Aliens & 9 Other Sequels That Switched Genres From The Original

Making a sequel is tough because the filmmakers need to recapture what made the original great without simply rehashing it. One way to avoid repetition and preserve the legacy of the original is to switch genres between movies.

When James Cameron was tapped to write a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien, he knew he couldn’t make a horror movie that would match one of the genre’s greatest entries, so he swapped out one xenomorph for dozens of them, surrounded Ripley with a bunch of gun-toting futuristic Marines, and made Aliens as an action thriller (with plenty of nail-biting suspense and effective jump scares along the way).

Ridley Scott’s Alien was essentially a haunted house movie in space, with a towering extraterrestrial picking off ill-prepared astronauts one by one, before being taken down by the fiercest member of the crew, Ellen Ripley.

In Aliens, James Cameron kept Ripley’s heroic characterization intact as she reluctantly agrees to go on a mission to investigate an off-world colony that was attacked by a swarm of xenomorphs. The movie leans into Ripley’s maternal instincts as she loses her own daughter and finds a new one in orphaned survivor Newt. By multiplying the otherworldly threat dozens of times over, Cameron dialed up the action and significantly raised the stakes.

Christopher Landon’s Happy Death Day uses its time-loop premise to reimagine Groundhog Day as a slasher. Its 2019 sequel Happy Death Day 2U is more like Back to the Future Part II crossed with a slasher, leaning more into the sci-fi lore of the time loop.

The Happy Death Day movies are a great couple of entries in the Blumhouse canon, providing plenty of dependable jump scares and genre subversions.

Sam Raimi’s low-budget directorial debut The Evil Dead made a huge splash on the midnight movie circuit on its original release and it remains a horror classic to this day. It created the now-overused “cabin in the woods” trope and proved that cheap effects can still be scary.

The 1987 sequel, produced at Evil Dead fan Stephen King’s insistence, is less of a straight follow-up and more of a slapstick-laden comedic remake of the original, like Akira Kurosawa’s lighthearted Sanjuro following on from the dark antihero tale of Yojimbo.

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