5. Friday The 13th Franchise
It is crazy to think that 12 Friday the 13th movies have been made and a 13th one is due next year. It all started down in Crystal Lake in 1980 when the first movie, which was essentially a rip off of Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood was released. But as slasher movies go Friday the 13th was highly entertaining. There had to be a genuine reason that so many sequels were made when in 1981 hundreds of Friday rips offs were being released weekly only to fade into obscurity.
Each summer in the 80s meant another excuse for Jason Voorhees to slash his way onto the big screen. The franchise took him from the secluded woods to Manhattan and even a trip to space, 500 years in the future!?
But you know what? For most of this insane journey it was great fun. The Friday films were filled with likable characters, great bloody deaths and a ton of iconic Jason moments. There’s just something that attracted the horror fan to this film series of seeing the killer get back up again after being killed for the umpteenth time, and in Jason Lives, Part 6 in the series it even pokes fun at itself. To put it mildly there is no horror franchise without a mention of Friday the 13th.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise
Wes Craven again- well we all know that he was a game changer, right? He’d given us a character named Krug as far back as the 70s with his debut shocker The Last House on the Left. But A Nightmare on Elm Street would be a whole new Universe compared to that.
In Craven’s slasher film, the bad guy is already dead, burned by the parents of his victims, but Freddy Krueger can now enter dreams and kill for real in them. The first movie was a genuine horror film that featured many iconic scenes. But no one including Robert Englund who played Freddy could for see how successful the movies would become not just at the box office but in general culture. By the time Part 3: Dream Warriors rolled out Freddy was pop icon.
The franchise even spilled over to television with Freddy’s Nightmares which lasted for two seasons as Freddy was your host in some very well done surreal episodes. The film series hit its heights with Part 4: The Dream Master which made an incredible at the time $50m at the North American box office.
The series did dip but Craven came back to make the meta film Wes Craven’s New Nightmare which pitched the idea that the characters in the movies were just that but that they had unearthed a real Freddy. This was a huge step for the franchise but it worked on many levels and in hindsight was worth the gamble.
Freddy finally fought Jason in a one off side project and a poorly received remake was made in 2009, sans Robert Englund.
3. George A. Romero’s Dead Franchise
Dear George never really had to come back into the zombie game in the 2000s, but he did and along the way he picked up new fans too. However his three new zombie movies can’t hold a candle to what came before.
Starting off in 1968, Romero directed Night of the Living Dead an exercise in total terror as a group of people are stuck in an old decaying house surrounded by zombies that want in. The movie is surprising in its level of gore for the day, but also remarkable in having a leading black man as the would be hero.
Ten years later Romero followed up Night with Dawn of the Dead which is usually a staple fixture in horror fans top 10 movies. Here a team of people with a helicopter escape for their lifes and end up in a shopping mall where they slowly go crazy as the zombies get closer. A social commentary on everything from War to consumerism and beyond.
Day of the Dead was up until the mid 2000s the final piece in Romero’s jigsaw and is often wrongfully opinioned as a step down for the director. But in many aspects especially dialogue wise Day is just as good as the other two movies.
There’s a lovely score and the whole dread of being underground with unlikable, despicable characters only adds to the atmosphere. It’s also great to know that Romero didn’t back down with the MPAA and the film has all its intended gore complete. Taken as a trilogy of movies the dead franchise surely is one of he most consistency brilliant of them all.
2. Dracula Franchise
Just the mere word can project images of Bela Lugosi’s hairstyle, his pointed eyebrows and his wide smile. Or perhaps you’re a fan of the Hammer horror series and then you will think of the towering Christopher Lee and his fangs, and of Peter Cushing often the hero as van Helsing out to destroy evil.
Universal were the first company allowed to use the Dracula name and they wasted no time in producing four movies in just over a decade. Hammer films followed suit some two decades later and went on to make 9 films.
The films whichever franchise were full of consistency and produced some of the greatest characters in horror movies. You could say and with the way Dracula died at the end of the movies especially the Hammer ones that his character was the perfect precursor for Jason Voorhees.
1. Frankenstein Franchise
The smirk and fear of Boris Karloff who donned the six hour make up for Frankenstein is ingrained in all horror fans hearts. The original Frankenstein from Universal in 1931 is one of the greatest horror movies ever- and it is this franchise that tops this list through its sheer consistency.
Followed up by the stunning Bride of Frankenstein and the utterly charming Son of Frankenstein- which had some of the greatest artistic sets for its time. The Ghost of Frankenstein is perhaps the weakest of the Universal movies but the final film, House of Frankenstein brought the series to a fitting end. In that Boris Karloff returns but not as the monster though in the final scene sinks with him, as if to say a final farewell to one chapter and the opening of the next.
In 1957 Hammer kicked off its very first gothic horror, something the studio would become famous for with The Curse of Frankenstein. A superb film that paired legends Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee together. Cushing would go on to play Baron Frankenstein a further five times and it is this character that Cushing is most famously remembered for in the horror genre.
For sheer consistency, Frankenstein is the horror franchise that reigns supreme.
Author Bio: David Bronstein loves horror movies with a passion, be it watching the first ever horror movie, The House of the Devil or the latest independent slasher. He is a freelance writer in movies, music and sport. David can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org