Horror movies for the last 40 years have gone through something of a Golden Age. Higher body counts, splashier FX, more drive to push the envelope for what the MPAA will allow — all this has resulted in a horror fanbase that eats, sleeps, and breathes the genre.
We still remember our first encounter with that kind of horror — it was the 1980 Boogeyman directed by Ulli Lommel. In retrospect, it’s difficult to pinpoint what was so unnervingly terrifying about that film, but it worked well enough at the time to get a quickly slapped-together sequel (consisting mainly of footage from the first). With Lommel returning to his original vision for Boogeyman: Reincarnation, the hope is that this will be the first sequel in the series to actually do its source material justice.
This also started us thinking about the horror movies out there like the original Boogeyman — flicks that have languished as standalone motion pictures, still waiting for Hollywood (or a well-funded Indie) to pay its respects with a legitimate sequel the way so many lesser films in the genre have already received. As a result, we’ve come up with these 13 Great Horror Movies That Deserve Sequels.
13. Drag Me to Hell
After hearing that Drag Me to Hell, Sam Raimi’s long-awaited return to horror after years of slinging Spider-Man’s celluloid web, was going to be PG-13, we’re not gonna lie — our hearts sank a bit. This was the guy who gave us The Evil Dead for cryin’ out loud! Now here he was playing to the teeny-bopper element?
Boy, are we glad we didn’t listen to that inner dialogue and decided instead to purchase a ticket and give the film a shot! While there aren’t any pencil stabs to the achilles tendon or chainsaw dismemberments here, Drag Me to Hell does a great job in timing its jump-scares and building suspense, all the while keeping that same sense of fun Raimi brings to pretty much every film he has ever made (save for Spider-Man 3, of course). The cast is likable; the ticking clock is fun; and Lorna Raver as Mrs. Ganush is positively unnerving. For a sequel, why not pick up with Justin Long’s character?
12. Alice, Sweet Alice
Alfred Sole’s Alice, Sweet Alice is supposedly getting a remake from the director’s cousin, Dante Tomaselli (Torture Chamber). When Dante last spoke of the film, he had a script in place and Cold Case star Kathryn Morris on board to play Catherine Spages, mother of two daughters — one a murder victim and one the prime suspect in the crime. Unfortunately, that was in 2013, and nothing new has come out since then.
Tomaselli did confirm that a sequel to Alice, Sweet Alice was off the table — at least if he had anything to do with it — because he “wouldn’t want to continue the story” that had ended “on just the right ambiguous note.”
If you’ve seen the film, then you know he has a point. You also know the killer, in yellow raincoat and garish, translucent mask, is one of the most terrifying ever put on film. Given the final shot of the film, it would be easy to see how “she” could go on killing even if there was someone else beyond the mask. And speaking of “beyond the mask…”
11. Beyond the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Scott Glosserman wrote and directed this wickedly modern horror-comedy that plays like a cross between The Office and Friday the 13th. The titular character has a dream — to become the next indestructible psycho killer, exactly like the kind you see in films like Halloween and the aforementioned F13. A documentary film crew shoots footage of the likable and humorous Vernon (Nathan Baesel) to show his transformation — everything from physical fitness to hanging with his mentor to picking out his “final girl.” It’s a hilarious romp, until the killing starts. Then, you’ve got a legit horror movie. Despite the abrupt shifts in tone, however, it never feels like two different movies. The flow is seamless, and the respect this film gets from a large part of the horror community is well-earned.
That respect would be even greater if Beyond the Mask 2 were to become a reality. Of course, whoever took it on would have to decide right away whether they were making a continuation of the Leslie Vernon saga or a new doc about a new killer. We vote for the former, fully realizing that could demand a different storytelling style.
10. The Burning
The Burning was one of the first films to introduce the world to Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander. Don’t expect too much Art Vandelay, though. This thing is brutally, unflinchingly violent, and still a pretty rough watch even when stacked up against the hyper-violent age in which we now live. The plot is simple F13 stuff. A prank goes terribly wrong, leaving a summer camp caretaker hideously burned and bloodthirsty for revenge. He and his garden shears go on a rampage.
Simple is good for a movie like this. It gives you a chance to focus on things like direction, FX (they had Tom Savini handling that), and getting good performances out of the cast. Director Tony Maylam and his team succeed in spades, with a list of stars that, aside from Alexander, includes Fisher Stevens (Hail, Caesar!), Holly Hunter (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Leah Ayres (Sliders), and Larry Joshua (Spider-Man).
Madman and The Burning came out around the same time, with almost the same shooting schedule and locations within a virtual stone’s throw of one another. Both films make the shortlist of any discussion about great 1980s slasher films as they use their settings for maximum suspense and deliver the gory goods with each kill (though some of the Madman FX are cheesy by comparison).
The films center on the same legend — “the Cropsy” — but when Madman director Joe Giannone found out about the other film, he took the high road and renamed his character “Madman Marz.” Unfortunately, Giannone died in 2006, or else we’d likely already have a sequel, since he was game for it when shooting audio commentary for the initial DVD release. Now who will take up the reins — any takers?
8. The Beast Within (1982)
A straight-up sequel to The Beast Within might be hard to do given the way the 1982 original ended, and the fact that the character of mom Caroline (Bibi Besch) is way past her child-bearing years. After all, she is who gave birth to the monster that Michael MacCleary (Paul Clemens) would become so many years ago. If we had to take a stab at it, we might say that whoever assaulted and impregnated Caroline passed something “beastly” along that she could transfer to all of her children, regardless of their father’s identity. An infection, of sorts, that is harmless to females, but lethal to their male offspring and, as in the first, highly reactive to pubescent hormonal changes. Caroline has a daughter. The daughter eventually has a son. Hell breaks loose when he turns 16.
7. Terror Train
One of four big slashers that Jamie Lee Curtis did in her younger years — Halloween, Prom Night, and Halloween II being the other three — Terror Train is a film deserving of more respect. Most people who see it like it, but there are a heck of a lot of people out there who have never laid eyes on it. Even self-professed horror fans!
In Terror Train, a killer has boarded a party train seeking revenge against the soon-to-be med school graduates, who played a cruel trick on him when he was a freshman — one that ended up placing him in an insane asylum. The killer changes masks with each victim and (sorta) keeps you guessing until the impressively bloody finale as to his identity.
The trick to this film — and something you would have to hang the concept of a sequel on since the original leaves little room for continuation — is in the idea that the killer can be hiding in plain sight. You know who he is by name, but he’s so good at changing his look, you can never be sure if he’s in the same cab or in the engine room blowing the whistle.
6. My Bloody Valentine
For more than 20 years, director George Mihalka’s slasherpiece My Bloody Valentine was never shown to audiences in the way it was originally intended. Not until the special edition DVD was released earlier this century could fans see all the impressive FX that Mihalka had to trim to avoid a dreaded Rated X from the MPAA. If he had been allowed to keep it all in, you most certainly would have gotten a proper sequel instead of the ho-hum 2009 remake.
The original leaves room for it, albeit with a one-armed killer. That, of course, is no hill for a stepper as the genre is filled with killers suffering disabilities — the one-handed Fisherman in I Know What You Did Last Summer, comatose Patrick in Patrick, etc. For a My Bloody Valentine sequel, you would have to bring back the maimed killer. Just keep him in the coal miner clothes and make him less human.
5. The House on Sorority Row
The House on Sorority Row is yet another underrated horror gem that received a lackluster remake, which had little (if nothing) to do with the original in spite of wearing a similar title. What’s worse about the remake is that it was overseen by Mark Rosman, the writer and director of the original. If he can’t get it right, who can?
Rather than 2009’s Sorority Row, we would like to witness a new batch of spoiled brats getting terrorized by what they believe to be the murderous ghost of the first film’s evil house mother. Of course, the truth would be less fanciful and a whole lot more terrifying as in its predecessor.
4. Black Christmas (1974)
The 2006 remake of Black Christmas tried to recapture some of the holiday fiendishness of the 1974 original by heaping on more gore, more depravity, and — between Billy, Agnes, and their horrid mother — more antagonists. However, it only proved that bigger is not necessarily better. In a way, we understand where filmmaker Glen Morgan was coming from. He had to adapt the slow, methodical suspense of the 1974 version to something today’s audiences would understand. Tearing out eyeballs and having children impregnate their mothers seemed like it would do that, but the theory was never borne out at the box office as Black Christmas 2006 only earned $21.5 million worldwide and has been widely forgotten while the original remains a classic of the genre and is considered the father of the modern slasher film, predating Halloween by four years. (That would make Psycho the grandfather if you want to extend this family tree a little further).
If we’re talking about a sequel to Black Christmas, then the best course of action would be to start with the ending of the 1974 film and keep things as simple as possible. As anyone who has seen the film knows — spoiler alert — the unknown and largely unseen killer escapes, presumably to kill again. While he’s crazy — and those unnerving phone calls are far more horrifying than any of the physical violence his remake counterparts impose — he’s clearly not so off-his-nut to avoid capture. Transplant him to another sorority house, and make us care about the characters before turning him loose.
3. The Prowler
The Prowler was a hot commodity during its VHS heyday because it was so difficult to find in uncut form. You pretty much had to plumb the depths of mail-order catalogs to find a bootleg if you wanted to see it as intended by director Joseph Zito. The gore is far more unsettling than 99% of its slasher movie competition. In fact, pretty much any horror film with FX by someone other than Tom Savini failed to compete during the ‘80s. Savini handled the red stuff on this film, and after also bringing the goods for Friday the 13th and The Burning, it remains his best work. Not even his later effort (and second collaboration with Zito), Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, can hang with what Savini’s “Unknown Soldier” does here.
For a sequel, we would go back to the same school from the first film — now co-ed — and instead of holding its first dance in 30 years, it is closing due to years of spotty enrollment, loss of funding, and a general dying out of the sleepy town where it once thrived. Someone in the school is taking this personally, and before he lets anyone else move on with their lives, he’s going to don the infamous fatigues and make sure this place dies out the way his father intended — at the point of a bayonet. Send truckloads of money to Savini’s house so that he’ll handle the FX himself, and you’ve got a slasher sequel with buckets of gore-sopped promise.
2. Happy Hell Night
If you haven’t heard of or seen Happy Hell Night, then you’re missing out. In some ways, it is a very silly slasher film, made at the tail end of the sub-genre’s ‘80s craze. (It was actually released in 1992.) Yes, many of the characters are vapid, and yes, some of the setups are cliched. But it’s also a film with a terrific cast and a couple of younger faces that would go on to much bigger things, not unlike George Clooney from Return to Horror High.
The most obvious star you will notice here is Darren McGavin — yes, the Old Man from A Christmas Story and Kolchak, the Night Stalker himself. Here, his Mr. Collins character has been holding onto a dark secret from the past. Flashbacks introduce us to a young Collins, played by none other than Sam Rockwell (Moon, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Iron Man 2). He is joined by Jorja Fox (CSI), who here plays one of the Kappa Sig girls.
As fun as it is to see them, though, the real star of the show is Charles Cragin, who plays the murderous priest Malius, a demonic, pale-faced slasher frightening to look at, but who also possesses a surprising knack for one-liners. Cragin was quite old at the time, and while we could not find an obituary when compiling this article, it would be zero surprise to us if the talented character actor had passed. A sequel would have to make due without him regardless, but there are enough creepy looking actors out there to pull it off, especially if you applied the same pale makeup and coal black eyes.
1. The Cabin in the Woods
One could make the case that The Cabin in the Woods is not a horror movie proper in the sense that it’s played mostly for laughs and driven more by the gift of satire than any that would induce chills in its audience. Even so, the film lampoons the genre well, while simultaneously paying respect to it, and that’s a feat worth celebrating.
But how to celebrate? With a sequel, of course! However, the problem with filming a sequel to The Cabin in the Woods is that anything you came up with would have to have something substantive to say. Many horror franchises get by filming sequels that are thinly veiled remakes of their predecessors. The Cabin in the Woods 2 would be held to a higher standard, especially when you consider the raving critical support Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s original received when it hit theaters in 2012 (92% on Rotten Tomatoes).
So there you have it, fright film fans — our 13 picks for great horror movies that deserve sequels. Unfortunately, we couldn’t possibly get to all the standalone efforts that deserve similar treatment, so if you noticed some that we should have included here, feel free to add your suggestions to the comments section while letting us know how you would continue their stories. Happy Haunting!
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