TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
Number of movies: 5 or 6 (including one or two remakes, depending on who you ask)
The premise: A family of cannibals in Texas, one member of which happens to be a cross-dressing hulk named Leatherface, terrorizes teens who come its way.
The key to longevity: My guess is that some Hollywood executive saw the first one when he rented it mistakenly thinking he was doing his civic duty and that it was some wankfest documentary about deforestation. Upon seeing it, he decided that a revival of the series would make him some serious money and had the first one re-made, kicking off a whole new set of sequels. Of course, said executive had no idea that Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses had essentially remade the movie, like, a year before.
Signs of an idea drought: Three movies-the two remakes and the repugnant The Next Generation-have attempted to kick-start the series again.
Up next: A prequel to the newest remake, entitled The Beginning, which promises to finally reveal the origin of Leatherface. My guess is that his parents let him play with Barbie dolls, ruining his gender identity, and also chainsaws.
Number of movies: 6 (four straight to video)
The premise: A little leprechaun who only speaks in devastatingly stupid couplets (they're not even limericks, for Christ's sake) kills anyone who gets between him and his gold.
The key to longevity: Low expectations, it would seem. When you give up on the idea of people actually enjoying your films and pretty much go straight for the "Let's rent this, it'll be terrible" audience, you can apparently make as many movies as you goddamn want. Honestly, the only reason to rent any of these movies is for a good bad-movie night. If you actually rent any of these out of a genuine desire to see them, you may have some sort of mental disorder.
Signs of an idea drought: Setting changes like whoa. The third one was set in Vegas, then they set one in space, then they set two in "da hood." They might as well just put a blurb on the DVD cover that says "exploitative!" On second thought, they might just do that on the next one.
Up next: The actor who plays the leprechaun, Warwick Davis, is in the new Harry Potter movie, so maybe he's done with the little guy. But I wouldn't bank on it.
Number of movies: 8 (four straight to video)
The premise: The demonic Pinhead and his sadomasochistic buddies, the Cenobites, unleash hell on earth when people are brought back from the dead with a weird puzzle cube thing.
The key to longevity: A crazy, goth fan base. I mean, I make a concentrated effort to suffer through the worst that the horror movie genre has to offer, but even I gave up on this series around the fifth one. So I have to figure that there's just a very committed group of Hellraiser fans out there who devour all the straight-to-video sequels as soon as they can get their hands on them. People buy Evanescence albums, so it's not that hard of an idea to swallow, however frightening it might be. One interesting note is that with the exception of the second movie, every DVD cover in the series features a photo of Pinhead by himself which proves to me even further the devoted fan base theory. Who else would be able to tell the movies apart?
Signs of an idea drought: The most recent sequel moved the hellish action into cyberspace. No joke.
Up next: A fan film called Hellraiser: Prophecy is set to be released via YouTube on Halloween. Several other fan films and parodies are in production. Weirdos.
Honorable Mention: Children of the Corn. There are seven of these movies, but I'll be damned if I can remember anything about any of them.