I’m skeptical about sequels. Although they may promise the same amazing elements which made their forerunner so great, more often than not they tend to fall flat, usually thanks to a production studio’s over-eagerness to induce cash flow at the box office. That being said, I can name a few continuations that have actually succeeded in creating something entirely original and entertaining as they satisfy the nagging question: “What happens next?” Behold, my top 5 list of such films:
5. “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed” (Brett Sullivan, 2004)
I’m starting off this list with the sequel to the quirky Canadian horror feature “Ginger Snaps” because its decent quality took me quite by surprise. The film follows Bridget as she attempts to outrun the curse which claimed her sister, only to find that sometimes it is best to accept one’s inner beast rather than resist it. “Unleashed” disposes of its predecessor’s suburban teenage angst and situates its strange cast of characters in more psychologically complex and creepier settings, while still maintaining the original’s dark and clever humour. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the subsequent third part of the series.
4. “Hellbound: Hellraiser II” (Tony Randel, 1988)
“Wicked step-mother” Julia returns in the second part of Clive Barker’s unsettling fairy-tale for adults, much to our heroine Kirsty’s displeasure. Picking up right where the first film left off, this proves to be a gratifying embellishment as it expands upon the origins and rules of the hellish realm of, well, Hell– a world that is sure to become the backdrop of its viewer’s nightmares for years to come. Downright scary and relentlessly gross, “Hellbound” may not be for the faint of heart, but is simply too irresistible to be left alone.
3. “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (James Cameron, 1991)
I love this movie for its action, its heart, and Edward Furlong’s pre-pubescent crackling voice. The transition of Linda Hamilton’s character from a be-permed damsel in distress to gun-totin’ mama is tremendously appealing to lovers of a strong female lead, and props must be given to Schwarzenegger’s touching portrayal of the reformed (er, reprogrammed) killing machine sent from a war-torn future to protect her son. With its landmark use of CGI effects and a well-paced plot that both thrills and provokes thought, this sequel is guaranteed to give viewers hope for the fate of the world.
2. “Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn” (Sam Raimi, 1987)
Once upon a time, an ex-cab driver with a fantastic chin and a Michigan State English major decided to toss their camp gear and film equipment into an Oldsmobile Delta ’88, drive up to a cabin in the nearby woods, and make one of the most iconic horror movies of all time: “The Evil Dead.” “Dead by Dawn” is the follow-up to the unprecedented success of the initial cult-classic, and is best known for giving Bruce Campbell and his chin a chance to develop their character, Ash Williams, into the chainsaw-wielding amputee that horror fans know and love today. A perfect mix of hilarity and gore definitely makes this one of Raimi’s grooviest films.
1. “Dawn of the Dead” (George A. Romero, 1978)
Set in an American landscape inexplicably overrun by the walking dead, a group of four hapless survivors have found themselves stranded in an enormous shopping mall. Romero’s sequel is impressive for continuing along the same vein of not-so-subtle social commentary as “Night of the Living Dead,” this time focusing on the impact of consumerism on our culture’s consciousness. Tensions arise not only from the surrounding presence of the damned, but also as the characters realize that it is the cold, dead clutches of the mall itself from which they must fight to escape. Gripping and gory, this classic zombie film is still as relevant and frightening as when it was first released.