If you’re like us, you’ve probably spent a good (possibly unhealthy!) chunk of your October watching lots and lots of horror movies. But if you watch too many, you’ll start to notice a pattern. Horror movies seem to be the genre most prone to sequelizing and rebootinating — there are five Wrong Turns and six Leprechauns, for Chrissakes — and the results are seldom worth a damn. The logic is easy to understand; with horror, the genre itself (rather than big-name stars or mind-blowing special effects) is the marketable element, so once the connection has been made, it’s easy to go back for seconds. And horror movies are constructed accordingly, with doors left open for sequels and series. Most are just awful. But some aren’t; occasionally, the ingenuity and inventiveness of a good chiller will return in its follow-up. So, as you’re putting together your Halloween DVD stacks, allow us to help you separate the pop from the pap; our dozen horror sequels that (contrary to expectation) are not terrible are after the jump.
Dawn of the Dead
George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead revolutionized the horror genre, but it sure didn’t feel like it for the filmmaker—though efforts like The Crazies and Martin have since gained cult success, he couldn’t match the audacity and impact of his initial effort. So a decade after leaving that Pittsburgh farmhouse, Romero got back in the zombie biz, with equally memorable results. Dawn of the Dead replicated the original film’s unflinching gore and pervading sense of dread handily; it also substituted the original film’s occasional touches of ham-handed melodrama with surprisingly sharp social satire, the film’s shopping mall setting allowing Romero to take a well-timed poke at consumerist culture.