Welcome one and all to the best, funniest, most encompassing, and most professional (that last one might be a lie) guide to all the major horror movie franchises. I will be covering all the classic series’ which were the reason you developed an unhealthy fear of your closet as a child, and remain the reason that you refuse to have your feet hanging off the end of the bed as an adult. There are only two rules to make it into this guide: it must be a scary franchise, and it must have at least 5 movies in the series. So here we go, and I hope you don’t have any plans for the next couple days, because you’ll likely have a lot of movies to watch after reading through this guide.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (JASON VOORHEES):
This machete-wielding maniac is the leading discouragement for having premarital sex or engaging in illicit substances. Residing in the creepy-as-hell Camp Crystal Lake, this serial killer demonstrates the effectiveness of a defibrillator, since he is resurrected through electrical shock numerous times throughout the series.
Number of Films – 12
Timeline – This franchise does a good job of continuity up until Jason Goes To Hell, when all hell (no pun intended) breaks loose story-wise. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday basically ignores the events of the previous film, since it ended with Jason melting into nothing with no conceivable way of being revived and no explanation as to how he is alive at the beginning of Jason Goes To Hell. When we get to Jason X it also seems to ignore the events of the previous couple movies and brings the knife-crazy killer into space. Freddy vs. Jason can be seen as the continuation of the Jason Goes To Hell storyline, but the last movie deems all of this debate pointless anyways since it completely restarts the storyline.
Jason doesn’t make an appearance in the 1980 version of Friday the 13th, or New Beginning (it’s not the real Jason, but rather a copycat killer).
Rating – 3.5 out of 5 (points off for the minor continuity issues in later films, and for the sheer number of times a electric resurrection is used)
HALLOWEEN (MICHAEL MYERS):
Considered by many to be the godfather of slasher films, this rage-induced shambling killer has a more complicated life than a teenager who just discovered their bisexuality. Using his hands and a knife as his main weapons of choice, Michael relentlessly pursues members of the Strode family (even after numerous nearly-fatal encounters).
Number of Films – 11
Timeline – Let’s just be honest for a moment and admit that even if you’re a diehard Halloween fan, the franchise storyline is a bit of a clusterfuck. It started off great with the first two movies, then Halloween III came along and was not only completely unrelated (I mean seriously, what the fuck was going on there?) it didn’t even involve Michael! Then the fourth, fifth, and sixth movies continued the storyline from Halloween II. Once we get to Halloween: H20, the timeline is reversed back to the point after the second movie, and continues afterwards into Halloween: Resurrection. Then in 2007, the franchise was entirely restarted by Rob Zombie’s remake, and continued on into the 2009 version of Halloween II. Finally we arrive at this year’s Halloween which removes every event that has happened apart from the entirety of the 1978 Halloween.
Rating – 2.5 out of 5 (major points deducted for the incredibly confusing timeline, which turned the longest running continuity storyline into a ridiculous and half-assed explanation of Michael’s purpose and abilities. It makes it feel like no storyline has enough time to gain traction before another movie comes along and completely undoes the events of the previous timeline)
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (FREDDY KRUEGER):
This Wes Craven creation features the well-done (pun definitely intended here) villain Freddy. Unlike other villains on this list, Freddy doesn’t actually exist in real life (for the most part) but rather in a dream world. Here he uses his classic knife gloves to slice-and-dice his victims in their dreams, effectively killing them in real life.
Number of Films – 9
Timeline – The first six films of this franchise maintain a pretty solid continuity, with one survivor usually leading us from the end of one film to the beginning of the next. However, once we get to New Nightmare, the storyline begins to get a little shaky. New Nightmare makes the events of the film happen in a faux reality where the popular movie franchise exists, involving several key players in the creation of Freddy (including his legitimate creator Wes Craven) playing themselves, and the manifestation of Freddy hunting down these people in “real life”. Freddy vs. Jason then continues this amusing little side-plot where Freddy pulls Jason Voorhees into the mix to create fear in Freddy’s hometown. The series was entirely restarted in 2010 with the brand new A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Rating – 3.5 out of 5 (points deducted for the absurd little side adventure where Wes Craven played himself, and for the weird involvement of dream powers, which even for a movie about a serial killer who murders people in their sleep, felt like a bit of a stretch)
CHILD’S PLAY (CHUCKY):
He may be tiny, but he certainly isn’t adorable. This possessed killer doll is solely responsible for an entire continent (if not the majority of the world) ridding their houses of any human dolls whatsoever. He could easily be called the MacGyver of death, since his killing methods seem to be whatever he can get his hands on.
Number of Films – 7
Timeline – This franchise does something that very few horror series can seem to do; follow a coherent storyline. The tale begins with Chucky hunting down Andy Barclay, and the films that follow are a simple continuation of these events. Aside from the brief weird side-quest that is Chucky having a doll child with his doll wife in Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky, the story remains fairly simple and scary.
Rating – 4 out of 5 (points deducted for the film briefly stumbling after Child’s Play 3, where it seemed to become more of a comedy-horror rather than a classic horror, but it soon returned to its horror roots in Curse of Chucky)
This demonic torture aficionado always comes armed with a team of morbidly fascinating if not just plain weird lackeys who are interested in the eternal damnation of your soul. They have a love/hate relationship with the puzzle box, because while it’s the only method of them entering this world, it’s also the method that is consistently used to send them back to hell.
Number of Films – 10
Timeline – This has to be one of the most debated storylines in the history of horror, and this is mostly due to the fact that it’s pretty unclear what constitutes a true Hellraiser film. Although every single one of these films features Pinhead and the puzzle box, in many of them he seems to be just thrown in at the last minute in order to be able to call the film a Hellraiser film. Bloodlines loosely establishes some continuity points (told through three different stories taking place in three different centuries) which all of the proceeding films must follow in order to be considered in the same timeline. The only two films that seem to stray from that vague continuity structure is Hellworld (which confuses things by having events take place in the “real world” where Hellraiser has spawned the idea for a video game) and Judgement (which ends with Pinhead suffering a fate which directly contradicts the third story in Bloodlines).
Rating – 2 out of 5 (points deducted for so many things… the lack of a concrete Hellraiser plot formula, the poor production value in later films, the reuse of both detective and reporter storylines throughout multiple films, and the replacement of the Pinhead actor Doug Bradley in both Revelations and Judgement)
THE OMEN (DAMIEN THORN):
I’m sure this literal spawn of Satan was responsible for many people questioning adopting children in the 70’s and 80’s. This innocent-looking antichrist is tiny, determined, and 100% evil as he uses his supernatural abilities to kill off anyone who stands in his way of world domination.
Number of Films – 5
Timeline – For once this is an easy timeline to understand. The first four films follows a fairly straightforward sequence of events which was ultimately restarted by the 2006 version of The Omen.
Rating – 4 out of 5 (points deducted for several moments throughout the franchise where attempts at being scary just come off as foolish, and for the unfinished end to the original storyline)
This sadistic puzzle master is the tale of a normal man being stripped of everything good in life and being created into a menace. He becomes the Jigsaw Killer and proceeds to complete his quest to improve people by forcing them to endure his increasingly disturbing and complex survivalist traps.
Number of Films – 8
Timeline – I think this franchise wins the award for most confusing storyline. Honestly, trying to decipher the order of the events in the Jigsaw universe will give you a brain aneurism. Generally speaking the events of the movies maintain good continuity, but through flashbacks and surprise reveals in each movie we discover unknown pieces of the story from previous films or even before the beginning of the franchise.
Rating – 2.5 out of 5 (major points deducted for the next-level confusing plot, and for the story’s constant reliance on revealing new assistants to Jigsaw who were often previous victims of his traps)
These ugly, slimey killing machines don’t really have a rhyme or reason besides the basic instinct of survival. Regardless of their motives, I think we can all agree that the mouth within a mouth situation makes these things an absolute nightmare.
Number of Films – 8
Timeline – The order of these movies jumps around quite a bit in terms of the years they were released, but when laid out in order the continuity is actually done pretty well. The two Alien vs. Predator films seem to exist in their own separate timeline since they happen many years before Prometheus, and there appears to be no mention or prior knowledge of the previous encounters that Earth would have had with both the Aliens and Predators. The two latest films act as prequels to Ripley’s adventures with the Xenomorphs which are laid out in the original films.
Rating – 4.5 out of 5 (points deducted for the unnecessarily intricate plot details of the prequel films)
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (GHOSTS?):
While there doesn’t seem to be an actual identity of the antagonist of these films (besides the name Toby) it is obvious that it is a spirit/demon with a real hard-on for possession and death. This ghost gets more than its five minutes of fame as its escapades are captured through surveillance cameras and found footage.
Number of Films – 6
Timeline – This timeline bounces around even more than the Alien one, but once again the continuity is pretty straight forward. Two sisters form a bond with an ancient spirit at an early age and to state the obvious they come to regret it later in life. Paranormal Activity 4 and The Marked Ones don’t directly deal with the sisters, but it’s made clear that the spirit involved is the same.
Rating – 3 out of 5 (points deducted for how little the plot varies from film to film and the fact that it relies so heavily on a found footage experience)
WRONG TURN (THREE FINGER/CANNIBALS):
These hillbillies spend their days wandering the midwestern states, spying on groups of unsuspecting teenagers, and gnawing on human flesh. It’s a story that above all else taught us the importance of always carrying a map or GPS device with you.
Number of Films – 6
Timeline – I guess you could consider this the Star Wars of horror movies since the original three films are actually last in the timeline. Throughout all six films many characters die off (like a ridiculous amount of them) with the cannibal named Three Finger being the only one to appear in all six. By all accounts Wrong Turn 6 belongs first in the storyline due to all three brothers still being alive and “the old man” not being part of the story yet, however there is a brief moment in the film where you see a missing persons poster that states the individual has been missing since Nov. 25, 2013. This would put the events of the film somewhere between Wrong Turn 2 and Wrong Turn 3, which is impossible because both the brothers and the old man are still alive. So I’ve chalked this up to an oversight due to the film being released in 2014, and have it remain as the first in the storyline.
Rating – 4 out of 5 (points deducted for the continuity mixup, and the lack of backstory regarding the family which makes it difficult to become emotionally invested with the characters)
These worm-like creatures did something truly incredible, they made sunny clear days terrifying. That’s because their method of hunting involves detecting seismic vibrations from sounds or movement, which means sunny days are open hunting season whereas dark stormy night provide seismic protection. As they burrow through the ground these massive tentacle-tongued mutants are more than happy to eat anything that crosses their path.
Number of Films – 6
Timeline – Besides the fourth film, which acts as a prequel to the entire storyline, the films are already laid out in proper continuity order. Tremors 3 takes a bit of a different strategy than the other films by becoming a horror-comedy and fittingly introducing a new breed of Graboid called Ass-Blasters.
Rating – 2.5 out of 5 (major points deducted for the lack of effort put into developing the storyline in later films, and for the poorly executed attempt at inserting comedy into the Tremors 3)
This tiny, mischievous, and somewhat culturally insulting monster is what would happen if the Lucky Charms mascot practised Satanism and had an unhealthy attachment to his gold rather than his cereal. He spends seven films using whatever means necessary to get his gold and other magical possessions back from those who have taken them.
Number of Films – 7
Timeline – This is by far the easiest timeline to explain, because it’s fairly obvious that even though Warwick Davis plays the Leprechaun in the first six films, all of these Leprechauns are different individuals with totally different personas and abilities and aren’t connected in any way other than they’re all Leprechauns. The last film, Origins, goes even further by removing Warwick Davis and making the Leprechaun mute and completely different than any iteration of Davis’ characters.
Rating – 1.5 out of 5 (major points deducted because not only do Warwick Davis’ characters get more and more ridiculous as the series progresses, but there seemed to be no effort whatsoever in connecting the films in any meaningful way)
Did I miss a series that you think should be included? Let me know by leaving a comment! I probably won't take your suggestion, but you can try anyways.