1.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.
2.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.
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.
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 [email protected]
6.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.
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.
8.The Fly Franchise
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.
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.
10.The Evil Dead Franchise
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.