Welcome to this week’s edition of the Seattle Cinema Survey, home of me bothering local critics, writers and nerds about various movie related things. As Halloween is but a few weeks away, it’s all things spooky-scary, with horror getting the spotlight this month.
In this round, we take a peek at something horror cinema provides a lot of; sequels. There is an endless supply of follow-ups to beloved, and definitely not beloved, horror work, with the great ones (Evil Dead 2, Dawn of the Dead, The Bride of Frankenstein), being universally lauded. However, with so much to pick from, I asked; What’s the most unappreciated horror sequel?
Three answers sprung to mind for me. The first is The Exorcist III, which a contributor later in this survey gushes about with precision. Second to jump out for me is Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II, the direct sequel to Carpenter’s masterpiece that is assuredly inferior to that original and nonetheless superior to most slashers. Strangely, my pick is also Halloween II, but in the form of Rob Zombie’s sequel to his own – not especially good – remake of the Michael Meyers classic.
Where Zombie’s initial stab at the world of Haddonfield was too closely tangled up in reworkings and throwbacks, his Halloween II managed to be its own gnarly, gruesome beast. Still featuring a flash of the terrific hospital sequence from Rosenthal’s sequel, here Zombie messes with the terror that’s crawed into the daily psyches of those infected by the mayhem of round one. The dirt and grain of the 16mm filmstock enhances the skewed reality of it all, as the polish of too many Halloween pics is unseen.
Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
I maintain that all the Friday the 13th movie are good, or at least watchable, up until Jason Takes Manhattan (Jason X is also fun, though I hesitate to use the word good as a description); Gremlins 2: The New Batch doesn’t get as much love as it should, especially as a satirization of sequels; Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is bonkers and misunderstood, though it has its defenders and I feel like it’s star has rightfully been on the rise in recent years. But it’s another franchise that’s home to the most underappreciated sequel.
While The Exorcist is one of the greatest horror movies of all time, the first sequel, The Exorcist 2: The Heretic, is, well, not good. 1990’s The Exorcist III, however, is pretty boss. Written and directed by William Peter Blatty, who wrote the original novel, The Exorcist III takes a step in a different direction, though keeps the general supernatural ambiance and creep factor. The story follows Lieutenant Kinderman (now played by George C. Scott) from the first film as he investigates the Gemini Killer, a Zodiac-style serial murderer. It stands on its own, has aged well, and though it doesn’t top the original, The Exorcist III is a sturdy, underrated horror joint that honors what came before.
Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
A couple that come to mind are Paranormal Activity 2 and 28 Weeks Later. The first Paranormal Activity gave me nightmares, and while it relies heavily on gimmicks, those same gimmicks (and some added ones) still work surprisingly well with its sequel. I don’t remember exactly what happens in the movie, but I also remember walking out of the theater saying, “That still made me jump.”
28 Days Later is considered one of the best zombie movies out there, though you can tell Danny Boyle intended it to be a standalone movie. On the surface, the sequel, with a different director, feels like a cash grab, but it’s still a super exciting and suspenseful cash grab.
But my selection for most under-appreciated horror sequel will go to Psycho II. It’s a movie that shouldn’t exist and has no right to be any good, but it’s a legitimately well made movie that extends the story of Norman Bates in a realistic way. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but I bet many, many people have dismissed it outright–that’s why it’s my choice.