If there’s any genre that seems to generate long-running franchises, it’s the horror genre. Once a single scary idea takes off and proves lucrative, producers seem keen to fund more of what worked, often greenlighting sequels shortly after an original’s success. It also helps that horror movies tend to have lower budgets than larger-scale science-fiction, fantasy, or action movies, and therefore prove quicker to make. Often, more straightforward and less flashy horror movies are better, after all – not to mention more frightening.
This all leads to plenty of horror movies developing into franchises, with some of those franchises becoming long-running ones where it’s easy to lose track of how many titles are contained within. The following franchises are some of the biggest in the horror genre, with each having at least 10 movies within it. They’re ranked below in ascending order, starting with those series’ that have 10 entries.
10 Freddy Krueger in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ – 9 Movies, 1 in Development
Beginning in 1984 and then releasing numerous sequels throughout the rest of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, A Nightmare on Elm Street might well be one of the most consistent horror series’ out there. There are a couple of less-than-great movies, but even the lesser ones are somewhat watchable, and the best ones (like the original, the third movie, and New Nightmare) are all very good.
There was a crossover with Friday the 13th in 2003, and then a remake of the original in 2010, taking the total number of movies up to nine. There’s also been a reboot stuck in development hell for some time now, but if/when that gets released, there will be 10 Nightmare on Elm Street movies.
9 ‘The Mummy’ – 10 Movies
Amazingly, it’s been over 90 years since the first Mummy film came out, which was back in 1932. It became a series a few years after that, with a total of five sequels featuring the title character in some capacity being released between 1940 and 1955.
Viewers nowadays are most likely familiar with the trilogy starring Brendan Fraser, with those three Mummy films being released in 1999, 2001, and 2008, respectively. The tenth (and for now, final) entry was another reboot, this time starring Tom Cruise in one of his rare unsuccessful movies, as it ended up being one take on The Mummy that audiences didn’t really gravitate towards.
8 The Cenobites in ‘Hellraiser’ – 11 Movies
It’s surprising to learn that Hellraiser has so many movies within its series, as it’s not quite a household name the same way other 1980s horror franchises are, nor is it really comparable to the long-running Universal Monster movies. Still, it’s had 11 entries to date, with the first coming out in 1987, and the most recent coming out 35 years later, in 2022.
Part of the obscurity may come from the fact that many of Hellraiser’s sequels were direct-to-video releases, and the series as a whole doesn’t always give its movies theatrical releases. Still, the original and most recent film each created a buzz on release, meaning that it’s a worthy franchise, and an undeniably long-running one, at 11 entries.
7 ‘Gamera’ – 12 Movies
The Gamera series began as a horror franchise, but soon pivoted into being a wackier and slightly more kid-friendly alternative to Godzilla. Each titular monster is a giant reptilian creature who began their respective series’ as enemies of humanity, but gradually morphed into becoming a savior for Earth and its people.
Just as the Godzilla series began as a black-and-white horror movie about a monster’s destruction, so too did the Gamera series. That might mean that Gamera isn’t a full-blooded horror series, but that was how it began, and some of the subsequent entries retain certain horror elements. As such, Gamera can arguably be counted among other long-running horror series’, currently sitting at 12 films.
6 Jason Voorhees in ‘Friday the 13th’ – 11 (out of 12) Movies
It’s a frustrating fact of life that the Friday the 13th series has been sitting on 12 movies – and not 13 – for over 13 years now, given the last movie in the franchise came out in 2009. It seems like it would be easy to make another one, just so people could marvel at there being 13 Friday the 13th movies, but the world can be a cruel, unfair place sometimes.
There’s been a complex rights battle that’s prevented further Friday the 13th movies, but for now, the fact there are 11 (out of 12) movies centered around Jason Voorhees going on murder sprees is still impressive. It’s one of the longest-running and best-known slasher movie franchises out there, and hopefully, the day will come when it gets its long-deserved 13th film.
5 Michael Myers in ‘Halloween’ – 12 (out of 13) Movies
Michael Myers is one of many well-known horror movie antagonists who seemingly refuses to die, and so too does the series he came from: Halloween. Its simple title was fitting, especially for the original movie, which helped popularize the slasher genre by being a no-nonsense, straightforward movie about a lone killer targeting a group of teenagers, all leading up to a showdown with a final girl.
The original’s success ensured a long line of sequels, a few of which were released as recently as 2018-2022, and also a pair of remakes in the 2000s. The third film in the series, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, stands out for not featuring Michael Myers, though he returned by the fourth film, and has been a series staple ever since.
4 ‘The Invisible Man’ – 14 Movies
There’s plenty of sci-fi/comedy gold to be mined from the idea of an Invisible Man, which is why the character has been featured in some capacity in 14 movies. The first of those was back in 1933, cementing The Invisible Man as one of the original (and best) Universal Monster icons.
It should be noted, however, that one of these 14 movies is technically about an invisible woman, as the 1940 film linked to this franchise was (creatively) titled The Invisible Woman. Still, given it stuck by the formula these movies tended to have, and overall felt like it captured the series’ spirit, it deserves to be counted among the rest.
3 ‘Godzilla’ – 36 Movies
Few movie franchises can match the number of movies contained within the Godzilla series. The first movie came out close to 70 years ago, and the series has remained a juggernaut ever since, with 36 movies – both Japanese and American – featuring the titular monster. The number would be even higher if unofficial remakes and re-edits/re-dubs were counted in this tally.
Not every movie in the series is as directly tied to the horror genre as the original from 1954, but there are enough to qualify it as at least somewhat of a horror series. Certain movies lean more heavily into science-fiction, action, or sometimes even fantasy, but there’ll always be some horror tied to the idea of giant monsters being able to stomp around, destroying property and indirectly taking human lives in the process.
2 Frankenstein’s Monster – 50+ Movies
Some horror franchises have grown so unwieldy that it’s not easy to count exactly how many entries they contain. Frankenstein is one of them, as throughout the history of cinema, there have been dozens of movies featuring Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, with film adaptations both official and unofficial.
Opinions will vary on what should count as a true Frankenstein film and what shouldn’t, but allowing most to be included would make for a total of more than 50 Frankenstein movies. There’s therefore a strong argument to be made that Frankenstein’s monster is one of the most popular in film history, and fans of the original story/character should be pleased to know that they won’t run out of films featuring him any time soon.
1 Dracula – 100+ Movies
Dracula himself is an immortal being who’s often depicted as having been around for multiple generations, so maybe it makes sense that his series as a whole should feel immortal and unending. Like the Frankenstein series, it’s hard to define a set number of official Dracula films, but a generous estimate could put the number of films featuring the character at over 100.
He’s a ubiquitous character, appearing as far back as the silent era and enduring in the decades since, with films that are both official and unofficial adaptations of the original story. It’s unlikely Dracula will ever leave the pop culture landscape, as he’s just too embedded within it. The countless films he features in are likely one of the main reasons why that is.
NEXT: ‘Skinamarink’ & Other Experimental Horror Movies That Are as Strange as They Are Scary