There's nothing we love more than an amazingly terrifying, scream-out-loud scary movie. Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look back at the very best horror franchises of all time, starting with the "Candyman" series, which is finally returning to the big screen on Aug. 27, 2021, following multiple delays amid the coronavirus pandemic… The first "Candyman" movie, which debuted in 1992, centers around a graduate student looking into the titular urban legend: The Candyman — the vengeful ghost of an innocent Black artist horrifically murdered by a lynch mob in the late 1800s — will brutally kill anyone who says his name five times while looking in a mirror. The cult classic spawned three sequels, including an installment written by Oscar-winning modern-horror master Jordan Peele. It'll be the first new "Candyman" movie in more than two decades! Tony Todd will again star as Daniel "Candyman" Robitaille. (Did we just say his name five times?!)
Now keep reading for more of the all-time greatest horror movie franchises…
"Saw" is one of the most disturbing and graphic movies we've ever seen, but we somehow can't look away. The terrifying 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. "Saw" spawned eight sequels — including 2021's "Spiral" — as well as multiple video games, comic books and theme park attractions. Thanks to the box office success of "Spiral," it's now a billion-dollar franchise.
Who doesn't love a '90s slasher flick? "Scream" revitalized the horror genre when it premiered to rave reviews in 1996. The film featured an all-star cast including a young Drew Barrymore in a totally unexpected role, a dark sense of humor that left viewers giggling between shrieks and an enticing mystery that immediately hooked fans. It went on to bank $173 million worldwide and became, at the time, the highest grossing slasher film in America. "Scream" spawned four sequels (the fifth installment in the series is due in 2022) and an MTV show.
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The "Halloween" franchise officially kicked off in 1978. Jamie Lee Curtis made her feature film debut as babysitter Laurie Strode in the John Carpenter-directed horror classic, which spawned several sequels and two Rob Zombie-directed remakes. The franchise, which has made more than $642 million worldwide, now consists of 12 films total including 2018's "Halloween" and "Halloween Kills," which is due in October 2021. A 13th film, "Halloween Ends," is set for October 2022.
Thanks, mom! In "Child's Play," which debuted in 1988, a mother gifts a murderous Chucky doll possessed by a notorious serial killer to her son on his birthday. The movie hit so many nerves with parents that protestors boycotted it 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 eight-film "Chucky" franchise — which includes the 2019 "Child's Play" reboot — has earned more than $333 million worldwide. A "Chucky" TV series is set to kick off on Syfy and USA Network on Oct. 12, 2021.
"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 some viewers fainted in theaters, leading to "'Exorcist' barf bags" being distributed at screenings. The movie grossed more than $441 million worldwide (including various re-releases) and in 1974 became the first horror film to score an Oscar nomination for best picture (one of 10 Academy Award nominations it earned). The "Exorcist" franchise — which now includes two sequels, two prequels and a two-season FOX TV series — has made more than $661 million at the global box office. A new "Exorcist" trilogy to be directed by filmmaker David Gordon Green — who directed the 2018 "Halloween" revival and its upcoming sequels — is currently in development. Ellen Burstyn is set to return to the role of Chris MacNeil alongside Leslie Odom Jr. as the father of a newly possessed child. The first new film is due in 2023.
The 1968 horror classic "Night of the Living Dead," which was produced 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 several sequels, remakes and related films.
"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. In the 1971-set film, they're called to help the Perron family unravel the gruesome history of their home, which is plagued by murderous supernatural forces. The horror flick earned widespread praise from critics and grossed an impressive $319.5 million at the box office on a $20 million budget. It spawned two sequels and several spinoffs including three "Annabelle" movies. The latest installment in the lucrative film franchise, "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It," debuted in June 2021.
Well, this is confusing… The first installment in the "Insidious" film franchise, which debuted in 2010, follows a couple (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson, who clearly knows a thing or two about scary movies) as they realize demonic creatures are using their comatose son as a vessel. The supernatural horror film spawned three sequels: 2013's "Insidious Chapter 2," 2015's "Insidious: Chapter 3" and 2018's "Insidious: The Last Key." Together, the four films have earned more than $539 million at the global box office against a total budget of $26.5 million. Patrick will reportedly helm an upcoming fifth film in the franchise — it'll mark his directorial debut.
The extremely low-budget 2007 supernatural horror flick "Paranormal Activity" kicked off one of the most lucrative film franchises in Hollywood history! The found-footage style movie centers around a couple who set up cameras around their home to track a malignant entity stalking them as they sleep. It made nearly $200 million on a production budget of just $15K and spawned four sequels and a prequel (2011's "Paranormal Activity 3"). A seventh installment in the series — a reboot — is due in 2022.
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 more than $100 million at the box office. The popularity of Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley and her extraterrestrial nemesis spawned three sequels ("Aliens," "Alien 3" 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. FX is currently developing a TV series set within the extended Alien universe — according to the head of the network, the show will likely debut sometime in 2023.
Imagine escaping death only to have it track you down just days later to kill you off in a truly gruesome fashion. That's the premise of 2000's "Final Destination." Fans were instantly hooked by the concept, launching the horror flick to box office glory: It grossed more than $112 million and spawned four sequels. A sixth installment in the franchise, which hasn't seen a new entry since 2011, is reportedly in the works.
Is there any killer scarier than Jason Voorhees? "Friday the 13th" left audiences shaking with fear when it debuted in 1980. The slasher flick — which centers around Camp Crystal Lake and the sadistic serial killer haunting it — received mixed reviews from critics but was immensely popular with audiences, earning nearly $60 million at the box office on a budget of just $550K. Today, the 12-film "Friday the 13th" series is one of the most popular horror franchises ever. A 13th film has been in the works ever since the most recent installment, 2009's "Friday the 13th," opened in theaters.
The concept of a man-eating great white shark might not be that terrifying today, but it was genuinely horrific when "Jaws" opened in theaters in 1975. Directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring John Williams' ominous theme music, the lauded thriller — which won three Academy Awards and also scored an Oscar nomination for best picture — was one of the very first summer blockbusters: It earned more than $470 million and became the highest grossing movie ever at the time. ("Star Wars" took the title two years later). "Jaws" spawned three sequels and now, the four-film franchise has earned nearly $800 million at the global box office.
Sam Raimi's beloved "Evil Dead" franchise kicked off in 1981 with "The Evil Dead," which centers around a group of friends who unwittingly unleash a horde of demonic entities while vacationing at an isolated cabin in the woods. The supernatural-horror flick earned $2.7 million on a budget of just $375K and has since become a cult classic. It went on to spawn two sequels, a 2013 reboot and a three-season Starz series, "Ash vs Evil Dead." Another film in the franchise, "Evil Dead Rise," is currently in the works.
Ethan Hawke headlined 2013's "The Purge," a home-invasion horror flick set in a dystopian America where all crime is legal for one night each year. It earned nearly $90 million on a budget of just $3 million and spawned three sequels — 2014's "The Purge: Anarchy," 2016's "The Purge: Election Year" and 2021's "The Forever Purge" — as well as the 2018 prequel "The First Purge" and a two-season anthology series that aired on USA Network in 2018 and 2019. Although creator James DeMonaco originally intended to conclude the franchise with "The Forever Purge," the filmmaker said in July 2021 that he's working on a sixth installment that would center around a global Purge event.
A man wearing a mask made of human skin, chasing you with a chainsaw so his insane family can eat you later… yep, definitely horrifying. The "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" franchise, which is loosely inspired by the crimes of real-life serial killer Ed Gein, kicked off in 1974 with a film that was so terrifying, it was banned in several countries. (Numerous theaters stopped showing it because of complaints about the violence.) Nevertheless, the original horror flick — titled "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" — banked more than $30 million at the box office on a budget of somewhere between $80K and $140K. Today, the eight-film franchise includes several sequels, two prequels and a 2003 remake starring Jessica Biel. A ninth installment in the series — a reboot to be titled "Texas Chainsaw Begins" — is currently in the works.
There were no "sweet dreams" for anyone after "A Nightmare on Elm Street" debuted in 1984. The supernatural slasher flick centers around undead serial killer Freddy Krueger, who murders teenagers in their sleep. It scared up $57 million at the global box office on a budget of around just $1 million and spawned five sequels, the 1994 meta reboot "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," the 2003 "Friday the 13th" crossover "Freddy vs. Jason" and a 2010 remake.
Creatures from another dimension that kill with abandon… sounds pretty horrific, doesn't it? That's the concept that launched one of the best horror franchises ever: "Hellraiser." The original 1987 flick, which centers around 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. The "Hellraiser" franchise has grown tremendously since the '80s and now includes nine sequels, a novel series, numerous comic books and multiple video games. In mid-2021, director David Bruckner said that the next film in the franchise will be a reboot that will align more closely with the original source material: Clive Barker's 1986 horror novella "The Hellbound Heart." According to some reports, it will center around a female Pinhead.
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in 1987's "Predator" as the leader of an elite military team being stalked by an extraterrestrial hunter during a rescue mission in a foreign jungle. It was a huge hit at the box office and spawned three direct sequels as well as two "Alien vs. Predator" crossover films. The next installment in the series — an origin story titled "Skull" — will reportedly center around a Comanche warrior woman and will be set hundreds of years before the original "Predator" film.
Who can forget the iconic black-and-white, stunningly scary shower scene in "Psycho"?! The 1960 movie — considered by many to be one of the earliest examples of a slasher film — made waves when it first hit theaters. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Hollywood legend Janet Leigh, "Psycho," which grossed $50 million at the box office on a budget of just $800K, had a huge impact on audiences and critics. The movie about disturbed motel manager Norman Bates also received four Academy Award nominations including best director and best supporting actress for Janet. "Psycho" spawned four sequels, a 1998 remake starring Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates and the five-season TV series "Bates Motel," which aired from 2013 to 2017 and picked up a handful of Emmy nominations along the way.