The 5 Greatest Horror Sequels of All Time

From Aliens to the new Wolf Creek 2, not all horror sequels are comically dreadful.

Nearly a decade after Wolf Creek introduced the world to the macabre joys of Australian horror, a long-awaited sequel arrives in theaters this week — and, even more incredibly, it’s actually good. When you think of horror movie sequels, you usually think of pointless cash-ins from studios running short on ideas. But as this list of great horror sequels proves, the exceptions are worth the trouble.

The Sequel: Aliens

Why It’s Great: The rare case of a sequel widely considered to be better than the original, James Cameron’s Aliens took everything audiences loved about Ridley Scott’s Alien and served up a double serving: more guns, more death, and, of course, more aliens. Sigourney Weaver once again kicks ass as the apparently unstoppable Ripley, now decked out with a Technicolor cargo-loading “exoskeleton,” which she uses to lock jaws with the killer Queen in the film’s unforgettable climax. (Plus: Paul Reiser dies a horrible death. Everybody wins.)

The Sequel: Dawn of the Dead

Why It’s Great: Zombies overrun a suburban shopping mall and all hell breaks loose. Like Aliens, Dawn of the Dead took the basic template of its predecessor, Night of the Living Dead, and expanded the canvas. The result is George A. Romero’s masterpiece and one of the best movies ever made — a whip-smart satire of modern consumerism and terrifying genre exercise in roughly equal measure. It’s the scariest shopping experience we’ve had since we tried to hit up Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

The Sequel: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Why It’s Great: The third film in the hit ‘80s franchise featured a perfect storm of horror movie elements: it was set in a creepy mental asylum, it starred everybody’s favorite nocturnal murderer Freddy Krueger, and, best of all, it had magic dream powers. Seriously: the teen victims have learned to fight back against their nighttime tormentor by lucid-dreaming their way into kicking ass. It’s exactly as awesome as it sounds.

The Sequel: The Devil’s Rejects

Why It’s Great: Rob Zombie’s foray into filmmaking with House of 1000 Corpses led most people to conclude that he’d better just stick to making music, but he made a practically evolutionary leap forward with his second film, the unbelievably bleak sequel Devil’s Rejects. The pseudo-Texas Chainsaw Massacre setting of the first movie has been exchanged for a sort of demented road movie, with no shortage of decapitations, mutilations, and…a slo-mo set piece scored to “Free Bird.” Trust us.

The Sequel: Hellraiser V: Inferno

Why It’s Great: It’s rare enough that a second or third horror movie is worth watching, but a fifth? And yet somehow the direct-to-video Hellraiser V: Inferno totally works, thanks in no small part to Sinister director Scott Derrickson. The hero looks and sounds like Max Payne, and the villain of the series, Pinhead, shows up for about five minutes total. But that’s part of what makes it so unique: It’s part crime movie, part psychological thriller, and part Silent Hill, and it’s weird in all the right ways.

Photos by Image Entertainment