A-List: Horror Sequels
By Sean Collier
February 19, 2009
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
The Nightmare franchise is one of my personal favorites, just for the sheer novelty of it. A pure product of the '80s, the films were part horror, part elaborately mythologized fantasy, and part (stay with me, here) after-school special style teen adventure. Despite all the brutal torture and killing and death, the films roughly follow the plot of your average inspirational high school flick; a bunch of teens face a problem, they get over their differences and work to a happy solution, then ride off into the sunset (until the bus turns back into Freddy Krueger, or something.) This is a really bizarre combination of styles, and while it eventually grew preposterous, I'm intrigued by it. The best of the sequels is the third installment, featuring the original protagonist, Nancy, trying to save the few remaining Elm Street kids, now confined to a mental institution. The first truly fantasy-driven film in the series, it's plenty outrageous and campy, and just scary enough to still work as a horror film.
Army of Darkness
Trying to tie the chronological link between the three Evil Dead films is pretty much impossible, although many have tried. Director Sam Raimi has claimed that the three films are meant to be sequential, but if that's the case, Ash is either very forgetful or very, very good at never mentioning events from the past, even as they are basically repeated. Anyway. There have been plenty of films billed as horror-comedies, but Army of Darkness is the consensus choice for the most successful at melding the genres. There are generally terrifying sequences, particularly as Ash fights an undead creature in the pit early in the film, and genuinely funny – even slapstick – sequences. Army of Darkness is also one of the most quotable horror movies in recent memory, if only because everything Bruce Campbell says is perfect. If you've only seen one of the Evil Dead films, you're missing out. If you haven't seen any of them, find your local comic book store, mention this fact, and listen to the nerds freak out! Then watch all three.
Aside from assembling the largest collection of awkward '90s actors in history (that would be David Arquette, Jamie Kennedy, Jerry O'Connell, Tim Olyphant, and Liev Schreiber,) Scream 2 very effectively continued the story from the first film, while paying attention to what the audience was looking for. The original film, while genuinely scary and particularly interesting from a film studies perspective, was always intended to be a dark horror film at heart, for all its tongue-in-cheek humor. And while there were plenty of people unnerved by Scream, it took on a reputation as more fun than anything else, watched by teenagers at parties for years. With the sequel, Craven and Williamson decided to amp up the fun aspect of the film, turning it into a slasher film by way of a college party movie. It worked, as Scream 2 is probably the funniest entry in the trilogy, to be offset by the infinitely darker third chapter. Incidentally, those of you happy to have one straight-up, unbroken trilogy in the horror canon, feel free to get pissed now – Scream 4 has been greenlit, possibly as a relaunch, and is aiming for an Halloween 2010 release.