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10 Best Late Franchise Horror Movie Gems

Because sometimes fourth, or fifth, or sixth, or seventh time’s the charm.
Horror Lists Late Franchise Gems
By  · Published on October 15th, 2021

5. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

Friday Final

It had to happen eventually: Jason meets his match. While the tried-and-true formula of sex and death for rowdy teens plays out, there’s a surprise waiting in store for Jason in the form of Corey Feldman’s Tommy. He’s a quick-thinking kid with a knack for creating his own monster masks. With Feldman’s delightfully precocious performance anchoring one of the franchise’s most surprising characters, it’s no wonder this entry is a fan favorite. Oh, and did we mention the film also features twins, Basil (Exposition), twins, and an absolutely knockout performance from the one and only Crispin Glover? All around, there’s a strong case to be made that this isn’t just a late franchise gem, it’s a Friday the 13th franchise peak. (Anna Swanson)

4. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

New Nightmare

Two years before making the meta-masterpiece that is Scream (home to its own late franchise horror classic with Scream 4), director Wes Craven dabbled in the meta slasher world with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Craven returned to the franchise he created with this seventh entry, pulling Freddy Krueger into the real world to attack the very cast and crew that brought him to life. The concept allowed Craven to return The Springwood Slasher to his darker, menacing origins that the franchise sequels had long abandoned. The fun idea also allowed Craven to welcome back some of Elm Street’s original residents in Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon. Bringing back the original stars this late into the game could have been nothing more than a cheap play on nostalgia, but with New Nightmare Craven managed to give the series new life by churning out one of the more interesting and frightening entries. And as a bonus, the film helped set the stage for his next groundbreaking horror franchise. (Chris Coffel)

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)


Helmed by patron saint of schlocky horror Renny Harlin, Nightmare on Elm Street 4 is a thoroughly raucous slasher. Home to some all-time great and goofy kills, including the best waterbed death scene this side of 1982’s Pieces, the film plays around with franchise mythology but never takes itself too seriously. Also known as the MTV entry of the franchise, it’s no surprise that the music is a blast, the blood is plentiful, and the corny one-liners have their own charm. There’s only one thing we can really hold against Nightmare 4 and it’s that you really can’t eat pizza while watching. Or at least you probably shouldn’t. (Anna Swanson)

2. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)


Am I bummed that my beloved Scream 4 didn’t snag a spot on this list? Of course. Am I happy that at least I get to talk about a far older film? Sure. Universal tried to revive their monstrous heyday from the 30s and 40s in recent years, and we all know how that turned out, but it wasn’t the studio’s first attempt at injecting new life into their undead staple. They hadn’t released a film featuring Dracula, the Wolfman, or Frankenstein’s monster in several years when someone came up with the genius idea to blend genres and introduce their monsters to comedy duo Abbott & Costello. It was a hit, revitalizing the comics more than the beasts, and was followed by a few more spooky encounters on the big screen.

While clearly played for laughs, as a late-franchise entry this remains a terrific time for fans of the big three Universal monsters. Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. reprise their roles as Dracula and the Wolfman, respectively, and the film even ends on a zinger with a surprise arrival of the Invisible Man (voiced by Vincent Price). It remains a lot of fun thanks to comedic talents who bounce beautifully off the horror icons, and the admittedly mild creepiness finds amplification in Costello’s reactions. This is a good time, people, and honestly, it’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing revisited with today’s funnier onscreen talents. (Rob Hunter)

1. Bride of Chucky (1998)


If there’s one surefire strategy to revive a horror franchise, it’s adding Jennifer Tilly to the cast. As the delightfully sociopathic Tiffany, Tilly excels. She spits out every line with her signature breathy delivery and her every mannerism commands the screen with devilish gusto. She’s endlessly watchable even in doll form and brings a hefty dose of humor to the series. In general, this film also marks a turn towards reflexive self-parody and makes for the most fun franchise entry. Bride of Chucky is a clear and distinct high-point, a thoroughly entertaining slasher, and a pitch-perfect example of how a late franchise entry can revitalize the whole series. (Anna Swanson)

It’s never too late to deliver a fun sequel or to check out more 31 Days of Horror Lists!

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Anna Swanson is a Senior Contributor who hails from Toronto. She can usually be found at the nearest rep screening of a Brian De Palma film.