Everyone goes into certain movies with a set of expectations. This is especially true for horror sequels. The Friday the 13th series has some entries that are unjustly maligned simply because what people want to see is the iconic monster in the hockey mask. Viewers latch onto those movies that give them what they expect; what they love. For die-hard fans that own every movie in each franchise, going through the entries you love doesn’t take much time. Then you’re left with nothing but the films you never really cared for. Sometimes this is an act of self-torture, but other times you begin to see things in a new light. Here are some entries in popular franchises that might have put people off on an initial viewing, but only get better over time.
Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh
Candyman was one of the big surprise horror hits of the early 90’s. It was smart, sophisticated and kept the viewer guessing from beginning to end. Even when the film is over, it’s tough to tell what was real and what was not. Farewell to the Flesh is a much more straightforward movie, which was a let down for a lot of people. It confirms that the Candyman was real and it gives him a rich and elaborate backstory, but that doesn’t make it bad. Seeing it immediately after the first one can be jarring. To see the story dealt with in such an overtly supernatural matter is hard to swallow the first time around. But it’s a solid horror picture and even if it’s more of a ghost story than the first, it’s a pretty good ghost story. If you actually want a bad Candyman movie, feel free to check out Candyman 3: Day of the Dead which was a complete rehash of this one with about a quarter of the budget.
Virtually every Friday the 13th fan was guilty of hating this movie at one point and many still do. The first time you watch it, you’re naturally expecting Jason. There’s no real hint given that Jason may not be the killer this time around, so there’s no reason to expect it. When the viewer thinks they already know who the killer is, that takes all the joy out of watching to try and figure out who might actually be the one doing the slashing. It’s like Scooby Doo meets Friday the 13th. Everything plays out like a traditional spooky entry and then the mask comes off at the end and it’s not Jason, it’s a disgruntled paramedic. So there was a backlash and Jason was understandably brought back in the next entry. If you haven’t warmed up to this one after that initial disappointment, you’re missing out. Aside from some of the best kills of the whole series, A New Beginning also boasts some of the most interesting side characters. Sure, it might be a dirtier, sleazier entry but it excels as such.
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
Nightmare, Part 2, has finally begun to develop a fan base and is being viewed on its own merits instead of its deviations from the original, so we don’t really need to make a case for that one. But Freddy’s Dead on the other hand…at first glance is a little harder to defend The movie doesn’t have the wealth of subtext that Nightmare 2 does. With Freddy’s Dead, what you see is pretty much what you get. The transition from straight horror to absurdist comedy was not an easy one for fans of the franchise and many still wish it was a transition that had never been made. At some point, though, there comes a time to accept the way things went and just go with it. Freddy’s Dead is not a great movie, but it is a thoroughly entertaining film and it does have great moments. It’s the most slapstick out of all the sequels but the flashback scenes with Englund as pre-burnt Freddy are among his scariest moments in the entire saga. It handles its tone much better than Dream Child, in which there was a depressing, downbeat mood throughout the whole thing and wisecracking Freddy felt out of place in his own movie. This time, everything is offbeat and weird. This is an Elm Street film that runs wild doing whatever the hell it wants. Like it or hate it, you have to admire it in some ways. On top of all that, there are some truly creative kills.
Return of the Living Dead 3
Return of the Living Dead 3 is a different movie from Return of the Living Dead in every way, shape and form. It’s serious where the first entry was comedic, heartfelt where its predecessor was nihilistic, and a love story where the first was, well, not. It doesn’t seem like a movie that should work, especially when the first worked so well. Yet Return of the Living Dead 3 easily stands beside Tom Savini’s Night of the Living Dead and Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive as one of the best horror movies of the 1990’s. This is a splatter punk story of star-crossed lovers made for the body mod generation. The main zombie here is Julie, who acts perfectly normal at first. But as she gets hungrier, she resorts to sadomasochism to try and keep her cannibalistic urges at bay. Eventually she turns herself into something that should have become a horror icon. Beautiful and frightening at the same time, Julie is a zombie with heavy echoes of Hellraiser. What really impresses about this sequel is that it is able to tell a brand new story without contradicting the rules of the first two movies. It might be entirely different, but it exists in the same universe.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
It’s hard to imagine there was a fan of the first two Halloween movies that liked—or at least got—Season of the Witch the first time they ever saw it. I distinctly remember renting the film and waiting the entire time for Michael Myers to show up. Even though the plot was completely different, even though there was an ad for Halloween playing on TV at one point, I didn’t expect there to be an entry in the series without so much as a cameo appearance by the man himself. I was so focused on waiting for Michael to show up that I didn’t really watch it, and I think that happened to a lot of people with this one. Ultimately, it’s a shame. Halloween III is an inventive, atmospheric story. It is wholly enriched in the holiday while offering up a brand new plot that could not be more different than what had come before. The scares in Season of the Witch are not of the stalk-and-slash variety. Instead, this one is focused on supernatural and even psychological horror. The biggest example of its effectiveness is also its most iconic scene, in which little Buddy Kupfer demonstrates what Silver Shamrock novelties has planned for the children all around the world. Even if it has nothing to do with the rest of the series, the image of those bugs and snakes crawling out of that dilapidated mask is one of the most haunting in the Halloween legacy.