One of the most impressionable things about the horror genre (or even film in general) is this little thing known as the “theatrical trailer”. I love going to the movies early, getting comfortable in my seat, munching on my popcorn and candy while eagerly awaiting that beautiful giant green screen which moments before the feature presentation will start flashing me all of the latest and greatest movies to start getting excited for! Like most of you devoted readers out there, I grew up in a great period for horror. A period that saw just about every single horror movie converted into a franchise, and with our beloved bogeymen returning year after year in yet another sequel. (Hey, I loved it!) The purpose of the “theatrical trailer” (or “teaser” in some of these cases) was to give you a taste of what was to come, and make you terribly excited for the new adventure of your favorite baddie villain! The following are my personal TOP 10 HORROR SEQUEL TRAILERS. Please keep in mind that I’m not saying these are the greatest trailers to sequels EVER. This is just my personal list of trailers that I recall leaving an indelible mark on a once-budding horror fanatic. Most of the following films are in fact… not very good. But, the mere viewing of these trailers brings back memories of when I first bared witness to them and began letting my imagination run wild at the prospect of what the other 88 minutes of the sequel would be like. So, without further ado…
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 8: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1989)
Wow. Just wow. The year before, I had reached the peak of my absolute love for the FRIDAY THE 13TH series. I will never forget the experience of seeing FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 7: THE NEW BLOOD on the big screen with a dozen of my high school classmates and my guidance counselor (whom I convinced to get us all in)! So, when I first saw this teaser, it just blew me away. At first, you’re not even sure what movie this is for. You hear the trademark “New York, New York” tune and in comes the slow zoom to the back of a mysterious figure over looking the harbor when… BAM! He turns around, machete in hand and it’s Jason Voorhess in the middle of Manhattan! I couldn’t believe it! Jason was going to be set loose on the very city I lived in! To say this trailer made me excited would be an understatement. Several month later, the movie actually turned out to be “Jason Takes The Love Boat On It’s Way To Vancouver”. I still have fantasies of what this movie could’ve been. (Including my imaginary ending where Tina from Part 7 happens to be vacationing in Manhattan with her boyfriend Nick and fights Jason yet again!) Ah, well. We still have the teaser!
BONUS VIDEO: Jason On Arsenio Hall –
I remember watching this live a few days before the release of JASON TAKES MANHATTAN and yet again, it left me beyond excited. Arsenio Hall interviews Kane Hodder, in character as Jason and offers the famed serial killer several suggestions on follow-up films. (A few of them, quite funny!) Sadly, FRIDAY 8 bombed at the box office and he wouldn’t be brought back until New Line picked up the series and decided that their first FRIDAY film… would actually kill Jason once and for all… and be the last?!
LEATHERFACE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III (1990)
By 1990, I had become obsessed with Tobe Hooper’s two TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE movies. I remember always sleeping over my buddy David’s house, and we’d literally watch CHAINSAW 2 on repeat until the wee hours of the night or until we’d both pass out. So, when I read in the pages of FANGORIA that a new CHAINSAW was on the way, I couldn’t freakin’ wait. Then, we rented some horror flick from the local “mom & pop” video shop and this teaser came on before the feature. Again, it starts out so that you’re not sure what movie the trailer is for. But once that chainsaw starts coming out of the water, 14 year old Robg jumped for joy! Sure, this teaser is absolutely ridiculous, and who would’ve thought of comparing the cannibal killer “Leatherface” with a mythological tale, but by God… this teaser’s just cool as hell! And I ended up enjoying the movie as well!
FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991)
Look, Freddy was one of my all time favorite characters and in fact the first monster villain to truly scare the crap out of me. (I was forced to watch the original NIGHTMARE at 10 by my older cousins and it scarred me for life.) While I was first in line for NIGHTMARE’s 4 and 5, this was the trailer that left me riveted. “As a boy, he was always different…” (So was I!) There were hints here that we were finally going to see the origins of Freddy Krueger. (At the time, I was also obsessed with Tobe Hooper’s pilot episode of “Freddy’s Nightmares” which was also an “origin” story.) Factor on that the sequel had cameo’s by Alice Cooper (as Freddy’s dad!) and Johnny Depp, stared the gorgeous Liza Zane (whom I still harbor a crush on to this very day), teased at some soon-to-be-classic Freddy one-liners (Hey, I was 15 at the time!) and would have a grand finale in 3D… Freddy’s death just couldn’t come soon enough! The final film? Well… it was ok. But definitely not what I expected. And did the 3D really work for anyone out there? Alas, we still have the trailer! “What’s with kids today, huh?”
CHILD’S PLAY 2 (1990)
“Sorry, Jack. Chucky’s back!” The tagline that made no sense, but that I still quote to this day. Oh, oh, oh! It’s because there’s a “jack-in-the-box” in this trailer, but not in the actual movie! Regardless, I loved Tom Holland’s CHILD’S PLAY. (Let’s give credit where credit is due, please.) So, when I first saw this trailer to the teaser, I was ready for “more Chuck for my buck”. Love the 80’s style score of this trailer, Gerrit Graham and that cute chick from AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. AND that odd eyeball gag at the end! “Keep an eye out for it!”
HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1989)
Ah, yes. Probably one of my all time favorite sequel trailers because nothing in it reflects the actual movie! Ok. Let’s do the play by play. “This time they’re ready.” Cut to a shot of a heavily armed police officer ready to take Michael down! (There was no such scene in the final film. Just some cops ditching his house and leaving the little girl unprotected!) “This time… he’s unmasked! (Funny… didn’t they pull his mask off at the end of the first movie? Sooo… he kinda was unmasked right from the beginning. And what’s with that “ripping” sound effect?!) And “THE REVENGE” subtitle. It’s awesome, but… who exactly was Michael Myers getting revenge on in this movie? Ah, let’s just watch it again, shall we? And imagine the movie where all of the above questions are answered!
ARMY OF DARKNESS (1992)
By 92, I was already an EVIL DEAD fanatic. As well as a Bruce Campbell fan. (My friend Steve and I screamed like little girls at his cameo at the end of DARKMAN the year before.) So, after already seeing glimpses of ARMY OF DARKNESS (AKA EVIL DEAD 3) at a NY Fangoria Weekend Of Horror’s show, we knew we were in for a treat. This trailer captures all the humor and manic energy that eventually ended up on the screen. Love all the Metallica songs they use in this trailer (first SAD BUT TRUE, then HOLIER THEN THOU), even though it’s totally not the Metallica versions. (I’m amazed they didn’t get sued?! Oh, right, PRE-Napster.) And of course, Bruce’s witty dialogue. “Honey, you got realll ugly.” When I throw on the DVD, I still usually watch this trailer first prior to watching the full movie. LOVE IT!
HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH (1992)
I love when any sequel trailer has to remind you of how awesome the previous movies were. Throw in a tag line that incorporates the subtitle of the movie, and I’m sold. “This time, it’s going to be HELL… ON EARTH!” I seriously need to revisit this movie because it’s literally been years. And while most rag on it as an inferior sequel, I remember thinking the cenobite with the CD’s in his head was kinda bitchin’. (What’d’ya want from me? I was 16 at the time! And I loved these new things called… CD’s!)
PSYCHO III (1986)
Ok, confession for this one. I actually didn’t see the trailer for PSYCHO III until long after I saw the movie. But it’s by far one of my favorite sleazy 80’s horror movies, so I had to include it here. I mean, crazy, suicidal nuns? Juliette Cummins, the cute redhead from FRIDAY 5 topless? Perkins as director? The weird fact that everyone thinks Robert Maxwell is a young, hot reporter? All the shots of “mother”? Jeff Fahey?! IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FAHEY! “Norman Bates is back to normal… but ‘mother’ is off her rocker… AGAIN!” Bask in this fabulous theatrical trailer!
THE EXORCIST III: LEGION (1990)
This. Movie. Scared. The. SHIT out of me!!! There’s still one scene, to this day that gets me every time. (Oh, you know the one I’m talking about.) But it was the trailer that made me rabid with anticipation to catch an early matinee showing of THE EXORCIST 3: LEGION in theaters on opening weekend. That famous music. The intro text “Do you dare walk these stairs… again?” George C. Scott. Brad Dourif! That shot of the Jesus statue opening his eyes?! A sequel that lives up to the trailer and exceeds it.
STEPFATHER 2 (1989)
Long before Terry O’Quinn was John Locke on LOST, he was… THE STEPFATHER! And believe it or not, he came back and reprised this villainous role for the Jeff Burr directed sequel! (Jeff also directed one of the other films in this TOP 10 list, “LEATHERFACE”!) So, you’ve got nutty family man O’Quinn back! You’ve got crazy eyed Meg Foster! You’ve got the late Jonathan Brandis! Caroline Williams from CHAINSAW 2! The tag line “Make room for daddy!” And my favorite bit of dialogue in this trailer, “You will NEVER find a better family man then me.” Highly underrated sequel! Check out the trailer, then the movie.
PET SEMATARY 2 (1992)
I’ve got to include a few honorable mentions. PET SEMATARY 2, just for having the audacity to exist. Hell, it’s got Edward Furlong, hot of the heels of TERMINATOR 2, and REVENGE OF THE NERD’S Anthony Edwards! (Sorry, buddy! ER doesn’t count in my book!) Jared Rushton from BIG! Original director Mary Lambert returning. Ok, It doesn’t have Gage, but it’s got plenty of fun lines in the trailer. “Mom’s dead.” “…She doesn’t have to be.” And, “your father and I need to talk.”
CRITTERS 2: THE MAIN COURSE (1988)
Say what you will… but I loved the first CRITTERS movie. And sure, while this sequel doesn’t have Dee Wallace or Billy Zane, it’s got Scott Grimes back! And Lin Shaye! And a gag with a Freddy Krueger standee! (Remember, I was Freddy obsessed at the time!) This was the first movie from director Mick Garris, who later went on to direct several Stephen King adaptations and create the MASTERS OF HORROR series on Showtime. CRITTERS 2: THE MAIN COURSE to me was always a fun, entertaining creature flick, and this trailer definitely represents that.
HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988)
Holy crap! It’s 1988, I’m trotting around the latest issue of FANGORIA in my gym class, trying to hide out in the corner and read it, and Michael Myers is on the front cover. Words could not describe how excited I was for the return of Michael Myers! (At the time, I watched HALLOWEEN 2 countless times on TV.) I love everything about this trailer. That opening text scroll, the HALLOWEEN theme kicking in just as the eye holes from the mask come down over frame. Loomis! The explosions! Hell, the title! And Donald Pleasence’s last bit of dialogue, “Maybe nobody knows how to stop him.”
Well, those were the trailers that embodied my childhood love of horror. Hope you dug them and remembered them too. Comment below with your thoughts! I’d love to hear ‘em! –Robg.
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