Five More Underrated Horror Franchises that Deserve More Love

Underrated franchises - Slumber Party Massacre

If a horror film is successful, a sequel is essentially a foregone conclusion. If the sequel makes a splash, a franchise becomes an inevitability. Series like A Nightmare on Elm StreetFriday the 13thChild’s PlayScream, and Evil Dead are celebrated by fans with great vigor. But for every successful series with a fanatical fanbase, there are several franchises that get less love and less acclaim. Since I’m a fan of an underdog, I love to sing the praises of less-celebrated series. With that in mind, I previously put together a list of 5 underrated horror franchises, which you can scope right here. Since that endeavor was well-received, I am back to do it again.

Today, dear reader, I bring to you five more underrated horror franchises that deserve more love. Read on to see what made the cut. 

Candyman

I can’t quite put my finger on why the Candyman series doesn’t get more love. It’s certainly one of my favorite horror franchises. The series, which follows a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, has a pretty impressive batting average. The original is one of the scariest films ever made. Candyman masterfully instills a sense of dread in the audience by way of an ominous score, eerie camerawork, and a surreal sense of ambiguity that keeps the viewer in a state of uncertainty. The second film, which isn’t as rich with subtext or as artistic as the first is still a very impressive slasher feature with some unforgettable kills. While the series’ third installment is absolutely a misstep, Nia DaCosta’s sequel/reboot got the series back on track. The award-winning director delivered an impressive amount of social commentary while also managing to deliver a legitimately frightening cinematic effort. Three out of the four series installments are highly enjoyable. And for that reason alone, the Candyman franchise deserves far more love than it seems to get. 

Sleepaway Camp

Some of the messaging surrounding trans folks in Sleepaway Camp can be dicey, depending on your interpretation. But I’ve also seen the argument made that the film serves as a fitting metaphor for the evils of forcibly imposing gender roles. No matter where you stand on that, Sleepaway Camp is a campy and gory effort that serves up some gory kills perpetrated by an unassuming but murderous young woman attending summer camp. I will go out on a limb here and admit that I even have a love for the second and third series installments. Each film serves up inventive kills and a memorable killer in Angela (played by both Felissa Rose and Pamela Springsteen). The unfinished fourth installment is a bit of a mess and Return to Sleepaway Camp doesn’t quite work. But three out of five installments serving as a schlocky good time is no small feat.

Slumber Party Massacre

The original Slumber Party Massacre is a camp classic with a lot of feminist subtext. The gender roles are largely reversed from what was typical of that era: The coach, telephone repair person, and handy-person are all played by women. The male characters get beat up by their girlfriends and flunk gym class. Not too shabby for a silly film about a slumber party crashed by an escaped mental patient. Though director Amy Holden Jones wasn’t able to make the exact film she set out to make, she was still able to send a powerful message. Danishka Esterhazy’s 2021 remake brought things full circle by inverting the male gaze and delivering a feminist feature, through-and-through. The second installment in the original cannon isn’t as effective as the first but it does feature a wicked guitar drill as its signature weapon and a badass female rock group. So, there’s still plenty to enjoy. The third installment in the original series is a bit of a dud. But three out of four watchable entries is a pretty stellar track record for a premise that didn’t initially seem to have a lot of franchise potential, now, isn’t it?  

Wishmaster

I will be the first to say that the Wishmaster franchise isn’t perfect. But the first two films are really fun. The inaugural installment is well-done. It gets substantial mileage out of a fairly simple premise that sees an evil genie-like creature wreaking havoc by using people’s wishes against them. The film boasts an impressive cast that includes the likes of Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Reggie Bannister, and Angus Scrimm as the narrator. Plus, Andrew Divoff is pitch-perfect as the Djinn in human form. The Djinn’s origin story is interesting and Tammy Lauren makes for a likable protagonist in her turn as Alexandra. The second installment isn’t quite on the same level as the first but it’s campy fun and strangely homoerotic. The series’ latter installments are a bit of a mess. But I maintain that the Wishmaster series deserves a lot more love based on the strength of its first two installments. 

Warlock 

The first Warlock film is tragically underrated. Julian Sands does brilliant work with the character, depicting him as both imposing and sensual. Not to mention, Lori Singer’s Kassandra is one of the most underrated final femmes of the ‘80s. The onscreen chemistry that she has with Richard E. Grant’s Redferne is exceptional. Their connection feels authentic and gives me cause to invest in their journey. The second installment doesn’t quite reach the heights of the first but it’s a worthy follow-up that works, in large part, thanks to an impressive showing from Sands and an entertaining storyline that sees him, once again, trying to unleash satanic evil on the world. The third franchise installment recasts the titular role and doesn’t have a lot to do with the first two films. But that’s more than made up for based on the strength of the first two outings.  

What are some of your favorite underrated horror franchises? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

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