For some reason, Hollywood often treats horror movies like fat kids and candy. They can’t control themselves and just keep going. They make sequels and prequels and trilogies and beyond. Sometimes, the story or characters benefit from being revisited. Sometimes they don’t (I’m looking at you, Jaws. Explain to me why a family hunted by a shark decide to work at SeaWorld.) I’m going to talk about a few of my favorites that aren’t quite mainstream films, or the first one made a splash and the rest unfairly went essentially straight to video.
The Candyman trilogy is surprisingly good. The first two are better than the last one, but all in all, not a bad way to kill time. First of all, it’s Clive Barker. That guy is really scary (he’s also the guy behind the nightmare that is Hellraiser, which is a little too uneven of a franchise to put on this list). Secondly, it stars Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd. You want to talk about somebody perfect for a role? Tony Todd was born to play Daniel Robitaille. The first film is gritty and legitimately creepy: the urban legend come to life. The second one is a lot of backstory but a good flick in its own right. The last one is pretty much what you’d expect – the cash cow not having enough milk left to sustain a third story. After you watch it, see the first one again to get that bad taste out of your mouth.
You probably saw The Blair Witch Project. It was such a new and interesting concept – found footage and use of the handheld camera. You probably liked it, too. But there were two other films that went along with it. The improv style used by Myrick and Sánchez influenced not just other tv and film directors but inspired everyday people with a camcorder to make their own horror movies. Whether you like the other two films or not, they used technology advances to their advantage. By the time they got to the third installment, they were using cell phones and drones to shoot the footage. It was creative and brought a new level to the voyeuristic joy many people get from horror movies in general. They didn’t even really need to be good to bring new life to the horror industry. They are worth watching for that reason alone.
Lastly, there’s Insidious, which is a four-film franchise that shockingly had the same screenwriter for all of them. It is the kind of concept that has been done before but deserved a new twist. The first couple of films focus on a family whose son’s body is being used as a vessel for ghosts and demons. The third switched focus to the psychic who helped the family from the first two films. The final film, released earlier this year, actually comes second in order. Confusing, yes, but now that they’ve all been released you can watch them in the proper order.
These are some of my underrated favorites. Other franchises, like Halloween or Alien really deserve whole posts of their own, and I’m sure I’ll get around to them sometime.