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Rank and File finds us sorting through an exhaustive, comprehensive body of work or collection of pop-culture artifacts. This time, we sift through the slush pile of horror sequels and separate the terrible from the terrifying.
There’s perhaps nothing more pure than a stand-alone horror movie. Well, a good one. You know, something like They Live or The Craft. But, as is often the case in Hollywood and elsewhere, if it gets that cash, it’s gonna get a sequel. We’re all so enamored with The Babadook and It Follows these days, but where would we stand on the original films after four or six more entries in either franchise? Would we like the originals better? Worse? Would it be a Nightmare on Elm Street situation, the kind where we’d think of how revered that original film would be had they never made a sequel? We’ll never know.
But horror sequels sure are tempting, eh? Not just for studios, but audiences, too. No matter how blasphemous or unnecessary it might seem, we horrorhounds dutifully file into the theater to see if lightning can strike twice or, in one of those rare, rare instances, the sequel can actually surpass its predecessor. After all, there’s nothing that says Saw V has to be bad. It’s just that usually it is. But we keep going back, and as long as they keep making ‘em, we’ll keep going back. There’s something comforting about that.
In celebration of All Hallow’s Eve, we decided to revisit not just our favorite horror sequels, but also our least favorite. That meant watching every horror sequel. And that, of course, meant ranking every horror sequel. Our major criteria was that the film had to have had, at least in some form, an American theatrical release. We also shaved off some years by ignoring the Universal Monsters/Hammer Films and focusing solely on every horror sequel that followed 1976’s The Omen. Again, they must have had an American theatrical release.
Did we forget any? Let us know and we’ll write a sequel to this article. Don’t act like you wouldn’t read it.
141. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Yes, they brought back Halloween II director Rick Rosenthal. Yes, they reconstructed the original Myers house. Yes, they returned to Haddonfield, Illinois after the California detour in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. But, they also totally dismissed the ballsy finale of its predecessor by working in an asinine Texas switch that not only turns Michael Myers into Mission: Impossible‘s Ethan Hunt but dresses down the entire character of Laurie Strode.
Everything Jamie Lee Curtis’ iconic heroine accomplished in H20 — conquering her fears, dominating evil, becoming one of the strongest female protagonists in horror — is all for nothing thanks to her perfunctory death in Resurrection. Her pathetic send-off is on the level of a cheap ’90s soap opera, and once the brother and sister embrace, you start to realize how far a sequel can go in this industry before it’s just absolutely unrecognizable.
Today, fans still want Resurrection officially wiped off the canon by the Akkads as they aren’t quick to forget this slimy move. Or, you know, the fact that they turned John Carpenter’s little-indie-horror-that-could into a reality television parody, complete with a lame subplot involving a Blade Runner fan, underwritten idiots, and a kung-fu loving Busta Rhymes who delivers the trailer-ready, achingly 2002 line: “Trick or treat, motherfucker.” Oy. –Michael Roffman
140. Basket Case 2 (1990)
Frank Henelotter’s sequel to his 1982 cult-classic, Basket Case, dialed back on the horror and turned up the silliness. The film finds Duane Bradley and Siamese brother Belial living in a community for other deformed individuals that comes under attack by the real monsters of the world: tabloid reporters. Basket Case features some wonderfully gooey and gory special effects, and it’s always great when the original creator comes back for a sequel, but the film lacks much of the New York sleaze of its predecessor. –Mike Vanderbilt
139. Carnosaur 2 (1995)
“Weird Al” Yankovic once sang, “Jurassic Park is scary in the dark.” Maybe Al, but this one sure ain’t. There was zero reason for anyone to even think about a follow-up to 1993’s instantly forgettable Carnosaur; it wasn’t a box office hit, it was released four weeks before Spielberg’s epic, and the critics loathed the damn thing. John Savage, what the hell were you thinking signing up for this? –Michael Roffman
138. The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) (2015)
The first Human Centipede got by on novelty, the second on shock. There’s nowhere else for director Tom Six to go for the final entry in his sick trilogy. It’s not even enjoyable from an exploitation perspective. It’s just a bad film. –Randall Colburn
137. Leprechaun 2 (1994)
Long after Jennifer Aniston first ran away from Warwick Davis, the Leprechaun series would find its proper footing by becoming a collection of fish-out-of-water parables. See: Leprechaun’s Vegas Vacation (aka Leprechaun 3); Leprechaun 4: In Space; Leprechaun: In the Hood; and Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood. Skip: This one. –Michael Roffman
136. Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)
Here’s a partial list of people who might get the first sequel to 1997’s critically tolerated Anaconda terrifying: fans of animation and special effects (the CGI is … something), people who know anything about wildlife in Borneo (it’ not exactly like what’s shown here), and people who have tried and failed to get their own films made while this sailed into production. And here’s a complete list of people who won’t be: people who like to be scared by horror films. —Sarah Kurchak
135. The Human Centipede 2 – Full Sequence (2011)
The metafictional device is a nice touch (the portly killer here is inspired by the original Human Centipede), but this sequel strips away all the arthouse buzz of the first film to reveal what this series really is: an ass-to-mouth-to-ass schoolyard joke that creator Tom Six can’t stop laughing at. It still stands slightly above Human Centipede (Final Sequence), if only for its grimy black-and-white cinematography and the fact that it actually manages to be shocking instead of just lazy. –Dan Caffrey
134. Hatchet II (2010)
Back in 2006, Adam Green’s throwback slasher film, Hatchet, won over a number of critics and effectively garnered a minor cult fanbase. It helped that veterans Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and Tony Todd hopped along for the ride. Unfortunately, the wood proved too tough for Green’s second swing, and not even the addition of Halloween scream queen Danielle Harris (in lieu of Tamara Feldman) makes this dull slice of horror a cut above the… oh fuck it, you get it. –Michael Roffman
133. The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death (2015)
No Radcliffe? No dice. –Randall Colburn
132. The Gate II: Trespassers (1990)
Tibor Takács’ original supernatural horror film, The Gate, was a neighborhood nightmare. Stephen Dorff played a precocious little boy who battled creepy crawlers from beneath the ground with a mythos that could have been drawn up on construction paper and with crayons. It’s dumb fun now, but as a kid, it was terrifying — almost a cautionary tale for why we need our ‘rents around. Takács returned three years later to helm the Dorff-less sequel, only he lost the story’s dark magic in transition. –Michael Roffman
131. Piranha II: The Spawning (1980)
James Cameron’s “directorial debut” (he started on set as the special effects director and was promoted when the original director walked, but he doesn’t feel like the final cut represents him in any way) is not a classic. It’s a less scary, less-sensical, and less self-aware follow-up to the 1978 horror satire Piranha that stars flying fish. And those fish are played by glorified wind-up toys. But it’s still arguably better than Titanic. (Editor’s Note: Take that back, Sarah! I’ll never let that go. I’ll never let that go…) —Sarah Kurchak