Evil Dead is a low-budget horror classic. Its sequel, conveniently titled Evil Dead II, came out six years after the original and is also a classic — an amped-up version of the first film that adds more humour and gore with the help of a larger budget. However, not every “part 2” in the scary-movie realm manages to complement the first in its series so grandly, but turns out there are quite a few.
We’re not saying these first sequels are better than the original (though sometimes they are). We’re also not taking into account movies that aren’t specifically the second film in the series (though sometimes, you’ll get an outstandingly superior part three, four, or higher; the horror genre does love to reinvent itself). And we’re sticking to horror — so Aliens and Predator 2 fans, we are right there with you, but those lean a little more sci-fi so we’re leaving them off this particular list.
You’ll also notice it heavily (but not exclusively!) favours titles with the actual numeral two in them. So today Gizmodo is celebrating 17 part twos that bring us joy — blood-splattered, terrifying joy…starting with Sam Raimi’s 1987 Evil Dead II, starring Bruce Campbell, a chainsaw, some wildly malevolent trees, the Necronomicon, and a whole lot of cackling Deadites.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Released in 1986, 12 years after the original, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II has a few things in common with Evil Dead II: it takes a more comedic approach to its gruesome subject matter, enjoys a bigger budget, and features numerous scenes involving chainsaws. TCM II also widened the first film’s scope with more elaborate sets and set pieces, featured jaw-dropping (and skull-slicing) effects by the legendary Tom Savini, and brought a genuine Hollywood star (Dennis Hopper, as a lawman out for revenge) into the fold.
The Conjuring 2
In 2013, James Wan’s The Conjuring — which gave audiences compelling characters to care about, a supernatural mystery to puzzle over, and an abundance of legit frights — earned critical praise while raking it in at the box office. Unsurprisingly, a sequel followed three years later; it sent demon busters Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) to England to investigate a new haunting. While The Conjuring 2 is definitely interested in expanding the world of the first film, working in tangents involving The Amityville Horror house and an evil nun into the proceedings, it never slacks on its main objective: to scare the bejesus out of you.
Bride of Frankenstein
Made well before horror sequels were a regular part of the Hollywood routine, 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein re-teamed director James Whale and stars Boris Karloff and Colin Clive to explore what happened after 1931’s Frankenstein. The presumed-dead Monster (Karloff) returns, as presumed-dead movie monsters tend to do, and the tale brings in a new antagonist in the form of Ernest Thesiger’s unscrupulous mentor Dr. Pretorius, who convinces Frankenstein (Clive) to help him construct a “mate” for you-know-who. Elsa Lanchester — who does double duty as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in the movie’s frame story and the Bride of the Monster — isn’t actually onscreen very much, but the huge impression she leaves (both on the story and the horror genre itself) is undeniable.
Dawn of the Dead
The only other movie on this list without a “two” in the title is George A. Romero’s essential zombie sequel, released a decade after 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. The movie cleverly takes aim at braindead consumerism by setting the action in an abandoned shopping mall, and intensifies the flesh-gnawing impact of the first film with outstanding Tom Savini special effects, rendered in glorious full colour this time.
Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
Nightmare on Elm Street 2 — which came out just a year after the original — plays fast and loose with Freddy Krueger’s powers, allowing the dream-bound killer to slip into the “real world” in a tweak the series would not revisit until 1994’s meta-slasher Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. This formerly under-appreciated sequel sets itself apart with its queer subtext which was apparently mostly unintentional on the part of the filmmakers. But now, it’s plainly obvious and the main reason why fans of the series have come to celebrate it as a landmark in slasher cinema. Also definitely worth a watch, if you haven’t already, is the 2019 documentary Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, which explores the film’s complicated legacy through the eyes of lead actor Mark Patton.
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End
Having recently watched all seven (yes, seven) Wrong Turn movies for, uh, research purposes, we feel confident in saying that Wrong Turn 2: Dead End is not just the only Wrong Turn movie you ever need to watch, it’s also a mighty fun B-movie stuffed full of some of the grossest special effects ever to emerge from the backwoods.
The Hills Have Eyes Part II
Let’s start this one off in the most confusing way possible. The 2007 Hills Have Eyes 2 is not a remake of this film, but rather a sequel to the 2006 remake of 1977’s The Hills Have Eyes. And while 2007 Hills Have Eyes 2 has its charms, we’re here to praise Wes Craven’s 1985 follow-up to his cult classic about mutants in the desert attacking a road-tripping suburban family (and vice versa). Its most wondrous accomplishment is finding a reason for any character associated with that film to want to return to the gruesome scene of the crime; that the reason involves dirt-bike racing (with bonus subplot about a newly invented super-powered fuel) is just icing on the B-movie cake.
Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Released four years after Poltergeist, 1986’s Poltergeist II teaches the unfortunate Freeling family a sticky lesson that goes something like “you can escape the house built over the graveyard, but you can’t escape the graveyard’s hunger for your soul.” Without the hovering presence of Stephen Spielberg, there’s perceptibly less magic in this sequel, which also features some dated stereotyping of Native American mysticism — a holdover from the original film that’s unfortunately amplified here. But Poltergeist II does have quite the scary villain in Rev. Kane (Julian Beck), the corporeal form of “the Beast” who stalks the Freelings’ young daughter not from the static of their TV, but in broad freaking daylight.
We love Don Coscarelli’s entire Phantasm series for a lot of reasons, one being that it raises all kinds of weirdly awesome ideas and doesn’t feel the need to explain most of them. The sequel, which came out nine years after the 1979 original, brought back Angus Scrimm (as the terrifying Tall Man) and Reggie Bannister (as the indefatigable Reggie), but re-cast the lead role of Mike with the then up-and-coming James LeGros — something that miffed fans back in 1988, but now feels sorta like another appropriately surreal element in Phantasm’s trippy, nightmarish world.
Friday the 13th Part II
The killer in the first film was, famously, Jason’s mother — the distraught yet deadly Mrs. Voorhees. The equally good second film, released in 1981 (a year after the original), demonstrates that her suddenly hulking son has inherited the urge to slaughter camp counselors and, really, any unfortunate person who ventures too close to Crystal Lake. But don’t go looking for the hockey mask; Jason doesn’t pick up his signature accessory until Friday the 13th Part III.
It’s not our favourite Halloween sequel, but Rick Rosenthal’s follow-up still has its moments (we’ve said it before, but the casual inclusion of a trick-or-treater on the wrong side of a razor blade-embedded candy bar actually eclipses most of Michael Myers’ deeds in this one, as far as sheer stomach-turning horror goes.) But props to Halloween II must be paid for doing a decent job of picking up exactly where the 1978 original ended (three years after the fact), and for transforming cotton-candy ditty “Mr. Sandman” into nerve-jangling nightmare fodder.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Direct sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser II came out a year after 1987’s Hellraiser and follows that film’s teenage survivor, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), now in a psychiatric hospital dealing with the aftermath of her close brush with Pinhead and his buddies from the Cenobite dimension. Of course, once you summon an eager race of sadomasochistic beings, they prove incredibly difficult to shoo away, especially when everyone around you (Kirsty’s doctor, her suddenly resurrected stepmother, etc.) is deeply entangled in their world. “Time to play” is the perfectly sinister tagline for this one. No, it is not time! Nor will it ever be time! Creepy-good movie though.
Damien: Omen II
Whatever happened to Satan’s little pride and joy? Damien: Omen II — which came out in 1978, two years after The Omen — shifts the action ahead seven years, allowing us to check out what a 12-year-old Antichrist might get up to. The “horrible unexplained accidents” that occur in Damien Thorn’s orbit (here, he’s played by the ruddy-cheeked Jonathan Scott-Taylor) are just as gruesomely spectacular as you’d expect (death by frozen lake, death by fright-induced heart attack, death by having one’s eyes pecked out by birds and then being run over by a truck), because Satan is nothing if not creative.
Child’s Play II
Two years after 1988’s Child’s Play introduced the world to the baddest “Good Guys” doll ever to be embodied by the spirit of a serial killer, a sequel was definitely in order. More or less orphaned by Chucky’s antics in the first film, young Andy (Alex Vincent) goes into foster care, where he befriends tough teen Kyle (Christine Elise) and tries to put his life back together — while the manufacturers of the Good Guys dolls try to put their brand back together by sending more Chuckys out into the world. You can guess what happens next, but you won’t regret revisiting (or watching for the first time!) this spirited sequel that pits kids against a monster who’s the size of a kid but a million times meaner. Child’s Play 2 is such a fan favourite that creator Don Mancini recently told Entertainment Weekly that Chucky’s appearance in his upcoming Syfy/USA series pays specific homage to this film, out of all the films in the series.
A horror sequel so legendary it dubbed itself “the best worst movie” and nobody argued.
Director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson’s 1996 Scream won audiences over by being a witty, self-referential examination of slasher tropes while also being a genuinely scary, gory slasher movie itself. A year later, their Scream 2 did the same thing, this time calling out slasher sequels while delivering a film that, once again, followed “the rules” (as outlined by Jamie Kennedy’s horror-nerd character in the clip above) but also remained unpredictable until the very end.