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RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

Ranking the Top 6 Horror Franchises

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With Halloween on the horizon, I came to realize I’ve watched very little horror films during this spooky season. There are undoubtedly so many different movies to choose from over the various subgenres of the horror collection, that one might find it hard to decide what to watch. While you’ll find plenty of fantastic solo films, the franchises offer you not only more of the classic characters and moments but also the more enjoyable watch. As such, I’m going to give you my top franchises you can watch in the lead-up to Hallow’s Eve.

Honorable Mentions:

Child’s Play (1998-2019) – Spanning over 20 years, 8 films, a reboot, and a TV show, The “Child’s Play” series and the iconic doll Chucky has seen many incarnations and undergone plenty of changes. He’s too iconic to not mention at all, even though some of the later films became more akin to comedies.

Alien (1979-2017) – The “Alien” series is iconic. The infamous scene with the alien coming out of one of the astronaut’s stomachs is one of the scariest scenes on first viewing. While some of the ladder films aren’t known as well and certainly don’t match the horror of the first couple, the character is iconic enough to deserve a mention.

Paranormal Activity (2007-2021) – One of the newer franchises, “Paranormal Activity” brought something new to the genre and it worked. A realistic concept of recordings capturing ghosts and demons met successful reviews and its uniqueness earns it a reference.

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6. The Conjuring Films (2013-Present)

The ever-expanding cinematic universe that surrounds the (possibly) real adventures of married couple Ed and Lorraine Warren has garnered the interest of millions worldwide. Since their first film in 2013, the series has spawned 2 sequels and 5 spin-offs, all of which have done well at the box office. While the story has recently shifted away from the realistic roots of the originals, the films still generally get good box office attention. The new ideas and modernity of the films put it on the list, but the franchise may need to go back to basics to cement their legacy.

5. The Nightmare Series (1984-2010)

“Nightmare On Elm Street” and Freddy Krueger are mainstays in horror. Krueger’s iconic design, with his hat and knife-gloves, is a costume you’re guaranteed to see every Halloween. I recently re-watched the first film over again and it’s clear to see why it had teens in the ’80s jumping. The first three in the series are very good and when original director Wes Craven returned for the final film “New Nightmare,” it wrapped up the series in excellent fashion. The franchise’s importance earned it an attempted remake that flopped famously in 2010, but it would be no surprise to see Elm Street again soon on the big screen due to the legacy it has.

4. The Saw Universe (2004-Present)

Making a resurgence as of late, “Saw” started off strong, catching the attention of many due to its new idea of a who-done-it mixed in with terrifying traps with horrifying consequences. The Jigsaw killer and its mascot Billy is yet another important pillar in horror history. The iconic “I want to play a game” line is quoted constantly, and rightfully so. One of the franchise’s most memorable features, the convoluted plot and twists that make you wonder how certain points are possible, puts “Saw” at number 4. The recent success and return to form from the films brings it up for me, with a more detective-style film, “Spiral”, released in 2021, and “Saw X” this month.

3. Friday The 13th (1980-2003/2009)

Jason Voorhees is the most iconic horror character maybe ever, and his series “Friday the 13th,” gave him his reputation. Ironically, Jason didn’t make his first appearance until the second film and didn’t get the infamous hockey mask until the third. The movies themselves are pretty good. The first few are your standard masked killer who runs through a group of teens at a camp until a final girl stops him. But the later in series the movies excelled, unlike others. Instead of doing the usual formula, Friday the 13th changed the precedent set by horror media. Jason went to space in “Jason X”, went on the ocean and into New York in “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan,” and fought Freddy Krueger in “Freddy vs. Jason.” The series is special and unlike none other, and embraces its uniqueness with open arms.

2. The Halloween Franchise (1978-2022)

The “Halloween” Films and infamous boogeyman Michael Myers have some of the most consistent and realistic films in the franchise. “Halloween (1978)” and “Halloween II (1981)” follow back to back and are very good as that. The third film, “Halloween III: Season of the Witch,” has nothing to do with any other films in the franchise, but I think works well as a standalone after an attempted anthology failed. The following films are something else. Instead of following the normal formula of the killer going after the final girl and her friends, the next trilogy turns into more of a cult plot, and even though they keep Michael, it’s not the same as the first 2. “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” takes a modern spin on the film in the years before the turn of the century which certainly didn’t flop, before filmmaker Rob Zombie redid the franchise. This, normal to Zombie’s style, took a more brutal approach to the character, which some liked for the first iteration in 2007, but wasn’t as successful in the following attempts. In 2018, a soft reboot was made with the series retconning the middle films and picking up almost 20 years after the original two. The new trilogy of the series did well, they stuck to the realism of the originals, but weren’t deemed as successful. Yet Myers and John Carpenter’s masterpiece is highly regarded as a must-watch during the spooky season.

1. Scream (1996-2023)

The most grounded, famous, quoted, and likeable horror series ever to me are the “Scream” films. Due to the realistic nature of the films, and the likeability of the characters, the horror films that also act as a satire for all of horror as a whole are the best films to watch at all times during the year, especially during Halloween. While no crazy twists happen that are out of the ordinary, the films find ways to make every movie different and leave you guessing who the killer is each time. It follows the formula but makes it a movie, not just a spooky watch. The new resurgence of the series has worked well at the box office, with filmmakers recognizing they need new life for the films. “Scream” is not only a successful scary watch, but an enjoyable and entertaining one too, which is why it’s at 1.

Just remember, this is my opinion, and no film means more to me than another. Some of the best horror films are standalone, but these franchises offer you a wide variety of films, with different types of subgenres and characters. So hopefully this list gave you the idea to spend an afternoon or evening inside, relaxing with friends and family, watching some of the best scary movies there are. Maybe just make sure you and your friends are the only ones watching.

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