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Five Graphs and Charts That Explain My Life After Watching Ernest Scared Stupid

October 8, 2015

When I was nine years old something terrible happened to me. I was an unassuming little kid who was taken to a theater to watch the new Ernest movie. I enjoyed Ernest movies and I was excited to see his further shenanigans. Would turtles talk? Would he go back to jail? Would he save Easter? My life changed as the credits rolled and a poor girl was hunted down by a vicious creature. The following 90 minutes would keep me from sleeping for the next several months and lead me to a lifelong fascination with this film.


Trantor is evil and snotty. Yuck.

The following five charts and graphs chronicle my life before and after watching Ernest Scared Stupid. 

  1. Number of times I bought Milk in order to battle a Troll in 1991

Milk was responsible for downfall of the trolls. Thus, I always had to keep milk close. Don’t judge, I was nine.

image (8)


Thanks Deviant Art!

2. Number of times I’ve used the line “Does a one legged duck swim in a circle?

In the 24 years since the movie I’ve used the “duck” line around 37 times. It would be more but I alternate it equally with “does a fat puppy hate fast cars?”

image (9)

3. Number of times I’ve used the phrase “how about a bumper sandwich booger lips.”

Sidenote: Ernest stole it from me. This cannot be proven.

image (11)

Here is the scene with the “booger lips” line.


4. Number of Times I’ve inquired about Pure Bulgarian Miak

I love this dialogue exchange between the troll and Ernest.

Ernest P. Worrell: How about a little Miak!

Trantor the Troll: Miak?

Ernest P. Worrell: Yeah, Miak. I bet you thought I couldn’t find any at this time of the year, well a little resourceful for ya, a little to light on my feet. Eat Miak and die!


image (10)

Here is the classic Miak moment.


5. Number of times I’ve wondered if Botswana has trees after hearing this line:

“Nuh uh, ain’t no trees in Botswana, nuh uh, I know, I AM a Botswanian lumberjack, and I ain’t never had a job…”

Ernest and his split personalities came up with some solid gold gems.


image (12)

What Ernest Scared Stupid moments scared the crap out of you?


Scream 2: Pound for Pound the Best Pure Horror Sequel

October 5, 2015

There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate – more blood, more gore – *carnage candy*. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.

Before you tell me I am crazy and 100% wrong I want you to hear me out. I understand that Dawn of the Dead, Aliens, Silence of the Lambs (if you consider it to be a sequel) and Evil Dead 2 are absolute classics. They avoided cliches, revolutionized the game and are completely original in their own right. However, the films had years of preparation and none were expected to be fully formed films a year after the original. Also, as great as they are they were able to focus on much different subject matter. Evil Dead was able to remake itself and Silence of the Lambs recast Hannibal and beefed up its budget. They all had the luxury of hindsight and time.

Scream 2 is so good it defies all sequel logic.  Scream hit the theaters in 1996 and exploded into a cultural phenomenon. A sequel was ordered and it was to be released in 357 days. Thus, in one year a script needed to be written, actors had to be cast, locations had to be scouted, filming had to commence, editing was required and marketing needed to do its thing. In the world of sequels a one year turn around is tantamount to disaster. No other sequel that has been released a year after the original has been as critically beloved and audience appreciated. It was a perfect blend of craftsmanship, talent and synergy.

Scream 2 Jamie Kennedy

In case you were wondering here is how the horror films released a year after the original fared with Rotten Tomatoes critics/audiences and IMDb users.

Scream 2 – 80.4

Hellraiser 2 – 58

Paranormal Activity 2 – 54.8

Saw 2 –  53.8

Friday the 13th Part 2 – 47

Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy’s Revenge – 43

Kevin Williamson did have a head start on the sequel (he had an outline for a trilogy)  but his hard work was foiled when the script was leaked online. Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven had to write while filming and occasionally the cast had to add their own lines. That is huge because the film had a one year turn around and two months were lost because of the leak. Here is what Craven had to say about the leak:

We weren’t very far along in the process, but it was the very first pages Kevin sent us, the first 40 pages of the first draft of his script. They were terrific and we were celebrating, and then someone called up later that day and said, “They’re on the Internet.”  It totally ruined that version of the script, frankly. We had to go back and change everything, and it set us back about two months. Kind of a pain in the neck, and thereafter, we had scripts with a big purple stripe down the middle that covered the dialogue so you could barely read it and if you Xeroxed it, it would turn out black.

Scream 2 had a lot going against it yet still managed to stick to sequel rules while subverting them. Wes Craven was a master of horror and Kevin Williamson loved the characters so the insanely short turn around actually worked. With their talents combined  you actually liked the people getting killed. The cast and crew turned a cash grab into pure gold and notorious horror hater Roger Ebert appreciated its self-awareness. 

Like all sequels, this one is a transparent attempt to cash in on the original–but, of course, it knows it is, and contains its own learned discussion of sequels. The verdict is that only a few sequels have been as good as the originals; the characters especially like “Aliens” and “The Godfather, Part II.” As for “Scream 2,” it’s … well, it’s about as good as the original.

It all starts with Jada Pinkett and Omar Epps going to watch the movie within a movie Stab. Jada knowingly calls out horror tropes and the theater is raucous as they watch the masked killer hunt blond bait. Being that this a sequel the initial body count jumps from one to two and  things go horribly wrong for the couple. It is weird to watch now with all the theater killings but it is an effective and self aware start that allows the original cast to reunite.

Jada Pinkett Scream 2

I love the look on Jada’s face.

Watching this movie when I was 15 proved to be very influential. It broke down the rules for sequels and it made me self-aware while watching them. The sequel talk in the classroom opened cinematic doors for me  and I immediately went and watched The Godfather  films.


Aside from Aliens, Piranha 3D and Final Destination 2,3,5 it is the only horror sequel to have a higher Rotten Tomatoes critic score than its predecessor (81, 78). Scream 2 was meant as a cash grab but turned out to be a horror work of art (that made a ton of money). It is the fifth highest grossing horror sequel of all time behind Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Jaws 2 and Aliens.  Also, It is one of the rare horror sequels to nearly match the original’s box office. In a world of massive box office drops from film to film Scream 2 held on to its predecessors momentum and rode the wave to cash town with a domestic inflated tally of $183,747,00.

Scream 2 movie

Yeah. We’re good.

The reason I love Scream 2 so much is that you care about the characters. The moment when Jamie Kennedy suddenly gets killed shook me up and I couldn’t believe he got wiped out. It was an audacious move to kill off a likable character in such an inglorious manner. It showed that knowing about horror movies doesn’t always mean you will survive a horror film. Also, when Dewey got stabbed my heart sank because he is such a likable character and Arquette has never been better

Wes Craven admitted he had total confidence in his cast and I love how Williamson allowed the characters to grow in the sequel.  Every character has room to mature and become three-dimensional which is nice in a movie about sadistic press hungry killers. I appreciate that the acting love was spread around and anytime a character sings “I think I love you” to his love interest in a crowded cafeteria  it has to be admired.  Also, I love that Gale’s cameraman is fully self-aware and he actually quits the job because he knows what is potentially next. This dialogue exchange is pure gold.

Joel: Look, granted, I should’ve read your book before I took this job, but I’m reading it now and, whoa! I just read what happened to your last camera man. The guy got gutted. Now I’m gonna do what any rational human being would do and that is to get the f**k outta here.

Gale: First of all, he wasn’t gutted; I made that part up… his throat was slashed.

Joel: Gale, gutted, slashed, the guy ain’t in the union no more.

Scream 2 is loaded with memorable moments, thrills and jump scares. It is the rare self-aware film that doesn’t crush itself under its own smugness. Craven was a firm believer of not recycling horror tropes so he and Williamson devised clever ways to scare the crap out of people.  Do you remember being in a packed theater during the cop car scene? People went insane as Neve crawled over ghostface. I still don’t know why she didn’t crush his face with something but I’ve never had to crawl over a serial killer so I can’t talk. If you get a chance check out this Scenic Routes article from AV Club that talks about the devilishly devised scene.

Scream 2 shouldn’t have worked. It looked the horror sequel tropes right in the eye and conquered everything we know about bad sequels. It has its faults but with the rushed production and script changes it is understandable.  There are better films out there but I don’t think many of them would have held up on the immerse pressure Scream 2 felt. Reactive sequels rarely work and Scream 2 is a beautiful example of a film hitting on all cylinders.

Horror Podcast Spotlight: The Best Horror Podcasts and some of my Favorite Episodes

October 3, 2015

Listening to Horror Podcasts can be a great joy. Whether I’m on a plane, driving or listening in the background while I’m at work, listening to people talk about horror movies is only second to actually watching horror movies…sometimes, it’s even better. With Halloween creeping up on us we all have Horror Movies on our minds even more than normal.  so today I’d like to share my five favorite horror podcasts and five episodes for each of them. I have included each podcast’s website, Twitter handles, and live stream links for each episode so you can listen along.

#1 Movies, Films and Flix  @MoviesFilmsFlix @SharkDropper and @MFFHorrorCorner are…US! Yes. That’s right. I do enjoy listening to our own podcast. So here are some of my favorite entirely horror-themed episodes which get a little zany and may remind you of a horror-themed radio morning show. Even when we have an organized agenda, meta-geeky bonkers conversational tangents abound. Silly listener questions are answered (sort of) and we’ll typically relate to numerous films not featured in the episode’s title or topic.


Episode 26 (A Creep In Italy) “The New Wave of Horror.” This week the MFF crew discusses the recent horror releases Creep and Spring, the best punchers of film, and our feelings about the upcoming Christmas horror Krampus.

Episode 22 (The Horror List) “What is the Best Horror Film of the 21st Century?” MFF founder Mark combined data from Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDB for 160 films to answer this question.

Episode 20 (Crossbows and Tentacles) “Developing the Perfect Horror Film”…We combined ten categories (Villain, Method of Killing, Harbinger, Hero, Setting, Skeptic, Victim, Twist, Ending, Sidekicks) and broke them down in order to create something glorious.

Episode 15 (Podcast of the Dead) “The George A. Romero Zombie Special”… This week the MFF crew discusses George A. Romero’s zombie filmography, cultural impacts of progressive casting and social commentary, undead eating habits and a zombie origin involving blueberry pie and space yeast.  Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead are discussed in depth, followed by brief assessments of Romero’s subsequent zombie films.

Episode 11 (Sexually Transmitted Demon) “Exploitation or Art?” This week the MFF crew discuss their favorite in-theater movie experiences, dissect the “rules of the ghost” from It Follows and assess the “art vs. exploitation” of The Human Centipede franchise.


#2 Crash Palace Productions  @crashpalace is a horror academic who tackles horror in traditional, often themed discussions. The podcast is very tame (in my opinion), but very interesting.


THE LAST KNOCK presents: Horror Getaways

THE LAST KNOCK presents: IT FOLLOWS (2015)

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Hodgepodge Horror VI

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Aqua Horror

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Horror Home Invasion


#3 Faculty of Horror  @FacultyofHorror @necromandrea and @ScareAlex are two well-educated women who smartly offer the female perspective to the boys’ club of horror/film podcasting, whether discussing tropes, characters, stories or eating disorders. ;) Their style comprises discussions of 2-3 films per episode. So listen and enjoy. You’ll probably learn something.


Episode 25. I Thought There’d Be Stars: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Episode 29. Jesus Wept: Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Episode 28. Horrorwood: The Haunting (1999) and World War Z (2013)

Episode 20. “It’s Very Hard To Get Lost In America These Days”: The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Episode 19. Devoured: Eating Disorders in Black Swan (2010) and Drag Me To Hell (2009)


#4 Dead as Hell  @DeadAsHellHP offers a horror podcast show of varied content and a host with an engaging personality who isn’t afraid to share his opinion even when he knows everyone will disagree. Almost every episode features discussions of at least one movie and with a slew of guest speakers (some recurring in many episodes, others in just a few, some being authors themselves), but we also enjoy snippets of current movie news/rumors, horror comic and anime reviews, and book reviews (called “Paper Cuts”) which are often linked to some of the films discussed.


ABCs of Death I & II, Paper Cuts: Pet Sematary

Dead as Hell Scarlet Gospels Hellraiser Special Part I

A Serbian Film (2010) & Martyrs (2008)

Nurse 3D (2014)

Berberian Sound Studio (2012)


#5 How Did That Get Made  @HDTGM @Earwolf @PaulScheer and @MsJuneDiane probably require no introduction. These comedians have a well-established platform in which they discuss one movie per episode to ridiculous detail. Few of their episodes deal with horror, but all of their rather explicit episodes deal with hilarity.


#48 Sleepaway Camp

#19 The Wicker Man

#22 Leprechaun in the Hood

#74 Halloween III: Season of the Witch

#110 The Island of Dr. Moreau



28 Days until Halloween! October Horror Movie Pick #2: The Conjuring (2013), an instant classic.

October 3, 2015

WHAT MAKES THIS A GOOD HALLOWEEN MOVIE?  Just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean all horror movies are a good fit.  Some fit the October’s mood better than others and I consider The Conjuring to be a perfect choice!  Poltergeist (1982) meets The Exorcist (1973) in this modern horror classic that only fails to meet perfection because its predecessors already claimed the title by pioneering the scenes and atmosphere that form modern horror filmmaking dogma as we know it today.  But James Wan kicks up the competition and demonstrates his mastery of storytelling and character development in a genre that normally relies entirely on atmosphere and gore-slathered effects to fill seats.  The atmosphere of this film oozes October Halloweeniness. IF YOU LIKE THIS THEN WATCHPoltergeist (1982), in case you missed it.  Also, anything from my series The Best Horror Came from the 80s or the upcoming The Best Horror Came from the 70s–back when horror actually came with a story and characters worth watching.  SIDEBAR:  Mark (not a major fan of horror) also wrote a very positive review of The Conjuring and offered an overview of director James Wan’s impressive work.

Let’s just start by saying that this wasn’t just a great horror movie.  This was a solid film and a horror movie based on a true account of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s case with the Perron family in the 1970s.  There were loads of scares and—while, yes, they were often “jump scares”—the creepy tension-building on the approach was finely crafted.   You would know that “something” was about to happen and it was going to be scary, but it would still manage to catch you off guard, and you wouldn’t feel that the scare was “cheap.”  Already this film has rightly stepped away from the last several dozen theatrical horror releases by engaging viewers with more than just funny satirical demons and loud noises masquerading as scary things.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren

Director James Wan’s (Insidious, Saw) film is consistent and smart, feeding viewers a steady and even diet of story and character development for both our haunted family and the paranormal investigators.  Instead of taking the first twenty minutes to introduce us to the characters and hope that we invest ourselves enough to care when their lives are threatened, Wan piece by piece reveals the nature of the Perron family, their house and the paranormalists who come to their aid.

Roger (Ron Livingston; Office Space) and Carolyn Perron (Lily Taylor; The Haunting, Hemlock Grove) have just moved their five daughters into a secluded house in Rhode Island and, as we’ve come to expect in horror movies, all horror movie houses come with a dark past.  Upon realizing that their troubles eclipsed the simplicity of a sleepwalking daughter and the stress of adapting to a new home, the Perrons seek help from Ed (Patrick Wilson; The Watchmen, Insidious) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga; Source Code, Safe House), two married paranormal researchers with an impressive résumé  when it comes to purging evil.

The big success in storytelling and direction here is that because Wan presented the Warrens to us in the opening scenes–to set the tone and show us how these paranormal investigators work–and fairly alternated between their college lecture circuit and the escalating situation in the Perron house before the two couples had met.  We weren’t force fed some ghost hunters halfway through the movie (or later) who we are “supposed to like.”  Instead, we’ve already met them and learned that they’re not some spirit hunting hacks who “hope” to find ghosts and get evidence so they can be taken seriously.  They hope there “aren’t” ghosts, they’re not in it for the money or fame, and they just want to help people (with an understandably fearful reluctance) utilizing their strange gifts.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren
A VERY evil doll
A VERY evil music box

Score one for character development and great direction in a horror film, James Wan!

Following in the obvious footsteps of Poltergeist (1982) and The Exorcist (1973), we are met with some very familiar scenes.  However, I felt this was a respectful nod executed with a succinct sense of urgency rather than simply riding coattails and milking past horror axioms for all they’re worth.  The Conjuring skips most of the “are they just nuts” skepticism that would normally dominate the first half of a movie like this and gets right to dealing with the problem in a surprisingly practical manner.  As a result, most horror moviegoers’ maddening frustrations are avoided in this film; no one does anything dumb or too perfectly right, the characters develop to protect their own and don’t turn into sudden superhero evil-slaying experts over night, they don’t walk into any traps when they should’ve known better, there are no ridiculous “Antichrist baby-Hell on Earth-chosen one-omen-gypsy curse-ancient relic-house built over sacred burial ground and angering the spirits” reasons justifying the spirit or what it wants or why it chose them, and they even address why the Perron family doesn’t leave the damned house and if it would make a difference at all if they did.  All of this is done with simple explanation and for good reasons.

Score for the writers!  By the way, the same writers (the Hayes brothers) will be doing the already announced sequel The Conjuring 2!!!  However I have not found anything indicating Wan’s involvement.

As we slowly relax our muscles between creepy tension, scares, “wait is there more?” and then the next creepy tension, we wade through some shocking imagery, disturbing shots, a little bit of brief gross stuff (but nothing truly gastro-intestinally gruesome and gore-slathered as we find in Tucker and Dale vs Evil, The Cabin in the Woods, Drag Me to Hell or Evil Dead) and eerie sounds.  Then there’s the perfect–PERFECT–atmosphere that Wan spins.  Only with this paramount atmosphere could a small child staring into her dark bedroom corner (as we view nothing but out of focus “black”) be as terrifying as the most horrible monster leaping from behind a corner drooling all manner of evil yuck.

As most horror is rushed and features a slapped together story-and-victims-sandwich as a vehicle to shock us with cringing brutality, creature make-up and buckets of rubber guts, Wan demonstrates a mature and tactful restraint which, contrary to most horror filmmakers’ training, is wildly successful and eclipses most horror of the last two decades!  Even Wan’s shot transitions were thoughtfully discomforting and artistic.

The Conjuring is rated R rating but actually seems less scary and intense than Poltergeist (1982)–of course, Poltergeist was WAY scary and I’d keep the kids over 14 to watch it!  I mean, it is scary–very scary.  But the gore is by no means a highlight and I didn’t even notice the profanity (whatever there was).  All I noticed was that I was never bored or “waiting” for something cool to happen.  I was immersed and loved every minute of this modern classic horror.

The MFF Podcast #29: Film Fantasy Football Draft

October 2, 2015


The MFF podcast is back and we are excited about Football!  So excited, in fact, that all we could talk about was drafting our favorites actors and movie characters to form our own movie football team.  You can download the pod on Itunes or head over to Blog Talk Radio to stream it. If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!


SUMMARY:  This week the MFF crew discusses the our top picks in our Film Fantasy Football Draft, which bad guys of horror we’d like to see battle, and some of the best cinematic mustaches.  This episode’s picks include (among many others) Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill’s Al Bundy, Nathan Jones, Any Given Sunday‘s LL Cool J, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Wick and the monstrous Sarlaac from Empire Strikes Back!


We also answer such important questions as…

“How do you justify drafting Bill Murray on a football team?”
“What films deserve to be re-released in theaters?”
“Who can possibly beat Kurt Russell out for the Best Mustache of Film?”
“Who (or what) would win in a battle between The Thing and the Aliens xenomorphs?”
“Exactly what football position does a Sarlaac play most efficiently?”

UNSPECIFIED - APRIL 18: Full shot of Keanu Reeves as quarterback Shane Falco in uniform, standing in huddle, holding helmet and talking to players. (Photo by Ron Phillips/Warner Bros./Getty Images)

Sit back, relax and listen to three guys discuss the legacy of Wes Craven.

You can listen to the pod on Blog Talk Radio or head over Itunes so you can download, rate, review and share. Thanks!


John’s Horror Corner: Cooties (2015), an excellently flesh-eating horror comedy that is as fresh as the flesh it infects.

October 2, 2015


MY CALL: Fresh, hilarious and smartly scripted, this film was a joy. The gore, humor and story fall shy of Shaun of the Dead, but this horror comedy remains something very impressive. MOVIES LIKE Cooties: Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Zombeavers (2014) and Love in the Time of Monsters (2015).


Within minutes of hitting play I already love this film. It’s well-scored, much like some dark children’s fantasy in fact, and visually visceral for reasons having nothing to do with conventional gore. During the playfully-fonted opening credits we enjoy a serious sequence depicting a chicken factory of sorts complete with neck-breaking, rich bright colors as a fly defecates on the chicken carcass (hinted as the cooties virus introduction), limbs being clipped with sheers and separating organs while music reminiscent of child-like discovery plays in the background. From the slaughterhouse and factory, to the fryer and the elementary school cafeteria we are welcomed to Cooties with a sense of jovial adventure.


When we meet Clint (Elijah Wood; Maniac, The Faculty) and his mother (Kate Flannery), they instantly resurrect an almost resentfully nostalgic and entertaining dynamic. Poor Clint is a good-intentioned, likable loser substitute-teaching at his elementary alma mater which is now overrun with over-entitled, legally empowered kids with profanely bad attitudes. These kids are heinous and say some truly awful things (that made me laugh out loud). For example, “If my butthole had a butthole, it would look like you…You look like you have Chicken Pox, if Chicken Pox was made out of hemorrhoids.” Yeah, kids are adorable aren’t they?


A sort of viral, flesh-eating zombie outbreak ensues when a pig-tailed patient zero eats a contaminated chicken nugget and bites off a 10-yr old douchebag’s cheek. After opening with loads of awkward humor, the film now builds comedic inertia in the form of the most forgivably zany mayhem of violence against children accompanied by a storm of snippy quips which will draw smiles until the movie’s end. Why is this violence against children so acceptable? Because it’s completely cartoonish.


Wonderfully written by Leigh Whannell (Saw 1-3, Dead Silence, Insidious 1-3) and directed by a pair of newcomers, Cooties is as fresh as the flesh it infects. Everything about this movie is done well: the camera-work, the writing, the characters and the decisions they make, the story, the humor, the gore and the acting. I rarely get to say this about horror, but I just loved these characters. Jorge Garcia (Lost) is a joy as the drug-using crossing guard; Leigh Whannell is delightfully awkward as a socially disconnected science teacher; Alison Pill (Snowpiercer) is the sweet, unavailable love interest; and Rainn Wilson (Six Feet Under, Super) and his handlebar mustache dominate the screen as the jockish gym teacher.


Here’s Leigh Whannell.  Everyone had show-stealing lines and he wrote himself some, too.


Everyone had something valuable to offer! This goes doubly for the filmmakers on the other side of the camera of this film which knows exactly what it is in all the best ways. Deviating from recent horror comedies like Zombeavers (2014) or Love in the Time of Monsters (2015), Cooties delivers a high quality product whose re-watchability does not rely on alcohol; rising far above the likes of “fun B-movies.”


This is more than a B-movie, but falls shy of the theatrical greatness of Shaun of the Dead. We have a disembowelment-dismemberment scene that tips its hat to Dawn of the Dead (1978), Rainn Wilson goes all-state football (complete with spins, fakes, clotheslines and spins) through a horde of children, and a guy dies right after saying “Follow me, I do CrossFit!” The humor is sharp and abundant, right up until Rainn goes Rambo, the janitor turns out to be a Japanese martial arts master, and they medicate the ravenous kids with Ritalin and Adderall.


It’s surprisingly satisfying seeing teachers kick the crap out of these kids and, just as we’d want it, Rainn Wilson gets all of the most dramatic scenes. He may hog them, but he owns them.  We even enjoy some jabs at the state of overly anti-sexual-harassment workplaces, political control over teaching evolution versus religion, and contemporary views on cellphones in schools.

I was impressed. Everyone should see and enjoy this movie. Think of it as Shaun of the Dead’s younger brother; he shows loads of promise but hasn’t fully grown up yet…but just wait until he does.





What is the Best Horror Franchise? An In-Depth Look into Critical/Audience Ratings and Box Office Results

October 1, 2015

Death, taxes, horror sequels, reboots, re-imaginings, prequels and shot for shot remakes. There are a few things we can expect in this world and taking a beloved horror property and running it into the ground is one of them. Horror franchises are like a large family full of vengeful sharks, skin mask wearing butchers and ridiculously evil brothers. There are always one or two people that are problematic and often completely left out (or imprisoned). However, when family photo time comes around the entire family needs to be in the photo (think the Alien Quadrilogy).


Thank you Jake Sauer for the Alien family photo. Gotta love the Prometheus critter who wipes out the dumb scientists.

The point of this post is to introduce the Movies, Films & Flix Metrics system (MFFM) and take an in-depth look at complete horror series. I want to know which horror property with all its bumps and bruises holds up the best.  My data wrangling cousin Jeremy  (who broke down the data for the totally necessary/unnecessary explosions on movie posters post) broke down critical/audience/box-office scores and worked his wizardry to compile the most comprehensive horror series evaluation ever (I think).

Here are criteria for the data wrangling and number analysis.

  1. The franchise needs to have at least four theatrically released  films (Jaws I-III, Jaws: The Revenge). Compiling box office data on direct to DVD movies (Puppet Master etc..) isn’t possible and the data would be unreliable.  Click here to see all the franchises that make up the list.
  2. I took sequels (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), remakes (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and prequels (Texas Chainsaw: the Beginning) into account.  I also added the Romero Zombie franchise and the Hannibal films because they feature the same world, characters and cannibals.
  3. The post will look at return on investment (ROI), highest average per franchise and which series averages were the highest after the first film. For instance, we all know The Exorcist made a lot of money. I want to know how the other Exorcist films did in comparison (not well).
  4. Critical/audience data was collected from Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb and Amazon. Metacritic did not have enough data so we excluded it from the MFFM.
  5. I am looking only at domestic box office and had to leave out several international series due to lack of data.The toughest omission was the [Rec] series.  I also had to leave out the Universal Monster franchises because there is a lack of consistent box-office data. Viva la Bride of Frankenstein though!
  6. A Quick Note: Child’s Play, Hellraiser and The Night of the Living Dead series had at least one film go direct to DVD. I could not find reliable box-office for them so we decided to leave them out.

Without further ado, here are the top horror series according to the MFFM and its breakdown of box office and critic/audience data. If you’re interested in the data you can read about how Jeremy came up with the numbers.

15. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (45.2)

14. Final Destination (45.9)

13. Friday the 13th (46.2)

12. Hellraiser (47.3)

11.  Alien (50.3)

10. Halloween (50.6)

9. Saw (52)

8. Nightmare on Elm Street (52.4)

7. The Omen (52.4)

6. Psycho (54.1)

5. Scream (54.5)

4. Paranormal Activity (54.9)

3. Manhunter/Silence of the Lambs (55.2)

2. Night of the Living Dead (56.4)

And the most groovy franchise is!

  1. Evil Dead (64.2) 


Ash is going to become an even bigger blowhard after he hears this.


With a 64.2 MFFM average The Evil Dead franchise ran away with the win like a Deadite sprinting from an out of control war car. It conquered the field with a combination of critic/audience love (Sam Raimi is the best) and it is the only series to have box office tallies that nearly doubled from film to film (Started with $6 million then collected $12, $22, $55.). No other franchise can boast this accomplishment and if you check out Evil Dead’s rise in comparison to Mr. Pinhead and his first four Hellraiser films you will be impressed. 


Even if you look at the first four films of every horror series their box-office doesn’t resemble Evil Dead’s climb. The only series that comes close is Nightmare on Elm Street. The first four films gained box-office ($59, $66, $93, $97) until it fell off with the fifth entry ($45). However, the climbs weren’t as dramatic and eventually the dream wheels fell off.

Evil Dead has the highest Critical (81.5) and Audience scores (77.25) to go along with with the rise in box office. A cool fact is that Evil Dead 2 (1987) has a higher critic/audience score than Evil Dead (1981). The only other horror sequels to do this are Aliens, Scream 2, Piranha 3D and Final Destination 2,3 & 5. Another cool fact about The Evil Dead franchise is that it is the highest customer rated horror series on Amazon (84.5). Consumers love Evil Dead and its endless barrage of special edition DVDs (Hello Boomstick Edition in a primitive screwhead steelbook case).

Evil Dead’s ROI was not the highest and the average ($24,129,525) doesn’t compare with the bonkers ROI/averages of Paranormal Activity or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises. However, it is second highest in series box office averages compared to the original (+23,000,000). The only four series to have positive averages compared to the original are Hannibal (+140), Evil Dead (+23), Nightmare on Elm Street (+13) and Resident Evil (+2).

Here is an example.

Jaws Box Office ($1,040,000,000)   >  Jaws II-IV Averaged Box Office ($143,402,330)   = Ouch

Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness and Evil Dead (2013) Average Box Office ($30,110,466)   > Evil Dead Box office ($6,186,700)  = Groovy

The positive average over the original is important because it proves the series has legs and a chainsaw arm. Many horror series had massive first films (Exorcist, Jaws, Psycho, Alien, Poltergeist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Amityville Horror, Poltergeist) then suffered from box office declines with each subsequent film. Their overall averages may be buoyed by big first installments but successful franchises improve or hold their budgets.

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The only negative of the Evil Dead series is that Army of Darkness only made $12.5 million on a $13 million dollar budget. Making up for the $500,000 loss is the fact that AoD has the highest critic/audience rating of any third franchise film (80.25). It beat out stalwarts like Day of the Dead (78.25) and Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors (72). Critics and audiences love Ash and the fact that he can’t remember three words to save a kingdom.

Fede Alvarez’s The Evil Dead (2013) had the fifth highest MFFM score amongst remakes and ranked #2 behind Dawn of the Dead as the highest critic/audience rated franchise remake. It is one of three remakes (NOES, Dawn of the Dead) that made more than the original and it has the largest box office percentage over the original (8.9). It is the rare remake that doesn’t feel like a shiny recreation of the first film. It has glorious practical effects and switches the hero effectively.

There are franchises (NOES, PA, Friday the 13th, Saw, Hellraiser, Omen) that made their budgets back every time. However, their steep declines from film to film and low critic/audience scores can’t buoy them in the long term. Evil Dead has proven itself to be ingrained in the zeitgeist (can’t wait for the show) and gives the viewer the best bang for their buck. Sam Raimi and crew deserve a round of applause because they created an unstoppable Juggernaut. 

Congrats Ash!

Vote and let me know your favorite franchise! I will post the results next week so make sure to follow MFF on twitter (@MoviesFilmsFlix) or Facebook! Thanks for reading!


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