I had originally planned to write this article for December, before the Blood Rage that was the American Psycho Remake.
Time has eased my rage, and that movie has thankfully been shelved and we’re in a new year so let’s go…
I am a child of movies, but my taste in movies has always been a little off. I like Temple of Doom more than Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Highlander II is one of my favorite movies of all time…
…and on more than one occasion it has been brought to my attention that I have a nearly unhealthy affection for quote/unquote“Bad Sequels.”
But, truthfully I don’t see it like that, I think that, although flawed in some ways, the Campy/Comedy Sequel has value, hell it must since there is a whole sub-genre of horror devoted to them.
This is my Top Nine Horror Comedy Sequels, they’re not always better than the originals… but they are still worth watching…
Top Nine Horror Comedy Sequels
#9 Gremlins 2
This is an easy one to start off the list. Gremlins is one of the best movies about little creatures killing a bunch of people. And the sequel is miles above the original in almost every sense.
Transplanting the action from a small New England town, to a glitzy New York skyscraper, Gremlins 2 has much more with which to work.
It’s faster, brighter and the movie is obviously not taking its premise seriously at all.
With strong performances from Christopher Lee, John Glover and Robert Picardo helping to prop up less than stellar Zack Gallagan and Phoebe Cates.
But truthfully, as good as the actors are, it’s the Gremlins we’re really watching…
The creature effects, while outstanding in the first movie, are taken to a whole new level in Gremlins 2, with each gremlin really getting a personality… and yes, the Female gremlin as my personal favorite.
But the standout is, of course, the Intelligent Gremlin.
Giving the gremlins an understandable mouthpiece, allowed the movie to really mock our own twisted consumer driven culture of the late 80’s, something I already noted in December. Suddenly the Gremlins actually wanted something and could tell you what that was.
This transformed of the Gremlins from homogenous mischief makers into actual creatures of intent and, though twisted, humanity.
Gremlins 2 is a great example of taking an idea and pushing it to the edge of sanity and letting is balance on the edge.
#8 Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
I’ll admit, I saw this movie before The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and that colored my opinion of the first movie. Massacre 2 is pure batshit insane and I love every moment, from the opening kill to the final insane rampage, this isn’t just my favorite of the truly awesome Massacre Series… and I do like 4 and 3 (in that order) this is also hands down my favorite Dennis Hopper movie.
The scene where Lefty is testing out the chain saws, and he goes crazy on that log… well I’ve seen that sorta manic glee in person, and I don’t stop on the back roads in Texas for a reason… or even slow down, really…
I can’t completely speak to the motives of Tobe Hooper, I know he wrote this as a comedy, but he has claimed that there was humor in the first one. I’ve seen it, and I didn’t get the jokes…
That said, if this movie were taking itself more seriously it would fall under the dubious classification of torture porn. With the exception of L.G. and Stretch there really aren’t any sympathetic characters… unless you count the Sawyers. The Family relationship, bickering and teasing, seems oddly natural.
We don’t make a habit of cannibalism, but my family has very similar interactions around Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July.
Charlie Chaplin is credited as saying, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”
While the original is visceral and disturbing, this far more violent sequel shows that there is little difference between brutality and comedy.
#7 The Return of the Living Dead
Once again I saw this movie before seeing the masterpiece that was Dawn of the Dead. This movie is what happens when you let Dan O’Bannon write your zombie script. It’s funny and violent and has some of the best make up effects of the time.
While retaining some connection to the original Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, as with Massacre 2, bumps up the humor… well, adds humor really. As good as many people believe Night of the Living Dead to be, it can be a hell of a slog to get through… but with the humor and slap sticky violence of Return of the Living Dead, the more hyper audiences of my generation are kept interested.
It should not come as a surprise to anyone who read the title of this video, that I am far more interested in being entertained by a horror movie than be scared by one. None of the movies on this list could legitimately be called scary, hell this movie follows two certifiable idiots for the first half, but there is, at least, an attempt to explain the motives of the zombies: Being dead is very painful, and eating the brains of the living is the only way to alleviate that pain.
Of course, how the recently resurrected dead know that eating the brains of the living will do the trick is not explained… and this ignores that the ghouls in the first movie didn’t eat just the brain… nor do the zombies in this movie…
Maybe, an explanation wasn’t really needed…
Ooo, Linnea Quigley in white body paint…
#6 Return of the Killer Tomatoes
Most people would probably question why this movie is so high on the list, but the truth is this movie is the movie that got me thinking about sequels.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is a ho-hum parody of monster movies pushed to the extreme, but the Return of the Killer Tomatoes, while still knowing that is it a joke of a movie, is actually funny, and one of the more subtle post-apocalyptic movies of the 80’s.
And before you question me on this, the main character works in a Pizza parlor in a world that has outlawed tomatoes, when was the last time you had a pizza without tomato sauce?
Because of the Tomato War in the first movie, everyone is still terrified, but some still try to import tomatoes from Mexico and South America, where they are still legal to grow.
The villain, played by John Astin, imports tomatoes to turn into muscle freak henchmen… and the amazingly… talented… Karen Waldron…
…oh and FT. I so wanted one of these when I was a kid, and supposedly you can get one from somewhere, but I’ve never been able to find one.
Also yes, that is George Clooney in one of his earlier roles, and he actually looks like he’s having fun here. Much more fun than he seemed to have in The Descendants or Up in the Air… seriously, what the hell George…
#5 Critters 2
This is a little hard to describe why I really like this movie… I guess it come down to the simple nature of the Cinemax afternoon movie that this really is…
The premise is not complicated, has nudity in a PG-13 movie, graphic fast-food based violence and absolutely adorable creatures.
And I’m serious; I think these things are cuter than the maugwai from Gremlins, even with the teeth, plus they are total asses…
One of the original Critters was put up for auction and I added a link on my website.
The Bounty Hunters, played by Terrence Mann and Roxanne Kernohan are excellent. Mann reprising his role from the first movie, is outstanding in his deadpan delivery of even the most ludicrous lines.
Critters 2 is the sort of movie you can turn on and watch bits and pieces and still understand what’s going on.
Truly a guilty Pleasure.
Also Siskel and Ebert both hated it, so it has that going for it…
#4 Waxwork 2
Zach Gallagan making his second appearance on this list, and the Eternal Bruce Campbell making his first.
What can I say, this is a really fun example of throwing ideas against a wall and seeing what sticks. Unfortunately, not much did. The idea of jumping through time and space to stop an evil villain is a great idea, and even the way they applied that idea was very imaginative.
The downfall of Waxwork 2 is that no one at the time wanted that movie, and so far very few people want it today, which is a shame. Waxwork 2 was not good enough to get a sequel at the time and is not really bad enough to be a cult movie today. But, really, that too is a shame because the filmmakers had a good sense of how to connect many different types of horror movies, from classic monsters to space aliens, and how to keep the tone serious but still playful. Modern movies have a lot to learn from Waxwork 2, but most aren’t listening.
#3 Alien Resurrection
And now, I lose all credibility, and I’m okay with that. I love Alien Resurrection. It is also known to most readers of my blog that I am a Jean-Pierre Jeunet fanboy. This is my fanboy super movie: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Joss Whedon, Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, Micheal Wincott, Brad Dourif and Leland Orser.
Just reading that list, makes me what to watch this movie again. I love it, I love it, I love. I can watch it at the drop of a hat, I saw it five times in the theater and bought it in every format it was released. I know I should be ashamed of this choice, but it fuck it, I’m watching it again right now!
Alien: Resurrection is the only film Jeunet has directed that he is not credited as writer. While departing from some of the tropes of his other films, Ripley and Call, take on the role of the sympathetic protagonist and Ron Perlman and Dominique Pinon are eccentric supporting characters that lighten the more horrific tone of the overall film.
#2 Evil Dead 2/Army of Darkness
Well hello Mr. Fancypants…
How can I have a list of Horror Sequels and not include one of the Evils Dead? SO I put both sequels on this list, once again unable to keep the list to a true nine. Evil Dead 2 is a remake/sequel, though I have heard some people try to justify it being a straight sequel, but there is too much overlap to disregard the remake that is the first hour of the movie. The reason I like Evil Dead 2 more than The Evil Dead is, once again, the humor. All the parts that were truly frightening about The Evil Dead are made is better by the humor of Evil Dead 2.
Would the scene with Ash alone in the cabin be as scary without the talking stuffed deer, maybe, but the movie would not have gotten the cult status.
And as for Army of Darkness, would Bruce Campbell be half as cool if he didn’t get to say these classic lines: “First you wanna kill me, now you wanna kiss me. Blow.” Or “Gimme some sugar baby!” Or “Klaatu! Barada! Nikbbgh!”
Or my personal favorite, “Good, Bad, I’m the guy with the gun.” This is a movie I quote daily, nearly hourly.
#1 House 2
I wouldn’t be surprised if few of you have heard of this little gem, most people have never heard of House 1. No, this is a movie version of the Hugh Laurie TV show. This is actually a horror franchise with three sequels
House 2 is an in name only sequel to House I, though they had the same production team. House 1 was a serious psychological horror movie about a man tormented by his past and that torment is made manifest by his House. It is actually a very good low budget horror movie and is not as poorly received as its sequels.
All that said, I still like House 2 a billion times better. House 2 is funny, infinitely rewatchable, and a good example of taking a simple idea from the first movie and taking it in a different direction. In many ways House 2 is like Halloween III, both stretched the original premise to separate extremes. House 2 is about a guy who inherits the eponymous House and an old Crystal skull that has the power to bridge dimensions and raise the dead. There is action, adventure and romance. I don’t want to spoil anything in this movie, because I want everyone to go out and rent it from Netflix or buy the DVD.
And there you have it, my Top Nine Horror Sequels… now to start working on March, maybe I can have that one out before
April May June July August September October November is due… one can dream…
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