A Bloody Good Time 05.02.13: Top 10 Worst Horror Franchises
Posted by Joseph Lee on 05.02.2013
Seriously, they made thirteen Witchcraft movies?
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.
A few years ago for October, I counted down the 20 best horror franchises of all time. The top four, in case you were wondering, can be found here, with links to all other parts. I always knew that one day I'd have to come back and count down the worst horror franchises because let's face it, there are a lot of bad ones. Sometimes a horror movie is really good but a studio keeps putting out sequel after sequel. Sometimes the movie was never good, but made money, and then went direct-to-video for the same thing.
I won't go as far as twenty, but I will count down the ten worst franchises in horror history. There will be good movies in some of these, it just can't be helped, especially with a long-running series. But the majority of the films are bad, and that's why it ranks.
#10: The Witchcraft series (1990-2008)
You could actually argue this as the #1 choice on this list and I could agree with you, but I think this series is mostly pointless and so low-profile most people probably aren't even aware it is exists. If you haven't heard of the Witchcraft series, you may be surprised to learn there were thirteen of them. Well, I've actually heard of the series and I was surprised to know there were that many, but that's not the point.
This was a straight-to-video horror series with softcore sex. It had loosely-connected plot usually involving a character named Will Spanner (or Adams), who doesn't appear in all of the films and when he does he's rarely played by the same actor. Nearly all of them are shot on video, or at least they look like it. The acting is not very good, to put it mildly, the horror is completely non-existent. If you're watching these movies for stimulation, for lack of a better word, just look up some porn on the internet. I wouldn't be surprised if they kept making more of these, even if if the last one was in 2008. Obviously they've made enough money to keep it going this long.
#9: The Troll series (1986-1993)
I find the Troll series hilarious because only one of the movies actually contains a Troll, and that's the first one. The very idea about a movie with a magical troll killing people getting a sequel is preposterous enough (then again, there are four movies about the Ghoulies), but this series actually had three of them, two called Troll 3. Yes, it's very confusing. No, none of them are very good.
The only film with any kind of value is Troll 2, which you've probably heard of. It's a hilariously bad movie that I legitimately love for all of the entertainment it brings me. The first film is bad too, but it's just outright awful, while the second is incredibly cheesy and makes me laugh. Then there's Troll 3. One film is called Creepers (or Contamination .7, or several other titles) and the other is Quest for the Mighty Sword, which is also a sequel to the fantasy series Ator. Italian cinema is kind of weird in that respect. Once again, the only film to feature trolls of any kind is the first.
#8: The Pumpkinhead series (1988-2007)
As I've said in an earlier edition, I don't even like the first Pumpkinhead film. Outside of a decent looking monster (what do you expect, it's Stan Winston), the movie itself is a boring mess with Lance Henriksen being the only actor on board. Also, how can anyone stand that noise that comes up whenever the monster is around? That's not scary, it's annoying. And it's there for every single moment that Pumpkinhead is on screen doing his thing!
The sequels are a lot worse, however. Blood Wings is notoriously bad, especially for how make the monster no longer a mythical demon but a deformed and possibly mentally handicapped boy. Then came the sequels on Syfy which brought back Lance Henriksen but they're as good as you can expect a made-for-TV sequel to Pumpkinhead to be. I think if any film needs a remake, it's probably Pumpkinhead, as there is a good story there that just needs to be made by the right people. But keep the monster practical, there's no need for lazy CGi.
#7: The Prom Night series (1980-2008)
The first Prom Night is considered one of the great slasher films and is usually held on the lower tier of the genre. Not quite as high as the Halloweens and Friday the 13ths of the world, but about on the same level as something like My Bloody Valentine or The Burning. Personally I just think it's okay, but it does set the standard for using the slasher film as a mystery of sorts (something that really wasn't done in Halloween or Friday the 13th).
The sequels completely deviated from this plot. The next two movies are about a ghost named Mary Lou Maloney who returns from the grave to get revenge for all of those who had hurt her. The third film gets more ridiculous with her as it becomes almost a spoof with the outrageous kills and overall tone. The fourth film takes the series in another new direction, as it features a homicidal priest killing sinners. Then there's the remake, which I consider one of the worst remakes ever made. It's a PG-13 slasher with little resemblance to the plot of the original except for the night it happens on.
#6: The Amityville Horror series (1979-2011)
As I've mentioned before, I like two and only two of the Amityville movies: Amityville 2: The Possession and the remake of the original. I don't even like the original, as James Brolin overacts and the whole thing is mostly a bore. The second is good, but not great, as it features some geniunely chilling moments and disturbing material. Even if I don't like the original, at least it's a competant movie. It's well-made, for the most part.
The movies from Amityville 3D to The Amityville Dollhouse are just horrid, with varying degrees of bad. The house eventually blows up, but the evil moves into the objects inside, possessing them and carrying out more murders in new locations. Then a dollhouse is built of the Amityville house, just because, and it somehow opens a gateway to hell. The remake was good, better than the original, and then The Asylum released a found footage sequel (because the town of Amityville is in public domain) that is legitimately the worst found footage movie I've ever seen. Yes, I know exactly what that means when I say that.
#5: The Slumber Party Massacre series (1982-2009)
This is a weird series, and it either has four sequels or seven, depending on who you ask. There are the three Slumber Party Massacre films and the two Cheerleader Massacre films, which are supposed to be loosely-related. But there are also the two Sorority House Massacre films, which are a part of a DVD set called "The Massacre Collection". Then there's a direct sequel to those two movies called Hard to Die. As you can see, it's all very convoluted.
What is very simple is that none of these movies are very good. The first film has its moments, but the second tries to be some sort of parody and fails miserably. I can't even really describe to you how stupid and irritating the movie is. There are random music numbers, a completely nonsensical ending and a villain that doesn't just chew on the scenery, he devours it. Every other film in the series is just a bland slasher, bordering on terrible.
#4: The Sleepaway Camp series (1982-2012)
This is another series where the first film is praised but I don't particularly like it. It has two things going for it: a twist and an inventive, nasty kill halfway through. It's not really scary and the film leading up to that big twist is almost not worth it. It is a really good twist though, and the shot of Angela groaning with her mouth open is creepy. Obviously, this is a series that did open itself up for sequels because you can't just end things the way they end it and not expect the story to continue.
The story did continue, with Pamela Springsteen playing Angela and working her way through two really awful sequels killing a bunch of unlikable characters in various ways. The movies were never entirely series but Springsteen is so bad in the lead role that there is no way to enjoy the sequels at all. Then there's Return to Sleepaway Camp, which is somehow even worse even though it ignores the previous two movies. Recently the released the lost Sleepaway Camp IV and it feels very much like an unfinished film, but it wouldn't have been good if it was completed.
#3: The Silent Night, Deadly Night series (1984-2012)
The first Silent Night, Deadly Night and the remake are both fun slashers with fun kills. The original is better, as it has more of a story and character development, but the remake was decent for what it was. It's every thing else in between that is bad, and so bad it's enough to get the series at #3 on this list. The series was never anything spectacular, but the sequels all varied in different levels of bad.
The second film is infamous for it's "GARBAGE DAY" moment and the epic overacting of Eric Freeman. It also is only half a movie because the first half is a recap of the first film. Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 recasts the role of Ricky with Bill Moseley, but it makes even less sense and doesn't have the memorable overacting to keep it entertaining. The next two films have nothing to do with the previous story. Initiation is about a cult and The Toy Maker is about Mickey Rooney trying to kill people with toys.
#2: The Children of the Corn series (1984-2011)
I think I've said my piece enough about the Children of the Corn series that I shouldn't have to do so again. Nine films and combined they can't even make up one good movie. Yes, I'm even including the original, which some people seem to like but I can't get past the terrible acting and the fact that killer children should be scary, but it's not. Not at all. Plus there's the dialogue which is just awful and laughable.
It doesn't get any better with the sequels. The series progresses with killer kid story after killer kid story with no real ambition or drive. It's just a series of loosely-connected horror films about evil children murdering adults, with different groups of kids each time. If you thought the Friday the 13th films were repetitive, you haven't seen anything yet. At least Jason does something new every once in a while. He went to space and Manhattan. These kids never leave the cornfield. Outlander! We have your woman! She still lives!
#1: The Howling series (1981-2011)
The reason that this franchise gets #1 is because of how great the first film is compared to how awful every single sequel is. It's like night and day. Joe Dante's original is such a great movie that it's one of my favorites of all time. The acting, the werewolf transformation sequence, all of it. Yet all of that immediately drops down to B-movie level (and lower) with each additional sequel. Howling 2 is the most well-known, but the rest get worse.
Just how bad are the Howling sequels? The special effects get worse in each film as the budget gets lower and lower. The acting eventually is made up of town locals playing themselves. They even tried to retell the story in Howling IV, essentially a low-budget remake disguised as a sequel and it showed just why the original worked so well. Just recently, they put out another one that took its cues from Twilight insead of The Howling. You can imagine how well that went.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week, we'll look at horror films that could get their own TV shows.
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