In some genres, the higher the number of the sequel, the worse the movies get. But when we’re talking about horror franchises, which can sometimes have six or more sequels/prequels/reboots, sometimes you get a later installment that is worth a watch.
5. Friday the 13th Part III
Do you need me to tell you the plot? Okay. Young people go to Camp Crystal Lake and get killed. Ta da! Friday the 13th Part III is the one with the hefty prankster, the two stoned people, the little biker gang that Jason kills in the barn, and Jason’s first appearance in the hockey mask. Best of all, part 3 has that great Euro-disco tune. I think that song is the real reason I like this movie so much. While I don’t necessarily enjoy watching it with the 3D glasses, I get a kick out of seeing the shots that were made with the 3D effect in mind. It takes me back to a more innocent time of the 3D fad, when it didn’t work as well as it does now, but they were just so eager to show off the technology in horror films anyway. How quaint!
4. Amityville 3-D
A paranormal de-bunker (Tony Roberts) buys the Amityville house after exposing the fraudulent behaviors of a pair of Ed and Lorraine Warren types; unfortunately, he finds out that the evil in this house is real. With an excellent cast which also includes Candy Clark, Tess Harper, Lori Loughlin, and Meg Ryan, Amityville 3-D sports some genuinely creepy sequences along with the aforementioned silly use of “hey, look at this 3-D!” The standout scare is when Loughlin’s character comes in the house dripping wet and trudges silently up to her room without a word to her mother, but of course, it was only her g-g-g-ghost, as her body is lying drowned beside the dock outside. The seance led by Ryan is pretty fun too.
I’m certainly not going to say Amityville 3-D is obscure, but I don’t hear a lot of talk anymore about this one, or any of the Amityville movies, compared to some other franchises that get a lot of love. Really, parts 2 and 3 were very dark and disturbing. I credit the Italian influences on them with De Laurentiis producing 3 and Damiano Damiani directing part 2. Silly as some of the Amityville movies got, there is nothing you could say to me to get me to even enter that house!
3. Day of the Dead
Military personnel equipped with an insane leader, a mad scientist, and only one woman, hide in a bunker while contemplating the possibility that they are the last humans on earth. The science guy runs experiments on Bub, a zombie who is sentient, and the whole movie seems to ask questions about the treatment of the mentally ill and/or developmentally disabled. Before I saw Day of the Dead I heard people expressing their love for Bub, and I thought, “yeah right.” But the zombie who loves a walkman, who gets revenge when his “master” is killed, really is an endearing character.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Sleep-deprived teens in an insane asylum are being stalked by Freddy. They are the last of the Elm Street children. Luckily Nancy Thompson is now a grad student and she comes to help them fight Krueger, who is still at this point a scary ghost rather than a wise-cracking, rapping clown pictured on children’s lunchboxes. Patricia Arquette stars as the girl who can pull other people into her dreams, and Lawrence Fishburne has a small part as a hospital worker. While the Freddy origin story is chilling, and the death scenes get pretty gnarly (the marionette scene, anyone?), the thing that stood out to me on my last viewing of Dream Warriors was the way that John Saxon’s ghost (really Freddy in disguise) flies into the room in a shower of golden sparkles. Cheesetastic! So this movie is good-good and bad-good.
1. The Exorcist III
A serial killer is on the loose in a big, creepy hospital. The cop from the first movie is now played by George C. Scott, and the fabulous piano-playing priest returns but is now played by Ed Flanders. There’s an old serial killer (Brad Dourif) locked in the mental ward, but sometimes he looks like Jason Miller because the producer forced director Blatty to throw in more stuff from the original Exorcist. Even as a deeply flawed film, The Exorcist III works, if only for that scene with the giant shears. Holy shit. I love this movie, and I’m sorry it wasn’t ideal for the director/author, but seriously, if it was any better you couldn’t handle it.