12 Great Horror Movie Sequels You Shouldn't Miss

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

Like a perfectly-timed jump scare in a slasher flick, sequels to successful horror films are inevitable. Horror movie sequels tend to get a bad rap, whether for relying on ridiculous gimmicks (remember when Jason Voorhees went to space?) or completely invalidating the originals. But for the hundreds of just plain bad sequels out there, there are some gems that occasionally rival—or even outshine—their predecessors.

We spoke with some experts in the world of horror about the second, third, and even sixth franchise installments that deserve a spot on your binge-watching list this Halloween season.

1. BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)

One of the earliest horror movie sequels ever produced also happens to be one of the genre’s best. Not long after Universal found success with Frankenstein in 1931, director James Whale and star Boris Karloff returned to make the second part of the story. Bride of Frankenstein was a commercial and critical success, and is widely considered not only one of the best horror sequels, but one of the best sequels to a classic film ever made.

“James Whale took all that was fascinating, horrifying, and darkly humorous in the original and elevated it all,” James Kendrick, professor and director of undergraduate studies in the department of film and digital media at Baylor University, tells Mental Floss. “A postmodern horror masterpiece before anyone knew [what] postmodernism was.”

2. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987)

Eight Nightmare on Elm Street movies have been released since the original hit theaters in 1984, but not every sequel (or reboot) was created equal. According to Fangoria contributor Anya Novak, 1987’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors stands out from the pack. “It leaves Elm Street behind for the bulk of the story, and it dares to give the victims supernatural agency that they didn't have in the previous two films,” she tells Mental Floss. “It all makes for a fresh entry in the series, a rare win for any third film in a horror franchise.”

3. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)

The Halloween series made a bold move with its third installment by ignoring most of the elements that made the original film successful. Instead of standard slasher fare, Halloween III: Season of the Witch features supernatural themes that play with the holiday’s pagan roots—and Michael Myers is nowhere to be found. “This third installment of the Halloween franchise drew some ire from fans upon its release for dispensing with the franchise’s iconic killer,” Andrea Subissati, executive editor of Rue Morgue, tells Mental Floss. “Still, the years have been kind to it, and it’s now considered one of the superior entries to the franchise.”

John Carpenter and Debra Hill, the creators of Halloween, envisioned the franchise becoming an anthology series of standalone stories all taking place on Halloween, with Season of the Witch being the first. But due to the commercial disappointment of the film, this premise never took off and Myers was brought back for Halloween 4.

4. ALIENS (1986)

James Cameron’s Aliens set the bar high for every horror-sci-fi sequel that came after it. Instead of attempting to recreate Ridley Scott’s original masterpiece, Cameron made the story his own, and produced a instant classic in the process. “When visionary director James Cameron took the reins on this sequel to 1979’s Alien, he imbued it with a generous heaping of action and comedy,” Subissati says. “Good sequels effectively up the ante of the original, and Aliens accomplishes this in spades.”

5. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES (1986)

Friday the 13th is a rare case where the franchise as a whole is more iconic than any one film. But ask horror movie fans to name the best of the decades-worth of sequels and many will say Jason Lives. “While it plays by most of the rules of the Friday the 13th series, it has a tone all its own,” Kendrick says. “Still gory and occasionally scary, Jason Lives is above all funny, a largely enjoyable near-spoof of slasher films in general and the Friday the 13th series in particular.”

In the sixth installment of the series, Tommy Jarvis exhumes Jason’s body with plans to cremate it, but ends up resurrecting the mass-murderer instead. Self-aware humor and scenes that break the fourth wall make Jason Lives one the most original films of the franchise.

6. DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

George A. Romero’s influential Night of the Living Dead (1968) has spawned numerous sequels, remakes, and parodies—the most memorable of which may be its direct follow-up. With Dawn of the Dead, Romero returned to the zombie apocalypse he had created in 1968 to explore new themes, like the pitfalls of modern consumerism. According to Novak, “You'd be hard-pressed to find a better example of acerbic wit than in the cynical allegory of Romero's Dawn of the Dead. It's a devastating masterpiece in the genre.”

7. 28 WEEKS LATER (2007)

If Night of the Living Dead created the zombie genre, Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (2000), which follows the spread of a highly contagious virus, reinvented it. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo had a tough act to follow, but his sequel exceeded many fans' expectations. The film starts with an attack on an isolated farmhouse, and according to Matt Barone, senior programmer for the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, it’s one of the best opening scenes of any horror movie.

“It's one of the few times where on first viewing, a horror sequel convinced me it'd be better than its predecessor within the first 10 minutes," Barone tells Mental Floss. "And yes, I do believe that 28 Weeks Later is the superior of the two films."

8. BLADE II (2002)

Blade (1998), a movie based on a Marvel comic book character who uses his vampire superpowers to protect humans, is more than just a horror flick. It also fits the action and superhero genres, and legendary director Guillermo del Toro embraced all these elements when he signed on to helm the sequel. The result, Blade II, has become a cult classic like this first. “It’s this hyper-violent, pre-MCU comic book horror show,” Fangoria contributor Jacob Knight tells Mental Floss. “It’s essentially the Aliens of vampire movies!”

9. THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005)

For the follow-up to his 2003 directorial debut House of a 1000 Corpses, Rob Zombie made the sadistic villains from the first film his protagonists. The sequel maintains the gory 1970s exploitation style of the original while also demonstrating Zombie’s growth as a director. “How much of a quantum leap forward The Devil's Rejects is for Zombie as a filmmaker following House of 1000 Corpses can't be understated,” Barone says. “Whereas its predecessor showed promise but ultimately felt like a horror fan just having fun with some new toys, The Devil's Rejects is a heart-attack serious cinematic middle finger aimed at American horror's inability to produce any real in-your-face nightmare fuel in the wake of Scream [1996]."

10. EVIL DEAD II (1987)

In 1981, Sam Raimi shocked theatergoers with his gore-fueled horror flick The Evil Dead. The movie grew into a cult classic, and instead of following it with a more conventional sequel, Raimi decided to give 1987’s Evil Dead II a comedic spin. 

“Is it a remake? A sequel? It’s both," Kendrick says. "The brilliance of Sam Raimi’s rehash of his low-budget debut is that it takes everything that was wonderfully demented and outrageously gory and pours it on even heavier.” The third installment in the franchise, Army of Darkness, was also well-received by Evil Dead fans.

11. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)

Despite its visceral name, Tobe Hooper’s original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre took a minimalist approach to gore, choosing to keep most of the carnage just off-camera. With The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, the director abandoned that style, and many fans were happier for it. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is everything a horror sequel should be: bigger, bloodier, and a lot more fun,” Novak says.

12. THE EXORCIST III (1990)

Largely due to the underwhelming mess that was Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), the third part of the series has largely been forgotten, but if you’re a fan of the original it’s worth checking out. William Peter Blatty, who wrote the screenplay for The Exorcist (1973) and the novel upon which it’s based, returned to write and direct The Exorcist III. The movie may not fully recapture the horror that made William Friedkin's original film a classic of the genre, but it does provide some genuine scares.

“[It's] one of the more overlooked and underrated sequels of all time,” Subissati says. “George C. Scott and Brad Dourif offer some of their best performances on the screen in this cult classic.”

Netflix Promises That The Office Isn't Going Anywhere, Despite Reports to the Contrary

NBCUniversal, Inc.
NBCUniversal, Inc.

With all of the streaming sites available, deciding which one to choose can sometimes be just as difficult as figuring out what to watch once you get there. But one thing is certain: For Netflix users, The Office never fails. Which explains why Dunder Mifflin devotees panicked when they heard that the NBC series would be leaving the streaming giant's library. Fortunately, Netflix quickly took to Twitter to reassure fans that the Steve Carell-starring comedy isn’t going anywhere ... until at least 2021.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that NBCUniversal might want to take back its rights to The Office in order to put the series on their own streaming site, which is not yet live. This, of course, sent fans into a frenzy. Many took to social media to share how upset they were that their favorite workplace comedy might be disappearing. (A similar situation happened with Friends, another one of Netflix's most popular shows, back in December.)

Although The Office aficionados can breathe a sigh of relief—at least for now—Marvel fans haven't been so lucky. Disney has started to remove its movies along with Netflix’s Marvel shows like The Punisher and Daredevil. The new streaming service Disney+ will drop in November and will feature Marvel films, as well as original series—plus the entire Star Wars franchise.

With all the changes, it’s not difficult to become paranoid that your favorite show might be taken off your preferred streaming service. Better to binge what you can now while it’s still available.

16 Jaw-Dropping Facts About Cirque du Soleil

Hannah Peters, Getty Images
Hannah Peters, Getty Images

Since its founding in 1984, the contemporary circus Cirque du Soleil has performed for more than 180 million people in 450 cities on every continent but Antarctica. In other words: There’s probably a Cirque show near you right now … or there will be soon.

For the uninitiated, Cirque du Soleil—which celebrates its 35th anniversary in July 2019—features a mix of circus acts, street performance, unparalleled acrobatic feats and the avant-garde. And no matter the show’s theme, technology always plays a role—the Montreal-based company, now one of the largest live theatrical companies in business, consistently ups its game with state-of-the-art stages, special effects and world-class stunts. Read on to learn even more jaw-dropping facts about Cirque du Soleil.

  1. Cirque du Soleil began as a troupe of 20 street performers.

Cirque du Soleil has its roots in Les Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul (the Baie-Saint-Paul Stiltwalkers), a group that performed acts like fire-breathing and juggling on the streets of Baie-Saint-Paul in Quebec, Canada, in the early 1980s. One of the troupe's members was Guy Laliberté, who eschewed a college education to join the group; in 1984, he presented a proposal to the Canadian government for a company of performers that would tour across the country to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier's discovery of Canada. Laliberté landed a $1 million contract to make the proposal a reality, which led to the incorporation of the group as a non-profit under the name Cirque du Soleil.

  1. The name Cirque du Soleil means "Circus of the Sun."

"When I need to take time to reenergize, I go somewhere by the ocean to sit back and watch the sunsets. That is where the idea of 'Soleil' came from, on a beach in Hawaii, and because the Sun is the symbol of youth and energy," Laliberté explained to Fortune in 2011.

  1. Las Vegas has six permanent Cirque du Soleil shows.

Cirque du Soleil's first show had 10 acts and hit 15 cities in Quebec. Now, there are 23 Cirque du Soleil shows worldwide, including six permanent shows in Las Vegas and 12 that are on tour. Though it's hard to determine the most popular show, Cirque du Soleil calls Alegría—which ran from 1994 to 2013 before being "reinterpreted in a renewed version" in 2019—one of its “most beloved shows,” with 6600 performances for more than 14 million audience members around the world. That’s a lot of tickets.

  1. Mystère is the longest-running Cirque du Soleil show.

Cirque’s first permanent show in Las Vegas, Mystère has also been on stage the longest of all Cirque productions. This lighthearted, family-friendly show opened in 1993 at Treasure Island and features a classic Cirque du Soleil mix of gymnastics and trapeze.

  1. Cirque du Soleil shows are incredibly expensive to produce.

For example, —which premiered in 2005—cost at least $165 million to create, making it one of the most expensive theatrical productions in history (to compare, the Spider-Man musical, Broadway’s most expensive show, had cost estimates about half that). Much of the budget was for technical feats, including a battle scene featuring acrobats on wires fighting vertically. Sadly, it was during the battle sequence that aerialist Sarah Guillot-Guyard died in 2013. It was Cirque du Soleil’s first onstage fatality.

  1. There’s even a Cirque du Soleil show on ice.

Crystal, Cirque’s “first experience on ice,” premiered in December 2017 in Quebec City and Montreal. It’s basically the choreographed stunts you’d expect from Cirque du Soleil but everybody’s on skates.

  1. Many Cirque du Soleil casts include former Olympians.

Cirque du Soleil employs 1300 performers from 50 different countries, and Cirque says about 40 percent of its artists come from disciplines like rhythmic gymnastics and diving. To that end, in 2016, Cirque had 22 Olympians (including two medalists) on stage in a variety of roles, from high-flying trampoline acts to synchronized swimmers. That’s not to mention the many performers who are recruited from national gymnastics teams.

  1. Cirque du Soleil cast members train extensively.

Before being cast in a specific show, prospective performers attend artistic and acrobatic training at Cirque du Soleil’s international headquarters in Montreal. Depending on the show and the role, cast members then do daily training and warm-ups, sometimes lasting more than 90 minutes, along with regular rehearsals. The daily work-outs can include weight lifting, stretching, handstands, pull-ups, sit-ups, and rope work.

  1. The kitchens on Cirque du Soleil tours use up to 3000 pounds of food a week.

Traveling Cirque shows have a team of around five chefs who pump out meals for cast and crew each day. Menus change daily and incorporate local specialties in whatever city the show lands (think: bison in Denver; étouffée in Louisiana). In a 2017 interview, Cirque kitchen manager Paola Muller said that the kitchen can run through 2000 to 3000 pounds of food a week. A 2016 Thrillist article notes that 90 to 100 pounds of protein are served at each meal, and there’s a salad bar with 22 ingredients.

  1. Cirque du Soleil takes safety seriously—but the stunts are still dangerous.

Cirque du Soleil cast members pull off dangerous stunts on the regular. But even with stringent safety systems in place (some performers have called them “annoying”), injuries and accidents happen. According to Vanity Fair there were 53 injuries at the permanent Las Vegas shows in 2012, and in 2018, an aerialist was killed in Florida during a performance of Volta.

  1. Princess Diana was an early fan of Cirque du Soleil.

She took Princes Harry and William to an early performance by the group in 1990. In early 2019, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, attended a Cirque du Soleil charity performance; the duchess wore one of Diana's bracelets and a dress inspired by one of her late mother-in-law's looks.

  1. Cirque du Soleil has an outreach program based on the “social circus.”

Established in 1995, Cirque du Monde supports the philosophy that circus arts can be used as interventions for at-risk youth, creating confidence and community for kids who need it. This idea is referred to as “the social circus”; this and other global citizen campaigns have reached 100,000 kids in 50 countries.

  1. Some costume pieces in Cirque du Soleil's O are made out of shower curtains.

The costumes for all Cirque shows are unique in that they have to be not only stunning but also athletically practical and safe. Cirque’s Montreal Costume Workshop employs 300 full-time artisans, including shoemakers, milliners, and textile designers.

Each costume’s evolution requires a lot of ingenuity—and trial and error. Take, for instance, Cirque’s water show, O, in Las Vegas. Some costume pieces are made out of shower curtains, pipe cleaners, or bits of foam to make them float in the water. The wardrobe staff here does 60 loads of laundry a night to keep the 4800 costumes and accessories clean, and there’s a totally separate room dedicated to drying, complete with specialized heaters.

  1. Luzia is the first Cirque show in Spanish.

Although Cirque du Soleil shows don’t regularly rely on speaking parts (that’s what the mimes are for!), Luzia is the first show to be entirely en Español. Luzia’s title combines two Spanish words—luz for “light” and lluvia for “rain”—and features a state-of-the-art rain curtain and revolving stage.

  1. You can experience Cirque du Soleil in VR.

A natural extension of the Cirque experience? Virtual reality. In 2018, MK2, a Paris-based company specializing in VR cinemas, acquired distribution rights to four Cirque shows, co-produced by Canada’s Felix & Paul. Now, you can experience moments from , Kurios, Luzia, and O on Google Daydream, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, and more.

  1. Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles LOVE has been onstage longer than the Beatles.

Cirque’s Beatles show, LOVE, has been on stage since 2006. The Beatles were together for around a decade, from 1960 (or '62, if you're going by when Ringo Starr joined, and when they released their first single) to 1970. LOVE remains a stalwart of the Cirque canon, regularly selling about 75 to 90 percent theater capacity, and is at the top of many Vegas “must dos.”

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