The number “6” is always going to be tied to the horror genre, thanks to horror movies often featuring demons and other evil things, and “666” being the number of the beast. Cinema as an art form is too young for any horror franchises to have reached 666 entries (if the world survives long enough, it could theoretically happen one day), so looking at horror movies that reached six or more entries is the next best thing.
The following horror movie franchises have all managed to do this, with some naturally being better than others. Rather than being ranked from least to most films, the following 6+ entry-long series’ are roughly ranked below from worst to best, starting with the classic franchises that are a little spotty in quality, and ending with those that rarely seem to miss the mark.
10 ‘Friday the 13th’ (1980-2009)
When the first Friday the 13th movie came out, it already felt like it was trying to cash in on some of the more popular slasher movies that had come before. Even fans of the series would have to admit that the premise is about as barebones as it gets, with many of the films revolving around Jason Voorhees hunting and killing various groups of teenagers (though in the first movie at least, it was his mother who turned out to be the murderer).
It shouldn’t be talked down too badly, though, because some Friday the 13th movies are quite fun, and it’s easy to see why at least several have their fans. The quantity of movies (12 entries in total, just one number shy of 13, frustratingly) makes the lesser ones – like the surprisingly dull sci-fi-themed Jason X – a little easier to overlook.
9 ‘Saw’ (2004-)
Saw is a series that started incredibly well. The first movie – released all the way back in 2004 – was wonderfully tense, gritty, and able to work wonders with a small budget and restrained scope. It was a blend of the crime, thriller, mystery, and horror genres, and introduced the alarming premise of one man imprisoning people and forcing them to participate in difficult “games” should they want any chance of surviving.
Things got more silly and outlandish with every installment, but though the tension and novelty factor dissipated, some fans likely enjoy the ridiculousness of the Saw sequels. And they’ve generally done well enough to keep getting funded, with the series’ 10th movie – Saw X – scheduled for release in 2023.
8 ‘Halloween’ (1978-2022)
The Halloween series is one of the more out there of the long-running horror movie franchises, and you kind of have to admire – even begrudgingly – how it’s managed to keep on going. The figure at the center of most of the franchise’s movies is Michael Myers, who escapes from a mental health facility in the first movie and goes on a series of murderous rampages.
Beginning in 1978 and ending (at least for now) in 2022 with a 12th movie called Halloween Ends, the Halloween series is notable for maintaining the main protagonist and antagonist from the first movie for many (again, not all) installments. The quality hasn’t always been there, but the ambition to continue one long-running story – of sorts – has been.
7 ‘The Invisible Man’ (1933-1951)
The original The Invisible Man series had exactly six entries, with all being released between 1933 and 1951. It’s one of the more light-hearted horror movie franchises out there, seeing as there’s a good deal of comedy that comes from having the central character be invisible… though most movies also have an element of tragedy to the character, given how difficult being invisible could be, in some ways.
As long as you’re a horror fan who doesn’t mind humor sometimes being emphasized over scares, then these old-school Invisible Man movies generally deliver the goods. And for anyone who’d rather see the premise done with a little more edge, 2020’s The Invisible Man certainly made sure to keep things focused on tension and horror.
6 ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ (1984-2010)
Slasher movies began getting popular by the late 1970s, and then the 1980s came around and established that the horror sub-genre was there to stay. The Nightmare on Elm Street series started after somewhat comparable franchises like Halloween and Friday the 13th, but put a fantastical spin on the slasher genre to help it stand out from the pack.
Rather than hunting teenagers the way other slasher movie villains do, lead antagonist of the Nightmare on Elm Street series Freddy Kruger hunts and kills teenagers in their dreams. It means that one’s only in danger when they sleep, but given no one can stay awake forever, facing Kruger is always inevitable for the characters in this series. Not every movie is great, but a handful are, and even the lesser entries tend to have some fun and/or creative sequences.
5 ‘Dracula’ – Hammer Series (1958-1974)
Bela Lugosi may be the most well-remembered Dracula actor, given he starred in the first film of the Universal Dracula series way back in 1931. However, when it comes to long-running Dracula series, Universal’s only got to five, whereas the Hammer series reached nine installments over 16 years.
Christopher Lee was the actor who appeared as the titular character most often, in seven of the nine movies, not appearing in The Brides of Dracula, because Count Dracula wasn’t in that one, and only being recast in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. Like many films from Hammer Productions, the pacing can be a little slow, but there’s an undeniable style – and maybe even classiness – to the movies here that make them compelling in their own ways.
4 ‘Frankenstein’ (1931-1948)
Of all the old Universal horror series, most would likely agree that the Frankenstein series was the best overall. Frankenstein’s Monster seemed to get the most sequels, too, with the creature first appearing in the 1931 original before showing up seven more times (played by several different actors) over the next 17 years.
Most horror franchises can resurrect their monsters with relative ease, thanks to either science-ficiton or fantastical concepts. The Frankenstein movies have an even easier job than most at doing this, given the monster was originally resurrected from the dead (made of various body parts) in the first movie. Overall, the first and second movies in this series are classics, and the sequels generally aren’t too bad either.
3 The ‘Living Dead’ series (1968-2009)
Some would say that George A. Romero’s Living Dead series is actually made up of two trilogies. The first comprised Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Day of the Dead (1985), while the second was made up of Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), and Survival of the Dead (2009).
That might be true, but all movies were made by Romero, and all deal with surviving the zombie apocalypse to some extent (with each movie focusing on different characters). The first three are iconic, and there’s some fun to be had with his final three, too, while a seventh – Twilight of the Dead, written by Romero before he passed away in 2017 – may one day see the light of day.
2 ‘Alien’ (1979-)
The Alien series first (chest)burst onto the scene in 1979 with the simply titled Alien, which is easily one of the greatest sci-fi/horror movies of all time. Seven years later, it got an iconic sequel in the form of Aliens, which bumped up the action and spectacle without sacrificing the tense horror that made the first movie such a jolt to the system.
The following four movies – Alien 3, Alien Resurrection, Prometheus, and Alien: Covenant – are all more contentious, as are the Alien vs. Predator movies, if they count as canon. Still, few of those sequels are irredeemably bad, and even if they were, the strength of the first two movies alone makes the Alien series an iconic one within the horror genre.
1 ‘Godzilla’ (1954-)
The original Godzilla from 1954 might well be the series at its scariest, and also perhaps its bleakest. Though the sequels (and there are many) often get goofy and more action-packed, the first Godzilla movie is dark and tragic, with the titular monster representing the destruction that nuclear weapons can cause on such a massive scale.
And sure, many other Godzilla movies aren’t entirely classifiable as horror, but it began as a horror franchise, and it’s never fully broken free of its horror roots, either. Godzilla is the king of the monsters, and the Godzilla series is the king of horror franchises. With almost 40 movies (most of them good), it’s one series that simply can’t be beaten.
NEXT: Every Godzilla Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best