The List: 10 Sequels That Far Surpassed Their Originals

With the anticipation of Hangover 2 reaching a fever pitch with its May 26 release quickly approaching, I began to ponder the wonder and bewilderment of sequels. I sat down and decided to watch a marathon of sequels for a reason still unknown and, after a brief stint in a mental institution as a result of said endeavor, I came to a very clear conclusion…

MOST. SEQUELS. SUCK.

It has become very common these days for Hollywood to realize a films success and proceed to bleed it dry for every dime they can until the franchise is no longer generating a profit. When looking at some sequels, it’s blatantly obvious that the studio and creators had no idea of what to do with the story and just decide to throw something together because audiences are too stupid to care that there is no story, just references to a movie they kind of enjoyed.

I'll just leave this here...

Fortunately for us, some films manage to get sequels that take the original story and actually improve on it to the point where its predecessor feels obsolete and impotent by comparison. And to be clear, these are sequels that, in my humble opinion, are BETTER than the movie that it was spawned from. I’m sure that some debate will follow, but as for right now…

10.The Devil’s Rejects

Coming off of the cult success of 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses, director Rob Zombie decided to up the ante with his follow up. The characters were taken out of their element and forced to go on the run from every police officer in the state of Texas, now having to become the prey instead of the predator. It was darker, grittier, and more realistic than its predecessor. In House of 1000 Corpses, you got to see the world through the eyes of this sadistic family, journeying through a horrific amusement park from hell. Now, the survivors of the family must deal with the world outside, as well as the repercussions of their monstrous deeds. The Devil’s Rejects takes the world of House and turns it on its head, and in doing so Zombie successfully created a far better film.

Evil Clowns threatening children=Good Movie

9. Gremlins 2: The New Batch

You can argue that 1984’s Gremlins is a superior film, but your words would be falling on deaf ears. Gremlins 2: The New Batch takes every good element from the original (Gizmo and the Gremlins) and increases it tenfold. Gremlins for the most part was just too goddamn depressing for a what was supposed to be a silly monster movie aimed at children. Honestly, that dead father in the chimney story was crossing the line! But in The New Batch, you subtract the suicide inducing characterization, and add silly creatures running amok in a state of the art building that includes a television studio and a very hazardous laboratory. And from that laboratory you get a bat gremlin, a talking gremlin that sings like Frank Sinatra, a horny female gremlin, and this…

HOLY JUMPIN' FUCKING SHITBALLS.

Throw in the fact that Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis exploits the madness by broadcasting it on his creature-feature television show, and the fact that the gremlins destroy the movie at one point causing Hulk Hogan (yes, Hulk Hogan) to break the fourth wall and threaten them to fix the movie, and you have every ingredient for a successful sequel.

Did I mention that Gizmo goes insane and commits murder? Adorable.

8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

It is safe to say that Star Trek: The Motion Picture alienated most audiences upon its release. It was harshly reviewed and widely considered to be boring even to many diehard fans of the show. So what do you do when something is said to be too boring? You amp that shit up! Star Trek II: Then Wrath of Khan gets its story from an episode of the original series entitled “Space Seed” where the crew of the Enterprise stumbles upon Khan Noonien Singh (played amazingly by Mr. Ricardo Montalban) and his group of genetically altered supermen. Naturally, Khan attempts to kill the crew and destroy the Enterprise, but is eventually outmaneuvered by the ever sexy James Tiberius Kirk.

Too much sexy for any television to handle.

Kirk banishes Khan and his followers to an isolated planet known as Ceti Alpha V where they will have a chance to flourish or meet their demise. Pretty fucked up, right? Well cut to 15 years later where we see Khan and his group have been in hell on this planet due to the fact that neighboring planet Ceti Alpha VI decides to go kaboom and destroy their ecosystem, killing most of Khan’s group (including Khan’s wife). When the USS Reliant happens to show up on the planet mistaking it for the ‘sploded planet, Khan captures Commander Chekov and Captain Terrell and brainwashes them using nasty eels that they place into. They then beam on board and decided that Kirk and Co. deserves some major ass kicking delivered KHAAAAAN style.

Ceti Alpha V's Sexiest Man Alive 15 years in a row.

Without giving too much away, shit goes down in a very serious way. This is when Star Trek stopped being polite and started getting real. Wrath of Khan delivers an amazing story that satisfies both old school Trek fans as well as mainstream audiences who never watched a single episode of the series. We even see a significant body count, including a very MAJOR character. You can easily watch this film and get everything that is Star Trek at its finest. Not to mention it includes one of Bill Shatner’s finest moments.

If you know what he's yelling here, congratulations... you are a nerd like the rest of us.

7. Addams Family Values

The 90’s were chalk full of films that poked fun at old television shows that were considered silly by modern standards. The Beverly Hillbillies, The Brady Bunch, and Dennis the Menace just to name a few, were made with intent to parody with a basic time warp scenario at play. The Addams Family movie based off of the classic 60’s television series didn’t have to resort to making fun of the show because, let’s face it, the Addams’ were weird to people in the 1960’s, so they couldn’t use that angle. Instead, they used the same formula that made the show so successful, and it worked. But it’s sequel took what was good and added so much more. You place the family in scenarios that you wouldn’t normally see them in, and the hilarity almost writes itself. I still find it hard to watch Wednesday and Pugsley try to survive their sentences at summer camp without losing it. A perfect cast of insane characters, a bizarre sense humor, and a winking at the audience mentality make Addams Family Values a perfect film for this list.


6. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

Sam Raimi’s independent film The Evil Dead truly set the bar for the Horror genre. It was brutally violent and gory, using taboo subjects to really enforce the terror involved (Tree rape, anyone?). The film has crossed over into pop culture and has become mandatory viewing for any director on a budget. So with all of that praise and notoriety, how can a sequel be better? Well, it’s quite simple; You make the main character have to cut off his own possessed hand with a chainsaw and you somehow make it one of the funniest situations you’ve ever seen.

Trust me, it's funnier than it looks.

The humor that Raimi showered over Evil Dead 2 is what puts it miles ahead of its former. That and the fact that when you make the character of Ash (Bruce “Gimme Some Sugar Baby” Campbell) a total badass one minute and a total pussy the next, it creates the perfect blend of scares and laughs. And if you haven’t imagined the sheer awesomeness of attaching a chainsaw to your bloody stump of a wrist and using it to mow down evil creatures, then you just aren’t a man.

The Most Badass Badass to ever Badass.

5. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

In the same vain as Evil Dead 2, Night of the Living Dead came from a very dark place and was also rooted in the social turmoil of its time. It is widely considered to be a classic film that showcases serious character development and a plot that has become a standard for every zombie film the has followed it. But with Romero’s sequel, Dawn of the Dead, the zombie genre was given a shot in the arm. Set in the confines of an abandoned shopping mall, a group of survivors are left to fend for themselves knowing that all attempts to escape will be met with a never ending swarm of the walking dead. Although Romero once again used his zombie film to tell a social tale pertaining to America’s problem with over consumption, the zombie story was more of the focus than in Night of the Living Dead. Though the sense of danger is very clear, our heroes have a more lighthearted approach that makes them more likable as characters. Dawn also ups the gore factor, bringing in special effects pioneer Tom Savini to help create movie magic that opened the door for modern Horror filmmakers. A frightening scenario for most, and a wish come true for others (like myself), Dawn of the Dead walks a fine line that pleases all ends of the spectrum.


4. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

1978’s Mad Max is another one of the gritty independent films that quickly earned its cult following. It introduced the U.S to Mel Gibson as the title character out to avenge the deaths of his wife and child at the hands of a renegade biker gang tearing its way through a post apocalyptic future. Though a moderate blip on the radar in the states, it became a huge success globally, earning a 20 year reign as the highest profit-to-cost ratio in cinematic history. This helped pave the way for a sequel with a much bigger budget, and it delivers in every way. The Road Warrior gave us a glimpse into a world consumed with killing in order to survive. The characters are only in it for themselves, including our “protagonist”. Fueled with adrenaline pumping car chases that still amaze audiences to this day, a terrifying villain, and a kick ass hero, The Road Warrior sets the bar for what a post apocalyptic world needs to be. Oh yeah, and it also has a big S&M motif… if that’s your thing.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you our future.

3. Aliens

If there is one thing that can be said about James Cameron, the man can deliver a blockbuster. This goes without saying when looking at his sequel to Ridley Scott’s sci fi horror film Alien. This film does what every sequel should, takes the original premise and expands upon it. Set in the dark and horrifying vastness of space, Aliens continues the story of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the sole survivor of a massacre at the hands of a bloodthirsty creature. What Alien was good at was giving us a claustrophobic horror film set in space, an idea not explored at that time. But Cameron decided to expand upon this idea, bringing our hero into the lion’s den, surrounded by thousands of the these creatures. In doing so, Cameron takes the horror of the original and adds an overabundance of action, giving the humans a chance to fight rather than run. More importantly, Aliens gives audiences a tough female that can command a film. Weaver’s performance is on par with any character of that caliber previously portrayed by a man, thus giving women a strong female role model to look up to. Aliens still lives up to the hype and remains of the best action movies of all time.

Pictured: Not Bill Pullman

2. The Dark Knight

To say that director Christopher Nolan is an innovator is quite the understatement. Since he emerged on the scene, Christopher and his brother Jonathan have flipped the cinematic world upside-down and recreated it as they saw fit. His first endeavor into the hit and miss world of comic book films was met with rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. He, like most fans and creators of the forum, took the story of Batman seriously and decided to treat the fans with a little more dignity and respect than his predecessors.

Joel Schumacher's "Batman and Robin".

Batman Begins changed the way everybody thought a comic book movie should be handled. At the time it was considered to be one of the greatest comic book films of all time. So how does Christopher Nolan respond? By making not only what is widely considered to be the greatest comic book film of all time, but one of the greatest films of the last 50 years. We all knew that we were going to get a superb sequel, but nobody was ready for The Dark Knight. The cinematography, the special effects, the amazingly intricate action set pieces, the performances, the story, the music… You can go on for days talking about how beautiful a movie it is. But at its core, The Dark Knight is cinema at its most pristine.

1. Terminator 2: Judgement Day

When doing this list, there was only one film that stood first and foremost in my mind as a sequel that surpassed its original in every single way. James Cameron strikes again with Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the biggest monster of an action blockbuster ever made. T-2 manages to deliver on all fronts. With a healthy balance of story, suspense, action, and ground breaking special effects, Cameron fires on all cylinders and manages to set the bar for action films higher than most people thought possible. Unlike the film that proceeded it, Terminator 2 manages to give us much greater stakes on a much grander scale. It successfully turned one of the most feared villains in cinematic history (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and made him one of the heroes! And to fill the void we got a new terminator more advanced and terrifying than its predecessor. Which, when you think about it, is a perfect analogy for both films. Though good for what it is, The Terminator doesn’t hold a candle to the Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the #1 in my list of sequels that far surpassed their original!


Do you agree with my list? Anything you felt was more deserving? Feel free to comment and let the debate begin!

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~ by Brandon Gnuschke on May 16, 2011.

3 Responses to “The List: 10 Sequels That Far Surpassed Their Originals”

  1. NICE WORK DUDE!!! Although I would like to throw out “Lethal Weapon 2” and “Bad Boys II”. Not that they should be on the list, I just felt they needed to be mentioned as well.

  2. How is Back To The Future 2 not on here? My only complaint about this list is lack of hover board.

  3. Back to the Future 2 is not better than Back to the Future. No way. Not ever.

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