The only thing better than a good movie is a continuation of a beloved story or idea.
It seems like a feasible thing to accomplish, but more often than not, it’s simply not the case. When unreasonable plot twists are a plenty or bad casting plagues a production, sequels can quickly become head shakingly atrocious.
Naturally, Troll 2 comes to mind… in the most loving and endearing way possible, of course!
While sequels are notorious for falling flat or veering off track to the chagrin of hungry filmgoers, these ten flicks are some of the most tried and true. That being said, a handful of them are a little less celebrated, but are, in my eyes, considered to be solid movies.
I hope you see some that jive with you, too!
There is nothing more magical than when two forces come together á la Arnold Schwarzenegger acting opposite Robert Patrick. The plot is simple, but enormously clever. By taking The Terminator’s vicious antagonist and turning him into a loving protagonist in the sequel, it made Terminator 2 that much more of a juicy movie watching experience. Veteran James Cameron directed this box office blockbuster which would become one of the most favorited sequels of all time.
And by golly, I know I’m thankful for this film, I find myself coming back to time and time again.
Fun Fact: Terminator 2 is the only sequel to win an Academy Award when the original film wasn’t even nominated!
Halloween II (1981)
Knowing that the Halloween franchise was intended to be more of an anthology series, it’s wild to think we may not have gotten this gem of a movie; had they jumped straight away to Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
The original, directed by the great John Carpenter, was a writer on the sequel and it’s clearly evident he had a hand in this stark, terrifying production. Taking place the same night as the first film, Halloween II, directed by Rick Rosenthal, picks up right where the first Halloween left off. If you haven’t seen it yet (for whatever ungodly reason), I highly recommend it to any fan of the original powerhouse. Halloween III though… well, that’s a different story!
Fun Fact: Lance Guest, who plays the lead paramedic in Halloween II, did his own stunts for the feature. Such as when he slipped and brutally fell in a massive puddle of blood in just a single take. Guest would go on to be heavily involved in Broadway, playing Roy Orbison in a long run of Million Dollar Quartet.
Psycho 2 (1983)
This is one of my all time favorite movies, let alone sequels. Psycho 2 was directed by Richard Franklin and written by one of my favorite humans ever, Tom Holland. Aside from Psycho 2, Holland is responsible for classics such as Fright Night and Child’s Play.
A psychological masterpiece if there ever was one, Psycho 2 delivers chills while simultaneously inspiring wonder about the mentally deranged Norman Bates. The plot, centered around Bates who has recently arrived home after a lengthy stay in a psychiatric institution, is riveting and, at times, even moving. Chances are if you were even interested in reading this list, you’re pretty well schooled in all things film. However, if you have yet to see Psycho 2 yet, get up on it. Anthony Perkins is absolutely killer in it. You know, both literally and metaphorically.
Fun Fact: Quentin Tarantino has stated on multiple occasions that he prefers Psycho 2 over the original.
The only director to land himself twice on this humble list is James Cameron.
In 1983, Aliens was released to massive success and bolstered $180 million worldwide, one of the largest box office successes of its time. The late, great Roger Ebert aptly called it, “a superb example of filmmaking craft.” It’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but the plot, centered around a salvage and rescue crew, is just is riveting.
Additionally, each character is beyond well developed and any/every death affects the viewer. Aliens is the seriously the gift that keeps on giving. It possesses one of the all time best on-screen fights.
And the part that’s most appealing to me regarding that is, technically, this is two females fighting for their children. A theme that was kind of ahead of its time. Personally, I feel Aliens is hands down one of the more exemplar cases of,
“Is it over? Oh, no. I guess it’s not.
Whoa, that was intense.
It’s gotta be over now.
Oh, god, it’s not.
“GET AWAY FROM HER, YOU BITCH!”
OH, LORD, THAT WAS RAD!
How is it still going!?! YES!”
making it one of the most memorable sequels of all time.
All hail, James Cameron.
Fun Fact: The majority of filming was completed in an abandoned power station in Newcastle, England. Appropriately spooky, huh!
Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
This is the first time I’ve ever said this in a public forum, or even out loud… but, I hated Evil Dead 2 when I was younger. I want to say I first saw it when I was a young teenager. I can only conclude that my feeble brain was unwilling to understand the concept of parody within horror. As an adult, I couldn’t disagree more with my younger self.
Evil Dead 2, directed by fan favorite Sam Raimi, is essentially if the first film had a baby with the Three Stooges. ED2 is a wonderful standalone film, but the thing that makes it wonderful is that it’s sandwiched between two hardcore, amazing films; the other being Army of Darkness. How many other series do you know where each film is top quality? And how many of them are centered around a dude who transcends time and murders the undead with a chainsaw arm?
Fun Fact: Trying to avoid an X rating, the crew of ED2 figured they could use different colors of blood to skirt the rating. However, the MPAA handed them an X rating anyhow. The film was forced to do cut after cut until they could garner an R rating.
American Psycho 2 (2002)
Alright. Okay. Calm down. I know this movie has an 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and I get that. I do. Even I avoided watching this sequel for over ten years. I’m not a fan of Mila Kunis and I’m not a fan of expanding on the American Psycho story sans Bret Easton Ellis.
That being said, this movie kind of caught me off guard… in a good way.
It’s shot like an old school horror thriller, but with a female lead in contemporary times. So, no shit this movie didn’t do well. I don’t think AP2 could’ve done well for another ten years, maybe even fifteen. People are attached to Patrick Bateman as they should be. But, the concept of a female copycat killer is intriguing at least. Kunis actually does a really good job (with an albeit pretty bad script) and William Shatner is an excelsior scummy, old dude. It may be one of the more overlooked sequels on this list, but I’d say it’s worth the watch just to see how the imaginative plot writhes its way through a generally interesting story.
Fun Fact: This flick was initially unrelated to American Psycho, but shortly before filming began they incorporated it into the script. Mila Kunis has also publicly admitted she’s outright embarrassed to have been a part of AP2.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
It’s almost infuriating how good TCM2 is. It’s over the top gross, hilarious, and entertaining. Not to mention the soundtrack is utterly phenomenal. Concrete Blonde, Oingo Boingo, the Cramps… I mean, are you kidding me?
In addition, it stars Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, and a very young Bill Moseley. Personally, I feel it’s one of the best horror films that came out of the 1980s. The story begins with a radio disc jockey (Williams) trying to help a lieutenant (Hopper) solve a gruesome murder and are both ultimately led to “the family.”
Tobe Hooper who directed TCM2 also directed the original masterpiece. But, the sequel has a far kitschier vibe and is almost entirely stylistically unrelated. Critical reception was spotty at best, but it’s persevered the decades as a cult film favorite.
Fun Fact: TCM2 is still banned in both Germany and Singapore.
Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988)
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Hellbound. I can almost guarantee it won’t be the last.
This movie chronicles the story of Kristy Cotton and Julia Higgins, whose character was largely the reason Hellraiser was so wonderful. Clive Barker wasn’t hugely involved with the second installment, save for the story credit, but the vibe from the first film carries over swimmingly. The story surrounds Kristy, now a mental patient, who is tormented by thoughts of devilish creatures only Barker could conceive. Julia, played by Claire Higgins, is an absolute delight.
And by delight I mean hardcore, balls out, maniacal murderess. The doctor who receives Kristy as a patient turns out to be just as depraved as Julia and seeks the unearthly pleasures within the domain of the Cenobites. It’s a terrifying, but beautiful film, much like its predecessor.
Fun Fact: During production of Hellraiser, New World Cinema greenlit the sequel. Talk about confidence!
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
It’s difficult to consider Dawn of the Dead as a sequel or an installment. It’s a classic piece of horror cinema.
Second in the “Dead” series, I imagine it was a difficult feat to follow the mother of all modern zombie films, Night of the Living Dead. But, my god, George Romero absolutely changed the game with this puppy. Night, Dawn, and Day are three of the best horror films thus far. I don’t think I’ve yet to meet a fan who wouldn’t agree with that statement (although, no judgement if you do!).
DOTD is special for a multitude of reasons. To name a few, it showcases the time period beautifully, it’s silly with the musical stylings of Goblin, and it’s near impossible not to fall in love with all the characters. Even the ones you’re supposed to hate. Flyboy, I’m looking at you!
Fun Fact: Some of the cast and crew on set literally threw up from the gnarly makeup work.
House 2: the Second Story (1987)
In the same vein of Evil Dead 2, House 2: The Second Story is steeped in elements of the first film, but takes a wild, ludicrous turn. It still manages to be terrifying, but there is laden with humor throughout. When a young couple purchases the demonic house, they find themselves amidst a tale of Mayan skulls, undead cowboys, and caterpillar-dogs (uh-huh, that’s a thing). It’s a really far out there piece of work, but it’s a stunning piece overall.
Fun Fact: Marvel released a comic book adaptation in 1987 of House II: the Second Story written by Ralph Macchio. Yes, you read that right. But, disappointingly, not the actor Ralph Macchio.
Well, that’s all she wrote! I truly hope this collection of sequels has inspired you to revisit and rediscover some of the past centuries greatest (and not so greatest) works in film. And I don’t know about you, but I think I see a sequel binge-fest in my foreseeable future…