Horror Films With Surprise Endings & Their Sequels


When your horror movie has a big-twist ending, how do you come back to the same table for seconds?

That's the dilemma facing "Insidious Chapter 2," the sequel to the 2011 thriller now in theaters .

In the original "Insidious," a couple (Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne) move their family into an old house, which, after their son has an accident and slips into a deep coma, begins to turn pretty creepy. Things don't improve when a medium is brought in to sort out the evil spirits -- who decide to strike back.

One of the things that makes the first "Insidious" work is its surprise twist ending; without giving it away, let's just say that evil is closer to home than anyone thought.

But the movie's big reveal -- and big success at the box office -- means the filmmakers have to twist in a different direction the second time around. For "Insidious Chapter 2," it's two years later, and they've moved to Grandma's house. But those menacing spirits -- and what drew them the first time around -- have followed them.

Will the transition be enough to keep the chill factor? Horror, like comedy, is in the eye (and heart-pounding) of the beholder.

But if past twisty horror movies' results are a gauge, it's not a sure thing. Here's a look at 10 Hollywood horror hits with surprise endings, and the sequels they spawned.

Can't say this loudly enough: SPOILERS ABOUND.

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

Plot of original ("The Blair Witch Project," 1999): Three students set out to make a documentary about the Blair Witch, a legendary figure blamed in the long-ago murders of seven children, in which each child was forced to stand in the corner to hear the screams of the preceding victim.

Original twist (spoiler): After fleeing whatever's hunting them in the woods, the two surviving student filmmakers wind up in the house. At the end, one of them is standing in the corner. And, presumably, one isn't.

How sequel got around it: By starting over. Tourists who saw the first movie come to Maryland to check out the Blair Witch story for themselves. After spending a night camping at the ruins of the spooky house, strange things start happening to them, but they can't seem to remember...

Psycho II (1983)

Plot of original ("Psycho," 1960): A momma's boy named Norman (Anthony Perkins) runs a motel where people keep getting killed. It seems a mother's work is never done.

Original twist (spoiler): Norman's mother is dead and stuffed; he's been dressing up in her clothes and killing out of sex-phobic rage.

How sequel got around it: Move the story 22 years into the future. Norman's finally out of the mental hospital, and so naturally he moves back into the Bates Motel, where someone in a black dress is up to his old tricks.

Scream 2 (1997)

Plot of original ("Scream," 1996): A masked killer obsessed with horror movies terrorizes a small town -- especially the orbit of Sidney (Neve Campbell), a student whose mother was murdered the year before.

Original twist (spoiler): The killer is actually two killers -- and one is Sidney's boyfriend. Sidney winds up killing both of them.

How sequel got around it: Turn the slasher-movie homage into a slasher movie of its own. It's two years later, and the killer in the ghostface mask is back -- claiming his first victims at the premiere of "Stab," the movie based on the killings in the first movie.

Saw II (2005)

Plot of original ("Saw," 2004): Two men find themselves shackled in an abandoned washroom by the cancer-ridden Jigsaw Killer -- who won't let them (or their loved ones) live until they accomplish some grisly tasks.

Original twist (spoiler): That dead guy on the floor in the washroom? That's really the Jigsaw Killer -- and he was alive the whole time. He leaves the last survivor to die on his own.

How sequel got around it: Keep connecting story after story. Another of the Jigsaw Killer's victims dies, and his death leads the cops to a dying Jigsaw -- and more mysteries.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Plot of original ("Frankenstein," 1931): A scientist out to defeat death creates a living creature out of human parts, but his creation's underdeveloped brain leads him to kill and terrorize the townsfolk. They respond by trapping him in a building and setting it on fire.

Original twist (spoiler): The scientist who created the monster survives, but the monster, who symbolizes man's attempt to create life, does not.

How sequel got around it: Go for a rewrite. Mary Shelley, the author of "Frankenstein," decides to reveal the rest of the story -- the monster survived the horrible fire after all, and decides he needs a mate, and she looks an awful lot like Mary Shelley (both are played by Elsa Lanchester).

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

Plot of original ("The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," 1974): Out of gas, some travelers stumble on a rural homestead turned slaughterhouse, and are terrorized by a chain saw-wielding maniac in a leather hood.

Original twist (spoiler): The sole survivor makes a break for it and gets away, but ol' Leatherface lives to chain-saw another day. (In 1974, letting the killer live actually was a twist. You can look it up.)

How sequel got around it: Pretend that no one notices when people get chain-sawed to death. It's 13 years later, and Leatherface and family are still up to their old tricks in the backwoods -- until a radio broadcast of one of his misdeeds brings the whole clan out of hiding, and out for blood.

Stepfather 2: Make Room for Daddy (1989)

Plot of original ("The Stepfather," 1987): Terry O'Quinn plays a man with a plan: Marry a beautiful young woman with a child and shape the perfect family. When the inevitable imperfections surface, he just wipes the slate clean by wiping them all out, changing his identity and starting all over again.

Original twist (spoiler): After his latest wife and daughter begin to suspect he's a creepy killer, he sets out to do what he always does -- butcher them both and start over -- but they beat him to it, with mom shooting him and daughter stabbing him.

How sequel got around it: Pretend the killer didn't die. After flashing back on his "death," O'Quinn escapes from the prison's psych ward and starts a new life as...a marriage counselor.

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Plot of original ("Paranormal Activity," 2007): After a young couple, Katie and Micah, move into a new house, Micah sets up video cameras around the house in a bid to capture the evil spirits Katie thinks have haunted her all her life. Turns out she wasn't lyin'.

Original twist (spoiler): Katie, it turns out, has been taken over by whatever evil lurks in the house, disappearing after she kills Micah.

How sequel got around it: Go back to before the beginning. Set a few months before the events of the first movie, the story starts with a burglar trashing the home of Katie's sister Kristi, stealing only a necklace that Katie had given her. Kristi's husband sets up security cameras to catch future thieves, but the cameras pick up something very, very different -- and spooky.

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)

Plot of original ("I Know What You Did Last Summer," 1997): Four friends riding in a car that accidentally kills a stranger on the road agree to dump the body and pretend it never happened. But someone has other ideas -- and will hunt down the foursome to make sure they know.

Original twist (spoiler): After fending off the killer -- all that's recovered is his severed arm and the hook at the end of it -- Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt), one of the group's two survivors, is about to take a shower when the killer's hook comes crashing through the glass door at her.

How sequel got around it: Pretend it was a dream. At the beginning of "I Still Know," Julie wakes up from a nightmare that the killer is about to get her -- then goes on an all-expenses paid trip to the Bahamas with her BFFs.

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Plot of original ("Friday the 13th," 1980): A summer camp, reopened 21 years after a double murder led to its closing, hosts a group of young counselors and at least one killer, who's picking off the counselors one by one.

Original twist (spoiler): Mrs. Voorhees, the bus driver whose son Jason drowned at the camp 22 years earlier, is behind the killings. But she may have had help -- from Jason!

How sequel got around it: Get rid of the only witness. Now in her apartment in the city, Alice (Adrienne King), the only survivor from the massacre at the lake, finds Mrs. Voorhees' severed head in her refrigerator -- and, seconds later, an ice pick in her head. Jason is that, you?


"Insidious Chapter 2," which opens in theaters Friday, wasn't made available for local preview.

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