Top 5: Horror Franchises

With the month of October winding down and Halloween right around the corner, it seems only right to talk about one of the most important traditions to take place this month: horror movies. Although we were smacked in the face with the cinematic excretion The Devil Inside earlier this year, the release of Sinister is giving horror fans at least something good to look back on when the year is over. While Sinister is arguably one of the scariest films to come out in a while, there’s no debating that horror films are nothing like they used to be. Classic horror films deliver what the horror movie of this decade just can’t seem to: suspense. Instead of bashing the audience over the head with jump scares (some of them not even relative to the story), which almost seems insulting when thinking about it, the classics of this genre relied more on the concept of atmosphere, causing the audience to worry about what was hiding in the shadows and what was going to happen next. So to celebrate the year’s creepiest month, plus the recent continuation of the Paranormal Activity franchise, it only seems right to count down the top five best horror franchises:

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5. Alien – “In space no one can hear you scream.” Well, how scary is that? When looking at a list of franchises that are supposed to define the horror genre, just the idea of this fantastic space adventure started by Ridley Scott in 1979 not being on the list is enough to give me chills. The Alien film series is fantastic; from the awesome cinematography (the long hallways of the spaceship echoed the limitless nature of space) to the chilling story and the horrifyingly gore-filled visuals, the Alien films are a prime example of high-concept science fiction and terrifying horror blended together to create not just a film, but an experience. While later installments directed by Darren Aranofsky weren’t as successful, the first two films, Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens, are terrifying enough to grant the entire franchise a spot on this list. It also helps too that the “chestburster” scene is one of the most iconic moments in modern cinema and that Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, is film history’s most badass babe.

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4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – It’s not wrong to assume that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series has perpetuated a fear of lumberjacks in some; honestly, the very sound of a chainsaw causes the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up as it forces me to remember the first time I watched each of these sadistic horror classics, starting with Tobe Hooper’s outrageously scary 1974 original. On top of the way these films successfully use audio to perpetuate fear in the audience, the fantastic camera work and smart script give these films the extra legs they need to take them from standard horror films to an instant slasher classics. While the reboot of the original starring Jessica Biel was not as enjoyable or iconic, this is still one of those franchises that you cannot miss, especially during the month of October and especially because Leatherface is one of the horror genre’s most iconic stars. Just make sure you don’t have any giant meat hooks near you when finished…

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3. The Evil Dead – When the topic of horror comedy comes up in a discussion about movies, The Evil Dead is a series that demands to be mentioned. With a dedication to keeping both a low budget and the same director, Sam Raimi (the man behind the first Spider-Man trilogy), behind all three of the movies, this film series is one of those rare gems that finds a way to combine the perfect amount of black humor and gore (oh, there is plenty of blood splattering vileness to enjoy!) to create one of the most original concepts to be brought to the screen in the 80s. Between the fantastic acting (Bruce Campbell is perfect as main character Ash in all three films) and the slick writing (the film plays out like an outrageously fun B-movie), The Evil Dead franchise is a series of films that will leave you satisfied and wanting so much more. This is a trilogy that I cannot recommend enough, and with the remake coming out in 2013, this seems like the perfect Halloween to finally catch up.

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2. Nightmare on Elm Street – “I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy.” How menacing! I want to personally thank Wes Craven and every other individual who directed a Nightmare on Elm Street film for my lack of sleep when I was younger. Nightmare on Elm Street is just plain scary as it takes something we all find comfort in, dreams, and turns it into a paranoia-induced fear. Not only is Freddy Krueger one of the scariest looking legends of horror, but the idea of an evil presence living inside the dreams of his victims could possibly be one of the most horrible experiences for anyone to live. Between this and the original films’ ability to push the boundaries between what is real and what is in the mind (it like Saw meets Inception but so much better), this is a film series that if you put yourself in the shoes of the main characters, it will leave you with really nasty nightmares yourself. If you call yourself a horror fan and haven’t seen these films, well, you’re not a true horror fan, there’s no other way to say it.

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1. Halloween – While this film series is certainly suitable for the top spot given its name, the Halloween franchise really is the pinnacle of horror. For starters, the series follows the most iconic name in horror in the last century, Michael Myers, as he leaves a mental institution and returns home and begins a killing spree, and each film, besides the third, thickens the plot even more. Not only is the Halloween series memorable for its villian, but it also takes the top spot for doing a lot of things right, from continuing the trend of scream queens with Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance to very the idea for Michael’s brilliantly terrifying costume. While Freddy Krueger’s guise is much more detailed, the idea of keeping Myers to a mask and a knife allowed his presence to be the ambiguous thing that scared the audience. On top of the costume, the film terrifies because the psychological thrills mix well with the simple but satisfying story, because John Carpenter’s score is iconically bone-chilling, and because the movie incorporates the use of first-person perspective, making us feel like Myers is coming straight for us too. As a result, this is the film series that defines real suspense and thrilling horror and it has set the tone for all modern horror movies to come. It helps too that the 2007 rebooted version by director Rob Zombie wasn’t a complete failure like so many other of today’s revamped franchises.

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In the end, these are the horror franchises that stand above the rest for me. Their persistence in delivering quality as well and quantity is a standard that needs to be reborn in modern cinema in general, but specifically in the horror genre (Why are they even thinking about making The Devil Inside 2?). What do you think about the picks? Are there any you would take out or add? Sound off in the response section and let us know your favorite five horror franchises!

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One thought on “Top 5: Horror Franchises

  1. Pingback: Trailer Reaction: “The Evil Dead” « Reel Reactions

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