What’s more classic than a shoddy horror sequel? It’s a proud tradition of the genre — whenever filmmakers strike gold and create an iconic scary movie monster, you can bet producers and studios will be lining up to pump out a slew of sequels, remakes, and reboots.
Jason has a total of 12 films to his name. Freddy’s franchise boasts nine — even those freaky kids from “Children of the Corn” have nearly a dozen sequels.
However, some horror sequels can tap into the original’s magic for a truly terrifying film, while a good chunk are just frighteningly laughable. Jason in space? Freddy stalking victims inside a video game? While they can’t all be winners, some of these hilariously outrageous horror follow-ups have become classics all their own.
When it comes to outrageous “Jaws” sequels, it’s honestly a toss-up between “Jaws 3-D” (in which a shark terrorizes a Sea World-esque water park…in 3-D!) and “Jaws: The Revenge,” but the horrible special effects of the latter put it over the top. The film follows Ellen Brody, the widow of two-time Jaws defeating champion Chief Martin Brody, who becomes convinced a great white shark seeks revenge on her family after it follows them to Bermuda. And it turns out her hunch is right.
What’s a “Halloween” movie without the stoic slasher himself, Michael Myers? Well, audiences found out when producers pulled a fast one with 1982’s “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” and decided not to include the horror legend in the film at all. Turns out, taking this franchise in a new witchcraft-oriented (if the title didn’t give it away) direction didn’t quite work out. After disappointing audiences and disappointing box office sales, producers decided to go back to basics with “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.” If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a franchise that’s been through plenty of reboots and sequels, but perhaps none are more memorable for their sheer outrageousness than “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2.” Made more than ten years after the iconic original, Tobe Hooper returned to the director’s chair to create, inexplicably, a comedy parody of his original film. In this installment, we find Leatherface and his cannibalistic family terrorizing a local radio host while Dennis Hopper plays a crazed Texas Ranger hellbent on bringing them to justice. No spoilers, but the whole thing ends in an epic chainsaw duel.
Some horror sequels are unintentionally outrageous. The tone doesn’t quite gel, the plot points border on hackneyed and some of the lines or characters are accidentally hilarious. And then there’s Sam Raimi‘s absolute classic “Evil Dead II” — arguably the quintessential horror sequel. Want a genre-busting, supernatural film that’s one part terrifying gory playground and one part shameless dark comedy? Look no further.
Once again, teaming up with the superb Bruce Campbell, Raimi took everything that was working about his ultra-low-budget, more or less straight horror film, “The Evil Dead,” and cranked it up to 11. The sequel’s essential cabin-in-the-woods film is more than just punchlines and body horror; it’s an example of how effectively a film can crossover between shock horror and outrageous comedy when in the hands of a master filmmaker.
For Wes Craven‘s return to the Freddy franchise, he created a meta-horror gem that is truly unlike any other of “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequels. “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare,” the seventh installment in the series, is a standalone film that imagines Freddy Krueger as a fictional character who comes to life and terrorizes the cast and crew responsible for the Nightmare films. While the serious tone doesn’t always match up with the other films in the series, the inventive story-within-a-story setup made this film the favorite installment for Robert Englund (who originated the role of Krueger and has starred in all but one of the films), “Wes’s script is clever and original, the self-referential horror story.”
While “Children of the Corn” began as a creepy 1984 adaptation of a Stephen King short story, the series slowly devolved into movies churned out on the cheap for the direct to video market. With 11 Children of the Corn movies to choose from (11!!), the most egregious has to be “Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror.” Highlights include a confusing cult ritual that results in David Carradine‘s (Kill Bill) head being split open and an early career Eva Mendes leaping from a silo to her fiery doom.
“The Exorcist” has had surprising success with some of its sequels (“The Exorcist III” is a certified cult classic) but, alas, 2004’s “Exorcist: The Beginning” did not continue that streak. A prequel that follows Father Lankester Merrin on sabbatical in East Africa features an appearance from The Devil himself plastered in makeup that comes off as bizarrely hilarious rather than frightening. The 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes seems oddly generous.
The “Child’s Play” films know a thing or two about horror humor, and “Bride of Chucky” might just be the best of the bunch. This self-aware slasher comedy finds Chucky, a possessed demon doll, transferring his human lover and accomplice Tiffany to a toy doll of her own. The film might have folded in on itself were it not for Jennifer Tilly‘s pitch-perfect performance and a script that moves through set-pieces with abundantly high levels of camp. When the tagline for your film is “Chucky gets lucky…” the film practically writes itself.
Jason’s World Tour
For a silent slasher formerly sequestered to Camp Crystal Lake, Jason Voorhees sure gets around a lot. After seven films at summer camp, producers decided it was time to take their horror icon on the road with a “Friday the 13th” trilogy we’re calling Jason’s World Tour. He starts his vacay in “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan,” when Jason is resurrected from the grave (yet again) and hitches a ride to the big city to wreak havoc in the sewers of Manhattan.
Unfortunately, he meets his demise (yet again) submerged in toxic waste. Lest that be the end of Mr. Voorhees’s story, 1993’s installment “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday” finds Jason on a literal journey to hell. But the piece de resistance of this masterwork belongs to “Jason X” in which Jason accidentally freezes himself in a cryo-chamber during a rampage only to be resurrected 445 years later — in space! Jason in space, the pitch to studio executives, must have been a breeze.
Great horror sequels have always walked a fine line between terrifying and hilarious. It’s in the DNA of the genre. So this October, instead of flipping on “The Shining” for the 400th time, try taking a trip down the delightfully odd horror sequel rabbit hole.
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