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The Horror Film Franchises That Will Not Die

August 28, 2009
by Kevin Barney

The time-honored goodness of horror film franchises continues today with two new films being released -- the tenth film in the "Halloween" franchise and the fourth in the "Final Destination" series.

Stylistically, I don't think that two horror films could be any more different. "The Final Destination" is going to be a popcorn-munching, joyride with lots of innovative ways of people getting killed. It's also in 3-D, which means anything that can become airborne and thrown in your direction, will. Believe me when I say that after watching one of these films, you'll realize that any object, no matter how unthreatening, could easily kill you when the right set of physics are applied.

Rob Zombie wrote and directed "Halloween II", or the second film in the second set of "Halloween" films (did you follow that?). It promises to be a much darker, graphic, and intense journey where you'll forget you even bought popcorn and spend the movie holding onto the person next to you.

Horror film franchises have never been more popular. The sixth "Saw" movie will be released in October, and fourth installments of "Scream" and "Resident Evil" begin filming soon. "The Wolfman," "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and Anne Rice's "Vampire Chronicles" are also being rebooted (that's a fancy word for saying they're going to start renumbering the movies at "1").

Why are these franchises so popular? The big reason is money. Once a series is started, almost every film will make money. 1996's "Hellraiser: Bloodline," the fourth and lowest grossing film of its series, still brought in more than double its $4 million budget. They continued to crank out direct-to-DVD "Hellraiser" movies, and, of course, a fresh reboot is in the works as well.

Another reason for their popularity is the same reason that Hollywood is turning to the boardgame Monopoly and the Viewmaster for film ideas: they have a built-in fan base, so it's a less risky financial investment. The most financially successful film of both the "Elm Street" and "Friday the 13th" franchises was "Freddy vs. Jason", where the two horror icons met. Can we expect to see the oft-discussed "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash" anytime soon?

Maybe some horror film franchises are finally coming to an end. It was announced that both of this weekend's releases are the final chapters in their respective stories. Then again, there were two more "Omen" films after "The Final Conflict" and three more films after "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare." If the box office numbers are good on Monday, you can bet that the studios will start working on "Final Destination 5" and "Halloween 3" (or "Halloween 11", depending on how you count).

So which of today's films am I going to see? Both, but I'll see the 3-D one first.

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