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The Art of the Fearful Franchise

Written by Daniel Benson

Warner Bros UK has announced a limited release of its horror classics for Halloween that will be available exclusively from branches of ASDA, Tesco, Sainsburys and HMV. The new editions give fans a chance to collect unique new re-incarnated slip covers (see gallery below) for Warner Bros' horrors from both its classic and modern eras, but don't hang around as they'll only be available until November 1st. Here, we look at some of the franchises that have spawned from the films in this new collection.


IT (1990/2017)

Not yet a franchise (perhaps it can be considered one when IT: Chapter Two releases in 2019) but still worthy of a mention, as the story's antagonist clown Pennywise is so firmly entrenched in pop culture. Both Tim Curry and Bill Skarsgård's portrayal of the malevolent entity that torments the children of Derry have been highly praised by horror fans, with a never-ending debate over whose interpretation is the best.

Everyone loves a creepy clown, though. Remember the spate of clown sightings that featured in the media in 2016? The then-to-be-released IT movie was cited as being an influence on the rise in sightings and nefarious pranksters testing the coulrophobia of the nation. There was even a documentary, Clown Panic, created that explored the phenomenon.


Friday the 13th

Ah, now we're talking. One of the major players in the long-running horror franchise game and the one that gave us a top-five horror icon in the shape of Jason Voorhees, even if he wasn't the main antagonist of the first film. With a filmography stretching from 1980 to 2009, Jason hacked, sliced, stalked and chopped his way through dozens of promiscuous teens and camp counsellors in locations as diverse as his home of Camp Crystal Lake to the streets of New York and the corridors of a spaceship.

With a protracted legal battle over ownership rights currently raging between Friday the 13th writer Victor Miller and its director Sean S. Cunningham, could a lawsuit mean that we have seen the last of our hockey-masked anti-hero? How ironic that Jason could meet his demise not at the hands of a feisty final girl, but by the briefcase of men in suits.


The Conjuring

More a shared universe than a franchise, the story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren has spawned its own direct sequel with the possibility of a second, as well as two Annabelle films based on the haunted doll discussed in The Conjuring's opening scene. In addition, this year's The Nun spun itself off from The Conjuring 2, featuring the latter's demonic nun character, Valak. Looking to the future, the universe isn't exhausted yet, as a further spin-off,The Crooked Man, is in development and there is a strong possibility of The Nun 2 being made.

The Warren's casebook has been a huge influence on modern horror, inspiring not only the The Conjuring universe, but the large number of films based on the Amityville haunting, kicking off in 1979 with The Amityville Horror.


A Nightmare on Elm Street

One, two, Freddy's coming for you... And you know the rest. The bastard son of a thousand maniacs first stepped into the dreams of his teenage victims in 1984 and gave birth to six sequels, a crossover with Friday the 13th in Freddy Vs. Jason and a remake in 2010 (but we don't like to talk about that).

Robert Englund gave character to the hideously burned dream killer, moving him from child-molesting mass murderer to wise-cracking hero whose victims were only there to feed the audiences' desire for carnage. Being one of the few horror icons to operate without a mask, fans have Englund firmly in their hearts and it seems unlikely anyone else will ever fill that red and green sweater to their satisfaction.


The Exorcist

Look at any list of the greatest horror films of all time and you can be pretty sure The Exorcist will appear on it somewhere, most likely in the top 10. William Friedkin's adaptation of William Peter Blatty's novel was shocking when first released in 1973 and still retains its power to this day. Four direct sequels followed with varying success. Exorcist II: The Heretic is generally considered to be terrible, even getting an open criticism from Friedkin and Blatty upon its release. The Exorcist III, written and directed by Blatty and based off his novel Legion, reigned things in and opened to much better reviews while these days is considered the strongest of the sequels.

One thing is for sure, the enduring mystery and ritual around exorcism has ingrained itself in horror filmmaking ever since, with an almost ever present influence on supernatural horror stories.



Helmed by Texas Chain Saw Massacre director Tobe Hooper and created by movie golden boy Steve Spielberg, the commercial success of this 1982 spookhouse tale was almost guaranteed. Like any good haunting, it tells the tale of a family terrorised by ghost in their home although these particular spirits are led by a demon known as The Beast.

The franchise is dogged by The Poltergeist Curse, a series of tragedies attached to the films that saw actress Dominique Dunn (Dana Freeling in the first movie) die in 1982 at age 22 after being strangled by her ex-boyfriend and child lead Heather O'Rourke lose her fight against an acute bowel obstruction in 1988 at the age of 12.

Poltergeist continued its reign through the '80s into a trilogy with each film seeing actresses Heather O'Rourke and Zelda Rubinstein reprising their characters of Carol Anne and Tagina Barrons respectively. An inevitable remake followed in 2015 to an ambivalent critical reception.


Click images to enlarge.

About The Author
Daniel Benson
UK Editor / Webmaster
Fuelled mostly by coffee and a pathological desire to rid the world of bad grammar, Daniel has found his calling by picking holes in other people's work. In the rare instances he's not editing, he's usually breaking things in the site's back end.
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