I blame Star Wars. There were sequels before George Lucas‘s original trilogy, but around the time that The Empire Strikes Back became a box-office phenomenon, it seemed not only wise but borderline necessary to extend and replicate original concepts, and recycle the motions of distinct characters to the point that the very sight of them gives you a cluster headache. It’s to the point now where it’s hard to even watch Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, or Rambo: First Blood, all of which are propulsive, involving, and tightly directed works; the less said about where this finally led Indiana Jones, the better.
Horror movie sequels, however, are a beast of another breed. Even the most unoriginal, inexplicable cult item that comes through the pipeline can produce an often ridiculous amount of spin-offs — how else would one explain why there are three fucking Hatchet movies, and that a fourth Sharknado is being worked on? A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th popularized this cynical sort of repetition, and, for the most part, none of them have added anything particularly meaningful or exciting to the original premise, let alone expand the already paper-thin thematic conception of the story. Hell, most of them don’t even get much more creative with anything beyond the set-pieces and deaths. With that said, one cannot then simply presume that all sequels are rotten eggs, as history has inarguably proven otherwise.
When the fog of brazen capitalistic laziness and manipulation clears, there have been more than a handful of horror sequels that have genuinely reconsidered and developed the ideas of their original creations, either in terms of style or narrative trajectory. Those films deserve their due for proving a concept that was initially embodied in B-movie culture: imbuing a modestly budgeted (if not just outright cheap) genre concept with personality and technical innovation. So, with horror sequels on the brain following Sinister 2‘s release last weekend, I decided to take a look at some of the most remarkable horror follow-ups to have been released amidst a sea of cash-grabs, works of considerable, if often more grotesque than grandiose, artistic merit.