10 Sequels That Are Better Than The Original
1. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Directed by: James Whale
Written by: William Hurlbut and John L. Balderston
Sequel to: Frankenstein (1931)
Why it’s better: Bride of Frankenstein leans into an early camp sensibility that was sorely lacking from the more sincere Frankenstein. It’s a richer, more developed story overall, and it even manages to incorporate some notable queer subtext.
2. The Godfather Part II (1974)
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo
Sequel to: The Godfather (1972)
Why it’s better: As it follows a hardened Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), The Godfather Part II isn’t just a sequel to The Godfather: It’s also a prequel, documenting the rise of young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro). It is epic in scope, and thematically bookends the first film in a way no other sequel has managed since.
3. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Directed by: George A. Romero
Written by: George A. Romero
Sequel to: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Why it’s better: George A. Romero’s first two zombie films are so different from one another that it’s hard to judge them in a face-off. But Dawn of the Dead is the more impressive achievement, and its unsubtle commentary about the zombification of America was revolutionary at the time.
4. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Directed by: Irvin Kershner
Written by: Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan
Sequel to: Star Wars (1977)
Why it’s better: The first Star Wars has a lot of world-building to do — and it does so incredibly well. But The Empire Strikes Back is able to expand on that, and, because it’s the middle section of a trilogy, allow for more darkness and ambiguity, including a cliffhanger ending that dramatically raised the stakes.
5. Superman II (1980)
Directed by: Richard Lester
Written by: Mario Puzo, David Newman, and Leslie Newman
Sequel to: Superman (1978)
Why it’s better: There are a lot of superhero sequels on this list, in part because the first movie in a franchise typically has a lot of heavy lifting to do, particularly when it comes to origin stories. Superman II deepens our conception of Superman (Christopher Reeve), as well as his relationship with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).
6. The Road Warrior (1981)
Directed by: George Miller
Written by: Terry Hayes, George Miller, and Brian Hannant
Sequel to: Mad Max (1979)
Why it’s better: Much like 2015’s breakout hit Mad Max: Fury Road, The Road Warrior functions well as a standalone film. However, part of the reason its world feels so fully realized is that George Miller was able to introduce so many of these ideas — not to mention Max himself — in the original Mad Max.
7. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Directed by: Steve Miner
Written by: Ron Kurz and Phil Scuderi
Sequel to: Friday the 13th (1980)
Why it’s better: Friday the 13th Part 2 is the first movie in the series in which Jason Voorhees (Warrington Gillette) is actually the killer, and it defines so much of what came after it. In the character of Ginny (Amy Steel), it also offers a more assertive, compelling Final Girl to take Jason on.
8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Directed by: Nicholas Meyer
Written by: Jack B. Sowards
Sequel to: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Why it’s better: The first Star Trek movie faltered in trying to translate the series for a cinematic audience. The sequel focused on the elements that made the original series such a success, and brought back TV show villain Khan (Ricardo Montalbán), who immediately established himself as an iconic adversary.
9. Grease 2 (1982)
Directed by: Patricia Birch
Written by: Ken Finkleman
Sequel to: Grease (1978)
Why it’s better: Hi, haters. Look, Grease 2 is messy, but it does a great job of subverting the regressive gender norms that dominate the original film and stage musical. Plus it has Michelle Pfeiffer singing “Cool Rider,” and the dreamy Maxwell Caulfield at his physical peak.
10. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz
Sequel to: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Why it’s better: Hi, haters — part two. The most maligned Indiana Jones film (at least until 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) is the most imaginative and, yes, completely off-the-wall at times. But consider the fact that George Lucas’s films were inspired by movie serials of the ’40s and ’50s. Temple of Doom got it right.
10 Sequels That Are Better Than The Original