History Lessons: “Sequels That Don’t Suck” (Episode 3.1)

O horror-filled October! One of the best documentary series, Eli Roth’s History of Horror, has returned for a third season, and thus so has this blog feature. Here’s my selection of the best commentary provided by industry insiders and genre scholars in last night’s premiere episode, “Sequels That Don’t Suck”:


Eli Roth: For a sequel to be great, you have to give the audience what they’re expecting, just not in the way they think they’re gonna get it. You gotta be like a magician. You know the trick’s coming, I’m telling you the trick’s coming, I’m telling you the trick’s coming, and then you still do it, and they go, ‘Wow, I didn’t see that coming.’


Jonah Rey: The thing that made A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 stick out so much is that it was the first entry into fun Freddy before he became silly Freddy. So he was still scary in this, but having a bit more time to quip. That all of a sudden becomes scarier–of this guy, just like, not only is he gonna kill you, but he’s gonna have a little too much fun doing it.


Robert Englund: Wes [Craven] would tell you that he’s a little upset with the exploitation of the humorous part of Freddy’s personality. And I back him on that. But Wes is responsible for that. Wes created a character that cracked wise.


Kevin Williamson: Scream 1 basically asked the question, ‘If you can’t blame the movies, who can you blame?’ Scream 2 suggested who you can blame. And look who the killer was: it was the mother. So Scream 2, in a weird way, is saying: ‘We can blame the parents. Bad parenting creates psychos.’


Jason Blum: Working in the horror genre allows you to not necessarily explore themes that are different than would be in a drama, but it allows those themes to reach a much broader audience. The Purge is a great example of that. I think this country has gone off the rails in its relationship to guns, and The Purge is about, if that keeps going where we might wind up, kind of a cautionary tale.


Don Mancini: The Tiffany character [in Bride of Chucky] is an abused woman. You know, she’s an abused spouse. The movie’s throwing its sympathies in with the woman victim. And at the end, she turns the tables on her abuser.


Jennifer Tilly: I feel like the Bride of Chucky is a romantic tragedy, because it’s almost Romero and Juliet. It’s almost like a love that was never meant to be.


Tom Holland: Tony [Perkins] had felt that Norman Bates was a curse. And so he didn’t want to do a sequel. So I had to figure out how to write a script that would be so terrific for the actor that he’d have to do it. And so it was how to give him a character arc, how to make it into an acting piece. And that’s how I came up with, well, you just ask logically, if it’s twenty-two years later–which is what the time had been since the original–where would Norman have been?


Anthony Masi: Well, this is why the sequel [Psycho II] doesn’t suck, is because the ending makes sense. Typically in good sequels, the rules of that movie then change what happened in the first movie.


Quentin Tarantino: I think Joe Dante became a director so he could do Gremlins 2. There always is a little bit of a Mad Magazine parody of his own movie running in the margin of a Joe Dante film. And with Gremlins 2, he was able to do a Mad Magazine takeoff on the first Gremlins for the entire movie, for the length of the movie.


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