The slasher movie: a genre defined by its rigid adherence to a specific set of unchanging rules and tropes. While that may be fine for the audience members who love to see a masked killer hack and slash his way through a camp or small town, it’s a problem for the filmmakers behind the camera: how can you make a sequel to a slasher film if you’re forced to tell the same story over and over again, as the genre requires?
If you’re an industrious (read: desperate) screenwriter, you simply rewrite the first film, but with a a gimmick that allows the new film to be just different enough from the last film to justify a studio cash-in on the slasher IP. While you could chart nearly every slasher sequel gimmick by simply going through a list of the Friday the 13th sequels (probably the most industrious sequel hook generator in horror), here’s a listing of our favorites spread across some of horror’s most durable slasher franchises:
1) THE MORE-OF-THE-SAME: The first movie was a hit? How about the same movie all over again, but bigger! And with a few more dead bodies? Sold! Or, as the immortal Halloween II tagline proclaimed, “More of the night he came home!”
See: Friday the 13th Part 2 (“The Body Count Continues”), Hellbound: Hellraiser II (“They Will Tear Your Soul Apart. Again.”) ; Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 ("The Nightmare Is About To Begin... Again!")
2) THE 3D: The same movie all over again, but now a lot of random items (yo-yos, knives, spears, eyeballs) inexplicably fly towards the screen! See? It’s a kind of a different movie now!
See: Friday the 13th Part III (“A New Dimension in Terror!”); My Bloody Valentine 3D “Nothing Says Date Movie Like a 3D RIDE TO HELL!”); Jaws 3-D (“The Third Dimension Is Terror!”)
3) THE FINALE: Feel like you’ve already exhausted all your of gimmicks to get asses into theater seats? Try promising that this is very last one… ever (unless it makes a ton of money).
See: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (“They Saved The Best For Last”); Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (“This Is The One You’ve Been Dying For”); Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (“The Creator Of The First Returns To Bring You The Last”); Scream 3 (“The Most Terrifying Scream Is Always The Last”)
4) THE IN-NAME-ONLY: OK, so maybe you will go back to the well after all. But instead of coming up with a new twist on the old story, why not just slap the established IP title on an all new, completely unrelated story that has nothing to do with the original?
See: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (“The Night No One Comes Home”); Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (“May Lou Wants To Be Prom Queen, Even If it Kills Her. Again.”) ; Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation ("And If I Die Before I Wake, Thank You")
5) THE RETURN: "Hated when we tried something a little different with the last one? OK, here's the first movie all over again, but with a new number after the title. Sorry about that. Won't be doing that again."
See: Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers ("Ten Years Ago He Changed The Face Of Horror. Tonight, He's Back!"); A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors ("Freddy's Just Around The Corner")
6) THE COMEDY: If killing a bunch of drunken, sex-crazed idiots simply isn’t scary anymore, try to make it funny?
See: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (“After A Decade of Silence, The Buzzz Is Back!”); Bride Of Chucky (“This Halloween, Chucky Gets Lucky”); Friday the 13th
Part VI: Jason Lives ("The Nightmare Returns. This Summer")
7) THE INTO-THE-CITY: “Jeez, what else can we do here, guys? Maybe… maybe a change of scenery? Like, the same movie but he can go to New York/ Los Angeles instead of Elm Street/ camp/ school/ Hell?”
See: Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (“What Began In Hell, Will End On Earth”); Leprechaun In The Hood (“Evil’s In The House”); Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (“New York Has A New Problem”)
8) THE INTO-OUTER-SPACE: “Jesus Christ, another one? OK, OK, OK… um, space? This guy doesn’t breathe anyway, right? So we can do space?”
See: Leprechaun In Space (“One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap Of Terror”); Hellraiser: Bloodline (“This Year, The Past, The Present, And The Future Will All Meet At The Crossroads Of Hell”); Jason X (“Evil Gets An Upgrade”)
9) THE META: When the slasher genre has finally gotten so winded that it’s wheezing, make a film about, well, that.
See: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (“This Time The Terror No Longer Stops At The Screen”); Scream 2 (“Someone Has Taken Their Love Of Sequels Too Far”)
10) THE REBOOT: Finally, when your killer has died, been resurrected, projected in three dimensions, made jokes, visited the big city, become self-aware, and finally got lost in space, there’s only one thing left to do… let out a big sigh, rewatch the first film, and make it all over again.
See: Black Christmas; Friday The 13th; Halloween; The Hills Have Eyes; Last House On The Left; My Bloody Valentine 3D; A Nightmare On Elm Street; Prom Night; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; When A Stranger Calls