Horror sequels are everywhere. They always have been. While every other filmmaking trend comes and goes, the sequel always survives. If a film is even modestly successful, a follow-up effort becomes something of an inevitability. Even when nobody, and I mean nobody, asked for them.
Whatever the reasons for their existence, these sequels are here. Most of them are probably best avoided. But we rabid horror fans rarely seem to take that route. With that in mind, if you insist on scoping any of these efforts, at least promise to share the experience with a group of friends. Because, you know, misery loves company.
976-EVIL II: The Astral Factor
There was a shift in the late ‘80s to move away from prototypical masked slashers to wise-cracking, supernatural killers. In the first half of the decade, everyone wanted to replicate Halloween, in the second half, the goal became to emulate the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s a little ironic to think that Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund, was right at the forefront of this trend with his directorial debut 976-EVIL. It was not a particularly well received film, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to who was demanding a sequel. The original flick might be campy as hell, but it’s at least occasionally entertaining, and that is the piece this sequel misses. The great goofball, Stephen Geoffreys is replaced by a new villain who has none of the charisma or spastic glee that Geoffreys had. Generally speaking, when the monster looks bored to be there, you’re in trouble.
C.H.U.D. wasn’t a bad movie. In fact, it was kind of a fun movie, but it wasn’t a huge hit and it kind of came and went. People enjoyed the original without really needing a second helping. But they got one anyway. Except the cool, inventive creatures are replaced with traditional zombies. It’s a cross between Night of the Creeps and Weekend at Bernie’s, and it’s worse than both. This whole film is a mess from beginning to end, you can’t even tell when the humor is intentional and when it isn’t. With that said, I urge everyone to see it at least once.
Yes, The Blair Witch Project was one of the biggest horror movies of all time, but if anyone was really expecting a sequel to it, they played it pretty close to the vest. People were happy with the first installment and, if anything, just wanted to see more of the same. Which means that in just about every regard, Book of Shadows is the sequel nobody wanted. It’s nothing like the first. It should have at least been found footage. Instead, the whole picture looks like B-Roll from a Marilyn Manson video shoot.
Jack Frost 2: Return of the Mutant Killer Snowman
It turns out there were enough fans of this VHS pseudo-hit to warrant a sequel. For those that haven’t seen the first, it’s one of the stupidest, most mind-boggling movies ever made. It reads like a supervillain origin story that even early Marvel comics would have rejected for making no sense. The fact that the sequel picks up with the detective in therapy to deal with his snowman encounter says everything that needs to be said about this misguided follow-up.
The Legend of Boggy Creek is a baffling movie because it keeps getting tossed around as a cult classic and yet not a whole lot of people have seen it and those who have kind of think it’s decent at best. It has an interesting faux-documentary style, but moves at an extremely slow pace. The sequel doesn’t fare any better. It will make you wish you were watching the first. It tries not to stray too far from the original, but tries to be more straightforward at the same time. Basically, it’s a mess. Out of all the sequels on this list, this is the one that got a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode, which says a lot about its quality.
Underrated as Daveigh Chase may be as an actress, Donnie Darko did not need a sequel. The first ended with nowhere left to go, but the sequel just keeps on going. It’s pretty much a road trip to absolutely nowhere in particular, full of weird visions to try and invoke the nonsensical spirit of its predecessor. Except whereas that had a method behind all of its madness, the sequel serves up nothing but nonsense.
Part of the genius of American Psycho is the debate it sparked among viewers as to whether or not Patrick Bateman actually did any of the things he said he did. Plenty of people have good reason to suspect he did not, but this sequel puts those thoughts to rest as it is about a would-be victim of Bateman’s who picks up his horrific habits. Mila Kunis is an actress capable of great things, but she has to be given something to work with, in this case, she is not.
The 1996 sequel to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer has some of the original creators involved, but it’s just really hard to get behind. Henry was not a franchise serial killer movie. There’s no element of fun to it. It’s a quiet, small, disturbing thriller. A sequel is almost destined to cheapen that and while it takes nothing away from the first, it certainly doesn’t add to it.
Another classic film by Alan Smithee. For those who don’t know, Alan Smithee is a name director’s use when they don’t want to be credited for the project they’ve made. Rick Rosenthal, of Halloween II, made this decision with The Birds II, and it was a wise choice. This is like the bridge movie between Hitchcock’s original classic and Birdemic. This is the missing link. It does feature a cameo by Tippi Hedren, as a different character than she played in the first but that does nothing to save it from itself.