While there are plenty of horror films that come and go without making much of an impact, there are also those horror films that audiences want more and more of. The special horror film can come along and change the genre in some exciting way or introduce a terrifying new villain that helps kick off a brand-new franchise.
Some of these franchises are even lucky enough to make it past a few sequels. These rare horror franchises continue to live on for decades with sequels, remakes, and reboots continuing to this day, and they are still scaring fans. Now, here are ten of the longest-running horror movie franchises.
10 The Dead (6 Films)
Zombie movies always seem to be a draw for horror movie fans and the popularity of the genre is largely thanks to George A. Romero. The ground-breaking filmmaker helped bring zombies to the mainstream and kept them there with his The Dead series.
The franchise kicked off with the iconic Night of the Living Dead in 1968 and Romero made his last film in the franchise with Diary of the Dead in 2007. Throughout the series, Romero was able to use zombie films as a way of commenting on social issues like racism, consumerism, and animal rights. As of now, there are six existing films in the immediate franchise, and two more — Road of the Dead and Rise of the Living Dead — are on the way.
9 Paranormal Activity (6 Films)
The Blair Witch Project might have shown the potential of found-footage horror films, but Paranormal Activity turned the sub-genre into a trend. The first film was released in 2007 and followed a family investigating strange occurrences in their home.
The franchise continued for nearly a decade, churning out hit movies made on relatively small budgets. The last film to hit theaters in the franchise was Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension in 2015 but there appears to be another film coming in 2021.
8 Child's Play (8 Films)
It's strange to think that a film about a killer doll was able to spawn so many sequels. However, the creepy and darkly humorous Chucky proved to be an iconic horror movie villain who would stand the test of time.
The first film followed a killer who has his soul transferred into a doll and seeks to take control of a human body. While the first few sequels followed pretty much the same premise, the movies eventually took on a comedic element and embraced its crazy side. Then, there was a soft reboot with Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky, both of which received favorable reviews for their return to a darker mood. The franchise finally got the inevitable reboot in 2019, and a TV series is in the works.
7 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (8 Films)
Leatherface is another horror movie villain that has earned his place in the genre's hall of fame. He was introduced in the classic and influential film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Since then, he and his murderous family have been the subject for a number of films.
The franchise began to take an absurd turn as the films went on, turning into a surreal horror franchise. Eventually, a remake in 2003 gave it a gritty and brutal, new feel which continued for several prequels and reboots.
6 The Conjuring Universe (8 Films)
The MCU proved the massive success a cinematic universe could create, but no other franchise seemed able to reproduce that magic other than The Conjuring Universe. The franchise started with The Conjuring, which introduced a paranormal investigative couple who seeks out hauntings and other supernatural phenomena.
The series has continued not only with sequels but also spin-off which explores some of the other haunting monsters such as The Nun and Annabelle. With the continued success of the films, it seems like there will still be more to come for years. As of now, there are eight films and two more — a sequel to The Nun and a movie based on The Crooked Man from The Conjuring 2 — on the way.
5 Saw (8 Films)
Saw started with a low-budget thriller set almost entirely in one location. The first film also introduced Jigsaw, a killer who puts people into elaborate traps where they have to overcome their own demons to escape.
Jigsaw became a modern horror icon and for several years there was a new Saw film coming out every year. The movies were intricately woven together which led to many fans abandoning the films after they became too convoluted. The franchise will continue soon with the Chris Rock-led film.
4 Alien (8 Films)
Right around the time that Star Wars was making science-fiction fun for everyone, Ridley Scott was making space terrifying. Alien was an intense thriller about a space shuttle crew who becomes the targets of a deadly alien creature called a Xenomorph.
After the brilliant first film, James Cameron took over the sequel, turning it into a sci-fi actioner with thrilling results. The franchise never did return to the heights of those first two films even with David Fincher directing one, a face-off with Predators and Ridley Scott's return to the franchise.
3 A Nightmare On Elm Street (9 Films)
Few horror movie villains are as effective and creative as Freddy Krueger. Wes Craven's first film introduced the killer who attacks his victims in their dreams, using inventive ways of dispatching them.
As the sequels went on, Freddy changed from the terrifying ghoul to a wisecracking joker who was hard to take seriously. Wes Craven returned to the franchise with a very meta reboot with New Nightmare before Freddy faced off with Jason Vorhees in Freddy vs Jason. Finally, the franchise seemed to hit its end with a poorly-received remake in 2010.
2 Halloween (11 Films)
While the slasher movie sub-genre had been around in spirit prior to Halloween, the term "slasher" became widely used after this movie and 1980's Friday the 13th. John Carpenter and Debra Hill helped make it a phenomenon with this classic horror film. The first film introduced the iconic Michael Myers, a masked killer who silently stalks the town of Haddonfield on Halloween night.
The franchise continued for decades, further exploring Michael's past, adding in multiple relatives and building an unnecessary mythology. The franchise was remade by Rob Zombie in 2007 before the original timeline was revisited with Halloween in 2018, which saw the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. With the success of that sequel, two more films are on the way.
1 Friday The 13th (12 Films)
Jason Vorhees is another of the most infamous horror movie killers of all time, but he does not even appear in the first Friday the 13th (except he does if we're counting that amazing jump scare at the end). The original film follows a group of camp counselors being stalked by an unseen killer. It wasn't until the sequel that Jason appeared in-person as the killer, and, in the third film, he finally donned his famous hockey mask.
The franchise continued from Camp Crystal Lake to Manhattan to space. Jason came back to face off with another icon in Freddy vs Jason before the franchise was remade in 2009. Since then, Jason has not returned to the big screen due to legal problems.