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The 10 Best Horror Movie Franchises of All Time

19 October 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by David Bronstein

A Nightmare on Elm Street

If there’s one thing that horror fans are blessed with it’s the franchise movie. Quite literally there are hundreds of them and if an original movie does well at the box office you are almost certainly guaranteed that there will be a sequel.

Fans are the lifeblood of the franchise without them you’re only getting one movie despite the rave reviews of critics. The best killer doll movie may be Dolls (1987) but it never garnered a sequel and was in fact released straight to the video market. However Child’s Play which followed a year later created a new iconic horror monster in the name of Chucky and spawned five sequels over two decades.

Still even if your favorite horror movie never spawned a sequel- we’re looking at you The Fog, The Thing and My Bloody Valentine we still got a remake, reboot or prequel in return.

Below are the 10 best horror franchises, carefully considered for your approval- and yes this was a difficult decision in some cases given just how many great franchises there have been over the years.

 

10. Scream Franchise

scream

When Wes Craven gave us Scream the serial killer movie was pretty much dead. Indeed the early to mid 1990s was almost vacant of the horror sub genre. But it seems Scream came along just at the right time and its meta self references certainly added something fresh from the genre. It had been done before but never this good and never to this effect. The movie took off and spawned another 3 sequels- all directed by Craven.

Scream 2 was in some terms a parody of the first with events from that film being made into a movie itself in the form of STAB. Whilst Scream 3 suffered with characters going through the motions somewhat, Part 4 was something of a surprise and a fitting end to the franchise under Craven who sadly passed away in August.

 

9. The Fly Franchise

The Fly 2

We have to go back to 1958 when this movie burst out onto the big screens and shocked movie goers. The original movie was most certainly a classic and still has the power to shock and surprise even now. True the effects aren’t up to much, but there is the underlying true horror of a young child whose father has been taken away from him and whose mother has gone insane because of it all. Vincent Price is majestic as always in his supporting role.

The original franchise took in three movies and a sequel was made called Return of the Fly, which was quite goofy but fun all the same. The third movie was much darker and dealt more with mutants than actual fly changing in Curse of the Fly.

And then in 1986 the master of body horror himself, David Cronenberg got behind the lens and gave us a visceral nightmare- The Fly starring then real life couple Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. With the advent of how far we could push the envelope, Cronenberg became a mailman and went over the top on the gore and violence. He exposed everything on screen that the 1950’s version simply could not as Goldblum went from outgoing hip guy to his hip falling apart and spewing acid to erase limbs.

This movie was followed up by a sequel The Fly II, where Eric Stoltz took the main role as Goldblum’s child- why they didn’t call the movie The Son of Fly is anyone’s guess. Despite the lack of story line the movie is actually quite good and just as gory if not gorier than the first film, with a frantic last quarter of an hour.

 

8. Saw Franchise

Saw

It’s hard to think that the premise of Saw was rejected on numerous occasions in Australia before the natives James Wan and Leigh Whannell went to Hollywood with their idea and got accepted. Not only was Saw a huge success it spawned six sequels and the franchise has grossed over $450m worldwide. Let that be a lesson to the Australian film industry.

And the movie has a very simple premise, a cat and mouse game, kill the other person and win the prize, so to speak. Saw may not always be original but it was able to surprise and disgust us in equal measure as its central character Jigsaw dreamed up new ideas and games for his participants. These movies were great in the fact that in general the sequels, even at Part 7 were fairly strong.

 

7. The Evil Dead Franchise

evil dead II

Sure there have only been four of them but this franchise just seems engrained into horror history. The first movie almost never was as infamously director Sam Raimi and his friends who included Bruce Campbell that’s Ash in the movies struggled to raise enough cash to get the movie completed. But when they did, oh boy!

Stephen King caught wind of the film and declared it the most feriouis horror movie of the year and on the back of that the movie went into overdrive. It’s a premise that has been copied a thousand times since with the group of kids that goes and stays in a cabin and then all hell breaks loose. The demons are unleashed.

The original still holds up today and has genuine moments of terror. The gore is there also and hints of comedy that Raimi would specialize in and his career grew. Indeed the almost cartoon esque sequel had dashes of comedy throughout the movie and when stripped down was a tour de force in film directing.

The third movie removed Evil Dead and replaced it with Army of Darkness. The pairing of Raimi and Campbell once again assured us of familiar territory though this sequel was far removed from the original and some accused the franchise of jumping the shark, but hey it was still fun. And the franchise keeps rolling on even now.

Just a couple of years ago we were treated to a fairly decent remake of the original and this Halloween, Ash vs. Evil Dead debuts on television in a 10 part season which is, in effect for fans, Evil Dead 4.

 

6. Halloween Franchise

Halloween

The original movie is arguably the greatest horror film ever made or at least the best slasher film. It nailed the genre and the atmosphere of Halloween on its head. Michael Myers was born and would go on to become one of the greatest iconic horror monsters of all time. Then of course there was John Carpenter’s haunting music, which can still send shivers up your spine with the lights turned off.

Carpenter had little interest in a sequel and refused to direct it but he did write it and Halloween II for some fans is a worthy sequel taking place almost entirely in a hospital. And then came Part III: Season of the Witch. If any horror movie can split opinions it’s this one. A Halloween movie with no Michael Myers? But taken as a film on pure value, Part III packs quite a punch, and at least the movie was taking the franchise in a different direction.

Alas fans screamed for more Michael and got their wish, another five sequels followed. But apart from H20 which was in effect the 7th movie which featured a returning Jamie Lee Curtis there wasn’t much to get excited about. More recently Rob Zombie took on Halloween for himself directing two movies that offered some interesting takes on Michael Myers’ character, but fans didn’t wholly agree with the franchise being remade.

 

 

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  • tonkemaskin

    You are not allowed to leave out Phantasm from a list of best horror franchises. You just are not.

    Of all the franchises on the list, Phantasm has best overall entertainment when looking at the franchise as a whole.

  • Jeroen Ledderhof

    Hellraiser? Oke the last one is a piece of poop. Alien?

  • Arnaldo Fernandez

    No “Twilight”? Think about seeing it again makes me scream.