Totally Awesome! Totally Bloody! 8 Slasher Franchises Spawned in the ’80s
Possessed dolls, undead serial killers and pin-headed Cenobites… Grab some popcorn and a bucket of stage blood. Today’s the day to revisit some totally awesome fright flick franchises from the most totally awesome decade.
1. Friday the 13th (1980-2009)
In 1980, a legendary hockey-masked villain arrived on the big screen. Now, $465 million box-office dollars and 12 slasher flicks later, Jason Voorhees is still at it — terrorizing campers and taking names. The original, a bonafide horror classic, was created to ride slasher predecessor Halloween‘s wave of success. Nowadays, it’s one of the most successful U.S. media franchises of all time.
2. Prom Night (1980-2008)
As this five-part slasher franchise proves, the fear of a prom gone wrong is ageless. Prom Night takes teen worries to the next level when an escaped rapist/prisoner crashes the big party. Blood is spilled. Corsages fly. Jamie Lee Curtis stars…at least in Part I.
3. The Evil Dead (1981-2013)
Sam Raimi and Fede Alvarez, the duo behind all four entries in the original Evil Dead franchise, had so little experience in moviemaking that they bought “How To Make an Independent Film” books to get started. The plot is genius: An ancient Sumerian text unleashes its dark magic on terrified vacationers in the woods. How many other horror movies found crossover success as video games, comics and even a musical.
4. Slumber Party Massacre (1982-2003)
Four creepshows center around a high-school sleepover ruined by a serial killer who even kills the pizza guy. The dreaded mass-murderer has a great name (Russ Thorn) and a shudder-worthy weapon (power drill). Fun fact: The script was penned by feminist activist Rita Mae Brown, who intended it as a slasher-parody. The producers (clueless?) took it seriously.
5. Sleepaway Camp (1983-2008)
The opening of the first of six Sleepaway flicks is textbook horror backstory: A tragic boating accident leaves a man and his young son dead; the surviving daughter is sent off to live with a wacky aunt. It isn’t until the slashing is well underway that a game-changing twist is revealed: A transgendered take on the classic murder-at-camp scenario. Rumor has it, the franchise will get a reboot sometime soon.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984-2010)
Written and directed by horror heavyweight Wes Craven, the original Elm Street gave audiences a taste of the dark and sinister premise they’d come to know and love. The basics: disfigured dream terrorist Freddy Krueger, naturally wielding knives for hands, stalks and kills the teen children of those who burned him alive years ago. In this tale of revenge and its eight subsequent sequels and spin-offs, both sleep and Krueger are the enemy— an evil tag-team that murdered at the box office, earning $455 million world-wide. Independent film company New Line Cinema credits its growth to this franchise, which has brought decades of fans immeasurable joy (and terror).
7. Hellraiser (1987-2011)
There’s a puzzle box, a Hellish realm of “Cenobites,” the harvesting of human souls… Hellraiser has a complicated mythology but this series definitely pulls it off with story lines that engross even as they horrify. Based on the novella by Clive Barker, the franchise had attained its ninth sequel sometime in the late oughts.
8. Child’s Play (1988-2013)
After the first installment in 1988, Chucky a.k.a. Charles Lee Ray a.k.a. the Lakeshore Strangler quickly became the most infamous killer doll in movie history. Six films later, the franchise has earned more than $180 million. Rabid fans has watched the series evolve from sick horror to satire without complaint. It’s been creepy continuously.