The summer of 2015 is gearing up to be The Summer of Sequels. We’ve already had The Woman in Black 2, [REC] 4, Taken 3, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, and in the upcoming months we’ll be getting Insidious: Chapter 3, Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys, Sinister 2, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and I’m sure I missed a few). So I thought this would be a good time to list the best horror franchises out there.

Please note that my criteria for a franchise is at least three films in a series (sorry Predator and Laid to Rest). I can watch all these franchises again and again without ever getting bored. This list isn’t in any particular order.

Romero’s Dead Trilogy

I’m of course talking about Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Day of the Dead (1985). Not only are these films the standard by which all other zombie films are measured, they also kick some serious ass. They are well-written, well-executed, well-acted, and Dawn and Day have some of the best gore around. I’m limiting this franchise to the first three films because, let’s face it, the other three Romero zombie flicks are pretty uneven. Oh let’s be honest, 2005s Land of the Dead sucked out loud!!

Franchise Romero

Hellraiser Trilogy

Once again, I’m limiting this franchise to the first three films (it’s my list and I’ll do whatever I want). Hellraiser (1987) is a groundbreaking film. Nothing like it was seen before. The first film also proved that Clive Barker is more than just a master of the written word. Hellhound: Hellraiser II (1988) is darker, gorier, and further explores the world and mythology of Pinhead and his cohorts. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) has its flaws, but is overall a pretty damn strong movie that introduces a few new cenobites.

Franchise Hellraiser

Friday the 13th Films

Say what you will about this franchise, but I’ll take this one over the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise any day. Jason is a stone-cold killer with no stupid one-liners, and after all the films in the series, Jason still manages to be scary. The first four films in the franchise are the best, but I watch all of them every time we get a Friday the 13th calendar day.

Franchise Friday2

The Alien Films

This is another solid franchise, but to make it a great horror series, I’m removing Aliens (1986) from the rotation. Aliens is a fun action flick, but it most definitely is not a horror film. The original Alien (1979), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien: Resurrection (1997) kick some major ass, though.

Franchise Alien

The Evil Dead Trilogy

Another classic franchise that is hugely entertaining, gory, and scary. I admit that I’m not as big a fan of Army of Darkness (1992) as most fans (it is way to campy with not enough gore for me), it’s still a terrific trilogy.

Franchise Evil Dead

The Tremors Franchise

Did you know that there’s four Tremors films, with a fifth one coming out later in 2015? I just recently showed the first two to my kids (ages ten and seven) and they love them. Watching the Graboids snatch and eat up the cast is so much fun. I also love how the writers evolve the creatures in the sequels. They walk on land in Tremors II: Aftershocks (1996) and they fly in Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001). I can’t wait to see what they do in part five!!

Franchise Tremors

The Wrong Turn Films

This franchise may never win any awards, but it’s one of my guilty pleasure franchises (along with Final Destination, see below). I wasn’t really a fan of the original Wrong Turn (2003), but since that film, the filmmakers have settled into a pattern of creating some of the goriest and craziest horror films out there. If you’re looking for logic, solid stories, and character development, look elsewhere. If you want to see hot girls split in two, people torn apart, and other grizzly sights, then this franchise is for you. There are currently six film in the franchise and I don’t see an end in sight.

Franchise Wrong Turn

The Hatchet Trilogy

Thank you Adam Green for going back to the basics!! At the end of the day, the Hatchet trilogy is simply a slasher killing characters in the swamp. Victor Crowley became an instant horror icon for the new generation. What makes this trilogy so much fun are all the great practical effects, a great killer, and tons of genre cameos. Even more, though, is writer-director Adam Green. You can tell from watching his films that this man loves the horror genre. This franchise is both a throwback to the classic slasher films of the 1980s, and is Green’s love letter to the genre.

HATCHET III / Director BJ McDonnell / Photo: Skip Bolen
HATCHET III / Director BJ McDonnell / Photo: Skip Bolen

The [Rec] Franchise

This franchise admittedly has its ups and downs but is overall a tremendously fun and gory franchise. Are you sick and tired of the found footage-style movies? Well, you obviously haven’t seen any of the [Rec] films. [Rec] (2007) and [Rec] 2 (2009) are so damn good that as soon as they end you’ll immediately want to watch them over again (I did). [Rec] 2 is no doubt the best film in the series, but all the films in the franchise have over the top gore and fun stories.

NYT2010070721093144C
NYT2010070721093144C

Final Destination Franchise

This is my other guilty pleasure franchise on my list. Let’s face it, every sequel has been a remake of the first Final Destination (2000). What makes these films so damn fun, though, are the opening sequence, that always involves some kind of horrendous accident, and all the inventive deaths throughout the films. The filmmakers here don’t pull any punches either… most of the death scenes are gory and explicit.

Franchise Final Destination

The Saw Trilogy

You knew this was going to pop up on my list!! Ultimately I enjoyed all the films in this franchise, but I thought the first three were the strongest. Some of the later films felt rushed and didn’t do it for me. The first three films, though, are pretty damn amazing with great stories and great gore.

Franchise Saw

So, what’s your favorite horror franchises? Let me know in the comments section below!!