A-List: Horror Sequels
By Sean Collier
February 19, 2009
Dawn of the Dead=
While praising this film, I feel like I should qualify my support. Dawn of the Dead is a fine film, an excellent horror movie, and the valid source for most of the George Romero love that still exists in the world. However, I'm part of the vocal minority that prefers the original film. Dawn of the Dead features perhaps the most memorable setting in horror history, as Pittsburgh's Monroeville Mall was its own character in the film, perfectly building the suspense and confining the protagonists. The story was more complex, the script was the best of any zombie movie until 28 Days Later, and the key sequences from Dawn of the Dead are unforgettable. Sorry, though, angry young Romero fans; Night of the Living Dead is just scarier, grittier, and more affective. Still, though, the first two Dead films are the two best zombie movies of all time, and that title will never be challenged.
While Halloween II drags a bit towards the middle, it deserves all the credit in the world for doing what very few sequels, and just about no horror sequels, have the guts to do: simply pick up where the last film left off. The first few scenes of Halloween II are the last few scenes of Halloween; as Dr. Loomis discovers that his six bullets failed to put Michael Myers down for the count, he frantically implores the police to search for the monster, just as they discover the three teenagers he's already slaughtered. Laurie Strode is taken to the hospital; unfortunately, Michael knows how to get there. The body count is much higher in Halloween II, and the first hints that Michael may not be strictly human (a plot line that would get much more bizarre later in the franchise) are sewn. Furthermore, it's revealed why Michael was after Laurie in the first place. The entire original cast is intact for the second installment, so Halloween II feels nothing like a sequel and everything like more of the first film. It's a tough (and rare) trick to pull off, but it's handled expertly here.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
Okay, I'm really stretching the A-List title here. C-List, at best. But the first sequel to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is worth seeing if only to show the bizarre sexual and comedic subtext that director Tobe Hooper meant to install in the franchise all along. The film is frequently laughable, with ridiculous '80s-style action sequences and characters. One of the film's protagonists, hotly desired late-night DJ Stretch Brock, succeeds in escaping a chainsaw-wielding Leatherface – by seducing him. (He briefly wields his saw in front of his crotch and thrusts, to signify what we all very clearly figured out without that image, thank you Mr. Hooper.) The later sequels (and dreadful remakes) should be avoided at all costs, but the sequel is an interesting if ridiculous look at just what goes on in Tobe Hooper's head. Oh, and Dennis Hopper is our gritty hero, in a performance of Walken-level intensity.