Thursday, January 4, 2024

Six Underrated Horror Prequels to Watch Ahead of ‘The First Omen’

Even outside of Star Wars, prequels tend to get a bad rap. From answering questions that didn’t need answering (and destroying the mysteries of the original in the process) to repeating established formulas ad nauseum, it’s deceptively easy for these blasts from the past to trip over their previously established lore. After all, it’s kind of hard to tell an engaging story when audiences already know what happens next.

Thankfully, the horror genre seems to be especially blessed with filmmakers that see prequels as an opportunity to tell original stories within an established world. I mean, some folks even thought that last year’s Pearl was even better than X, and the trailer for Arkasha Stevenson’s upcoming The First Omen looks like it kicks all kinds of ass – and that’s precisely why we’ve decided to come up with a list highlighting six underrated horror prequels for your viewing pleasure!

While we’ll be shying away from acclaimed prequels like Prey and Orphan: First Kill in order to focus on films that deserve a bit more love, don’t forget to comment below with your own favorites if you think we missed a particularly fun one.

Now, onto the list…

6. Cube Zero (2004)

Ginger Snaps 3 prequels list

While none of its follow-ups could quite match the quality of the original, I’d still argue that there are no bad Cube movies. Finding creative ways to get around their limited budgets and extract tension from what basically amounts to a single location, all four of these movies have their unique merits – which is why Cube Zero makes it onto the list.

Sure, it’s guilty of the cardinal sin of explaining things that were better left unknown in the original, but dividing our focus between the victims of the titular cube and its voyeuristic operators makes this a refreshingly unique experience. Zero may lack some of the mystery of its predecessors, but I love how the ending ties in with the original film, and you can still enjoy this one even if you haven’t seen the others.

5. Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)

A&E’s Bates Motel is now known as the definitive Psycho prequel (which makes sense, given the show’s iconic performances by both Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore), but it wasn’t the first attempt at fleshing out Norman Bates’ twisted backstory. Back in 1990, genre filmmaker Mick Garris teamed up with the original screenwriter of Hitchcock’s horror classic (Joseph Stefano) to bring us an extremely underappreciated made-for-TV movie concerning the origins of one of cinema’s most iconic killers.

Told through a series of flashbacks as Anthony Perkins reprises his role as a seemingly rehabilitated killer and calls into a radio show in order to share his life story, Psycho IV dives into the disturbing details of Norman’s upbringing and his eventual homicidal tendencies. It doesn’t quite live up to the original (and how could it?), but there’s no denying that this is one hell of a fun time despite its network limitations.

4. Leatherface (2017)

Ginger Snaps 3 horror prequels

I’ve stated numerous times that I think every single Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel is worth watching for one reason or another, and that’s why I’ve always found it surprising how many people dislike the 2016 prequel Leatherface. From the family secretly working for the illuminati to Alexandra Daddario adopting her flesh-eating cousin like an elderly guard-dog, this franchise is versatile enough to tell nearly any kind of story – so I don’t understand why so many fans draw the line at a down-to-earth tale about troubled youths fleeing a mental institution.

Yes, the film borrows freely from The Devil’s Rejects and could have used some more genuine scares (which were present in the original script but ended up being toned down during production), but I really appreciate the flick’s character work and how it gets around the predictable prequel issue by playing with our expectations regarding which one of these runaways will grow up to be the titular Leatherface. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s a guaranteed good time for fans of neo-exploitation.

3. Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)

ginger snaps 3 prequel movie

Shot back-to-back with Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, Grant Harvey’s Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning is a curious case of a prequel set so far into the past that it only tangentially relates to the original. Telling a peculiar story about the 19th century incarnations of the Fitzgerald sisters who find themselves trapped in Fort Bailey while being hunted by werewolves, you really don’t need to have seen the other films in order to enjoy this low-budget period piece.

And while you could spend hours debating about how exactly Ginger Snaps 3 ties into the modern-day timeline of the series (I mean, are Brigitte and Ginger destined to reincarnate indefinitely due to the Werewolf curse or is this meant to be a “what if” situation?), I enjoy this schlocky prequel due to its impeccable atmosphere and practical werewolf effects.

2. Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)

Multiple different versions of films have existed since the dawn of cinema (especially when producers began to meddle in the affairs of directors in order to appeal to broader audiences), but there are very few cases of conflicting versions of the same project being released as completely different movies. Case in point, the heavily reworked Exorcist: The Beginning may have been a messy schlock-fest that cheapened an iconic franchise, but its restored counterpart is a much better experience that even managed to impress William Peter Blatty.

This 2005 release still isn’t quite Paul Shrader’s original vision, as the studio refused to give him enough money to properly finalize post-production, but it’s much better than what they put out in 2004 and worth a watch if you’re a fan of slow-burn faith-based terror.

1. Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

The idea of a found footage prequel sounds silly on paper, but Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman knocked it out of the park when it came time to bring Paranormal Activity into the 1980s with their unexpectedly fun threequel.

Sure, the flick doesn’t re-invent the wheel when it comes to found footage frights and it’s a lot harder to justify the excessive amount of recordings (and high-definition widescreen video) in the days of VHS, but this lo-fi prequel boasts some of the most memorable scares in the franchise – not to mention an ending that ties up the original trilogy’s mythology with a neat little bow.

The post Six Underrated Horror Prequels to Watch Ahead of ‘The First Omen’ appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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