15 Horror Franchises That Helped Define the Face of the Genre

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15 Horror Franchises That Helped Define the Face of the GenreThere may be no other genre of film that juggles trends as often and openly as horror. One decade it’s the slasher, one decade it’s the ghost story; the next it’s found footage. The door does and will continue to revolve. That’s not going to change.

Fortunately for fans of this diabolical branch of celluloid, every now and then those shifts come on the heels of a landscape altering production, or the birth of a franchise destined to change the way we view film. We’ve seen movies evolves so much in the last 80-plus years it’s insane.

It’s almost hard to grasp. But it happens. And it often takes career defining projects and game changing films to make the shift a reality. Here are 15 horror franchises that enhanced, or completely altered the face of horror as we know it.

15 Horror Franchises That Helped Define the Face of the Genre

Ridley Scott’s greatest achievement, Alien was one of the most frightening films upon arrival in 1979. It’s still one of the only films guaranteed to toy with sleep patterns. A wonderfully atmospheric piece with evil brooding in every corridor of the Nostromo, Alien was special enough to pave the way for a series of sequels. Aliens shifted gears from mystery to action, but proved extremely rewarding. Alien 3 threw everyone for a spin by dropping Ripley in a male-exclusive prison, where creatures of murderous intent once more break free. Even Alien: Resurrection>/i> was a decent film, directed by the extremely talented Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Toss in a really entertaining crossover piece in Alien vs. Predator and a wild tie-in known as Prometheus and you’ve got a franchise that all fans need. Who doesn’t love the vile Xenomorph, really?

Friday the 13th:
Imagine for a minute Jason Voorhees doesn’t exist. Imagine the hockey mask never became synonymous with slaughter, and that machetes didn’t become exponentially more terrifying after 1980. Sean Cunningham created something genuinely special. He helped make a monster that will go down in history as every bit as relevant as Dracula, The Wolfman or Frankenstein’s Monster. 10 original Friday the 13th films have been made. The majority of which are gratifying in their delivery of blood boobs and beautiful booties. A crossover film pitting Jason versus Freddy Krueger was also released, and to the surprise of many, it’s a kick ass flick. And, finally, we’re now seeing the series recycled. Platinum Dunes got behind a killer reboot a few years back that featured a strong cast and the most frightening Jason Voorhees the world has ever seen.

Halloween never needed to be overtly violent or sadistic. It succeeded in issuing scares as a result of intrigue, tension and the always unexpected. It brought paralyzing horror to American suburbs. Eventually studios put the pressure on and Michael Myers did indeed become a far more grisly killer than the seemingly brainless murderer John Carpenter introduced. The times changed, and viewers expected bloodier scenes from their Halloween films. They got it, but they also got a number of thrilling series pics. Halloween, Halloween II; Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Halloween 4 and Rob Zombie’s interesting inaugural reboot were all impressive pictures. Rumors of a Halloween 3D are swirling, as they have been for years now. Here’s hoping the proposal comes to full fruition, and we see this always paralyzing freak stalk more unsuspecting youngsters soon.

A Nightmare on Elm Street:
Unfortunately A Nightmare on Elm Street eventually became more parody than straight-shooting horror. The first film is absolutely horrifying. The second adopts a lighter tone, but boasts enough uncomfortable scenes (do I really need to point out the S&M scene?) to really create a sense of uneasiness. The third piece in the franchise turned the gore up, and delivered arguably the most entertaining final product we’ve seen from the franchise, but things began heading downhill the moment the fourth flick arrived. In the numerous pics to see release since, Fred’s gone full comedian, managing to shine only in Freddy vs. Jason, and – whether you care to admit it or not – the 2010 remake. I don’t care what anyone says, Jackie Earle Haley is the most frightening Freddy Krueger I’ve ever seen, and I’d jump at the chance to see him approach the role again.

Child’s Play:
Don’t act surprised. You knew I had to squeeze a killer doll series in the mix somewhere. The truth is, when it comes to homicidal plastic, nothing quite trumps the Child’s Play franchise. This is a series we most certainly need, as it offers a slew of different impressions. The first film is more frightening than humorous. Fast forward a few installments and Chucky’s got a kid running around, stunned to discover he may have actually been made in Japan. Next thing we know, Curse of Chucky, the most savage, well-shot and exhilarating picture of the entire lot arrives and proves that even a half dozen movies into an ongoing story, lightning can strike the same place twice, and magic can indeed experience rebirth.

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Matt Molgaard

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