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MFF Special: What is the Best Horror Sequel? (statistically speaking)

October 9, 2015

The great debate that is “what is the best horror sequel” will never end. Every individual has their opinion and it doesn’t matter if you employ logic, fact or pure emotion because it still won’t sway somebody from thinking Nightmare on Elm Street 3 is better than Aliens. Horror franchises are weird because they connect differently to every individual.

Traditionally, the horror world hasn’t been great at sequels. For the most part they ruin fear via expository dialogue and over explanation of something that should never be explained (don’t give Michael Myers parent issues). However, sometimes a sequel comes out that is better or on par with the original. For some reason they’ve avoided the traps of the sequel (make it bigger!!!!!!) and proven themselves to be great films and not just horror fodder.


Halloween: Resurrection is pure horror junk. What came first? The spin kick or Michael Myers?

In an effort to make more people disagree my cousin and I broke down way too much data in an effort to figure out the best horror franchise. We collected a massive data set for future posts and we decided to figure out the best theatrically released sequels (statistically speaking). Nobody will agree but at the least the numbers will speak for themselves. The biggest disagreement will be whether or not Silence of the Lambs is a sequel. We included it into the data and ran the MFFM with and without it. So, if you don’t think Silence is a sequel just consider Aliens to be the the #1 film.

The following post looks at critical/audience reception and return on investment. Once again we are only looking at domestic box office because tracking direct to DVD and international numbers would be unreliable. We ran the data in the same way we figured out the best franchises. The only difference is the number of films in the rankings (it went from 139 to 158).

Here are the top 15. (I included 16 just in case you don’t consider Silence of the Lambs to be a sequel).

A quick note. We don’t consider these to be the best sequels. We consider them to have the best statistics.

16. Army of Darkness

15. Purge: Anarchy (56.282)

14. Red Dragon (56.32)

13. Devil’s Rejects (56.73)

12. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (56.76)

11. Saw 2 (56.87)

10. Paranormal Activity 2 (57.36)

9. Day of the Dead (58.34)

8. Paranormal Activity 3 (58.985)

7. Scream 2 (59.945)

6. Bride of Frankenstein* (64.06)

5. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (64.146)

4. Evil Dead 2 (70.38)

3. Dawn of the Dead (74.239)

2. Aliens (74.356)

  1. Silence of the Lambs (78.834)

The Silence of the Lambs is an Oscar winning behemoth that conquered the box-office and had a huge jump (+19.234 MFFM) from the original Manhunter (59.6). Anytime an R-rated film about a serial killer collects $252,000,000 at the box office you know it had to be good.  The dialogue and scares are ingrained in the zeitgeist and the words “lotion” and “basket” have become synonymous with each other.

Buffalo Bill


If you don’t think Silence of the Lambs is a sequel then Aliens is the best statistical sequel. We’ve talked about the Alien series on the podcast and what I find most impressive is how a movie about aliens with acid blood made a ton of money ($192,586,100) and was critically loved (98% RT Critic Score). Alien had a higher MFFM score (76.1) but Aliens somehow managed to stay fresh (rarely happens) and pretty much everyone loves it (92.5 combined audience scores). An added bonus is that pretentious film students who are self aware about horror sequels consider it to be awesome.



What can we gather from the MFFM results?

10 of the films came from five franchises (NOES, PA, Evil Dead, Romero Zombies and Hannibal) and only four had higher MFFM Scores than the original. Devil Reject’s, Purge: Anarchy, Evil Dead 2 and Silence of the lambs outperformed their predecessors and have proven themselves to be fan favorites. I love how I could only find five films that had a higher MFFM than their originals. It proves that making a successful sequel to a successful film is not always easy.

Blair Witch 2

Blair Witch 2 suffered from a case of the terrible twos.

The Devil’s Rejects (56.73) had the second largest numerical jump from its predecessor House of 1,000 Corpses (41). The 15 point jump can be accredited to Zombies gritty direction and all in performances from his cast. He had a film under his belt so he was able to fine tune a script that fit his intelligent and dirty brand of horror. It actually placed #21 on our top 21 films of the 21st century post.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Paranormal Activity 3 and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare make the cut because they are solid horror films. New Nightmare was meta before horror films were meta and PA3 brought the scary mojo back to the pesky found footage world. The biggest surprises were Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors at #5 and Purge: Anarchy making the cut. I wasn’t a fan of Anarchy but it had better critical/audience scores and made more money than the original. Thus, it is a very successful sequel.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the best franchise and sequels posts! Come back next week when I unleash the best statistical remakes!




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