6. Children of the Corn (10 Films)
How and when and more importantly why have there been 10 Children of the Corn films? While it’s not the worst series ever made (although it comes pretty close), its longevity is surprising. No doubt putting “Based on the story ‘Children of the Corn’ by Stephen King” on all the posters helped. But there’s only so much mileage you can get from an adaptation based on a short story and the sequels that follow.
With only the first two films in the series getting theatrical releases and the rest going straight to DVD or television, you pretty much know what you’re in for. Set in the fictional town of Gatlin, Nebraska, the action is all based around the children, who all fell under the spell of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” and slaughter adults as a sacrifice to ensure a healthy harvest of corn.
The original is still the best of the bunch and it isn’t even a classic. It has some solid characters (boy preacher Isaac) and performances and its fair share of memorable moments. Released in 1984 and grossing just over $14 million on a budget of $800 thousand, it’s a product of its time but hasn’t aged too terribly. It took nine years for a sequel to get made with the lazy and serviceable “The Final Harvest,” which added more humor to proceedings. Then Charlize Theron makes her film debut in “Urban Harvest,” which improves on its predecessor but only slightly. After that, there are seriously better ways to waste your time.
5. Hellraiser (10 films)
Clive Barker’s Hellraiser series is one of the more unique horror creations to be dreamt up. The English author wrote and directed the original classic that was released all the way back in 1987. It was a different type of horror film that was low on budget but high on concept.
It also featured a different kind of iconic villain in Pinhead, who was neither a strong mute nor a wisecracking creep, but an intelligent and articulate figure. And while the series never reached the mainstream heights of other staples, it maintained a steady fan base over the years.
Based on Barker’s own horror novel “The Hellbound Heart,” the series focuses on a mystical puzzle box that opens a gateway to another realm where an order of former human monsters called Cenobites harvest human souls to torture in sadomasochistic experiments. Sadly, Barker only wrote and directed the first film, signing away the story and character rights without anticipating how successful the series would be.
But it’s not all bad, as the first three sequels are all worthy in their own right. Obviously, the groundbreaking original still stands as the best. It still holds up today aside from its dated effects and makes excellent use of its budget.
“Hellraiser II” and “III” and even the bonkers fourth entry “Bloodline” maintained a consistency without hitting the heights of the original. But after that? When the series moved from theatrical releases to direct-to-video, it all fell apart. The high concepts started exceeding the low budgets and it gets harder to distinguish the sequels.
The tenth and latest installment “Hellraiser: Judgement” gets points for trying, but bringing Barker back would do the series a service.
4. Halloween (11 Films)
You can expect the Halloween series to rapidly move up this list in the coming years after the box office success of the latest installment. John Carpenter and Debra Hill probably had no idea of the monster they created when “Halloween” hit theatres in 1978. The influential slasher changed horror forever with other notable long-running franchises following in its wake.
Revolving around the silent Halloween day killing Michael Myers, the original is not only the best film of the series (obviously) but also a horror classic that stands as one of the best in the genre.
It’s all there, Carpenter’s iconic score and amazing directing (some of the genres best) with perhaps the best final girl the genre’s ever seen in Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode. The sequel, whose script Carpenter and Hill penned, doesn’t completely work, with the reveal that Michael Myers and Laurie are siblings being a sore spot.
“Halloween III: Season of the Witch” comes as the second best with fans coming around after its initial cold reception, and the disappointment with the lack of Michael Myers in it.
David Gordon Green’s 2018 reboot/sequel instilled new life into the series, especially after Rob Zombie seemed to put the final nail in the coffin with his controversial remake and its sequel. While Green’s take has received some criticism in some circles, it’s generally received stellar reviews and finally gave Laurie Strode the sequel she deserves. Not that “H20: 20 Years Later” completely failed in giving us the strong, alcoholic and paranoid Strode, but Green takes it up a notch.
But no matter your ranking, we can all agree that “Halloween: Resurrection” and “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers” are the absolute worst in one of the more consistent horror franchises.
3. Friday the 13th (12 Films)
One of the craziest and most diverse horror franchises out there, “Friday the 13th” was initially created to cash in on the first “Halloween” film’s success. But it has since gone on to become a beast of its own. While most of the films didn’t do big work at the box office, their extremely low budgets made them a considerable profit and kept those sequels coming.
Jason Voorhees is another iconic horror villain with his simple yet effective hockey mask, setting him apart from other similar horror villains. Drowning in Camp Crystal Lake as a boy due to the neglect of the pot-smoking camp staff, it was only until the sequel that we got an incarnation of the Jason we all know and love.
This is quite surprising when you consider that he was initially never meant to carry the franchise and only appears as a young boy in the original through flashbacks. From then on, Jason has gone through many transformations over the years, but has always ensured that horny teenagers everywhere are never safe.
Starting off in 1980 with the original film, which contains one of if not the greatest twists in horror history, admittedly “Friday the 13th” hasn’t aged too well. It’s still a classic, although a flawed one and unlike many other franchise starters, it isn’t the best. That accolade goes to the fourth entry “The Final Chapter” or the sixth “Jason Lives.”
Commonly viewed as a poor man’s version of “Halloween,” there’s no denying some of the franchise’s idiotic storylines, cheap effects, atrocious acting, and generally bad directing. The series works better solely for its entertainment factor than anything else. But when it gets bad like with “A New Beginning” or “Jason X,” boy does it get bad.
2. Puppet Master (13 Films)
Full Moon’s “Puppet Master” franchise has been an enduring staple for the studio during and now past the long-gone era of home video and video rental stores. It features a whole group of anthropomorphic puppets who are brought to life by their creator Andre Toulon with an Egyptian spell. Each puppet has is equipped with its own unique and dangerous device, with Blade having a blade, Six Shooter a gun, and Torch… you guessed it!
In the beginning, the puppets were portrayed as the villains of the series and then went on to become the heroes and eventual antiheroes. While Charles Band originally intended the first film to be a theatrical release, he later changed it to a direct-to-video release because he felt that he would likely make more money that way. The original became such a huge hit that it earned a cult following, which led to 13 films in the series to date.
As good as the original is, its sequel surpassed it and still is the franchise’s best. If you don’t warm to “Puppet Master II: His Unholy Creation,” then there’s no way you’ll like anything else in the series. It does everything a good sequel does by expanding on the concept and mythology for a more realized version.
From then on, the series’ timeline becomes confusing as hell and the series as a whole begins to suffer somewhere around the sixth installment as the budgets got lower. All in all, the Puppet Master franchise is a good old, direct-to-video, fun, cheesy and campy series. While it has its moments, it will never be considered as great as some of the other entries on this list.
1. Amityville (21 Films)
Can the Amityville series/franchise even be considered a series/franchise? Because Amityville is a real town and the case that made the name famous is historical, there is no restriction to the number of films that can be made and exploited from the story. Basically, any film can slap on the Amityville name to its title to boost sales.
The case in question is about Ronald DeFeo Jr., who shot and killed six members of his family on November 3, 1979 at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville. DeFeo was convicted of second-degree murder and a new family moved into the home but left 28 days later, claiming to have been terrorized by paranormal phenomena.
Since then, there have been novels written about the haunting followed by film adaptations, followed by more novels followed by more films that are not linked to the novels or each other, but are all somehow inspired by the same event or at least share a name.
Believe it or not, there have been 21 Amityville films with only four getting theatrical releases and the rest going direct-to-video. The first film is the best one by far. Based on the Jay Anson book of the same name, “The Amityville Horror” succeeds where the others fail. It has an atmosphere, an amazing score, great performances and characters you can get behind. Its slow pace builds to a satisfying climax, but calling it a classic is perhaps a stretch.
Still, it managed to gross $80 million at the box in office against negative reviews, becoming one of the most successful independent films of all time. Every film after that, however, is a bit of mystery because only a masochist would attempt watching every single one. But “Amityville: It’s About Time” and “Amityville: The Awakening” are good yet flawed movies. It doesn’t have the reputation as the worst horror series for nothing.