30% Said This Was The Best Horror Movie Sequel – Here's Why They're (Mostly) Right

(Welcome to Survey Says, a feature where we conduct a movie-related survey for a random group of people and explain why they're completely right, completely wrong, or somewhere in-between.)

Oftentimes, a sequel just can't help but pale in comparison to its inaugural cinematic installment — making it all the more special when a film's follow-up is just as exciting and revelatory as the original. This is especially true within the horror genre. Kills and scares need to surpass the expectations of the original without rehashing the same plot points, meaning that big-brained re-imaginings are often necessary for a sequel to elicit ample screams.

Luckily for horror fans, the art of the sequel has been all but perfected within the genre — and fans are champing at the bit to declare an all-time best sequel. Surveying 619 U.S. participants, we've now attempted to settle the debate surrounding the best horror movie sequel. In all honesty, we can't really contest these results, even if some friendly debate is guaranteed to linger on regardless.

Let's unpack the top-voted titles from survey respondents. Please feel free to nod or shake your head accordingly.

Aliens takes the top spot

Typically regarded as one of the greatest sequels of all time — let alone in the sci-fi/horror genre — it's no surprise that "Aliens" takes the top spot on this survey, with 30% of respondents heralding it the best horror sequel ever made. The 1986 James Cameron film is both a response to and a departure from Ridley Scott's 1979 film, featuring the same central protagonist but amplifying just about every other fearful aspect of the original film's plot.

As the sole human survivor of the alien attack on the USCSS Nostromo, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has been suspended in stasis for the past 57 years as her escape pod has floated through space. When the pod is finally retrieved by her employer, Ripley frantically tries to tell the others of the extraterrestrial encounter that still feels so fresh in her mind. Unfortunately for Ripley, her experience makes her all the more equipped for going back to the planet, where her crew first encountered the face-hugging aliens — a rescue mission that just might mean sacrificing her own life.

At this point, the story of James Cameron pitching "Aliens" is totally iconic, but it always merits retelling. At the bigwig meeting to discuss the idea, Cameron merely walked up to a whiteboard and wrote the word "Aliens," immediately cinching the deal when he replaced the "s" in the title with a dollar sign, effectively pitching "Alien$." As such, a truly amazing cinematic spectacle was born, exosuit cargo-loader and all.

Wes Craven creations loom large

Sure, big bucks and one of Hollywood's best action directors can make just about any sequel sing (lest we've forgotten James Cameron's impeccable "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"), but only a true horror aficionado can pull off what director Wes Craven habitually cooked up during his heyday. As such, nearly 23% of respondents named "Scream 2" the best horror sequel of all time, no doubt due to the film's heady lampooning of sequels in general. By announcing all of the genre's tricks, tropes, and gimmicks, "Scream 2" is effectively able to have its cake and eat it too, a feat specific to Craven's horror-helming prowess.

The beauty of "Scream 2" is it closely follows the formula of the original while it twists audience expectations. It follows Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) as she leaves Woodsboro High School to study at nearby Windsor College, with some fellow former classmates in her ranks. Of course, Ghostface makes a dreaded return, hunting down survivors and new blood alike. Star reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) also makes a comeback, sure to milk the disaster for views and another successful book tour.

Yet "Scream 2" isn't the only Craven creation to have an honorable mention on the list. "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" accounted for about 6% of votes — perhaps a measly percentage, but still more than enough to land the horror icon on the list twice. He's not alone, though — director Sam Raimi managed to secure two spots on the list as well, with nearly 10% of respondents calling 1987's "Evil Dead II" the best horror sequel, while almost 6% gave the title to his 1992 effort "Army of Darkness."

Shoutout to the runners-up

Taking the bronze in this veritable battle royale is George A. Romero's "Dawn of the Dead," the filmmaker's 1978 sequel to "Night of the Living Dead," the low-budget zombie horror film that forever cemented the filmmaker as one of horror's greatest directors. Honestly, it's surprising that "Dawn of the Dead" only managed to nab a little over 13% of votes, as it predates both "Aliens" and "Scream" considerably while engaging with the framework of one of the best horror films of all time. Effectively a critique of American consumerism, it also earned the title of "socially conscious horror" well before the trend caught on. Considering Romero's continued insistence of casting his horror films diversely and never playing into tired gendered and racial tropes, it's this writer's belief that "Dawn of the Dead" could have easily outshined "Aliens," but what can you do?

Of course, this list would be completely remiss without the mention of iconic Universal Classic Monsters canon, and thankfully 12% of respondents noted that "The Bride of Frankenstein" was one of the best sequels to come out of these silver screen classics. The iconic image of actress Elsa Lanchester as the titular bride seems to have been genetically imprinted for generations, a white-streaked mountain of stark black hair forever ingrained in the cultural zeitgeist.

So, what do you reckon? Are these results respectable, or do you have a bone to pick with some would-be horror fans?