If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt from horror films, it’s that you can’t keep a truly great villain down. Severe injuries, casting changes and even death won’t stop cinema’s most iconic bad guys. To celebrate the horror movie fiends who just won’t die, here’s a look back at the genre’s scariest and most enduring franchises.
Originating from a 2003 short film and resulting in the most commercially successful horror franchise ever, the Saw series has delivered a terrifying combination of torture and twists. The story follows Jigsaw who doesn’t kill his victims outright but rather places them in traps to test their will to live. The series reaches its seventh chapter this Halloween but has also spawned a comic, two video games and two theme park rides.
Reinventing the slasher movie after a long period in the wilderness, the postmodern, darkly comic horror film Scream was a surprise hit back in 1996. It centred on Sidney, a high school girl, who found herself the target of a masked killer with a devious knowledge of the horror genre. Two sequels followed and next year sees the release of Scream 4, reuniting the surviving cast members.
A Nightmare On Elm Street
Spawning a villain that haunted the nightmares of most 80s kids, the Nightmare franchise has continued to endure, in various incarnations. The original 1984 film tells the tale of Freddy Krueger, a child killer burnt to death by angry locals, who comes back to haunt their teenage kids years later. It saw seven sequels and a remake, released this year, as well as a TV show, novels and comic books.
Based on an unproduced X-Files script, the first film released in 2000 saw a group of high schoolers attempt to cheat death after narrowly escaping a plane crash. The film prided itself on shock deaths, which increased in ambition through the subsequent three sequels, the most recent of which was in 3D. The fifth film, the awkwardly titled 5inal Destination is expected next summer.
Friday The 13th
Taking the slasher film out of suburbia and placing the action in the seemingly idyllic Camp Crystal Lake, the Friday the 13th series focused on nubile teens getting sliced and diced by a hockey mask-wearing killer called Jason Voorhees (and his mother). We endured eleven films in total (including one set in space) and a remake last year.
Built around the premise that if extra-terrestrial life does exist, we’re probably best advised to stay far away from it, the Alien films saw a brutal race of, ermmm, aliens terrorise, invade and pop right out of variously unlucky humans. It was followed by three sequels and Ridley Scott is currently working on a prequel.
The Evil Dead
Made on a small $375k budget, the 1981 original became a cult favourite with its combination of comedy and horror. Its tale of evil spirits quickly became controversial and was banned for a while in a number of countries. It was followed up by two irreverent sequels and a musical.
Seen by many as the first ever slasher film, the micro-budgeted 1978 movie focused on Michael Myers, an evil murderer who stalks his sister, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, while wearing a mask. It boasted seven sequels and a remake in 2007, which also saw a sequel of its own two years later. The next instalment is being prepped now, to be released in 3D.
The 80s saw aliens soften with ET but in 1987, Predator reminded us all that we should be fearing the skies above. The film saw Arnie and a Special Forces team find themselves up against a technologically advanced lifeform. The film saw a sequel three years later, two Alien Vs Predator offerings and this year Predators was released, updating the saga.
28 Days Later
The only British series on the list started in 2002 where the outbreak of a virus turned most of the country into furious, flesh-hungry zombies. The follow-up 28 Months Later continued the action as the country tried to rebuild itself, without much luck. Danny Boyle is reportedly coming back for the third, provisionally titled 28 Months Later.