Alien: Covenant

The Best Recent Horror Movie Prequels

Speaking in general terms, prequels get a bad rap and that seems to go double for horror prequels. This weekend sees the release of Annabelle: Creation, the prequel to Annabelle, which itself is a prequel to The Conjuring. If social media is any indication, it seems many have prematurely dismissed the forthcoming origin despite its official release still two days out.

It’s tough, though, to blame potential moviegoers for a lack of enthusiasm on their part regarding a second Annabelle movie. Sure the original scared up huge box office success, but the film was critically panned and nobody since has been clamoring for another go-around with the world’s creepiest doll.

Thankfully, recent history is on our side. No longer does a horror movie prequel automatically mean a horrible film. In fact, some have gone on to be better films than the original. Here are five recent examples of great prequels to horror films.

5. Insidious: Chapter 3

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Horror Master James Wan is a household name. After establishing two mega-popular tent poles (Saw and The Conjuring) and refueling another (Furious 7), he should be. But not every swing is a hit, even for great filmmakers. Insidious: Chapter 2 is a critical stain on Wan’s otherwise beloved resume. It left such a sour taste in audiences’ mouths that the third chapter shares so few ties with the first two installments, with of course the exception of Lin Shaye, who is an absolute delight as the series’ psychic. By stepping away from recognizable names and faces of Insidious and focusing on a new family while keeping a tight leash on tension, this prequel has breathed new life into these movies. Bring on Chapter Four!

4. Final Destination 5

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Where is a franchise to go following a fourth film called The Final Destination? Back to the beginning, of course! As it turns out, not such a bad call for the Final Destination franchise. While Final Destination 5 doesn’t do anything to win over new audiences, hardcore horror heads will no doubt revel in the prequel’s tongue-in-cheek sense of mischief and its effectively silly application of 3D technology. What’s more, ‘FD5′ features some of the series’ most ludicrous and memorable deaths (see: acupuncture Buddha and gymnastics splat-tastics).

3. Prometheus

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Prometheus is undoubtedly one of the most polarizing films to come out of the last decade. Many moviegoers praised Director Ridley Scott for imaginatively exploring new possibilities within the Alien universe and an equal number of people criticize the filmmaker for unnecessarily squatting over his cherished property (hence Ridley “Squat”). By its inclusion on this list, I’m sure you’ve already surmised that I tend to hang my hat on the former. That wasn’t always the case, though. Prior to Alien: Covenant, I thought Prometheus was a pretentious cash grab that promised answers but ultimately left me with more questions. After seeing where Ridley Scott plans to take the series, I’ve since changed my tune and see this film as the first act of a larger story featuring Michael Fassbender’s David, who is slowly becoming one of modern cinema’s greatest villains.

2. Paranormal Activity 3

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The original Paranormal Activity reinvigorated the found footage horror fad that lasted the better part of a decade. Paranormal Activity 2 was just more of the same. Instead of giving the same ol’ situation one more try, the third installment straight up jumps back to the eighties to explore the haunting of its lead heroines as young material girls living in a material world. The lack of contemporary tech forced Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost to roll with it and craft once in a lifetime scares. The result was a truly terrifying thriller.

1. Ouija: Origin of Evil

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Prequels are the life support systems of the horror genre. They’re a studio’s attempt to keep a lucrative franchise alive. Typically, that involves upping the ante on whatever the gruesome gimmick of that particular series is at the expense of coherent, compelling storytelling. Director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) managed to achieve both with his prequel to the dumpster fire that is Ouija. Through the course of a deliberately paced slow burn, Flanagan simultaneously builds his characters and his scares. Consequently, ‘Origin of Evil’ is as tender as it is frightening and a decided improvement over the first film.

There you have it. Good horror movie prequels do exist and we’ve been fortunate to get as many as we’ve had the past few years. Speaking for Annabell: Creation, David F. Sandberg showed us he knows original horror when he put out last year’s Lights Out. Plus he recently landed the Shazam! gig, so James Wan isn’t the only visionary who thinks Sandberg’s capable of creatively spinning existing material.

Let us know what you all thought about our list in the comments section below and be sure to include your list of best horror movie prequels.

Ranking ‘Alien: Covenant’ among the rest of the ‘Alien-Predator’ films

There is a lot of history to sink your teeth into between the Alien and Predator franchises. Both have experienced their high’s as well as their low’s. Despite the ceaseless debates about what exactly qualifies as what, it seems diehard fans are perpetually bursting at the chest for another chance to live inside this quasi-shared universe (whether it be the movies, comics, video games, whatever). If you’re among them (or just a casual fan of gory sci-fi action), then you’re in luck! Friday marks the release of the latest entry (directed by Ridley Scott, too!) in the series: Alien: Covenant.

To commemorate this surely divisive event, we here at Movie Minutes have ranked the eleven films (including ‘Covenant’) of the Alien and Predator (kind of) shared cinematic universe in an order we consider “worst” to “best.” Enjoy!

11.) Alien 3

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This film is so bad that its director, David Fincher (The Social Network, Gone Girl, Fight Club, if you can believe that), did not even want to be given credit on the project. It’s so bad that the Fox Studios, at one time, had officially announced plans to retcon the film with a Neill Blomkamp installment that was going to take place chronologically after James Cameron’s Aliens. And then there are the fans, who felt sleighed by (among other things) the unceremonious, unnecessary killings-off of two beloved characters in the first scene. Nobody wants this movie.

10.) Predator 2

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This film finds itself as low on our list as it is simply because of how forgettable it is. It’s your prototypical “copy-paste” sequel that plucks the titular extraterrestrial from the actual jungles of Central America and plops it into the concrete jungle of New York City. It’s an interesting idea on paper, but the film offers few new ideas or at least anything that sticks. Plus, Danny Glover just does not have the campy charisma of Arnold Schwarzenegger that helped make the iconic first film so much fun.

9.) Alien: Resurrection

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Unlike the last film on our list, Alien: Resurrection is anything but forgettable. It’s a weird, mixed bag of interesting ideas, poor visual effects, and fun performances. It focuses on the hybrid experimentation between the humans and the iconic xenormorphs, which not only revived Ripley but, in turn, granted her superhuman strength. It’s a completely ludicrous concept that actually lends itself to some fun action and some strange sci-fi sequences that almost play out like a send-up of the series itself. Plus it never hurts to put Sigourney Weaver, Ron Pearlman, Winona Ryder, and Brad Dourif in the same movie together.

8.) Alien vs. Predator

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I know already that this is where I’ll be taking the most gruff. You see, I enjoy the Alien-Predator throwdown flicks more than most. I love the idea that the Predators hunt the xenomorphs as a sort of right of passage/sport, though the more specific explanations necessary to bridge the two mythologies are a bit muddled. Regardless, there is a certain novelty is watching these two titans of sci-fi go head to head as they perfectly compliment each other’s weaknesses: the xenomorph with its brute strength and killer instinct and the Predator with its superior intellect and advanced technology. However, I don’t quite understand the math that says two brutally R-rated franchises come together to make a PG-13 film.

7.) Predators

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Slapping an “S” at the end of “Predator” was exciting. They did it to Alien and we got a whole bunch of aliens! What would Predators be like? Well, as it turns out, exactly like the first ‘Predator’ movie only with less believable characters. It’s not all bad though. The film does introduce some unique ideas such as the Predators dedicating entire planets to  the hunt and setting the film on one of those planets is an intriguing idea gushing with possibilities. Unfortunately, the filmmakers weren’t quite able to capitalize on it. Predators does, however, boast some exhilarating action sequences. Those combined with some fresh ideas and some pretty hammy performances (particularly from one Adrien Brody), is enough to warrant at least a once through.

6.) Alien vs. Predator: Requiem

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Here we are again. This is the movie I wanted the first film in this short-lived series to be: xenomorphs, Predators out in the open, duking it out in gory, R-rated fashion. ‘Requiem’ benefits from a simpler plot involving a rogue Predator visiting Earth to extinguish the abominable hybrid of their two species (the “Predalien”). It puts a sci-fi twist on the classic revenge Western. Unfortunately, the humans prove once again to be the weak link here. The dialogue is often cartoonishly unspeakable and the characters speaking it laughably lite on development.

5.) Prometheus

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There’s genuinely a lot to admire about Prometheus. It’s a technical splendor. The cinematography is gorgeous and the visual effects are out of this world (get it?). Scott’s premise of going back and exploring the origins of life within the beloved Alien universe is utterly fascinating. And, of course, there’s the stellar cast: Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, and Idris Elba, just to name a few. It’d be higher on my list if it had answered more questions than it asked. Prometheus was marketed as an Alien prequel but failed to deliver that connection.

4.) Alien: Covenant

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The latest in the long-running franchise is every bit the technical splendor that it’s predecessor, Prometheus, is. Unlike Prometheus, however, Alien: Covenant delivers the extraterrestrial goods. It more closely bridges the gap between Prometheus and Alien seamlessly, answering a lot of big questions while also leaving some big ones for Scott’s next couple installments to tackle. If those next films are anything like this tense, slow burning slasher, then I say keep ’em coming!

3.) Predator

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You know how everyone always says the original is the best? Well, in this case that’s true (at least so far). Like its featured band of beef cakes, Predator‘s savageness is rivaled only by its simplicity. One hyper-intelligent alien warrior vs. a squad of super-macho commandos (think of it as a beefier, sweatier, bloodier Ten Little Indians). Thankfully the film plays up the camp of its own premise and Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the outfit’s commander with just the right amount of tongue planted in his cheek. Plus, the guy knows how to sell an action scene and this film’s full of ’em!

2.) Alien

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This is by far the best true-to-form horror film on this list. Technically, yes, it is just Jaws in space, but who doesn’t want to see that? Director Ridley Scott masters the art of tone with this film. Every prop, set piece, and lighting configuration in every shot is meticulously designed to make you feel uneasy or on edge. That way when things do eventually go horribly wrong (and they do!), it feels that much worse. Alien also features the trippiest-looking shark ever in a space movie. H.R. Giger’s designs are so singular and so powerful that just gazing upon the xenomorph is enough to let you know that, whatever you’re looking at, it can’t be good for your health. Then there’s the fact that every movie about an alien aboard a spaceship ever has tried to be this film and that’s got to count for something, right?

1.) Aliens

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It’s pretty much a tossup between Ridley Scott’s original slow burn and James Cameron’s action-packed follow-up. It more or less depends on the day; however, on this particular day we’re giving the edge to Aliens. It never tries to be Alien. Instead, it takes the core concept of the original film and expands it into the mythology we know and love today by approaching the story through the lens of a different genre and introducing elements that have since become franchise fixtures, such as the xenomorph queen. Cameron also surrounded Signourney Weaver with a strong cast and introduced us to some beloved characters such as Hicks and Newt. Aliens is not only one of the greatest sequels of all time, it’s one of the greatest films of all time.

What do you think of our list? Hit up our comments section below and let us know and don’t forget to share how you’d rearrange this list!

Alien: Covenant (2017)– Video Review

It’s been a long time coming, but is Alien: Covenant the Alien movie we all thought Prometheus was going to be? Check out our video review of the new pre-sequel and find out!

Have you seen the film? What did you think? Hit up the comments section below and let us know!