Have you ever heard someone argue that The Godfather Part II is actually better than the original Godfather? While there are plenty of sequels that don’t land anywhere near the glories and praise of their predecessors, there does exist a smaller batch of follow-up flicks that do, and the horror genre is filled with examples of iconic sophomore efforts and mid-to-late-canon entries.
From modern-day terrors to long-ago thrills, here’s our roundup of the best horror movie sequels you can stream right now, featuring such titles as The Conjuring 2 and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
John Krasinski already struck cinematic gold once with his astonishing feature debut, A Quiet Place. An unnerving and at times claustrophobic deep-dive into a devastated Earth overrun by deadly extraterrestrials with supersonic hearing and a fatal set of head-morphing fangs, A Quiet Place turned a handsome profit at the box office, a success that paved the way for additional films in the franchise. So far, we’ve only received A Quiet Place Part II, but as far as a sophomore effort goes, the sequel does a stunning job at reconnecting us with the characters, tone, and familial themes we grew to love while properly expanding the narrative universe.
Picking up after the events of the first film, the Abbott family — now consisting of mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), son Marcus (Noah Jupe), and a newborn baby — encounter an old acquaintance named Emmett (Cillian Murphy). Safe in the man’s soundproof bunker, Regan concocts a plan to weaponize the high-frequency sound of her hearing aid, an auditory kryptonite for the monsters. But after secretly venturing off to carry out her mission, Evelyn and Emmett are forced to set off into the deadly unknown to seek out Regan and to search for other survivors. Every bit as good as the original, A Quiet Place Part II devilishly ups the stakes while delivering double the pulse-pounding set pieces, sound design, and nightmarish creature designs of its predecessor.
Director James Wan is certainly no stranger to the world of horror films, with plenty of noteworthy genre titles to his name, including Saw, Insidious (which went on to spawn its own host of sequels and a prequel), and The Conjuring. This latter film brought renewed praise for Wans’ auteur-driven approach to the haunted house sub-genre, giving the director the green light for a follow-up to the original box office hit. Thus, the world received The Conjuring 2.
Taking place in 1977, the story follows Ed and Lorraine Warren yet again, a husband-wife parapsychology team with a knack for exorcising demons. Overseas, a family living in the London borough of Enfield starts experiencing a range of supernatural events, with the majority of the occurrences seeming to center on the youngest daughter, Janet (Madison Wolfe). This all started after the child played around with a ouija board, one of the worst things you can do when attempting to avoid metaphysical madness.
With the clock ticking, it’s up to Ed and Lorraine to save Janet and the rest of the Enfield clan before an ancient foe is able to resurface. The Conjuring branched out into a microcosmic saga all its own, complete with a third sequel (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It) and spinoff entries (The Nun, the Annabelle series), but its the second dose of the proper timeline that brought newfound gravitas. With every twisting camera angle and little pinch of sound, Wan digs into the psyches of both his characters and audience, winding up the tension and releasing it with a bang, again and again. If you love being scared, this is the sequel to do it with.
The original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre broke down the doors of genre cinema when it was released in 1974, with director/co-writer Tobe Hooper delivering a raw and uncompromising artistic response to the ever-violent zeitgeist centered around the Vietnam War. Introducing horror fans to Leatherface and his cannibalistic kin, it would be nearly 12 years until Hooper would return to the Texas-based, people-eating crowdpleasers, and with an all-new vision, too — dominated by campy humor this time around.
The story is rather simple: A group of road-bound college boys gets on the horn with a Texas radio DJ nicknamed Stretch (Caroline Williams). Mid-call, the youths are chainsawed to death by a fellow highway traveler they decided to antagonize earlier on, with their slaughter captured in-studio by the DJ they’re happily harassing. Enter Lefty Enright (Dennis Hopper): a former Texas Ranger and an uncle to two of the first film’s victims. After asking Stretch to replay the recorded murders live on-air, the snippet attracts the attention of Leatherface and his vile brothers, putting the wretched family on Stretch and Lefty’s trail.
Gone is the unassuming remote farmhouse locale of Hooper’s original film, with rural Texas swapped for a nightmarish abandoned amusement park, the hiding place of the cannibal malcontents. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a gory and cheesy bit of cinema, but it’s hard not to love the crazier, sardonic spin on the brutal sincerity of the original.
Ever hear of a little cultural phenomenon called The Exorcist? Released in 1973, director William Friedkin and screenwriter William Peter Blatty (also the author of The Exorcist novel) created a monster of a movie that continues to shock fans and first-time viewers alike to this very day. Followed up by the infamously panned Exorcist II: The Heretic in 1977 (renowned as being one of the worst movies ever made), the world didn’t receive another Exorcist entry until original scribe William Peter Blatty delivered a phenomenal addition to the demonic-possession canon in 1990 with The Exorcist III.
Based on Blatty’s own novelistic sequel to his original Exorcist book, the cinematic adaptation stars George C. Scott as Lieutenant William F. Kinderman, a recast character from the first film and the original novel. When a series of gruesome murders start taking place in Georgetown, the slaughter appears to have a bit too much in common with the slayings of the Gemini Killer, a serial murderer who has been dead for years. But it looks like demons might be afoot once more, as Kinderman’s investigation leads him down a rabbit hole of past friends, enemies, and shape-shifting demons. Playing more like a crime thriller at times than a horror film, it’s the “whodunnit” leanings of The Exorcist III that allow the film to rise to the surface while paying a thoughtful homage to the original Friedkin film.
Rob Zombie is as much a ghoulish force to be reckoned with in the film industry as he is on the musical side of the coin where he first honed his stage name. As a first-time writer/director, Zombie was handed a few millions dollar to produce his cinematic debut, House of 1000 Corpses, a B-movie grind-house homage that introduced audiences to an iconic band of miscreants known as the Firefly family. Chief amongst the evildoers is the clownish Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), the sadistic Otis (Bill Moseley), and the ruthless Baby (Sheri-Moon Zombie), a core trio that would return for the electrically charged follow-up to House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects.
Taking a page out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre handbook for sequels, Rejects finds the elusive Firefly clan on the run from authorities. Seeking more than justice, though, the official in charge of the manhunt is one Sheriff John Quincey Wydell (William Forsythe), a man seeking vengeance for the death of his brother — an officer of the law who was taken down by the Firefly brigade in the previous film. Shooting on raw and gritty 16mm stock, The Devil’s Rejects looks and feels like a mashup of Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone, with a dash of Two-Lane Blacktop and Friday the 13th thrown in for good measure. And as far as sequels go, this is one that’s actually a bit better than Corpses in a number of ways, particularly when it comes to narrative structure. After all, who doesn’t love rooting for the bad guys in a movie?
Before the slasher satire that is Scream, writer/director Wes Craven took another decidedly “meta” approach to his 1994 A Nightmare on Elm Street follow-up, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Ignoring the many previous sequels in the Nightmare canon, New Nightmare follows key cast and crew members of the original films as they go about their day-to-day lives — specifically, Heather Langenkamp (who played protagonist Nancy Thomas in the original film), her husband, Chase (David Newsom), and son Dylan (Miko Hughes), Robert Englund (who portrayed Freddy Krueger), and Wes Craven himself.
After receiving a pitch for a new Nightmare film from New Line Cinema, an ancient evil awakens, arriving in Hollywood in the guise of a much more sinister Freddy. Hoping to murder Heather to be fully realized, the actress must do battle with the dream-slayer she thwarted onscreen years before. Praised as one of the best films in the Nightmare franchise, New Nightmare is a wicked bit of fun, with plenty of familiar faces and a nail-biting, tongue-in-cheek extrapolation of life imitating art.
Oh, the Halloween franchise. Never has there been a canonical batch of films with more peaks and valleys than this hallowed collection of flicks that all started with a work-for-hire John Carpenter and a spray-painted William Shatner mask. And while nothing can top the bravura and simplicity of the 1978 original, the 1988 sequel, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, pays faithful homage to the Carpenter film that started it all while leaning on the many campy traits of trope-laden ’80s horror cinema.
Picking up after the events of Halloween II (1981), H4 begins with a believed-to-be-comatose Michael Myers being transported to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. After waking up mid-ambulance ride and taking out the medical personnel on board, Michael returns to Haddonfield yet again, but this time, he’s after his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), a child who has been having dreams of her murderous uncle, which turn out to be a set of supernatural visions.
After the failings of Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the studio’s one and only attempt at anthologizing the Halloween series, which resulted in the Myers mythos being completely sidestepped, the masked murderer was revived and revisited for the fourth entry in the series, delighting fans and ensuring that Michael Myers would never be absent from a Halloween film ever again.
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