Horror Movie Franchises, Ranked By The Quality Of Their Sequels
You can't throw a rock these days without hitting a franchise, and that goes double for the horror genre. The overwhelming success of Freddy and Jason in the '80s made sure that every creep with a butcher knife (or a chain saw) and at least one box-office success was given three or four movies to work out their issues. Some of these beloved horror franchises have delivered the goods for the entirety of their run, while others have sputtered out entirely - but which franchises are the best?
What you'll be voting on is which horror franchise has the best quality of sequels, not necessarily which one has the best original film. Even if you think Alien is the superior horror film, you might find yourself voting for the Friday the 13th series as a whole because it's more tonally consistent, but that's between you and your horror icon of choice. Let the horror franchise wars begin.
- Photo: Scream 2 / Dimension Films1199 VOTES
The Best Sequels: Scream 2, Scream 4
The Worst Sequel: Scream 3
The Ups and Downs of the Franchise: If Scream 3 wasn't gutted during preproduction, there would be no discussion about franchise sequel quality. Every single one of these movies is doing its best to tell the story of Sidney Prescott and the real trauma of being a "final girl." Despite its issues (and it has plenty of issues), Scream 3 genuinely holds up more than you remember - just take a bathroom break when Jay and Silent Bob show up.
Regardless of how you want to rank the movies in the Scream franchise, each one of them features prescient commentary on the current zeitgeist, whether it's discussing the MeToo movement or the way that social media has completely stripped users of their ability to see people as anything but fans.
- Photo: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors / New Line Cinema2152 VOTES
The Best Sequels: Dream Warriors, New Nightmare
The Worst Sequels: Freddy’s Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
The Ups and Downs of the Franchise: It's hard to argue about the quality of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Even Freddy's Revenge, the most derided sequel of the original run, has some stand-out effects, and it narratively accomplishes its goals even if it misunderstands the original film. The wheels don't really fall off this series until late in its run, and even the late-period films are fun to watch, even if they don't capture the spirit of the earlier movies.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the more consistent horror franchises of the 20th century. Characters from earlier films return in later entries, and everything from the original film straight through to Freddy vs. Jason tells one continuous story. Even if this isn't your favorite franchise, you still have to tip your hat to that kind of consistency.
- Photo: Halloween II / Universal Pictures3174 VOTES
The Best Sequels: Halloween II, The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween (2018)
The Worst Sequels: Resurrection, The Revenge of Michael Myers, The Curse of Michael Myers
The Ups and Downs of the Franchise: Not to tell you how to vote, but the Halloween franchise is a mess. The series has been rebooted three times (H2O sidesteps everything but the first two films), and even in the original six movies, the story is all over the place. But narrative issues aside, when the Halloween franchise is good, it's good.
Mileage varies on most of the sequels. When the series tries something new (Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the 2009 director's cut of Halloween II), the films have a life in them that's missing from a dog like The Revenge of Michael Myers. There are also ups and downs in the 2018 Halloween reboot of the series. The first film may take a "back-to-basics" approach, but Halloween Kills is far from the best of the franchise.
The most fascinating thing about Halloween is that it easily has the best initial film in the series, which is followed by a dense collection of films that ride a roller coaster of quality. If this is your favorite franchise, we can only wish you the best.
- Photo: Evil Dead II / Rosebud Releasing Corporation4174 VOTES
The Best Sequels: Evil Dead II, Evil Dead (2013)
The Worst Sequel: Army of Darkness
The Ups and Downs of the Franchise: We had to pick something as the worst sequel, but if we're being honest, this entire franchise is solid. There's plenty about Army of Darkness to find fault with. It has pacing issues, and the extreme horror of the first two films is exchanged for a sword-and-sandals vibe that's fun but feels kind of like a franchise killer when you think about it. Somehow, the movie still works, so hats off to Sam Raimi and company for that.
Heck, you can even be mad at Evil Dead (2013) for existing if you hate remakes, but that's also an entirely solid film full of practical effects and a scene where a deadite is set on fire - so what's not to like?
- Photo: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter / Paramount Pictures5168 VOTES
The Best Sequels: Friday the 13th Part II, The Final Chapter, Jason Lives
The Worst Sequels: Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason X
The Ups and Downs of the Franchise: Generally speaking, the Friday the 13th franchise is the most fun slasher series of the '80s and easily the most rewatchable. The biggest sin committed by the worst sequels isn't just that they're kind of a snooze - it's that they refuse to lean into how ridiculous these films can be.
Jason Goes to Hell is a great example of something that can easily be considered the worst of the franchise, but it tries something new. Even though the movie is a failure, it's an engrossing failure that can be watched time and time again. It's hard to say the same for Jason Takes Manhattan.
Something truly unique about this franchise is that there are flashes of brilliance throughout its long life. I, III, and IV are really good slashers, A New Beginning may not be "good" but it is a peek into an alternate dimension where John Waters directed a horror movie, and Jason Lives is Frankenstein in a hockey mask. From there on out, things get dicey, but there's fun to be had with these movies until the end of the line.
- Photo: Final Destination 3 / New Line Cinema6141 VOTES
The Best Sequels: Final Destination 2, Final Destination 3
The Worst Sequels: The Final Destination, Final Destination 5
The Ups and Downs of the Franchise: The Final Destination movies rule. They're big, over-the-top popcorn spectacles, and every single one of them is a blast. That being said, some of these movies where teens are chased down by Death after avoiding an airplane incident/rollercoaster accident/massive pile-up are better than others.
The thing with these big-budget disaster movies is that as the saga continues, it becomes harder to surprise the audience. The third film in the series subverted expectations by not tying into the original film at all aside from a passing reference, and even though the fifth film ranks low on our personal preference list, it still manages to do something different with a pretty fun twist. Where do these movies rank for you?