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5. Phantasm II (1988)
Best Phantasm sequel, hands down. This one is like a road movie and has lots of action involving dwarves, flying killer spheres, the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), and our favorite ice cream man Reggie (Bannister). The only downside is the silly love story between Michael and Liz, who seem to both have psychic powers. There’s the introduction of “Alchemy” played by Samantha Phillips who is hot; the death of the Tall Man (well, one of his “many” deaths, anyway) is the highlight, as we discover he doesn’t handle hydrochloric acid in his bloodstream very well. There’s also a sequence where a super-sphere burrows its way through one of the Tall Man’s lackeys – yep, sucks to be that guy. Read our review here.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 – Dream Warriors (1987)
Still the best of the sequels in the end, but also the turning point for the series where everything sucked after. Still, it’s hard not to get a kick out of Freddy’s one-liners, the colorful cast, fantastic sets, decent effects, and the return of John Saxon and Heather Langenkamp. Even Laurence Fishbourne shows up! Seems like a fantasy/action picture at times, utilizing themes from Dreamscape and Dungeons and Dragons. Also establishes Freddy’s backstory a little bit, making him “the bastard son of 100 maniacs.” Read our review here.
3. Evil Dead II (1987)
More of a “reboot” than a sequel, Evil Dead II establishes Sam Raimi as a creative force to be reckoned with. It’s also Bruce Campbell’s breakout role, as he takes his Ash character from the first film and gives him some backbone. Also features clever effects and writing – this movie goes lighter on tone than the original, infusing certain scenes with slapstick and a certain playfulness. The part where Ash saws off his own hand, then later replaces it with a chainsaw, is kick-ass.
2. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Great sequel to Night of the Living Dead takes place mostly in the Monroeville Mall, as a band of survivors fight to keep the rampaging zombies out, as well as a group of asshole bikers. Filled with gore, black humor, and subtext. Romero hasn’t really matched it since (although in some circles Day of the Dead is held up as superior). Ken Foree gives the standout performance (“My granddad was a priest in Trinidad. He used to tell us, “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”) Some of the scenes in the begininng have a distrubing, hopeless atmosphere that adds to the dread. Oh, the soundtrack is great, too – a mix of prog stuff from Goblin (ripped off alot) and Musak (love the scenes where Musak plays while the undead stumble about the mall). Read our review here.
1. Aliens (1986)
James Cameron’s action-packed sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien is more like a futuristic war movie than a horror film, but it’s a blast to see. Establishes Sigourney Weaver as the ultimate feminist heroine/mother figure (she’s the real “mama grizzly” that Sara Palin was talking about). Also has Bill Paxton in a rather hilarious role and has Lance Henriksen doing that “thing with the knife.” The scene at the end with the queen alien (who tears Bishop in half) is fun to watch, as Ripley dons a dock-loader suit and fights the creature mano-y-mano. Watch for Paul Reiser as a sleazy Weyland-Yutani bureaucrat. Yep, W-Y makes #1 on the list of Evil Corporations. Our review here.
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