A-List: Horror Sequels
By Sean Collier
February 19, 2009
I have a serious horror obsession. I've been a dedicated movie fan since I was about 16, but I was a fanatic horror fan years before that. Long before I was trying to see every Best Supporting Actress nominee by Oscar night, I was calling around to every video store (those are things we had before Netflix, kids) in town looking for a copy of Prom Night. One of my most vivid memories from the days before high school was the night my dad let me watch The Shining on TBS; even with all the good stuff cut out, my tiny mind was blown.
Fortunately for my adolescent self, there was plenty of fuel for my obsession. Horror franchises are the cockroaches of the film industry, not relenting despite decades of diminishing box office and interest. Just take a look at the scoreboard. Now that the Friday the 13th relaunch is in theaters, that series has seen a whopping 12 installments in theaters over the space of just under thirty years. On the one hand, grosses for these films steadily decreased - despite inflation - through the first ten films; seven of the Fridays didn't pull in $25 million. On the other hand, only the three most recent installments had a budget over $5 million (the original was made for a paltry $550,000); the 11 previously released installments have grossed a combined $373 million worldwide against a combined budget of $62 Million. That's how you make money.
While Friday the 13th may be the most profitable example, there are plenty of others. A Nightmare on Elm Street is eight films in, all of them profitable; Halloween is on nine; and the recent king of franchises, Saw, is a money-making machine. The original Saw made back its budget 85 times over worldwide; in all, the Saw films have grossed two-thirds of a billion dollars around the globe, while costing a grand total of about $37 million. To summate, horror movies always feature a litany of sequels because they are a preposterously easy way to get very rich, very fast.
This constant cash flow is in defiance of the fact that these films are constantly nigh unbearable. Coming up with a good villain or concept for a horror franchise is tough, but doable; stretching out the intrigue over 15 or 20 combined hours of runtime is another story altogether. Many franchises turn to the ridiculous or gimmicky to pull in viewers; a more entertaining list would perhaps be the most ridiculous horror sequels of all time (which would inevitably start with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4, wherein it is revealed that the cannibals are actually government-controlled aliens (or something) out to get Renee Zellwegger, and then move swiftly to Halloween 3, which was notable for having absolutely nothing to do wit h Michael Myers.) Still, especially for the long-suffering horror faithful, there are a number of sequels that almost live up to their predecessors.
With hope that, unlike the Halloween and Texas Chainsaw reboots, the new Friday the 13th isn't a terrible insult to everything and everyone, The-A List presents the best horror sequels.