Franchise Reviews: Tentpole Horror Edition


Horror movie franchise reviewsSome horror franchises are consistent, always making good movies and making me delighted to see the next installment of the franchise. Now that I’m done talking about the Scream films, horror franchises suck!

You can usually depend on one, arguably two decent films, but after that it’s just straight down hill. I figured since it is still the month of things that go bump in the night and the movies we make about them, I’d talk about some of the Tentpole Horror Franchises, and my thoughts on them as a whole. There’s a lot to get through let’s get to reviewing the biggest horror franchises ever.

Halloween Series: 10 Films

Still from Halloween 1978

The reason that the number is ten and not eleven is because I’m only counting the main Michael Myers films, which are honestly kind of solid. I think about half of these movies are entertaining fluff. The best is of course the original 1978 classic Halloween. Michael Myers is a fairly threatening villain, even though his masks do take a turn for the worse later in the series. The worst of these films is by far the Rob Zombie remake, which is the very definition of bad horror remakes.

While the original is very methodical in it’s silence and dread, this is just another “shocking” gore film from a director whose style can be described as “Bleh”. Overall, though, I think that this franchise has some great highs (The first three Michael Myers movies I do really like) and some super low depths, giving us the question “How the heck do you make Blofeld, a cult, and a telepath dull?” Aside from Halloween 5,6,8,9, and 10, this is a pretty decent franchise.

⭐ ⭐ 1/2 

Friday the 13th Series: 11 Films

Still from Friday the 13th

There is only one good thing to come out of this entire franchise, and it’s the Bond Gunbarrel opening where Jason throws his machete into the camera from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. That’s it, it’s the only thing I can say is really good throughout this entire franchise. It’s kind of hard to imagine a franchise with over eleven films not making a single good one, but here we are.

These movies range from the “Not the Worst/Entertainingly Bad” with installments like Friday the 13th (2009) and Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood, to the movies that make me fear for our species like Jason X or Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. It’s not just that the movies are bad. It’s the fact that they’re monumentally boring. This is a franchise about a deformed zombie man in a hockey mask playing Shaky Hand Operation with a machete and it’s boring. Part of that being that usually, the murders don’t start until over an hour into the movie.

While it is important to establish characters, THEY AREN’T DOING THAT! Instead of taking the time to actually have us make connections with the characters, they instead waste time on stereotypical teenage characters who basically just smoke and do other adult things. While every now and then you do get an entertaining moment, rarely ever are they scary. (The end of Friday the 13th: Part 3 is the only thrilling moment in the entire franchise) This is a franchise that needs to be thrown in a chest and sent to the bottom of the sea, or at least Crystal Lake.

⭐ 1/2

Saw Series: 8 Films

Jigsaw puppet

I honestly enjoy this franchise. Not because it’s high art or anything like that, but I just genuinely find the story interesting. I’m not someone who really enjoys the whole “Hey, here’s a guys intestine literally swinging out of his body” but I enjoy the story enough to look past it. The best way to describe this franchise is intriguing, as the story gradually gets darker and more interesting.

John Kramer, the man otherwise known as Jigsaw, is a character who I actually find very entertaining, as he does have some good motives. A man plagued by death and misfortune, only to finally have a brief moment of happiness and lose it to criminals. The rest of the characters are pretty much just one note stereotypes like Hoffman or Straham. However, no one really cares about the characters in a Saw film, they want the twists and surprises.

The surprise ending of Saw is one of my favorite scenes in a horror film. The reveal, the pieces coming together, make it a fantastic scene. Most of the other films in the franchise also end with a big twist, the only one not doing so being Saw VI, which is one of the worst films in the franchise. However, I will still argue to this day that Saw II is the best of the franchise. It is consistently interesting, and also finishes with a pretty good twist. This is a franchise, while it is definitely not for everyone, has enough entertainment for me.

⭐ ⭐ 1/2 

Alien Franchise: 8 Films

Still from Alien

Yes! Here it is, an amazing franchise with some of my favorite movies ever made! Oh, and they also have AVP, AVP: Requiem, and Prometheus. The Alien Franchise is one of tremendous highs and equally steep lows. The first two films in the franchise are iconic in every sense of the word. I recently saw Alien on the big screen, and it still has the only valid jump scare in cinema with the scene in the vents.

Aliens is a film with incredible action set pieces, outstanding visual effects, and Sigourney Weaver giving a career best performance. David Fincher’s Alien 3 is where things start to go downhill a bit, giving a dull and cluttered, but still relatively enjoyable series conclusion. Then Alien Resurrection was released and almost screwed it all up. The giant baby Alien is one of the worst ideas ever put to the silver screen. Prometheus and the Versus Predator films also are pretty low quality, but Michael Fassbender manages to make up some ground. While these films aren’t amazing, the highs are almost enough to overlook those lows.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Leprechaun Franchise: 7 Films

Still from Leprechaun

This is the worst franchise I’ve ever seen. Every single installment is painful to make it through, even making two of the ten worst films I have ever seen, those being Leprechaun 4: In Space and Leprechaun in the Hood. These films are everything horror comedies should not be. They’re not remotely scary, they’re don’t have a single solitary laugh in them, and they are just so boring! It’s astounding just how boring these movies are when Warwick Davis isn’t on the screen. It’s just human characters running around an assortment of locales (Vegas, Space, The Hood) and they just do nothing! Honestly, if you took out all of the stuff about the Leprechaun and magic flute of Leprechaun in the Hood, you could tell someone it’s the direct to DVD sequel to Boyz in the Hood.

They also hold some of the worst performances that have ever been. They either are leaving teeth marks on the scenery from chewing on it so hard, or are just extremely bland characters with the same depth as a kiddy pool. This is one of the hardest franchises to watch, and seven of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. (Whisper whisper) What? (Whisper Whisper) They made an eighth one? (Whisper) It’s directed by the guy who made that movie The Void, which is one of the worst acid trip movies I’ve ever seen? Well, consider this a partial review then, because if it’s bad as the others, we’ll all need the luck of the irish. 

Silence of the Lambs Franchise: 5 Films

Still from The Silence of the Lambs

Have you ever seen that one meme where it’s like a thing swinging rapidly from one side to the other? That’s this franchise, and while some may argue it’s lack of horror, please refer to Hannibal Rising and you will see that it’s hauntingly awful. Silence of the Lambs is an amazing movie. Hannibal sucks. Red Dragon is a really good movie. Hannibal Rising is one of the worst piles of garbage I have ever seen.

Manhunter… what the heck is Manhunter? I really enjoy it, but it is just such an insane movie with the soundtrack and the climax. It isn’t a bad movie persay, but it doesn’t reach the lofty heights or depressing pits this franchise attains. This is also a franchise known for its magnificent performances, whether it’s Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, or Edward Norton. This is a franchise that for me never really found its footing, it’s like when you open a container of Fava Beans from Lector, you never know what you’re going to get.

⭐ ⭐ 1/2

Lightning Round!

Final Destination – This is a pretty fun franchise in my opinion. As someone who really enjoyed something like the video game “Until Dawn”, seeing elaborate traps to murder people is something I always find entertaining. The first film in the franchise is kinda boring, but the second, third, and fifth entries manage to inject the franchise with enough energy and fun to make this a enjoyable set of movies to watch.

⭐ ⭐ ½ 

Scream – I talked about this franchise in my article on the most underrated horror films of the decade, which had Scream 4 on the list. So I’ll just reiterate what I said there. It’s a top notch horror franchise with some great comedy. They’re just really fun movies with some good performances, and is honestly my favorite franchise out of any of them on this list. 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½

Cloverfield – These are good movies, but I disagree with a lot of people when I say The Cloverfield Paradox was enjoyable. It was an insane haunted house movie with my future wife Elizabeth Debicki that had some really entertaining goofy moments. I think most people would agree that 10 Cloverfield Lane is the best, as the thrills and the mystery to what John Goodman’s intent truly is is just breathtaking. Cloverfield is also a good movie, but I will never forgive both this or the Bourne franchise for giving us all the awful shaky cam action scenes.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Resident Evil – The first movie isn’t anything amazing. It’s a subpar sci-fi horror film with one or two good moments. The second and third (Apocalypse and Extinction) installments dive bomb the franchise average with some terrible CGI and shaky cam fight scenes. However, I will never understand why, but I actually enjoy the fourth and fifth installments (Apocalypse and Retribution) which are two really bad movies, but they are at least entertainingly bad.

The CGI is still some of the worst ever given to a relatively big budget film but the somewhat television like aesthetic makes these two enjoyable enough to stomach. However, while the films managed to scrape and claw itself back into mediocre “alright-ness”, the final film in the franchise, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, doesn’t just fall off the wagon, it trips on a shoelace, falls in front of the horse pulling the wagon, and gets trampled by the horse and the wagon before getting spit on by the wagon driver. That’s how bad The Final Chapter is. It’s a really bad franchise, with some of the worst horror movies that I’ve seen.

⭐ 1/2

Child’s Play – Awful. This franchise, for all of those people who enjoyed math in school, is a graph equal to -X^2. It starts at the lowest possible point, then gets somewhat more tolerable, finally finishing at the lowest of the low with Cult of Chucky, which is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Then there’s the Mark Hamill reboot that may or may not be a reboot? Not only is the franchise a mess, the movies are. The Child’s Play films are comedies that aren’t funny and horror films that aren’t scary. 

Nightmare on Elm Street – “Why isn’t this on the trendsetters list” You may be asking yourself. Well that’s because 1) I don’t think that it really started any major movie trends that hadn’t already been started with the “supernatural killer”, as we had already had four Friday the 13th films at that point, also about a murderer who comes from beyond the grave, the only difference being where they choose to do battle, either in dreams or a typical summer camp.

While the first film in this franchise manages to do something that the Friday the 13th Franchise could never do, make an okay movie, every other film in the franchise not named New Nightmare is a drab and lifeless affair that is only held up by the performance of Robert Englund. Films such as Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy’s Revenge and the remake from 2010 are the very definition of poorly made horror movies. Overall, this franchise is just a nightmare to watch. 

⭐ ⭐

Well, that was… difficult. I just talked about roughly 85 movies, which has got to be a record for the site, as well as being over two thousand words. They also range from some of my favorite movies like Silence of the Lambs and Alien to some of the worst pieces of cinematic trash like Leprechaun 1,2,3,4,5,6, and 7. When it comes to horror films, you definitely have a lot of options for franchises. So whether you want high quality horror or some low grade shlock, no matter what you do you’ll have options.

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