Sneaky Movie Sequels That Are Actually Prequels

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter

The original From Dusk Till Dawn manages such a great mid-film swerve that it’d be impossible for any sequel to match up. So they don’t try hard. Instead the series swerved itself to becoming a pulpy straight to video experience. The second film is another jaunt at the Titty Twister, vaguely set after the first, so why would the third be any different?

Hold onto your ass, exhausted high school kids, because The Hangman’s Daughter is the funniest prequel premise ever. The name Ambrose Bierce and his classic short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is drilled into American lit students, so you know the name. Bierce is also one of history’s most famous disappearances, lost in Mexico after telling friends he was going to document the Mexican Revolution. The Hangman’s Daughter jumps back to 1913, his last known year and offers a bloodsucking answer to the mystery. Bierce winds up at the infamous vamp bar, currently called La Tetilla Del Diablo, and hijinks ensue! Put the bar’s name in Google Translate for a giggle, and know that Bierce himself would’ve probably gotten a kick out of it. 

Amityville II: The Possession

1979’s The Amityville Horror is itself, technically, a subtle prequel (or sidequel) to James Wan’s horror franchise, The Conjuring, as the Warrens were among the investigators of the real life Amityville case. A classic haunted house tale, Amityville Horror alleges that an incident of real-life mass murder—the Ronald DeFeo Jr. case—left a psychic imprint on the house it occurred in, and that it tormented the next occupants. The family eventually moves away, but that doesn’t end the curse. Its 1982 follow-up, The Possession, returns to the damned house with a new set of occupants. Which sounds like standard sequel fare from the title.

Ah, but of course, this is actually a heavily fictionalized reworking of what led DeFeo to kill his family in the first place. Restyled as the Montellis, with Sonny Montelli (Jack Magner) as the lawsuit-safe future killer, this prequel suggests the house was haunted all along. The possible reason? An Indigenous burial ground underneath the home. To be fair to the Amityville legend, which has suffered dozens of exhausting retreads since, it was one of the earliest films to drag that canard out. On the other hand, come on.

Insidious: Chapter 3

To be fair to the Insidious franchise, itself an affectionate homage to Poltergeist, it’s way better than that film’s remake and bevy of sequels. Another James Wan creation, Insidious tortures its parental stars with the horror of inexplicable events and a child in danger. It takes a bitterly cynical twist in the third act, too, adding a cliffhanger that leaves Chapter 2 to follow-up on the troubles the Lambert family still faces. A third film seemed a given, as it seems that the first film’s evil demon has now moved on to an unrelated young girl named Allison and her sister.

Chapter 3, logically, should have carried on that plot thread. To date, Allison’s story has gone nowhere, however. Instead the third installment goes back to what franchise regular and experienced demonologist Elise (Lin Shaye) was up to several months before the Lambert family went to hell. It braids together the past of Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and Elise’s influence on the Red Faced Demon pretty well, but still… what happened to that poor kid?


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