The Top 10 Movie Sequels Better Than the Original

December 3, 2009

There is nothing better in this world than going to see a sequel of one of your favorite films and having it satisfy every single fantasy you thought imaginable. It’s a very rare thing to find sequels that are more superior than their first installment, but when you do, it can be one of the most epic of all moviegoing experiences.

10. The Bride of Frankenstein


Source: Universal Pictures

Even though this 1935 classic may not be officially considered a sequel, it paid in full on its release and still does to this very day. Still considered one of the ultimate monster classics of all time, 1931's Frankenstein was unique for its brilliant and meticulous direction by James Whale as well as the iconic performance by Boris Karloff.

In my opinion, Whale is the reason why this film was so groundbreaking. The man was an artist making films at a time when hacks were a dime a dozen. With Bride, Whale stepped his game up and took the saga of a reanimated corpse to a terrifying new level.  We get another incredible performance from Boris Karloff as the Monster and Elsa Lanchester totally brings down the house as both Mary Shelley and the glorious bride.

9. Superman 2


Source: Warner Bros.

There is no doubt that the original Superman was a great action blockbuster and a pretty solid take on the comic, but Superman 2 is the film from the series that seems to stand out in everyone’s minds. The reason? General motherfunkin’ Zod, son! We get a taste of the Zod in the first feature, but part 2 is where the s*** really hits the fan, The film also shows Superman giving up his powers for the love of Ms. Lois Lane. This plotline alone could have carried the entire film, but when you throw Zod and his badass intergalactic criminal crew in the mix it makes for some great popcorn movie bliss.

Come to me, son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!

8. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior


Source: Warner Bros.

I’ve always loved the original Mad Max and its take on a post-apocalyptic society, but the ultra violent bonanza that is The Road Warrior is like the first film on performance-enhancing drugs. George Miller did another incredible job as director and also helped write a dark yet somewhat realistic image of the future. The fact that the entire movie is based around a battle for fuel is a damn scary concept if you look at the fight for oil that’s been going on globally in the past few years.

The first Mad Max had some groundbreaking car carnage that still holds up to this day, but the action sequences in RW are an all-you-can-eat buffet for the eyes and seemed to set the standard for stunt work, as well as mobile camera techniques. The film’s relentlessly aggressive style and over-the-top, cartoon-like characters are every movie fan’s fantasy. This film f***ing owns. They really, really don’t make’em like they use to.

7. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn


Source: Vince Bucci/Getty Images

Even though this movie is basically a remake of the first Evil Dead, I easily consider it one of the greatest sequels ever created. With Evil Dead 2, horror visionary Sam Raimi and goofy Michigan partner-in-crime Bruce Campbell teamed up once again to battle the evil of the Necronomicon. With Raimi’s groundbreaking camera acrobatics and Bruce’s slapstick brilliance, Evil Dead 2 went on to become one of the most beloved cult classics of the horror genre. If you have yet to experience this film you really need to treat yourself.

Another great aspect about this film is how Raimi had a much larger budget for Dead By Dawn compared to the first film. The original Evil Dead was shot for a measly $375,000. Seeing an independent filmmaker like Raimi get this kind of financial boost was really satisfying as a fan, but not nearly as satisfying as the end result of all the hard work...and fake blood.

6. Dawn of the Dead


Source: Laurel Group

Every single one of George A. Romero’s Dead films seems to be able to stand alone as their own individual work. None are really the same, but they all share Romero’s unique directing style and maniacal vision. With this said, Night of the Living Dead is one of the most original horror films ever made and Dawn of the Dead was no different. Night terrified audiences in ways like never before and totally redefined the entire horror genre all by its lonesome.

With the release of Dawn of the Dead, things would most definitely never be the same again for the genre. Tom Savini’s jaw-dropping make-up and effects work is one of the key reasons for this. Never had audiences feasted on such a gorefest in all their lives. The scene where the zombie husband goes to hug his wife and rips a huge chink of flesh from her shoulder was like nothing I had ever seen before. I was disgusted and thoroughly delighted all at the same time. Who wouldn’t be? Even Roger Ebert gave Dawn four out of four stars and said it was "one of the best horror films ever made."

5. Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan


Source: Paramount Pictures

The Wrath of Kahn was much better than the first Star Trek movie for so many reasons – the effects, the characters, the soundtrack –  not least of which was the fact that Ricardo Montalban (the man who single-handedly made up the term “Corinthian leather”) played Khan.

After the first film bombed, it was looking pretty bleak for the Star Trek franchise; the thing was crashing before it had even taken off. But The Wrath of Khan was a hit and brought the franchise back to life. Not to mention that it gave us one of the best Captain Kirk lines of all time: “Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most…human.”

You can’t say the director, Nicholas Meyer, didn’t have balls. The man had never seen an episode of Star Trek before getting the job, and then he goes and kills off Spock – and the movie’s still a huge success!

4. The Dark Knight


Source: Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros.

I wasn’t all that impressed with Batman Begins when it was first released. After viewing it a number of times, I definitely enjoyed it much more, but it still wasn’t even close to being in the same league as Tim Burton's Batman. Now not only is The Dark Knight far superior to BB, some critics/fans seem to believe that it’s even better than the Jack Nicholson version. I can’t say that I totally agree with this opinion, but I will admit that both films are pretty much a cream dream for comic geeks the world over. It was like makers of the movie scanned the brains of every superdork around the world and funneled out Dark Night into a petri dish.

3. The Godfather: Part II


Source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

There’s always been drama when it’s come down to the conversation of The Godfather vs. The Godfather: Part II. Which one is better? Answer: I honestly don’t know and I don’t really care. Both films are pretty much perfect and deliver in spades with each and every viewing.

With the anticipation of a film as big as The Godfather: Part II, fans were obviously expecting the saga to pick up right were the first Coppola vision ended without a bump in the road. Somehow, Coppola was able to pull this huge task off and take the story in directions you wouldn't expect. Robert De Niro straight up killed it as Vito Corleone and eventually got an Oscar for his hard work. I’m not saying his performance was better than Brando’s, but the way De Niro was able to give a performance on the same level as the greatest actor of our time is easily one of the most impressive acting feats in the history of cinema. The pacing back and forth between Michael and Vito’s storyline might be one of the main elements of this film that gives it an upper hand over the first installment. Either way, both are cinematic masterpieces. Which is your favorite?

2. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back


Source: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm

After dropping the box office behemoth that was Star Wars, George Lucas decided to step aside and let Irvin Kershner take over the director’s chair for the follow-up. Luckily for us, the movie was not only as satisfying as Episode IV, it blew it out of the water. Now I’m not knocking Star Wars, I just think this should be the standard when it comes to any sequel. Filmmakers should always strive to step their game up for the sake of the fans. There are some great endings to movies out there, but the ending to Empire might be one of the greatest ever put together. Darth is Luke’s father?! Dra-ma!

1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day


Source: Jean-Paul Aussenard/Getty Images

As far as sequels go, it really doesn’t get any better than this. First off, go back and watch this film and keep telling yourself it was made back in 1991. The fact that a science fiction/action film like T2 has been able to hold up over the years is nothing short of amazing.

With the surprising box office success of the first Terminator film, you would think it would have been impossible for Cameron and his team to put together a sequel that would be on par with the original. Cameron's scripting of Arnold as good guy Terminator was such a great touch and his relationship with a young John Conner gave the movie a depth that few action/science fiction films can compete with. Cameron was also able to take some of the visual effects he was experimenting with in The Abyss and funnel them into T2. Without Terminator 2, films like Jurassic Park and the Lord of The Rings series would have never been made.

I vividly remember when this film first came out and man did it deliver. I honestly can’t remember anyone saying a single negative thing about it. Every person that left the theatre was completely satisfied. That is a very rare thing in the movie industry and even more rare for a sequel. Aliens was also no different. It might have made the list, but I feel like the movies are in two completely different categories. Alien is a suspense movie and Aliens is a straight-up action movie. You could say that both are just as great as one another.