Movies to Watch on Halloween: Horror Movie Franchises and How to Watch Them
Halloween is coming, a dark but merry day just before November starts when millions of children and adults dress up and go separate ways. The children are going from home to home asking for sweets and adults are having fun at the most extravagant costume parties.
However, everything has changed this year due to coronavirus pandemic and this time, it seems, we will have to celebrate the day without going around the neighborhood asking for sweets and loud parties.
We kindly ask you to stay home for your own safety and enjoy the most famous epic horror movies. We are going to make it a little bit harder for you to choose the one to watch and tell you about the scariest and most discussed horror movie franchises of all the time.
We have sixteen horror movie franchises in our list, and they are not ranked from the worst to the best but listed according to the release date of the very first movie in the series. So, off we go to the fear’s domain!
First movie: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Movies in total: 17
Last movie: Survival of the Dead (2009)
In 1968, George A. Romero released the low-budget black and white movie Night of the Living Dead, about a brother and sister who were attacked by zombies in a cemetery. It might seem that this thrash slasher was supposed to drown in the sands of time, but fate has prepared a completely different story for the movie. Night of the Living Dead became highly popular and got five sequels directed by George A. Romero himself, five remakes — one of which, Dawn of the Dead, was Zach Snyder’s directorial debut in a feature-length movie. Also, there are six spin-offs by John A. Russo (who co-wrote the very first movie) and innumerable imitations. If you are curious to see the “grandfather” of a genre that never dies — like a zombie — try Night of the Living Dead. At 52 years, it is still full of a certain charm.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
First movie: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Movies in total: 8
Last movie: Leatherface (2017)
The 1974 movie about a family of redneck cannibals hunting ordinary Americans did not leave the audience indifferent. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre became one of the first slashers and paved the road for other movies of this genre. Since then, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has seen seven sequels and remakes, and each of them features a maniac called Leatherface. There were many famous actors in the franchise, from Dennis Hopper to Matthew McConaughey. The new installment of the franchise is being filmed now.
First movie: The Omen (1976)
Movies in total: 5
Last movie: The Omen (2006)
It all starts in Rome. The wife of the American ambassador gives birth to a child who dies immediately. While the woman is passed out, the diplomat, at the instigation of a Catholic priest, replaces the newborn. He takes a healthy baby whose mother died in childbirth. If only he knew that he had adopted the Antichrist himself! The movie, which starred the great Gregory Peck, was an instant worldwide success: it got 60 million in the box office (it was a lot in 1976), an Oscar for the best soundtrack, and three sequels. In 2006, a remake of the 1976 movie came out based on the first scenario of the original The Omen.
First movie: Halloween (1978)
Movies in total: 11
Last movie: Halloween (2018)
Probably one of the most important slashers in film history, Halloween, came out in 1978. It featured the killer, Mike Myers, who had escaped from a mental institution and returned to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, to slaughter young people. The movie instantly got cult status and became a milestone in the horror genre. A short time later, Halloween started a franchise that includes, apart from the first movie, seven sequels, and a dozen books and comics. At the end of the 2000s, Rob Zombie added two more remakes to the list, and two years ago, there was a reboot of the series that followed the plot of the very first movie. It was planned as a trilogy, with each installment being released before the eponymous holiday. However, the plan failed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Halloween Kills premiere was postponed until 2021.
The Evil Dead
First movie: Within the Woods (1978)
Movies in total: 5
Last movie: Evil Dead (2013)
It all started with the half-hour short Within the Woods directed by 19-year-old Sam Raimi, the future director of Hollywood blockbusters. However, in 1978 he had no money to hire actors, and he invited his friend Bruce Campbell to play one of the leading roles in his movie. A few years later, Raimi got the money and reshoot Within the Woods as a feature-length movie called The Evil Dead. That movie is very famous now because somehow it combines horror, black comedy, and shameless trash but is still watchable. Bruce Campbell became famous as a deadite fighter Ash, and the story about young people vacationing in a cabin in the woods became a textbook for lots of other horror movies. Then Raimi began not only filming the sequel but also expanding the universe. So, the third installment in the Army of Darkness franchise, in which Ash goes back in time, has some fantasy features. In 2013, there was a reboot of the franchise, and now Raimi intends to continue working on The Evil Dead universe. He has plans for three more movies in this franchise.
Friday the 13th
First movie: Friday the 13th (1980)
Movies in total: 12
Last movie: Friday the 13th (2013)
The story of a young man Jason Voorhees, who drowned at the summer camp and then started to mince people with his machete, has mutated since the very first Friday the 13th movie. For 11 subsequent installments, Jason receives his iconic hockey mask, gets supernatural powers, goes to New York and into space, and also fights the hero of another franchise, Freddy Krueger. All of these movies embody the entire range of quality, from classic horror to outright thrash.
In 2009, the franchise was rebooted with a movie based on the first four installments of the series. However, it got a very cold reception. Since then, the studio has been trying to film a sequel, but the franchise has been drowning in the rights resale, lawsuits, script revisions, and the constant postponement of the premiere date.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
First movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Movies in total: 9
Last movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
The franchise about a maniac coming to people in their dreams was launched in 1984 with A Nightmare on Elm Street movie. Since then, the series has withstood eight more installments, and the main character, Freddy Krueger, has become a truly iconic villain. By the way, this movie series is the third horror movie franchise in the United States box office. All of the movies in the Nightmare on Elm Street series have earned about $600 million in total, left behind only by Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises. The last movie in the franchise came out in 2010. This movie is a remake of the very first movie about Freddy Krueger. Now the TV channel HBO is working on a TV-series based on the lore of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
First movie: Hellraiser (1987)
Movies in total: 10
Last movie: Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)
In 1987, Clive Barker, a science fiction writer, filmed his own story about the Cenobite demons, overwhelmed by a thirst to do evil, who invade our world from Hell. Since then, scary stories about monsters and their leader Pinhead (the one with nails in his head) continue to come out regularly, each time losing in quality, budget, and box office. The latest movie, Hellraiser: Judgement of 2018, was with a ridiculous budget of half a million dollars. However, lately, there have been talks of a complete reboot of Hellraiser. Meanwhile, HBO has already ordered a TV-series about the Cenobites.
First movie: Scream (1996)
Movies in total: 4
Last movie: Scream 4 (2011)
This is a horror franchise of the MTV generation. A schoolgirl, Sidney Prescott, is hunted by a man who hides his face under a mask. He is trying to get to Sydney all the time but does not hesitate to kill other people on his way. The striking slasher by Wes Craven — who once upon a time created A Nightmare on Elm Street — which continually references all horror classics, has become one of the main movies of the mid-nineties, causing a wave of imitations and parodies. A year later, the sequel came out, and in 2000 there was another one. Strangely, the trilogy does not become trash nor use anything supernatural. Everything is real, and there are no monsters, ghosts, nor demons. All evil things are done by ordinary people.
In 2011, Wes Craven released a new movie in the franchise, Scream 4, with a new cast. It did not come even close to the expected success, and then the franchise continued on the MTV channel in the form of TV-series. But it was not really popular.
Meanwhile, the owners of the rights to the franchise periodically release some news: they have announced the premiere of the Scream 5 movie. It will take place in January 2022.
First movie: Ringu (1998)
Movies in total: 12
Last movie: Sadako (2019)
A creepy Japanese movie about a killing videotape was a real breakthrough for Western viewers. Now, upon hearing the words “Japanese horror movie”, the first thing that comes to mind is the unkempt girl Sadako, getting out of the TV. It all started with Koji Suzuki’s novel The Ring, which was first filmed for television in 1995 and then became a feature-length movie. In the same year, Spiral came out in Japan, based on another Suzuki’s novel, but having some plot connections with The Ring.
In Korea, they immediately filmed their version of The Ring for the domestic market. However, the Americans were very serious about the remake: Naomi Watts, who portrays the main character, was gaining popularity back then, and the movie budget was $50 million — fifty times more expensive than the original movie. Since then, the story about the girl Sadako –– or Samara in the international version — has only evolved, got lots of English and Japanese sequels, and even a crossover with another horror franchise (more on that later).
First movie: Final Destination (2000)
Movies in total: 5
Last movie: Final Destination 5 (2011)
It all started with Jeffrey Reddick, who wrote the script for an episode of the famous TV-series, The X-Files, about the inability to escape from death. However, the producers from New Line Cinema persuaded him to rewrite the script so it could be used for a whole movie. This is how the 2000’s Final Destination was born. It tells a story about a group of people who miraculously escaped a plane crash. However, some forces want to take what is theirs, and the characters, one after another, start to die in accidents. The plot of Final Destination was so good that the movie just could be left one of a kind. The 2000’s movie got three sequels, one prequel, six novels, and several comics. Now, New Line Cinema is considering a possible continuation of the franchise and, according to the latest rumors, is preparing a reboot.
First movie: Ju-on (2000)
Movies in total: 11
Last movie: The Grudge (2020)
In fact, this franchise began in 1998, when Japanese director Takashi Shimizu filmed two very scary short movies. Two years later, he also released a video that was not even released in the movie theaters called Ju-on, in which he developed the idea of his previous works. The video immediately gets a sequel, and in 2002 Shimizu releases another movie, which finally got to the theaters. Basically, Shimizu is telling the same thing: a woman is murdered by her husband, but she manages to curse him before her death and releases a very evil creature. Then, a few more sequels and reboots were released in Japan. Hollywood could not stand aside and released four remakes of The Grudge. In July 2020, the Netflix streaming service premiered Ju-on: Origins, a TV-series filmed by Japanese filmmakers for the streaming giant. By the way, in 2006, an entertaining crossover of two Japanese horror franchises came out, in which Sadako from The Ring and Kayako from The Grudge join forces.
First movie: Saw (2004)
Movies in total: 8
Last movie: Jigsaw (2017)
James Wan, a Malaysian native who is responsible for creating three successful horror franchises of this century, enters the game. Wan studied filmmaking in Australia, where he became friends with Leigh Whannell. Together they came up with the idea for a movie about the inventor of bloody trials for people who, in his opinion, do not value life. Friends shot a short movie that came all the way to Hollywood, and then Leigh and James were flying across the ocean to start working on a future blockbuster, and then another one, and one more.
In total, eight movies were released, connected by the plot. The new ninth picture, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, was supposed to be released in the spring, but due to the coronavirus epidemic, its premiere has been postponed to the next year.
First movie: Paranormal Activity (2007)
Movies in total: 6
Last movie: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)
The idea for the pseudo-documentary Paranormal Activity came to a programmer, Oren Peli, when he heard strange noises in his new apartment. Inspired by the concept of attempting to videotape the supernatural, Peli made the movie with a ridiculous $15,000 budget and then spent two years looking for a distributor, which role was eventually taken over by Paramount Pictures. The risk was justified: Paranormal Activity grossed $200 million at the box office, earned recognition from the audience, and then got five sequels. Over time, Oren Peli started working with James Wan on another franchise, Insidious. Meanwhile, Paramount Pictures announced the seventh Paranormal Activity movie. It should be released in May 2022.
First movie: Insidious (2010)
Movies in total: 4
Last movie: Insidious: The Last Key (2018)
A small franchise about people who sometimes go to the astral plane and meet ghosts there was created by three people whom we have already mentioned — friends James Wan and Leigh Whannell and the author of Paranormal Activity, Oren Peli. The four-movie cycle was shown in the movie theaters from 2011 to 2018 and grossed more than half a billion dollars in total. This is probably the smallest franchise on our list, and it is really convenient to rewatch over the weekend.
First movie: The Conjuring (2013)
Movies in total: 7
Last movie: Annabelle Comes Home (2019)
And here, at last, is the youngest and most commercially successful horror franchise. It was created by well-known friends from Australia, James Wan and Leigh Whannell. By making real people — Ed and Lorraine Warren — the main characters of the movie series, the producers were able to create a real cinematic universe. The Warrens have spent most of their long life investigating the paranormal and have written lots of books about it. These books were the starting point for Wang and Whannell. As a result, the cinematic universe includes two The Conjuring movies (the trequel will premiere in June 2021), a trilogy about the Annabelle doll, a movie about a demonic nun (a sequel is just around the corner), and The Curse of la Llorona. It seems that Wan and Whannell are in great form, and looking at the box office (seven movies grossed nearly two billion dollars), it is clear that Warner Bros. will not let the friends stop soon.
Of course, we did not have a plan to make choosing a movie for a cozy weekend difficult for you. However, we tried to show most of the genre called “horror.” Of course, there are many great solo horror movies, but this time we have focused on the long-running franchises.
So choose a scary horror movie and stay at home!
Have a nice and eerie holiday!
Меня зовут Игорь. Я из тех, кто постоянно выискивает себе новые увлечения. Начинал с зоологии и чтения в детстве и докатился до путешествий, кино и истории искусства. Не могу жить без новых книг, новых телешоу и новых стран. Свято верю в науку, доброту и то, что впечатлениями надо делиться. Учу языки, планирую поездки разного километража и пишу про кино и сериалы.