10 Poorly Rated Horror Movie Sequels That Don't Actually Suck
No matter how many times Rotten Tomatoes has gotten it wrong before (see here, here, here and here for starters), the movie and TV show review aggregator is still a popular resource for people trying decide whether a movie is worth their time. But by its crowdsourced nature, the collective recommendations Rotten Tomatoes provides will not always line up with your personal opinion -- or ours.
This seems to be particularly true when it comes to horror movies -- and even more so with horror movie sequels. It's a divisive subgenre largely because so many of them rely on simply rehashing the formula used in the franchise's original, but there are more than a few gems out there that have been wrongly maligned, like the 10 scary sequels below.
Bride of Chucky (1998)
Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Katherine Heigl
Director: Ronny Yu
Tomatometer reading: 46%
Why it's worth seeing: Speaking of Brad Dourif: While he scored a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, his ultimate legacy will be as the voice of homicidal "Good Guy" doll Chucky in the Child's Play series. Like so many horror franchises before it, Child's Play got sillier with each new installment (which is saying something). But maybe that was a good thing, because it eventually brought us Bride of Chucky, where Chuckster's ex-girlfriend Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) attempts to resurrect the doll and rekindle their relationship. Things don't go exactly as planned, and Chucky hatches a scheme to transfer Tiffany's soul into the body of another doll in order to teach her a lesson. In the midst of attempting to carry out the plan, these two (literally) crazy kids realize that they're made for each other. Yes, it's as bizarre as it sounds -- and it features Katherine Heigl, which is usually another no-no. But somehow, the film just works -- more as a comedy than a straight-up horror film. It's funny enough to keep you more than entertained for its 89-minute runtime, thanks in large part to Dourif and Tilly's manic and genuinely amusing chemistry.
The Devil's Rejects (2005)
Starring: Sid Haig, Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley
Director: Rob Zombie
Tomatometer reading: 53%
Why it's worth seeing: There are generally three types of horror movie fans: those who don't like Rob Zombie's movies; those who really, really don't like Rob Zombie's movies; and those who appreciate the musician-turned-movie-maker's genuine love of the genre and unique visual aesthetic. While those of us in the third category seem to be in the minority, we won't apologize for finding things to love about Zombie's growing filmography -- including his most recent takes on the Halloween franchise (yep, the second one, too). For those who saw promise in his debut film, House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects made good on that promise. Much like his music, it's not for the faint of heart: Picking up just a few months from where the original film left off, it finds the delightfully backwoods Firefly family -- who are wanted in connection with more than 75 murders and disappearances -- on the run, yet still wreaking havoc. The fact that Zombie has the balls to make these violent murderers the protagonists says a lot about how far he's willing to go as a filmmaker; that the audience goes along for the ride with him says a lot about his abilities as a filmmaker. It's perverse and disgusting and audacious and unrelenting, which is exactly what Zombie intended. (Even if it's not every horror fan's cup of tea.)
The Exorcist III (1990)
Starring: George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif
Director: William Peter Blatty
Tomatometer reading: 56%
Why it's worth seeing: Given that the still-terrifying roller coaster ride that was The Exorcist seemed to leave nothing unsaid, a sequel seemed unnecessary. And The Exorcist II: The Heretic was indeed just that: unnecessary. But the third entry in the series -- which wasn't intended to be an entry in the series at all -- was much different. That's because it (smartly) decided to step away from the story of Regan MacNeil and instead focus on a series of tangentially related murders that all occurred on the night of Regan's exorcism. William Peter Blatty, who wrote the novel upon which The Exorcist was based as well as the Oscar-winning original screenplay, wrote the script for this one, too -- and stepped behind the camera -- to craft a horror movie/detective story hybrid that finds the always-brilliant George C. Scott squaring off against a superb Brad Dourif, who is at his best when he's allowed to be unhinged. Though its links to the original film feel a little forced at times, none of that takes away from the ultimate effect of the film -- which has fortunately found new life and a new generation of fans in recent years.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Starring: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O'Herlihy
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Tomatometer reading: 42%
Why it's worth seeing: Halloween devotees practically took to the streets to riot in 1982 when the iconic horror franchise's third installment arrived in theaters… and had the audacity to be Michael Myers-less. Though an anthology approach had always been the plan for the series, the overwhelmingly negative response to Season of the Witch forced the films' producers to bring back the William Shatner mask-wearing maniac for future installments. But in the nearly 40 years since Season of the Witch's initial release, viewers have fortunately given the film a second chance and noticed that, despite its rampant overacting (and in some cases underacting) and unavoidably cheesy '80s styles, the story itself is actually pretty damn good. The villain here isn't some sort of bogeyman, but a corporate megalomaniac who uses his extreme wealth and powerful position to essentially rid the world of its kids, and its future... which all sounds eerily familiar. And even if none of that manages to sell you on Season of the Witch, there's still the "Silver Shamrock" jingle, which might just be the greatest earworm in the history of cinema.
Hostel: Part II (2007)
Starring: Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips
Director: Eli Roth
Tomatometer reading: 44%
Why it's worth seeing: While Eli Roth's Hostel (2005) sports a "fresh" 60 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, its 2007 successor wasn't nearly as warmly embraced -- despite being the more accomplished of the two movies (if you don't mind torture porn, that is). Both of the films follow the same basic storyline: A couple of college friends traveling through Europe are lured to a tiny Slovak village full of fun, young, attractive people -- most of whom are working for the local group of torturers who charge rich tourists tons of money to violently murder the aforementioned young, attractive people. In the case of the first film (in a bit of gender-swapping from your typical horror movie), it's two young men; in the sequel, it's three young women -- one of whom (Heather Matarazzo) awakens to find herself strung upside down and tortured with a scythe while a woman joyously bathes in her blood below. In other words: It's not for the easily nauseated. Nor does it try to lull you into any false sense of security or belief that anyone's getting out of this gorefest unharmed.
Jaws 2 (1978)
Starring: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Director: Jeannot Szwarc
Tomatometer reading: 57%
Why it's worth seeing: Just to be clear: Jaws 2's inclusion on this list is in no way saying that the film is as good as its predecessor, or that it even comes close to matching the brilliance of Steven Spielberg's original. But if watched on its own, without the pressure of being a sequel to the film that invented the summer blockbuster as we know it, it would be hard to label Jaws 2 as an outright "bad" movie. (Jaws 3-D and Jaws: The Revenge are another story.) Though it lacks the nerdy charm of Richard Dreyfuss' Matt Hooper, Sergeant Brody and his family -- plus America's worst-dressed mayor, Larry Vaughn -- are all back to deal with what Brody suspects is another great white shark gone amok around Amity Island. But yet again, no one wants to believe him. So, ignoring Brody's concerns, the townspeople all merrily go about their seafaring ways, turning themselves into potential chum every time they take a dip, go water skiing, or hop aboard a boat. And yet again, it's up to Brody to find the homicidal fish and make that son of a bitch smile.
Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Molly Ephraim
Director: Tod Williams
Tomatometer reading: 59%
Why it's worth seeing: Acting as both a prequel and sequel to its predecessor, the events depicted in Paranormal Activity 2 take place about two months before the original film. While the main complaints against it were that it was largely a retread of Paranormal Activity, that's not necessarily a bad thing -- nor is it entirely accurate. Like the original film, it centers on a couple (Kristi and Daniel) and their kids (Ali and Hunter) who, after installing security cameras throughout the house following a break-in, begin to suspect they're being terrorized by evil spirits. While it delivers the same kind of genuine scares that made the original a hit, the addition of an infant being one of the spirits' targets ups the ante in terms of creepiness. (There's just something about a levitating baby that is unsettling.) And that fact that Kristi just so happens to be the sister of Paranormal Activity's Katie, and that their timelines overlap, cleverly turn the sequel into a deep dive into the films' mythology rather than a lazy repeat of a successful formula.
Psycho III (1986)
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey
Director: Anthony Perkins
Tomatometer reading: 58%
Why it's worth seeing: One can only imagine the kind of long-awaited catharsis that Anthony Perkins was able to derive from making his directorial debut with the third installment in the Psycho franchise, which -- like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 -- plays more like a parody than a straight-up sequel. That's a good thing. Picking up just a month after the events of Psycho II, Norman Bates finds himself playing host to a tormented nun (Diana Scarwid) who looks an awful lot like Janet Leigh's Marion Crane from the first film, a mysterious drifter (Jeff Fahey) who becomes Norman's assistant, and a young reporter (Roberta Maxwell) who is hungry to get to the bottom of what happened to Emma Spool (Claudia Bryar), a local diner employee who went missing in Psycho II. Spoiler alert: Spool revealed herself to be Norman's true mom in the second film, so her corpse is rotting appropriately upstairs while Norman imagines himself having conversations with her. In other words: It's business as usual at the Bates Motel, only this time with a slightly more outright comedic edge.
Scream 4 (2011)
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette
Director: Wes Craven
Tomatometer reading: 59%
Why it's worth seeing: With the release of the original Scream in 1996, Wes Craven seemed to be reinventing himself as a director and reinvigorating the genre he had called home for so many years. The film managed to brilliantly deconstruct typical horror tropes, while at the same time serving as a clever template for a new kind of scary movie. By the time Scream 3 rolled around in 2000, the franchise had essentially become what it originally set out to skewer. That it took more than a decade for a fourth entry in the series to be released could explain the lackluster response to it, as the teenagers that typically make up a large part of a horror movie's audience had no connection to the original film. But for those who did remember, the elongated time span worked very much in the film's favor as it allowed Craven to go back to the original meta concept and turn what could have been just a cheap ploy to resurrect a former cash cow into a legitimate comment on the remakes, reboots, and torture porn films that were proliferating the genre market (the killers in this one are repeating the crimes from the first film -- though in much more gruesome ways).
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Starring: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow
Director: Tobe Hooper
Tomatometer reading: 45%
Why it's worth seeing: More than 10 years after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre turned him into a horror icon, Tobe Hooper returned to the scene of the original crime(s) to offer up a partly terrifying and partly hilarious semi-satirical take on the slasher genre he helped to define. He was ably abetted by Dennis Hopper, who plays a former Texas Ranger who just happens to be the uncle of Sally and (the very whiny and annoying) Franklin from the original film. He is tasked with solving a double homicide that eventually leads him to the Sawyer home where he arrives with his own arsenal of chainsaws, ready to do battle. While the dark humor is what makes the film a fun follow-up to the gritty original, it also seems to be the sticking point that divides the film's fans and critics. Two words: Lighten up!