Best Horror Movie Franchises of All Time – Part 1

Posted on 14 Aug 00:00


In entertainment, movies are among the most excellent sources of pleasure apart from music and novels. Watching a movie can be whether it's a romantic, war, black comedy, fictional, horror, or science-fictional. The films are produced either as a single movie of all time (like the Devil Wears Prada) while others come in a movie franchise. A franchise refers to a collection of related films in succession that share the same fictional universe or are marketed as a series. These movie series can be projected to be multi-series from the onset, like the Three Colours film. However, the success of an initial movie can inspire other films to be shot in a series. The latter is the case in most franchises. This article discusses the best horror movie franchises of all time –part 1.

1.  Alien Franchise - $515.9 Million

The Alien Franchise is one of the most classic science-fiction horror/action media franchise that most movie buffs love. The film series has six films:

Alien (1979)
Aliens (1986)
Alien 3 (1992)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Prometheus (2012)
Alien: Covenant (2017)

The series plot centers on warrant officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and her battles with an extraterrestrial lifeform referred to as "the Alien" or Xenomorph.

Director: Alien (1979) was directed by Ridley Scott, Aliens (1986) by James Cameron, Alien 3 (1992) by David Fincher, Alien Resurrection (1997), by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The prequel series, composed of Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017), was also directed by Ridley Scott.

Main cast: some actors and actresses retained their roles in several series, while some roles  had an entirely new cast. Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, and Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt maintained their positions in the first three series as Joan Lambert, Samuel Brett, and Gilbert Kane.

Awards and nominations: Alien (1979) was nominated for two Academy Awards and won the Best Visual Effects. Aliens (1986) received seven nominations, including the Best Actress nomination. It won the Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Effects awards. Alien was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the US National Film Registry for being aesthetically and culturally significant.

Grossing: the first film Alien (1979), grossed $78.9 million, while Prometheus (2012) was the highest-grossing film with $126.5 million.


2.  Saw Franchise  - $415.9 Million

This horror franchise has eight films:

Saw (2004)
Saw II (2005)
Saw III (2006)
Saw IV (2007)
Saw V (2008)
Saw VI (2009)
Saw 3D (2010)
Jigsaw (2017)

James Wan and Leigh Whannell created the series with the plot revolving around serial killer John Kramer, aliased the "Jigsaw Killer" or "Jigsaw". Kramer traps his victims in situations that he calls "tests" or "games" to establish their will to live through physical or psychological torture, and upon surviving, he "rehabilitates" them. He prefers this method over killing them directly. Kramer dies in Saw III, but this character's influence on his apprentices is explored through flashbacks.

Director: the film series has been the product of five directors; James Wan, Darren Lynn Bousman, David Hackl, Kevin Greutert and the Spierig Brothers. Leigh Whannell, Darren Lynn  Bousman, Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger have written the series's screenplays.

Main cast: John Kramer remains the principal actor for all the eight films in the series.

Awards and nominations: the Saw was a success in the horror franchise industry. The Saw (2004) was the franchise's first film and had a gross of $45.7million, while Saw II was the highest-grossing film in the series, with a gross of $87million. The Saw series was also acknowledged in the Guinness World records for being the most successful horror franchise in 2010.

3.  Jaws Franchise - $408 Million

One of the greatest classic horror franchises is the Jaws franchise. The series has four movies;

Jaws (1975)
Jaws 2 (1978)
Jaws 3-D (1983)
Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

This American psychological horror-thriller film series is based on a 1974 novel. The series has its plot revolving around a great white shark attacking people in the Bahamas and specific areas of the United States. The 1916 Jersey Shore Shark Attacks novel, inspired Peter Benchley to write the 1974 novel, Jaws, which later formed the script for the first film.

Director: for each of the films in the series, a different director was involved. Steven Spielberg for Jaws (1975), Jeannot Szwarc for Jaws 2 (1978), Joe Alves for Jaws 3-D (1983), and Joseph Sargent for Jaws: The Revenge (1987).

Main cast: the Brody family is featured in all the four movies in the franchise.

Awards and nominations: the Jaws franchise was the first series to employ the ‘wide release’ for distribution instead of the conventional ‘premiering’ method used by the preceding franchises. Consequently, it managed to get to the top as one of the highest-grossing series. One of the films in the series won the Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor.

Per Wikipedia:

         " It was number 48 on American Film Institute's 100 Years ... 100     
, a list of the greatest American films of all time compiled in 1998; it dropped to number 56 on the 10th Anniversary list.[184][185] AFI also ranked the shark at number 18 on its list of the 50 Best Villains,[186] Roy Scheider's line "You're gonna need a bigger boat" 35th on a list of top 100 movie quotes,[187] Williams's score at sixth on a list of 100 Years of Film Scores,[75] and the film as second on a list of 100 most thrilling films, behind only Psycho.[188] In 2003, The New York Times included the film on its list of the best 1,000 movies ever made.[1"

Grossing: Jaws (1975) was the highest-grossing movie in the series, and it earned $260 million gross at the box office.

4.  Paranormal Activity Franchise - $401.4 Million

The Paranormal Activity Franchise had its initial film release in 2007 and has since seen a product of six films;

Paranormal Activity (2007)
Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
The Marked Ones (2014)
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)

The series story revolves around a family that is haunted by demons. The evil spirits stalk, terrify and eventually murder several family members and other bystanders who happen to be around the family.

Director: all the six films in the series were directed by different individuals; Oren Peli for the Paranormal Activity (2007), Tod Williams Paranormal Activity 2 (2008), Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman for Paranormal Activity 3 and 4, Christopher Landon Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014), and Gregory Plotkin for paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.  William Eubank is directing the production of the yet-to-be-shot Paranormal Activity 7.

Main cast: Katie Featherson and Micah Sloat have retained their roles in several films with the franchise as Katie and Micah. Other characters have been played by different actors and actresses.

Awards and nominations: the series has received mixed reactions for the different films. The first and the third received positive reviews, the second and the fifth received diverse opinions. The fourth and sixth were negatively opined. Its first film (PA), released in 2007, was the highest-grossing movie in the series with a $107.9 gross. The series saw the production of a video game, Paranormal Activity - Lost Soul. It won the "Best Sound Design for an Indie Game" at the 16th Annual Game Audio Network Guild Awards.

5.  Friday the 13th Franchise - $380.6 Million

The Friday the 13th franchise has twelve slasher films. The movies in the series are:

Friday The 13th (1980)
Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)
Friday The 13th Part III (1982)
Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Friday The 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Jason X (2002)
Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)
Friday The 13th (2009).

The plot is developed around a fictional character Jason Voorhees who drowns in Camp Crystal Lake due to the staffs' negligence. The lake is ‘cursed,’ leading to the massive deaths that Jason causes or motivates.

Director: Sean S. Cunningham directed the first film in the series and two others. Other movies in the franchise were directed by other people.

Main cast: Jason Voorhees is the main character in the series. He is represented by different actors, including Ari Lehman, Steve Daskewisz/Warrington Gillette, Tedd White and Kane Hodder.

Awards and nominations: the series has not received any special awards or nominations. However, it was the highest-grossing horror franchise until the Halloween franchise was released in 2018. Its first film grosses $39.8million, and the 2003 Freddy vs Jason film grossed the highest at $82.6million gross.

6.  A Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise - $370.5 Million

The A Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise is one of the slasher film series that any movie lover of this genre can appreciate. The franchise has the following films:
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
New Nightmare (1994)
Freddy vs Jason (2003)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

In the series, vengeful parents kill Freddy Krueger, a former child-killer. Freddy comes from the grave and terrorizes the teenage residents of Springwood, Ohio, in their dreams.

Director: Wes Craven wrote and directed the first film in the series while the other movies in the franchise were directed by different directors.

Main cast: Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund and Jackie Earle Haley). Character Nancy also remains active in most movies in the series and is portrayed by various actresses.

Awards and nominations: the series has no received any special awards. However, compared to other American horror franchises, A Nightmare on Elm Street is the third highest-grossing horror series with a $583.4 million gross. Freddy vs Jason grossed the highest in the franchise and earned $82.6m

7.  Scream Franchise - $331.7 Million

The Scream Franchise is an American meta-horror media franchise with four films. The movies in the franchise;

Scream (1996)
Scream 2 (1997)
Scream 3 (2000)
Scream 4 (2011)

The plot revolves around Sidney Prescott, and the struggles she encounters a succession of murderers who adopt the guise of Ghostface to stalk and kill their victims. Policeman Dewey Riley, tabloid reporter Gale Weathers, and film-geek Randy Meeks, besides other friends, romantic partners, and acquaintances, support Sidney in her quest.

Director: the Scream series has Wes Craven for its four films. Kevin Williamson created the series.

Main cast: the franchise's prominent roles feature and star Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette. The supporting roles are played by different people who vary from an instalment to another.

Awards and nominations: Scream has received several awards and nominations, including a Saturn Awards for Best Writing, Best Actress, Best Horror Film, and MTV Movie Awards for Best Female Performance and Best Movie. Nominations include Best Supporting Actor (Ulrich and Barrymore) and Best Director, and they lost them to other series. Its first film was the highest-grossing movie with a $103.0 box office draw.

8.  Sinister Franchise - $75.8 million

'Sinister' is an American supernatural horror franchise consisting of two films,

Sinister (2012)
Sinister II (2015).

The series' plot revolves around a true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), who unravels the Super 8 home movies of gruesome murders in his new house. This puts his family in danger. The torture is horrible and involves a family being hung up like scarecrows with sacks over their heads in a cornfield and burned alive.

Director: the two movies in the series had different directors. Scott Derrickson directed Sinister (2012), while Ciaran Foy directed Sinister II (2015).

Main cast: the 2012 Sinister movie stars are James Ransone, Juliet Rylance, and Ethan Hawke. In 2015, the Sinister II starred James Ransone and Shannyn Sossamon. The supporting roles for the two movies are represented by different people.

Awards and nominations: the Sinister franchise has not received any awards and nominations since the shooting. However, it was a significant success since it grossed $75.8 million against a $13 million budget. The first film, Sinister (2012), was the highest-grossing film in the series, with a $48.1million gross a the box office.


Movie buffs enjoy watching single films and several-film franchises. Franchises have been fantastic at telling stories in-depth and developing a plot extensively. Most series start when the movie gets a positive reception in the market and stirs sequels' production. Other series are pre-determined to be franchises from the onset. This article discussed eight franchises that have proved to be some of the most incredible of all time.

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