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10 Most Consistently Good Horror Franchises

Imagine thinking the 23 movies that make up ‘The Amityville Horror’ franchise would make the cut here.
Horror Franchises
By  · Published on October 12th, 2019

5. The Conjuring (2013-2019)

James Wan has directed two separate billion dollar blockbusters (Furious 7, 2015; Aquaman, 2018) in recent years, but for many of us he remains fairly synonymous with creepy-ass horror movies. He’s the filmmaker behind Saw (2003) and Insidious (2010), and while both films launched franchises of their own and one landed just above on this list, it’s 2013’s The Conjuring that seems destined to be his crowning achievement. Six films followed including a direct sequel, three Annabelle features, The Nun (2018), and The Curse of La Llorona (2019), and they’ve earned nearly $2 billion in theaters. They’re tied together through an ingenious use of a real-life couple known for their “encounters” with demons, ghosts, and book sales, and the best of them reveal the affection and compassion at the heart of the horrors. I’d argue only two of the seven are outright stinkers meaning five are good to great, and the universe shows no signs of slowing down. (Rob Hunter)

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984-2010)

1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street offered something different on an early 80s horror landscape littered with slashers, and while the films still deliver with the bloodletting — the scene in the original where Johnny Depp wets the bed remains a memorable one — its horrors are built more on imagination than mere stabbings, slashings, and slicing. Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) haunts people’s dreams, and it’s a world where physics, biology, and other sciences have no sway. Tongues jut out from phone receivers, TVs grow arms, people turn into cockroach hybrids, and some strange stuff happens too. Wes Craven‘s creation quickly entered both pop culture and our psyche delivering thrills and kills that kept makeup f/x wizards employed and challenged for years. (Rob Hunter)

3. Alien (1979-2017)

During a press junket a few years back, Paul Thomas Anderson was asked to name his favorite horror film franchise and without hesitation he said Alien. When asked to elaborate he said, “it rules.” That’s an entirely made-up story but you likely believed it because Anderson seems like a cool dude and the Alien franchise does in fact rule. Birthed in 1979 from the minds of Ridley Scott and Dan O’Bannon (and Mario Bava), the original series contains four films followed by two prequels. Scott’s first film is a heart-pounding scare-fest, while James Cameron’s 1986 sequel is a full-throttle action vehicle for Sigourney Weaver. After that, there are a lot of peaks and valleys, but the fun and excitement never let up. Resurrection is a personal favorite as things get crazy when clones and human-alien hybrids are entered into the mix. The franchise also earns bonus points for spawning a crossover series of films with Predator — one of which was directed by the other Paul Anderson — and plenty of comic book and novel adaptations. Not every film in the franchise is great, or even good, but there will never be a time when people aren’t excited about a new Alien film and that counts for something. (Chris Coffel)

2. Night of the Living Dead (1968-2009)

Life gets so much better when you realize you can quit watching The Walking Dead and just watch George A. Romero’s zombie films instead. Everything the megahit cable series did, Romero did first and, in the large majority of instances, better. His films, beginning with Night of the Living Dead and ending over forty years later with Survival of the Dead, cover every bit of creative ground you could ever expect from a zombie story and then some. Night of the Living Dead (1968), the most clear-cut masterpiece, takes place immediately after the onset of the zombie apocalypse and became a historic indie hit, controversial for its violence and groundbreaking for its heroic African-American lead (Duane Jones). The shopping-mall-set sequel, Dawn of the Dead, introduces the thought experiment that The Walking Dead would continue decades later: what happens when the apocalypse never ends? Two more sequels extend this premise, revealing a world years removed from the extinction event, while the final two installments made before Romero’s death include a found-footage reboot of sorts and the franchise’s only critical failure. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

1. Evil Dead (1981-2018)

Sam Raimi’s $400,000 indie film has gone on to spawn three sequels and three seasons of a television series since its 1981 debut. Without counting the various Army of Darkness cuts, that roughly equates to 641 minutes of blood-spattered, demon-fighting, groovy madness. As a bonus, the overwhelming majority of those minutes feature the beautiful chin of Bruce Campbell. Both scary and hilarious, this franchise doesn’t spend a single frame not kicking ass. Whether it’s Campbell battling himself or medieval screwheads or Fede Alvarez raining blood down upon Jane Levy, this is a series that never lets up. Simply put, if you’re not a fan of this franchise you’re a coward, I don’t like you, and I won’t be sending you a Christmas card. (Chris Coffel)

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.