The horror genre is jam-packed full of more remakes, sequels, reboots, timeline wipes, and franchises than I can count, or ever have a hope of viewing. Once an original idea or character enters the horror world, they are ripe for being used and repackaged over and over until we’re sick of them.
One interesting feature of horror is the fact years or even decades can go past before the sequel beast rears its head. This can sometimes lead to excellent results and another addition to a well-loved series or can result in those later sequels that we like to pretend don’t exist.
So for better or worse, let’s take a look at some horror sequels we’ve had to wait for the longest, and whether they are a worthy addition to their parent film.
The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) – 10 Year Wait
When The Strangers came out in 2008, it marked a unique entry into the slasher genre. Not only did it give us a whole new band of villains to be terrified of, but it also gave us a slightly different experience from what we’re used to with our slasher films. Instead of hoards of sexy teens and a high body count, instead, we follow a young couple who are terrorised over the course of a night in their home.
Our killers also have no rhyme or reason for their actions. We don’t get an over-the-top backstory, and when the movie is finished, we don’t even know who the killers really were. So when a sequel, The Strangers: Prey at Night, popped up 10 years later, horror fans were probably right to be a little sceptical. What was a sequel going to add that hadn’t already been covered, pretty much perfectly, in the original?
Set in an empty trailer park, The Strangers: Prey at Night follows a family on a last trip before their troubled daughter is headed for boarding school. Unfortunately for them, they are visiting their aunt and uncle, who just happen to be the latest victims of the Strangers. When Cindy, the mother of the family, phones ahead and leaves a voicemail to warn the aunt and uncle of their impending arrival she seals the family’s fate. With her aunt and uncle already dead by this point, the Strangers are the only ones left to hear the message, and they decide to stick around for their next round of victims.
The truth is, The Strangers: Prey at Night is not a superior film to the original, and it does slip back into the cheesy slasher territory that the first film did so well to avoid. However, there is a scene involving an outdoor swimming pool and Total Eclipse of the Heart (1983) that is so spectacularly creepy, horribly tense, and beautifully shot that I would highly recommend everyone watch the film for this scene alone.
Scream 4 (2011) – 11 Year Wait
Scream (1996), Scream 2 (1998), and Scream 3 (2000) all came out within four years of each other, so as the years passed, it seemed like the Scream franchise had indeed wrapped up with the final part of the trilogy.
However, in 2011, we were treated to another instalment, with Sidney, Gale, and Dewey all returning. Set 15 years after the original murder spree, this film shifts the focus back where slasher films usually do their best work – high school. Sidney’s cousin Jill and her friends seem to be the target of a new killer, and when Sidney returns to town on her book tour, she gets caught up in the whole mess as well.
It was always going to be a challenge to come back to the Scream series. Scream and Scream 2 are two of my favourite horror movies and make a great double-bill, but Scream 3 was a terrible film in general, nevermind an addition to such a beloved franchise. Scream 4 has the right tone, brutal deaths, horror geekery, moments of humour, and an excellent Randy replacement character in the form of Kirby. It’s everything I wanted Scream 3 to be, and I’ll quite happily pretend this is the true closing to the Scream trilogy.
An American Werewolf in Paris (1997) – 16 Year Wait
I’m not going to lie, this sequel is a slightly weird one, and again a film which may have performed marginally better had it not tried to tie itself to something so popular as An American Werewolf in London (1981). There’s a plot point about one of our new characters, Serafine, being the daughter of David and Alex from the original film, but we don’t dwell on it, so you’d be forgiven for missing the relevance. It’s almost as if it was just jammed in there to try and make the sequel make some sense.
The story follows Andy and his friends, who are travelling in Paris and come across Serafine as she’s about to jump off the Eiffel Tower. Andy falls in love with her after saving her life, but soon finds out she is a werewolf. Andy and his friends are attacked, leaving one dead and Andy now infected with the curse. There’s also a nightclub gang of werewolves who lure tourists to their deaths and can turn into werewolves whenever they want through the use of a drug Serafine’s step-father was trying to perfect to cure her curse.
The one thing that makes this film measure up poorly to the original is the over-use of terrible CGI when An American Werewolf in London is so famous for its outstanding practical effects, as well as an absolutely abysmal werewolf design. This is hammered home frequently, considering we were shown a large number of werewolves at every opportunity.
While there are some pretty cool scenes, such as the opening chase, or Chris’ encounter with an amputee werewolf, it lacks the scares, the humour, and pretty much everything that made An American Werewolf in London so impressive.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) – 17 Year Wait
The Halloween universe is a complicated one. It has a lot of entries, as well as a nasty habit of rewriting its own history time and time again to reset the story to a more manageable place before adding to it. While 2018 saw Halloween added to the franchise and ignore every entry apart from the original Halloween (1978), we’re going to look at Halloween H20: 20 Years Later instead because I think this is a much better entry in the series. In Halloween H20: 20 Years Later’s world, Halloween and Halloween II (1981) exist, but you can kiss goodbye to those questionable, niece-killing sequels, which is probably for the best.
Twenty years after the events of the first movie, Laurie Strode has faked her death and now lives life as Keri Tate, the headmistress of a private school in California. Her son, John, is a student at the school, and her boyfriend is a fellow teacher, and while she’s gone twenty years free of any Michael Myers-related violence, she’s never quite been able to get over what happened to her. Sadly for her, Michael has finally managed to track her down, and with the rest of the school away on a class trip, Laurie and the people she loves are ripe for the picking.
I feel that Halloween, Halloween II, and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later make a great trilogy. It follows the story of Michael and Laurie, of Laurie learning they are related, and then Laurie finally facing her demons rather than running from them by killing Michael for good. If they had stopped here instead of ruining it all with Halloween: Resurrection (2002), all would have been right with the world.
Blair Witch (2016) – 17 Year Wait
Sure, we were treated to Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 in 2000, but Blair Witch is a direct sequel to the original, and a continuation of the original story. It also goes back to what we expect from a Blair Witch movie – found footage.
The story centres around James, the brother of Heather from the original movie who is still missing all these years later. After seeing a video of what he believes to be Heather on YouTube, James and some friends decide to head into the woods to see if they can track her down.
Things start to go wrong pretty quickly for the group, and while it’s less subtle than the original in whether there is actually something paranormal going on or not, it definitely feels right at home as a sequel to the first movie. The whole set-up also feels like a completely logical reason for a group of people to head into these very dodgy woods, rather than them just being nosey people who want to see where a group of filmmakers once potentially died.
The ending is quite intense, with the events being open to interpretation, much like the first movie. However, we do get glimpses of an actual witch-type creature stalking through an abandoned house and the surrounding woods, which perhaps confirms what happened to the characters in the first movie, and makes for some creepy shots. We also get a superb death involving breaking a voodoo-style doll in half, making it a slightly more violent entry in the series.
Predators (2010) – 20 Year Wait
Predators is a direct sequel to Predator 2 (1990), meaning we can thankfully ignore both of the Alien vs. Predator movies. Set on a strange planet, Predators follows a group of killers from various backgrounds who have been dumped in space so the Predators can hunt them down. As well as the Predators we all know and love, there are also Super Predators, who are even bigger and scarier looking than their smaller counterparts.
Predators mirrors the original Predator (1987) in a lot of ways. We’re back in the jungle, we have a group of people fighting for their lives against a force they don’t understand, all the characters are capable of putting up a good fight (except perhaps Topher Grace’s character), and our group comprises of a lot of men and one woman. It’s a bit like a remake but with some fresh new things thrown in.
As well as the Super Predators, we have alien hunting dogs, which are used to drive the humans out of their hiding places. We’re also rooting for a bunch of characters who are slightly problematic in that they’ve all killed quite a few people, albeit in very different circumstances. We find out about the diverse backgrounds of the killers as the movie progress, which makes for interesting character development in between all the spine ripping.
I think taking the film back to its roots, and away from Earth, was a great move after the terrible Alien vs. Predator movies. Rather than spending lots of time trying to work out the motivations of the monsters, this movie is just about doing what you need to survive, which makes it a great, action-packed, horror experience.
The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999) – 23 Year Wait
I completely get the appeal for filmmakers to go back and attempt to create sequels for classic horror films. There’s already a huge potential audience who loved the original, and I’m sure it seems like easy money tying yourself to something that’s so well-loved, especially a story by Stephen King.
The Rage: Carrie 2 gets a terrible rap for being a cash-in sequel, and perhaps would have performed better as a stand-alone horror rather than trying to make it part of the King universe. In fact, the elements of this film which work the least are the bits that were jammed in to connect it to Carrie (1976). These include things like Sue Snell’s character reappearing, as well as Carrie and our new telekinetic anti-heroine, Rachel, sharing the same father.
Putting these points aside, however, The Rage: Carrie 2 is a movie I personally love. Much like its predecessor, it shows us a paranormal representation of what happens when vulnerable young women are ignored and mistreated, with the sequel tackling the all too real example of rich, privileged men having their needs put first. Rachel’s psychic powers present themselves as a way for her to channel her rage at the mistreatment of both herself and her friend, whose suicide is pretty much swept under the rug to protect a bunch of high school football players.
The third act of the film plays out almost exactly like the original, with Rachel’s public embarrassment causing a bloodbath at a high school house party and a not-so-happy ending for our protagonist. However, if you love ’90s goth fashion, amazingly over-the-top deaths, and high school bullies getting their comeuppance, then you need to check this sequel out.
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) – 39 Year Wait
They don’t know how the passage of time works in this movie, but 2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3D certainly seems to have been made by a team of people who loved the first film. There are lots of little connections to the original movies including Bill Moseley, Marilyn Burns, John Dugan, and Gunnar Hansen all playing small roles.
A direct sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and opening where the original movie finishes, we see the repercussions for the Sawyer family for their attack on Sally and her friends. Pretty much the entire family gets wiped out, except for Leatherface, his grandmother Verna, and his baby cousin, who is adopted/stolen by a local family. When Verna dies, she leaves her huge house to Heather, who it turns out is the stolen baby from the start of the movie.
This movie does border into predictable slasher at some points, but it gives a different dimension to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre universe that we perhaps haven’t seen before. Instead of being surrounded and protected by his family, Leatherface has to go it alone for the first time. Much like the first movie, he is confused as to why these random young people are in his house and reacts in the only way he knows how. While it starts as a standard slasher movie, Leatherface and Heather soon realise their family connection and join forces to fight the common enemy – the horrible mayor who leads the mob to murder the entire Sawyer family. It also places Leatherface in the middle of a quite crowded town, which makes for a cool chase through the middle of a carnival, rather than having him stuck out in the middle of nowhere. It’s definitely not the best entry in the series, but I appreciate that they went with something a little different, and tried to hammer home the point that sometimes the evilest person in the story isn’t the guy wearing someone else’s face.