There's nothing we love more than an amazingly terrifying, scream-out-loud scary horror flick. Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look at the very best horror franchises of all time, starting with this frightening series… Who doesn't love a '90s slasher film? "Scream" revitalized the horror genre when it premiered in 1996 to rave reviews from both critics and fans who praised its awesome cast, dark comedy and "whodunit" plot. The scary yet funny horror flick went on to earn $173 million worldwide and became, at the time, the highest grossing slasher film in America. Today, the "Scream" franchise consists of three sequels (plus a fourth that started filming in late 2020) and an MTV show. Keep reading to see which other horror film series are the best of the best…
The first installment of the "Insidious" film franchise was released in 2010. Starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, "Insidious" follows a couple who, while coping with their son's sudden comatose state, realize that he's being used as a vessel for demonic creatures. The success of the first movie spawned three more films: 2013's "Insidious Chapter 2," 2015's "Insidious: Chapter 3" and 2018's "Insidious: The Last Key." Together, all four have earned $539 million at the global box office against a total budget of $26.5 million.
The 1968 movie "Night of the Living Dead," which was shot on a tiny budget of just $114,000, proved to be wildly popular and earned more than $18 million worldwide — 250 times its budget! The stunning success of the first film led to five sequels and two remakes.
This franchise kicked off in 1978 with the release of the original "Halloween" film starring Jamie Lee Curtis. The movie about a serial killer who only murders on Halloween was a huge hit and the Michael Myers empire took off. The franchise now consists of 11 films in total (which have grossed more than $620 million worldwide), multiple novels and comic books, a documentary and, of course, plenty of merchandise.
What's scarier than a possessed, murdering doll coming to kill you?! "Child's Play" let audiences know that not even toys were safe when it opened in theaters in 1988. The movie hit so many nerves with parents that protestors boycotted the film for inciting violence in children. Nevertheless, the horror film was an immediate box-office success, grossing $44 million on a $9 million budget. Today, the "Chucky" franchise has grown into a $250 million moneymaker with seven sequels, two short films, a video game, multiple comic books and a highly anticipated "Child's Play" TV series!
The original "Alien" movie left fans terrified when it debuted in 1979. The Academy Award-winning science-fiction horror flick was a huge success, grossing over $100 million at the box office. The popularity of Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley and her extraterrestrial nemesis spawned three sequels ("Aliens," "Alien³" and "Alien Resurrection"), a prequel series ("Prometheus" and "Alien: Covenant"), the "Alien vs. Predator" crossover film series and numerous books, comics and video games. "Alien" was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" in 2002 and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
"The Exorcist" changed the horror genre with its then-state of-the-art special effects, horrifying religious premise and quality acting. In fact, the 1973 film was so terrifying and graphic that viewers were fainting in theaters and "'Exorcist' barf bags" were distributed at screenings. The movie grossed more than $441 million worldwide (including various re-releases) and in 1974 became the first horror film to be nominated for a best picture Academy Award (one of 10 Oscar nominations it received). "The Exorcist" franchise has grown to include four sequels, upping its earnings to more than $661 million.
2007's "Paranormal Activity" starring Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat marked the beginning of a critically acclaimed horror film franchise. The found-footage film follows a young couple who, after becoming suspicious of some peculiar activity at night, set up a camera to record the supernatural entity that's terrorizing their home. Globally, the film earned $193 million and spawned five more installments: "Paranormal Activity 2," "Paranormal Activity 3," "Paranormal Activity 4," "The Marked Ones" and "The Ghost Dimension." The seventh film in the franchise is slated for release in 2022.
Imagine escaping death only to have it come find you days later and kill you off in a truly grotesque fashion. That's what fans and critics saw when they viewed "Final Destination" in 2000. The concept was so brilliant yet disturbing that the horror flick was an instant success at the box office, grossing $112 million. "Final Destination" was followed by "Final Destination 2," "Final Destination 3," "The Final Destination" and "Final Destination 5," as well as a series of novels and comic books.
"The Conjuring," which debuted in 2013, stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren, real-life investigators who specialized in paranormal activity. When they are called to assist the Perron family in the 1970-set film, they begin to unravel the gruesome history of their home as supernatural forces continue to terrorize them. The movie earned widespread praise from critics and grossed an impressive $319.5 million on a $20 million budget. The success of the first film spawned a sequel, "The Conjuring 2," which was released in 2016 and earned $320.4 million at the box office. A third installment, "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" is slated for release in 2021.
Is there any killer scarier than Jason Voorhees? "Friday the 13th" left audiences shaking with fear when it debuted in 1980. The slasher film about cursed Camp Crystal Lake and a sadistic serial murderer received mixed reviews from critics but was immensely popular with viewers, earning nearly $60 million at the box office. Today, the "Friday the 13th" film series is one of the most popular horror franchises ever, with 11 successful sequels, an '80s television series, numerous novels and comic books, a host of pop culture references and extensive merchandising.
The concept of a man-eating great white shark might not be as terrifying today, but it was genuinely horrific in the 1970s. "Jaws" had audiences gripping their seats in fear when it debuted in 1975. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie featuring John Williams' ominous theme music was one the very first summer blockbusters, earning over $470 million to become the highest grossing movie of all time (until the release of "Star Wars," that is). "Jaws" has since become a popular $800 million-earning franchise with three sequels, soundtrack albums, novels, merchandise, trading cards, multiple video games, a theme park ride — even a musical!
1981's "The Evil Dead" marked the first installment of Sam Raimi's beloved supernatural film franchise. "The Evil Dead," which tells the story of a group of college students who vacation at a rural cabin and accidentally unleash demonic spirits, grossed $29.4 million globally. The film's success resulted in the creation of two more films in the original series: 1987's "Evil Dead II" and 1992's "Army of Darkness." A reboot film, "Evil Dead," was released in 2013 and was followed by the comedy-horror television series "Ash vs Evil Dead," which ran from 2015 to 2018. The original "Evil Dead" films are cult classic credited with launching Sam's career (he went on to direct the original "Spider-Man" trilogy).
2018's "The First Purge" was the fourth installment in the "The Purge" franchise. The films explore the terrifying concept that in a dystopian America, all crimes are considered legal on one day every year. The result? Some pretty chilling movies that left us with nightmares for weeks!
A man wearing a mask made of human skin, running around trying to kill you with a chainsaw so his insane family can eat you later… yep, definitely horrifying. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is guaranteed to make you scream with fear. The 1974 film left audiences so disturbed that it was banned in several countries and numerous theaters stopped showing it because of complaints about the violence. Nevertheless, the movie earned critical acclaim and grossed more than $30 million at the box office. Today, the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" franchise has grown to include five sequels, one remake, a prequel, numerous comic books and a video game.
Dreams were supposed to be something you could wake up from, but all that changed when Freddy Krueger hit the scene in 1984. "A Nightmare on Elm Street," which tells the story of a former child killer who murders teenagers in their sleep, terrified audiences all the way to the bank. The slasher film earned $25 million on a $1.8 million budget and received widespread praise. Today, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is one of the most popular franchises ever, with seven sequels, a TV series, a cross-over with "Friday the 13th" menace Jason, a 2010 remake, a documentary, 12 novels and multiple comic books.
Creatures from another dimension that kill with abandon… sounds pretty horrific, doesn't it? That's the concept that created one of the best horror franchises ever, "Hellraiser." The original 1987 flick about the terrifying Cenobites is regarded as one of the scariest flicks to date thanks to its intense and intelligent plot, dark and disturbing content and impressive special effects. "Hellraiser" has grown tremendously since the '80s, and the franchise now includes nine sequels, a novel series, numerous comic books and multiple video games.
Another scary movie that shows us just how terrifying extraterrestrial beings can be is "Predator," which tells the tale of a paramilitary rescue team being hunted by an alien. It left audiences clamoring for more when it was released in 1987. The horror flick starred '80s tough guy Arnold Schwarzenegger and grossed nearly $99 million at the box office. Today, the "Predator" franchise is bigger than ever with two sequels, two "Alien vs. Predator" crossover films, a novel series, multiple comic books and video games and a 2018 movie.
1992's "Candyman" directed by Bernard Rose saw Tony Todd take on the role of the titular and terrifying character. The film tells the story of a university student who comes across the urban legend of the Candyman and soon realizes he might not be just a ghost based in folklore. "Candyman" grossed $25.8 million at the box office and was followed by two more installments: 1995's "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh" and 1999's "Candyman: Day of the Dead." The film franchise, which has achieved cult-classic status, is getting the Hollywood treatment once again: A fourth installment co-written by "Get Out" and "Us" filmmaker Jordan Peele — it's also called "Candyman" — is scheduled to be released in 2021.
"Saw" was one of the most disturbing and graphic movies we've ever seen, but we couldn't look away. The thrilling, horrifying film about the Jigsaw Killer left audiences reeling when it hit theaters in 2004, earning more than $103 million on a measly $1.2 million budget. Although some criticized the film as "torture porn," many loved its twists and turns. The "Saw" franchise grew to include seven sequels, a theme park ride, multiple haunted attractions, numerous video games and comic books. In fact, the gory film series is so successful that it's one of the highest grossing franchises of all time with a combined take of more than $975 million at the box office.
Who can forget the iconic black-and-white, stunningly scary shower scene in "Psycho"?! The 1960 movie is considered by many to be one of the earliest examples of a slasher film and made waves when it first hit theaters. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Hollywood legend Janet Leigh, "Psycho," which grossed $50 million, had a huge impact on audiences and critics. The movie about disturbed motel manager Norman Bates also received four Academy Award nominations including best supporting actress for Janet and best director for Alfred. Today, "Psycho" is one of the most celebrated horror franchises of all time, with four sequels, one remake, a documentary, a series of graphic novels and a highly successful 2011 TV series, "Bates Motel."