Any movie worth watching once is worth having a sequel doing pretty much the same stuff the first time around. Am I right? Of course! And horror movies are no exception to that rule, people die and come back all the time more often than they do in comic books and soap operas combined.
For my money, these are the greatest horror franchises of all time. No matter how silly or bad they may get, I still love’em and to this day I would rush out to the theater opening weekend if they had a new release.
So why 6? Because 6 is an EVIL number!
The Evil Dead Trilogy
What?: Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987), Army of Darkness (1993)
The first movie was actually pretty scary and played straight, the second added elements of slapstick comedy and insanity and the third was full-on slapstick. From Evil Dead to Army of Darkness, that’s a pretty big leap in my book, but it somehow works. The fact that this is the series that put the brilliance and charm of Bruce Campbell (giving us catchphrases until the end of mankind) on full display for the world to see further cements this franchise’s status as one of the greats.
Zombies, skeleton knights, crazy witches, demons, a horny forest, strange mist in the woods, friends dying and turning into zombies, Book of the Dead, evil dopplegangers… What’s not to love?
Coolest Moment of the Series: The myriad of quotable quotes that Ash delivers in Army of Darkness.
The Best Movie: Evil Dead II
What?: Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Halloween: Resurrection (2002), Halloween (2007)
A true original imitated by many, which in turn imitated the imitators at times. You can’t deny the power of the first movie though and throughout the series the good has definitely outweighed the bad (yes, even through weird cult subplots & retcons). I talked about each movie here.
Coolest Moment of the Series: In the 1978 original, when at the very end, Michael’s body is nowhere to be found!
The Best Movie: Halloween (1978 version)
Friday the 13th
What?: Friday the 13th (1980), Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982), Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985), Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988), Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993), Jason X (2002), Freddy vs. Jason (2003)… whew!
If Halloween was steak, Friday the 13th was a cheeseburger. But a lot of times all you really need is a greasy hamburger to satisfy your cravings. It’s dirty, it’s quick and it makes you happy (just how sex should be!). They weren’t setting out to raise the horror bar with these movies, they weren’t trying to build suspense (outside of the original, I’d argue). It was instant gratification and nothing but a visceral assault and pure entertainment. It wasn’t about “When?” but “Who?” and “How?” and “Show us your boobs!”
Coolest Moment of the Series: In Part VIII, Jason punching that guy’s head off and then it falling into a dumpster.
The Best Movie: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
George A. Romero’s Dead series
What?: Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007)
Though I actually prefer the 1990 NOTLD version, I can’t deny the legend that is the original and the greatness of Romero’s vision. These movies turned me into a hardcore zombie fan and they’re probably the most horrific of all monsters to me. I guess that’s why I’m so drawn to watching them.
Dawn & Day are absolute classics, though one thing has always bugged me… Why can’t the survivors just get along ?!
Coolest Moment of the Series: In Dawn, the gang runs throughout the mall, gathering supplies and picking off zombies with glee.
The Best Movie: Dawn of the Dead
Universal Studios Monsters
What?: Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Dracula’s Daughter (1936), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) …whew!
As much as I love zombies, slashers and Bruce Campbell, nothing compares to the classics. C’mon, this is Drac, Frank and Wolfie we’re talkin’ ’bout here! It don’t get no bigger than that! And yes, I know technically there are other Universal Monsters (The Phantom, the Creature, Mummy and Invisible Man being the biggest of the “other”), and as a whole they reallly should not be considered one big franchise, but the Big Three crossed over a lot starting in the 40s and I feel all three of those franchises should be tied in together, even if only loosely.
Coolest Moment of the Series: Seeing all three monsters together in House of Frankenstein
The Best Movie: Bride of Frankenstein
The Hammer Horror Dracula series
What?: Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Scars of Dracula (1970), Dracula AD 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)
A co-worker from the video store I used to work at turned me on to these films (and Hammer’s horror output in general) and I haven’t look back since. Initially, Hammer took notes from Universal’s Monsters line by originally putting out their own version of The Mummy, Dracula and Frankenstein, but these films had even more of a sinister, gothic twist with heapings of sex thrown in (oh those busty wenches!) for good measure. It was a recipe for success that saw Dracula returning again and again to suck blood and seduce women.
The later movies are a bit silly (Dracula — Modern Day Cult Leader? Kung Fu?), the early stuff is incredibly creepy and atmospheric to this day.
Coolest Moment of the Series: In Horror of Dracula, the final showdown between Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing and Christopher Lee’s Dracula.
The Best: Horror of Dracula