We all know how it goes. When a horror film becomes really successful, it becomes a franchise. Once that happens sequels start to be churned out at amazing speed. Only a few franchises have not fallen victim to seeing a sequel released a year or less apart. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Phantasm franchises, for instance, saw their sequels spaced out by several years.
That’s largely uncommon, though. Usually, when a studio forces a sequel out too quickly, the results can be disastrous. But every now and then, we’re pleasantly surprised. Not only have their actually been good sequels that followed almost immediately on the heels of their predecessors, but even some of the best sequels of all time.
It’s hard not to cheer for films that pull that off. They have everything stacked against them. There’s never enough time to make any movie. Adhering to the schedule can often be the hardest thing. The script is often being developed on the fly. When that happens and the feature still works out, it’s pretty great.
Here are a handful of sequels that I think did just that. They were pushed out too quickly, but beat the odds and wound up being pretty damn fun regardless.
Child’s Play 3
I know that not everyone has the soft spot for this movie that I do, but I really love it. And it came out nine months after Child’s Play 2. For it to do that and still feel like its own unique film with its own style and flavor, that’s really excellent. This is a smart and underrated sequel that didn’t even get a full year of development.
Not only did Scream 2 hit just about a year after Scream, it had to undergo some pretty heave rewrites to change the third act after the script for the film leaked online. That’s doubly impressive to me, because I actually really like both killer reveals in Scream 2 and would probably have preferred this over what we were originally supposed to get, which was virtually all of Sid’s new college friends being the killers.
Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge
Pretty widely regarded as the best sequel in the Puppet Master series by those who have seen it, Puppet Master III was made very quickly after the also very strong Puppet Master II. In fact, it was released the same year. What’s amazing about this, though, is that Puppet Master 4 and 5, which were actually shot at the same time, still managed to come out in separate years.
“If it’s Halloween, it must be Saw.” That was the tagline for years. But Saw would not have become a yearly tradition if that first unexpected, surprising, grisly sequel hadn’t set the bar. As great as the first one is, this is the reason it became the defining horror franchise of the 2000s. It showed that there was a potential to tell other complicated, different stories based around this concept.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
While Dream Warriors may be the most beloved, Dream Master is the most financially successful movie in the Elm Street franchise and is the thing that turned Freddy into a massive pop culture icon. For some, it’s the start of a decline into a more cartoony version of Freddy, but that’s a Catch 22, because it’s that overexposure that led so many of us to discover Freddy in the first place.
Friday the 13th Part 2
Released only a year after the original, Friday the 13th Part 2 is something that most of the creators thought would be a terrible idea. The killer was dead and there was no way to go. Nobody wanted to see Jason take over the mantle as the killer, but he did, and a legendary icon was created. As a sequel, Part 2 is an improvement on the already good original in nearly every way. It’s scarier, it’s got a great atmosphere, and Jason is genuinely creepy in this first go-round.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II
New World had such faith in Hellraiser during production that the whole cast and crew knew they were going to do a sequel before they even wrapped production. While fans have started turning on the movie in the last year or so, Hellraiser II has long been regarded as one of the best horror sequels of all time. And for good reason, too. It’s expands the mythology exponentially, focuses on characters we truly care about and adheres to everything that made the origjnal great while being its own bizarre, surrealist beast.