8 Scariest Horror Movie Sequels and Prequels
There seems to be an unspoken rule in Hollywood when it comes to horror films: If you do a scary movie, you have to plan for the franchise.
Through the years, we've seen enough sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots in the genre to make us want to pull the eyes out of our own sockets. But every and now and then, the knife sharpens itself, and we are reminded why we love being thrilled so much in the first place.
Below, we take a look at some of our favorite horror sequels and prequels of all time. Do you dare?
Whenever Friday the 13th comes around, the date is usually synonymous with the image of hockey mask-wearing, machete-wielding Jason Voorhees. The imposing, formidable killer made his first appearance in the second Friday the 13th movie, taking over for his vengeful mother in the first film. Jason would later terrorize the teens at Camp Crystal Lake through eight more films in the series before getting the reboot treatment in 2009.
In contrast to Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror-thriller Alien, Jim Cameron decided to take a more action-oriented approach with his 1986 sequel, Aliens. Aliens saw the return of Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, and the film arguably solidified her status as one of film’s most memorable, kick-ass heroines. The stakes were raised, and watching Ripley and a squadron of space marines go to battle against the terrifying xenomorphs of the series helped us regard Aliens not only as one of the best horror sequels of all-time, but one of the best sequels ever period.
Sam Raimi’s 1987 sequel to the first Evil Dead is highly regarded as one of the best sequels of all-time among horror enthusiasts. This campy, gross-out flick has acquired quite a cult following over the years for its gory, over-the-top death scenes. Bruce Campbell reprised his role as Ash, the sole survivor from the first film, who must battle demonic forces while secluded in a cabin in the woods. The movie would later lead into a third film, Army of Darkness, which often stands side-by-side with Evil Dead 2 on people’s lists of favorites.
Freddy Krueger struck fear in the nightmares of kids and teens beginning in 1984 when the original A Nightmare on Elm Street was released. Dream Warriors, the third movie in the Nightmare franchise, is often considered the best Freddy sequel. The movie brought back actress Heather Langenkamp from the first film as a doctor in a mental ward who trains a group of young teens to take back control and fight Freddy in their dreams. The creative revenge plot, which starred a young Patricia Arquette, was originally intended to be the final film of a trilogy. But the critical and financial success of Dream Warriors forced the studio to keep the nightmare going for five more films, including a crossover flick, Freddy vs. Jason.
In 1996, Wes Craven’s Scream became the year’s surprise sleeper success and resurrected the teen-slasher genre that had been all but forgotten for most of the ‘90s. Just weeks after the movie surprised and delighted audiences with its fresh meta take on high school horror, the studio, Dimension Films, announced that they would be working on a sequel, with original cast members Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox all reprising their roles. While the first Scream film rewrote the rules of horror films, Scream 2 proved to be a worthy sequel on its own, and was every bit as scary, funny and creative as the original. The franchise would later spawn two more sequels — Scream 3 and Scream 4 — but neither lived up to the first two films’ potential. We’re rooting for a comeback, however, with MTV’s Scream TV series which will air this summer.
Unlike other horror franchises, the Final Destination series did not center around a single character or villain. Instead, the villain in each story was Death itself. The premise of each film was simple: A young person has a haunting premonition, freaks out, and subsequently warns a select few around him or her, thus allowing them to avoid catastrophe and cheat death in the process. But as each survivor learns, Death is never truly done. Final Destination 5 was the fifth and last (so far) film of the franchise. But with a truly terrifying opening bridge scene and a shocking ending that surprised anyone who followed the franchise, Final Destination 5 proved that it still had a little bit of life in itself.
Despite the unprecedented success of 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, nobody really figured out how to do a truly scary “found footage” horror film in the following years. All of that changed in 2007, when hype and word of mouth started building for a low budget film called Paranormal Activity - a movie which was shot entirely with home video camcorders. Paranormal Activity thrilled audiences with its subtle use of scare tactics and preyed on audiences’ fears of the dark and the unknown. In 2011, Paranormal Activity 3 was released as a prequel to the first two films, set 18 years before the events in the first film and established the who, what, where and why for the mystery that unfolded in the original stories. Paranormal Activity 3 made use of the same scare techniques, but through the eyes of two young sisters, the dread and fear became more — right until the final chilling shot of the movie.
The creators of Paranormal Activity and Saw joined forces to release the first Insidious in 2010. The movie about a family battling ghosts from the other side was highly acclaimed, and spawned a sequel in 2013. Insidious Chapter 3 — now playing in theaters — is a prequel, set before the events of the first film, and once again promises to prey on our fears with ghostly scares and haunting imagery. The story focuses on a teen girl named Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) who finds herself exposed to a dark world after trying to connect with her dead mother.