Horror franchises are something of a double-edged sword. Fans want more films featuring the characters they love. But the more content produced in a film series, the greater the likelihood of a misstep (or multiple missteps). Friday the 13th is a great example of that. The franchise is beloved by fans but roughly half of the entries in the original cannon are mediocre at best. However, some series are able to beat the odds and churn out far more hits than misses. And that’s just what we’re setting our sights on now.
Today, we are spotlighting five horror franchises with far more hits than misses. Feast your eyes on our top picks for the most consistently enjoyable horror film series.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Final Destination is one of the most consistently enjoyable horror film franchises. Out of five films, four of them are really good. And while the fourth series installment is a bit of a misstep, it’s far from unwatchable. The bar is just set exceptionally high and The Final Destination doesn’t quite reach the level of greatness achieved by the other franchise entries. Things start to feel a bit repetitive in the fourth outing and some of the characters are a bit grating. But the fifth film makes up for that by course correcting. In fact, Final Destination 5 may even be the best in the canon. Additionally, the ending of Final Destination 5 brings the series full circle in a smart way, serving as the perfect ending. For now…
There are seven films in the original Child’s Play series canon and of those seven titles, five are objectively good. Child’s Play 3 made the mistake of recasting Andy (with Justin Whalin taking on the role) and it features an obnoxious secondary protagonist in Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers) but the film still features some solid kill sequences and a couple of good one-liners. Seed of Chucky is the other outlier in the series. Making Chucky the antihero, rather than the antagonist was a misguided endeavor. But series creator Don Mancini made up for that and got the franchise back on the right track with Curse of Chucky. With Curse, Mancini makes the killer doll scary again. And the success of that endeavor paved the way for another solid installment with Cult of Chucky. All in all, this franchise has far more hits than misses and that’s pretty impressive.
I love the Phantasm movies. The first four are like comfort food to me. Series creator Don Coscarelli built a mind-bending world where anything can happen. The films feature the same core group of characters throughout. I find it such a comfort to be able to revisit the franchise and spend time with Michael, Reggie, and Jody at any time. It’s like revisiting old friends. And that’s a true rarity. While Ravager isn’t the final chapter we might have hoped for, it is absolutely a love letter to the Phans and that has to count for something. Moreover, the fifth film was made for very little money and as a true labor of love. So, with all things considered, it’s not such a bad way to take the series out.
Evil Dead has an edge in that the original cannon only contains three films. But all three of them are top-notch, making it one of the most consistently enjoyable horror franchises. The first is more along the lines of straight horror. The second veers more into horror comedy with a bit of slapstick humor, and the third is just completely bonkers. Each film is pretty close to perfect in its own way and each provides a different viewing experience than its predecessor. Sam Raimi has the uncanny ability to pair horror and comedy and execute both brilliantly. That’s no small feat. The two genres are diametrically opposed and fusing them together often results in watered-down scares or jokes that don’t land. But not in Raimi’s capable hands.
The great Wes Craven may be gone. But he left so many gifts behind. One of the many high points of his legacy is the Scream franchise. We are currently five films deep (with a sixth on the way) and there isn’t a true dud in the bunch. Scream 3 is a bit of a challenge. But considering how troubled the production was, I’m surprised the film came out as coherent as it is. Moreover, there’s something rather charming about a slasher movie through the eyes of the Scooby Doo gang. I could talk all day about why Scream 3 is better than it gets credit for. But instead, I will just say that the Scream series is a near-perfect franchise and I am so grateful to Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson for giving it life.