10. Exorcist II: The Heretic
You need to turn off a few parts of your brain and get past some cringe-worthy dialogue to fully enjoy this outlandish, misunderstood journey into new-age Jesuit metaphysics. Certainly not the film audiences expected — or wanted — in 1977, The Heretic has no interest in being anything like it’s predecessor, but it’s impressive art direction, cinematography, and eerie score by Ennio Morricone make it worth the ride. Even Martin Scorsese thought the film “deserved better than it got.”
9. Dracula’s Daughter
Forgotten sequel to the 1931 Bela Lugosi classic is an effective, atmospheric chiller.
8. Hellbound: Hellraiser II
It’s easy to lump this film with the rest of the truly awful sequels to Hellraiser, but the 1988 follow-up (featuring most of the same cast and crew from the first film) is a fun, well-paced journey into the depths of hell.
7. Damien: Omen II
Most of the film’s over-the-top death sequences successfully outdo the original’s legendary set pieces.
6. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
Wes Craven’s pseudo-prequel to the Scream franchise may have been the lowest-grossing film in the Elm Street series, but the film’s meta plot — in which the “real” Freddy Krueger haunts the cast and crew of his films as a new screenplay is being written — is a post-modern winner.
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
The first film gets all the glory, but it’s really the third film (co-written by The Walking Dead’s Frank Darabont) that made the most of the dream-killer premise, and — for better or worse — fleshed out Freddy Krueger into the wise-cracking horror movie icon we all know and love. And compared to today’s CGI overload, this film’s imaginative special effects showcase genuine artistry and talent.
4. Son of Frankenstein
Not as good (or well-remembered) as Bride of Frankenstein, this 1939 sequel is elaborate and thoughtful, and features some truly bizarre set design. Boris Karloff’s last appearance as the monster.
3. The Exorcist III
Written and directed by The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty, this 1990 threequel suffers from obvious signs of post-production changes, but its suspenseful eccentricities and effective shockers (like the memorable “nurse station scene”) make for a worthy follow-up to terrifying original.
Dario Argento’s largely forgotten (thanks to a delayed direct-to-video release in the U.S.) follow-up to Suspiria is just as nightmarish and excessive, with equally memorable (if not as gruesome) death sequences and production design.
1. Psycho II
This clever and inventive sequel to the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic is way better than it has any right to be. Directed by Richard Franklin (whose earlier Hitchcockian thriller Road Games earned him the job), Psycho II sees Anthony Perkins reprise his iconic role of Norman Bates, newly released from the nuthouse and struggling to maintain his sanity as bodies once again start piling up at the Bates Motel. Surprising plot twists, well-mounted suspense, and a sense of humor make this sequel unexpectedly worthwhile.