The Best Sequel In Every Major Horror Movie Franchise

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Summary

  • Some horror sequels have successfully reinvented or expanded upon the original, providing fresh entry points and fully formed characters.
  • Fan favorites such as
    Friday the 13th Part 6
    ,
    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
    , and
    Halloween
    (2018) have revived their respective franchises.
  • Films like
    Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, Scream 2,
    and
    Evil Dead 2
    are considered standout horror sequels due to their effective continuation of the original’s story and memorable characters.

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Horror sequels are notorious for failing to live up to the success of the original, but each major horror franchise has at least one great sequel. Some have reinvented the series, while others have successfully expanded upon the original’s lore. Nevertheless, some horror sequels have been worthwhile additions to their franchises.

Horror has been plagued by sequels, particularly prevalent in the slasher boom of the 1980s. Often these are derided critically, and they can be subject to diminishing returns. Despite this, every horror franchise has one movie that rivals the original.

12 Friday The 13th Part 6: Jason Lives

Jason Voorhees resurrected as a zombie in a rainy cemetery in Friday The 13th Part VI Jason Lives

Despite being the sixth film in the franchise, Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives is arguably the best Jason Voorhees movie. The slasher icon took several movies to find his final form, not really appearing until the second movie and not donning his infamous hockey mask until the third. After being killed in the fourth movie, Jason returned triumphantly for Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives, saving the Friday the 13th franchise. While previous movies have retained a very strong fandom, Jason Lives gives audiences a fresh entry point with a fully formed Jason exacting creative and brutal kills on camp counselors.

11 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

10 years after Tobe Hooper directed the cultural phenomenon The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hooper directed a sequel. With The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Hooper hoped to address aspects he felt were misinterpreted in the original — specifically, its humor. Hooper filled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 with campy black humor, along with more guts and gore, which have turned the sequel into a cult classic. The movie also does a great job of expanding The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s Sawyer family tree, featuring a delightful performance from horror icon Bill Moseley.

10 Halloween (2018)

Michael Myers standing in the woods in Halloween

After a string of subpar sequels, the Halloween franchise was revived by a legacy sequel starring the original final girl, Jamie Lee Curtis, who returned as Halloween‘s Laurie Strode. Dismissing all previous sequels, 2018’s Halloween picks up the original’s story 40 years later. In many ways, 2018’s Halloween might be better than the 1978 original, toying with intergenerational final girl themes and slasher tropes, which Halloween was instrumental in creating. It provides the perfect continuation of the classic horror movie.

9 Hellbound: Hellraiser 2

Pinhead looking unimpressed in Hellraiser 2.

Picking up directly after the first Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 depicts the further torment of protagonist Kirsty Cotton. Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 does a stellar job of building upon the previous movie, with most central characters returning in some form to properly conclude Kirsty’s story arc. The movie is notable for its incredibly elaborate depiction of Hell, which is designed as a giant labyrinth filled with monstrous, sadistic demons. Of course, Doug Bradley is terrifyingly superb as Pinhead, but the return of Hellraiser antagonist Frank Cotton is particularly unsettling.

8 Scream 2

Ghostface stalks Courteney Cox's Gale in Scream 2.

Scream 2 manages very nearly to recapture the magic of the original movie, beginning the expansion of lore that would lead to the franchise’s longevity. It follows the returning protagonist Sidney Prescott, stalked by the Ghostface killer once again. This time a college student, Sidney is aided by a string of returning main characters, including Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley. Scream 2 is remembered for introducing Scream‘s film-within-a-film, Stab!, which functions as the franchise’s conduit for its trademark meta-humor and self-referential style. With a great murder mystery plot and several delightful frights, Scream 2 might be the perfect horror sequel.

7 Saw X

Tobin Bell as John Kramer in Saw X pic

The Saw franchise has become infamous for its string of gore-filled sequels, which add convoluted retcons to the franchise’s overarching plot. The series was beginning to wilt somewhat, with audiences becoming jaded with sequels unable to match the original’s genius. This changed with 2023’s Saw X. Set between the first and second film, it features a self-contained story. And while Saw X is connected to previous Saw movies, it functions more as a standalone sequel. It features the triumphant return of actors Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith as the Jigsaw killer and his apprentice. They delivered some of the franchise’s best performances and reinvigorated the Saw franchise 18 years later.

6 Paranormal Activity 3

Christi and Katie in the Paranormal Activity 3 mirror scene.

After the first sequel attempted to recreate Paranormal Activity‘s success too formulaically, the franchise received a much-needed jolt with Paranormal Activity 3. Refreshing the franchise deftly, Paranormal Activity 3 has several great scares and an effective expansion of the original’s narrative. Set almost 18 years before Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Activity 3 centers much of its horror on two young girls — and is all the more tense for it. With far less subtlety than the original, Paranormal Activity 3 truly upped the franchise’s ability to be terrifying.

5 The Conjuring 2

Bill Wilkins jumping out of the wall to attack Janet in The Conjuring 2.

The Conjuring 2 is perhaps the only sequel in The Conjuring franchise that lives up to the original’s reputation. Based on a terrifying true story of a poltergeist in Enfield, England, The Conjuring 2 depicts Ed and Loraine Warren as they investigate a family whose home is invaded by a malevolent spirit. It received far more favorable reviews than its predecessor Annabelle, or the subsequent movies in the franchise.

4 A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Freddy in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is often cited as the fan-favorite Freddy Krueger movie. After the disappointing second movie, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors reoriented the series to conclude the original protagonist, Nancy’s, storyline. With a slew of impeccable nightmare sequences and death scenes, it features some of Freddy Kruger’s most iconic kills. It is also the movie that began infusing humor into the franchise, which some argue ruined the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. Regardless, this became an essential part of the character, and is thus the perfect sequel for viewers looking for a scary but fully formed Freddy.

3 Child’s Play 2

Chucky in Child's Play 2

Child’s Play 2 is the most iconic movie in the Chucky franchise. It features some of the most memorable kills in the series and picks up right where the original left off, continuing the story of the main character, Andy Barclay. Child’s Play 2 is widely regarded as the fan-favorite of the franchise, praised for slowly introducing a smattering of dark humor, containing more elaborate kills, and a more centralized performance from Chucky.

2 Dawn Of The Dead

The dead in Dawn of the Dead

George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead introduced the world to the flesh-eating undead zombies now associated with the genre. While it is a fantastic zombie movie, Romero’s sequel is arguably better. Dawn of the Dead recommences the zombie apocalypse, following a fresh series of survivors after the United States has been completely devastated. Impressively, Dawn of the Dead created more iconic zombie scenes and tropes than its predecessor did. This was largely achieved through the social commentary Romero weaved into the movie and the stellar special effects from the “king of gore,” Tom Savini.

1 Evil Dead 2

Ash with the chainsaw in Evil Dead II

Evil Dead 2 is widely regarded as the greatest horror sequel ever. It reoriented Sam Rami’s terrifying and gruesome original to the darkly comic splatter-fest the franchise is largely known for. Much like James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein, Evil Dead 2 is almost a spoof of its precursor, filled with a laughable amount of blood and an iconic, self-aware performance from Bruce Campbell. Subsequent sequels have shifted the franchise rather successfully back to its more horrifying origins, but Evil Dead 2 remains steadfast as a franchise highlight and one of horror’s best sequels.