In the history of horror that THS Fright-A-Thon is dutifully teaching all of you, there are certain things that are sacred. One of those things, is that there will always be another sequel. No matter what. The series could be dead and buried. That killer could be dead, blown up, incinerated, and gone. And yet, the writers of the Terrorverse continually bring dead killers and monsters back. Why is this? Most of the time it has little to do with actual creative freedom and more about money. A part three doing well just means that part 4 is right around the corner.
Well shit, if part three did that well, let’s get part four in development RIGHT NOW!Every horror movie executive ever.
In some franchises, the fourth part signals a creative lapse. Trilogies are usually the storytelling standard. Like the three part essay style you’re taught in school, it works here. You have your introduction, your body, and your conclusion. The introduction usually is the best part of any horror franchise, but some franchises don’t hit their stride until the third entry. After that you get into a weird territory where the story should be finished but it isn’t. There’s always more to add. Always more to build on. Finally, there’s always going to be a backstory to explore.
When in doubt, build up the backstory to our favorite killers, monsters, ghouls, ghosts, goblins, and whatever else you can think of. So without wasting more of your time, here’s the Top 4 Part 4’s in Horror.
Number Four Part 4 In Horror: A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
The shining example of the trilogy rule being blown up. A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors tied up the loose ends of the series. Wes Craven seems to be good at that. After he departed the series with arguably it’s best entry, New Line had to go back to the well. They brought in a relatively unknown director named Renny Harlin to make the film. Patricia Arquette didn’t return as Kristen and was recast. Tuesday Knight took her place on the film. This was the first film in the series to give Robert Englund top billing. It also made the most money out of any entry in the series up to Freddy vs. Jason.
This fourth part is actually pretty good and sets up some of the fun of the later series. While the later sequels are only really for superfans of Freddy Krueger, they’re all at least watchable. This film created the huge marketability of A Nightmare On Elm Street. It also saved Renny Harlin’s career, who went on to direct Die Hard 2. Finally, it added honorably to the mythos surrounding Freddy Krueger and the Elm Street saga. So for that, it fits the fourth spot.
Number Three Part 4 In Horror: Bride Of Chucky (1998)
I’m gonna say that this is probably the best of the Child’s Play/Chucky sequels. Sure, it’s not as scary, but it definitely builds up the character of Chucky that we all know and love so much. Add in Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany, a non-horrible Katherine Heigl performance, and John Ritter as Chief Kincaid, and you get a quality fourth entry to the series. It went pretty downhill after this in quality, but there is something to look forward to. The new Chucky series coming to SyFy later next year. Plus, Brad Dourif is making his return to the character after Mark Hamill was dealt a bad hand with the Child’s Play remake.
Bride of Chucky is a meaningful and quite frankly, good, entry to the series. Which is hard to do by the time you reach the fourth entry. It’s well worth a watch this Holiday season and was one of the films that just barely missed out on the THS Horror Movie October Marathon.
Number Two Part 4 In Horror: Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
I only have three words for this number two slot on our best part four list. Crispin. Glover. Dance. Outside of that very goofy and famous dance scene, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (which it’s also never the “final” chapter), is probably my favorite and the best of the sequels. I put Friday the 13th: Part 3 in my Horror Movie Marathon for October, but this one is the better film. It combines all of the things that a part four should reasonably do. It adds new and interesting characters, it sort of continues the narrative of the previous three films, and it’s not a complete bomb.
This film adds the character of Tommy Jarvis, who I think might be the only non-telekinetic kid on film to beat the crap out of a slasher villain. It ended an era for the franchise. The first four films all have that summer camp feel and look to them. Later films got bigger budgets, more effects, more grandiose, and no matter how funny it is seeing Jason in Manhattan in Part 8, that movie is atrocious. It helps matters (at least for teenage boys) that this is the film in the series to have the most nudity and gore.
Like A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master this film raked in a huge box office profit for the studio. Which of course meant, more sequels. And I really mean it, if you haven’t seen this one, the Crispin Glover dance scene is worth every penny you spend on renting it or buying it. Get it as part of the Scream Factory Friday the 13th box-set.
Number One Part 4 In Horror: Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988)
Number one might be a surprise to some, or not to others. While Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers has the worst mask in the franchise, it does a lot to add to the mythos of the Myers narrative. The film, which followed the massive backlash to Halloween III: Season of the Witch not having Michael in it, was a worth successor to Halloween II. It didn’t crap all over the legacy of those two original films.
Also, it has one of the best child acting performances from Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd. The only thing that’s out of the ordinary and far-fetched is how Michael can come back from being incinerated at the end of the second film. Same with Doctor Loomis. By the way, Donald Pleasence is a goddamn revelation in this film. He steals the show as Loomis, as always. It’s an enjoyable film to watch leading up to October 31st.
By far though, my favorite thing about the film is the opening credits. I’ll put them here for reference.
If that doesn’t evoke the true feeling, meaning, and idea of Halloween season, I don’t know what does. It’s positively eerie. Combined with the orange type of the credits and cast, it just oozes Halloween feel. The music is simple, and ambient.
If others have told you bad things about this film and it’s sequel Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, give it another shot.
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