moodiness, its balance of dread and action, and its scary vision of what rebuilding society could look like. But the sequel, while it had a few interesting moments, was pretty much a rehash of the tricks from the first outing, with a healthy dash of cliché. I swear, if I see one more video-game-esque scene where someone says “meet me at the helicopter at such and such time, it’s the last helicopter out,” I’ll puke.
4. Jaws 2 (1978) – This movie set the standard for terrible horror blockbuster sequels. Paved the way, you might say. It’s sort of a pioneer that way. And only in that way.
5. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) – I know they think they created an apocalyptic vision of horror, but it’s more like a crappy vision of crap. Video games make bad movies, the end.