The Great Chronological Slasher Franchise Project

Incredible art by Chris Labrenz

Last year I found myself in a strange place heading into the Halloween season, which for me usually starts sometime in September. In years past, I’d written posts about various movies and franchises for the dearly departed Topless Robot/Robot’s Voice site. I loved poring over these films, taking notes and then figuring out the best way to present them to an audience.

The years leading up to that, I’d worked my way through most of the biggies, mainly Freddy, Jason and Michael. I still wanted to watch those films, but wasn’t thrilled about going through film by film. Then an idea hit me: what if I watched a bunch of franchises in release order?

With that idea in mind, I started writing down a list of all my favorite franchises, not just slashers. In addition to the three I mentioned, I went with the likes of Romero’s Dead films, Phantasm, Psycho, Scanners and even Final Destination. Once I had my list together, I started looking up release dates and putting things in order on a Note in my phone.

The deeper I got into the project, though, a few things became clear. First, I had way too many films, so out went Final Destination. I also realized that some of these franchises, while interested, didn’t really fit with the others, most of which were slashers. That’s why I didn’t watch the last two Scanners movies which are basically action films. I still watched all of the Romero zombie films, the last batch of which I hadn’t seen, but ultimately didn’t fully finish the project because I wasn’t ready to watch the final Angus Scrim Tall Man performance in Phantasm Ravager.

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience. It probably seems obvious, but watching Psycho and then all of its children adds a mountain of context that I hadn’t been able to put together before. Interestingly, that series also offered one of my least enjoyable viewing experiences in the form of the 1987 TV movie Bates Motel which was a mess even with the beloved Lorie Petty. Overall, though, I’d seen most of the films and wouldn’t have minded a few new experiences along the way.

So, with the Halloween season in full swing, at least in my head, I got to thinking about how to do it again with different films. This time around I decided to focus on another classic in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which I held off the list last year in case I felt like doing this again, and then a variety of others ranging in quality like Stepfather, Sleepaway Camp, Maniac Cop, Slumber Party Massacre, Pumpkinhead, Leprechaun, Child’s Play, Prom Night, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Candyman, Silent Night, Deadly Night and, yes, Final Destination. As of now the list clocks in at a whopping 67 films, which is why I’ve already started watching them.

If you’re wondering what my qualifications for involvement on the list are, I’d be happy to tell you! The easiest and most obvious aspect is that the film has to be part of a franchise, which I define as a series of three or more connected films, either by story or simply title. When it comes to slashers, I consider them a being, either human or supernatural though not an animal, who kills a number of people, usually in their teens or early twenties and also in a relatively short time span. The slasher her or himself doesn’t necessarily have to carry over from film to film, but will most likely inspire the antagonist of the next installment. Since I came up with the list before I watched the films, I’m sure there will be a few that don’t fit in, but that’s just how it works.

I’m really looking forward to making my way through this list and seeing how these films compare not just to one another, but the more major slasher franchises that I made my way through last year. This year will also be a hoot because most of these films rest in the column of movies I either haven’t seen in a long time or ever.

If you’re interested in going on the journey with me or just checking out the order of the films, I’ve made my Google Drive spreadsheet public, you can check it out here. Point your eyes to the bottom of the chart and you’ll see tabs for 2017, 2018 and a Master of everything together.  I got my release dates with just the basic amount of research looking on IMDb and Wikipedia, so if they’re not dead-on, I offer a shrug.

So, give it a look and see if you want to join me on what will surely be a bumpy, bloody road! I haven’t been posting much, but hope to offer updates on my progress from time to time. Let me know what you think of the idea, the list or the films in the comments.

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