As the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands beyond comprehension, it has set itself up as the gold standard when it comes to shared movie universes. While it might be the most well-rounded universe, the MCU is not alone. Most of you know about the Universal Monsters Universe, the Tarantinoverse, and the View Askewniverse. These are probably the three best-known collections, but what about the lesser discussed universes? Where’s the love for the Horror Universe? Plenty of horror fans and writers have talked about the various connections in slasher films, but few have ever tracked the extent of this connected universe. Like most films and genres, there are countless references and Easter eggs in horror, but we’re not concerned with simple references. We want to try and map out what films are said to exist alongside each other. By doing this, we think we can prove that the Horror Universe is just about as vast as any other film universe.
When dealing with connective tissues between films, there are always debates about what is canon and what isn’t. Our rules are simple. If a character or item from one film is found in another film, the two movies must exist in the same world. Deleted scenes are tricky, so we will deal with those on a case-to-case basis when we come to them. There are also some copyright issues, which can be tricky. Some franchises should be connected to this universe but have been kept to the periphery because of legal and financial red tape. We don’t want to completely exclude these films because money got in the way, so we’ll mention the almost examples when we get to them. So get your pencils and lets start mapping this thing. Here are 15 Horror Films That All Exist in the Same Terrifying Universe.
15. A Nightmare On Elm Street Franchise
Even though we never got any direct jump off points from A Nightmare on Elm Street, we’ll discuss it here because of Freddy Krueger’s position on this list. As one of the most iconic slashers in film history, Freddy is one of the big fish that connects several of these films together. Much like how the Universal Monster Universe connects Frankenstein and Dracula, horror fans have always assumed that Freddy and the other big-named slashers existed in the same universe, it just took us a while to get proof. In terms of this list, Freddy vs. Jason from 2003 is the most concrete example of a shared universe, but this wasn’t the first time that these two massive characters met on film.
14. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday
While Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday may not be the most beloved of the Friday the 13th franchise, it is an incredibly important film for this universe. The most important connection this film gives is the explicit relationship it has with Evil Dead II. The Necronomicon and the Kandarian Dagger from the Evil Dead franchise both make an appearance in Jason Goes to Hell. In fact, it’s the dagger that brings Jason down. We should also mention that even though Freddy vs. Jason may have watered down the connection 10 years later, Jason Goes to Hell also gave us the first encounter between these two colossal slashers. Later, in Freddy Vs. Jason, there was a plan to have a Pinhead cameo. This would have brought the Hellraiser franchise in the mix, but the idea was scrapped because New Line didn’t own the rights to the film. Sorry Pinhead.
13. Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings
Perhaps the loosest connection on this list is Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings. We acknowledge that the Necronomicon appears in plenty of spots in the Lovecraft universe, so there is a chance that the book we see in the witch’s cabin is not the same book from the Evil Dead franchise. But let’s be honest with ourselves, this is the same book. Perhaps this was just a weak attempt to get Pumpkinhead connected to what the filmmakers saw as a growing single universe. Considering that Pumpkinhead II came out the year after Jason Goes to Hell, it would make sense for the filmmakers to try to place it in this mega-horror universe. Even if the universe only had three film franchises in it at that point, these are three of the biggest horror franchises ever made. Whatever the intent was, the plan worked. Pumpkinhead II is now a part of it all.
Another great connection found in Jason Goes to Hell is located in the basement of the Voorhees home. There, we see a crate marked “Arctic Expedition Julia Carpenter Horlicks University.” This is the same crate from horror anthology film, Creepshow, specifically the episode “The Crate.” Made by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King, Creepshow is an amazing anthology of horror shorts, but it appears that “The Crate” is the only one that is connected to the larger universe. If the connection to Jason Goes to Hell wasn’t enough, the crate pops up in another film later on. In Bride of Chucky, we get a closer look at a police locker with a hell of a horror collection. Even though it is debatable, it appears that the crate we see in this room is the very one from Creepshow. Since this scene in Bride of Chucky is so referential, it would make sense that this is “The Crate.” It’s interesting that a small short like this would go on to be connected to two other films. Obviously, there’s a lot of weight there with Romero and King attached to it, but it’s still pretty incredible.
11. Bride Of Chucky
The 1998 film, Bride of Chucky, might be considered a bit too silly to be taken seriously, even for the most die-hard horror fans, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important in the connected horror universe. In fact, for the purposes of this list, Bride of Chucky might be the centerpiece film. Since this one waded so deep into the meta-horror waters, it became a monumental hub in the horror universe. The big scene comes at the very beginning in a police evidence locker. There, we can see that several major films exist alongside the Child’s Play franchise. We’ll deal with a few examples on their own, but, in addition to the crate from Creepshow, we also see Jason’s mask and Freddy’s claws in lockers. We will mention here that although we didn’t include Hellraiser in this list, it once again came very close to being connected in Bride of Chucky. At one point, Chucky says he is reminded of something when he sees a man killed with nails to the face. This is a direct reference to Pinhead, but it’s just not enough to say that the character exists in the universe. Chucky could very well have seen the Hellraiser films.
10. Puppet Master
In the very first evidence locker in this massive scene in Bride of Chucky, we see a collection of puppets. It’s possible that some younger readers are unfamiliar with the Puppet Master franchise that started in 1989, but considering it has about a dozen films, that might be unlikely. Even though the franchise fell off the rails many moons ago, the early films were actually quite good. Considering that Puppet Master and Child’s Play have similar killer puppets, it makes a lot of sense that they would exist in the same universe. There’s been some debate about whether or not the puppets are the ones from Puppet Master, but we think it’s pretty clear that they are the same.
There’s a good argument to be made that Michael Myers is the most iconic slasher of all time. If you knew that Bride of Chucky had some classic horror characters embedded in it, then you would expect to see Michael’s mask. Well, thankfully, it was there. This brings Myers and the Halloween franchise into the fold. Now, some people might argue that Jason Goes to Hell already did this when one of the characters references “the Myers place,” but we can’t accept that because Crystal Lake, where that film is set, is in New Jersey and Myers’ place is in Haddonfield, Illinois. They can’t be the same place. Regardless, that connection is unneeded ever since Bride of Chucky invited the Halloween franchise to the universe.
Let’s leave the locker behind for a minute. There’s another blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference in Bride of Chucky. This one is seen in a wanted poster in an alleyway in the film. It’s tough to make out, but it appears to show a clown on it, which would mean it’s got to be Pennywise from It. This has to be considered more than just a mere reference because the police are looking for Pennywise in this world. This just makes Bride of Chucky a little more important in the grand scheme of things. It might play out that in 20 years, the only cultural relevance that Bride of Chucky has is that it connects so many better films together.
7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Let’s backtrack just a tad because we need to go back to the evidence locker in Bride of Chucky. The final universe connection in that locker, at least the final piece of evidence from an identifiable film, is Leatherface’s chainsaw. This link brings in the oldest film on the list, Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Though it may seem expected and inconsequential, given the other links in the evidence lockers, this chainsaw allows us to expand the universe in an entirely new direction. But we’ll get into that later. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense why the police locker in Lockport, Illinois would have a chainsaw from a crime committed in Texas, but we don’t really care. Let’s celebrate because The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has joined the party.
6. The Howling
Some might say that the connection between The Howling and Texas Chainsaw Massacre is purely because art director Robert A. Burns reused props, but that can’t be used as an excuse. If it shows up in the movie, then it counts. Otherwise, we would have to take into account the intent of the filmmakers for each connection. So, in The Howling, two nuns walk into a bookstore. No, this is not the set up to a joke. In that bookstore, there is a mummified corpse. Guess what? That corpse is Grandma Sawyer from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The bookstore hosts a vast collection of the occult, so it appears that they tracked down the famous Texan family and got Grandma’s body. Also, even though the film, A Bucket of Blood, didn’t get its own category. It could very well be in this universe as well because the owner of that bookstore is named Walter Paisley and is played by Dick Miller. Paisley is a character that has appeared in a few different films and shows, but Miller played this very same character in A Bucket of Blood from 1959.
Joe Dante’s The Howling brings in another one of his films into the shared universe, the incredible Gremlins. In both of these films, we see the same news reporter on television. The reporter is named Lew Landers and he’s played by Jim McKrell. Landers was first seen reporting on the events in The Howling in 1981 and then, three years later, found himself in Kingston Falls reporting on “little green men” in Gremlins. While this opens up the door for well-known reporters and TV hosts to link films in a shared universe, we think this connection is especially strong if only because the reporter is a fictional character and happens to exist in both of these films.
4. Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon
Now, we travel to an entirely different area. Fans of meta-horror films would be hard-pressed to find a better example of the genre than Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. In this mockumentary, we learn that Leslie lives in the same world as many supernatural killers, specifically naming Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger. There are other references, but none are given as explicitly as the big three listed. That means that Behind the Mask is in the universe, but it also brings in another connection and another horror franchise.
3. Hatchet II
The Hatchet films are some of the most underrated in the slasher genre. Probably because people refuse to give more modern slashers a chance, Hatchet has been written off as a gore fest and nothing more, when really, it plays around with the slasher tropes in a lot of fun ways. In terms of the slasher universe, Hatchet II declares itself through the character of Chad. When he talks about his hometown in the film, he reveals that it is Glen Echo and it has its own local boogeyman named Leslie Vernon. This not only honors the Behind the Mask myths but it further connects Hatchet to the universe. The franchise already included subtle references to Jason Voorhees, but it wasn’t a solid evidence to suggest that they existed in the same world. Now, we’ve got more than enough to include it.
2. Evil Dead II
Sam Raimi‘s Evil Dead II is one of those films that changed everything. It gave us new ways to look at traditional horror and paved the way for an entirely new genre of dark comedies, but it also set up the first connective strand in this horror universe. When Raimi first gave a respectful nod to Wes Craven, it was done as an intertextual reference, but it would set off a chain reaction that no one could have anticipated. It all started with The Evil Dead. In that film, Raimi included a ripped poster of Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes. This was just a small reference to the scene in The Hills Have Eyes that featured a ripped poster of Jaws. However, when Craven came to make his 1984 classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street, he thanked Raimi by having the star character, Nancy Thompson, watch The Evil Dead on TV. To say thank you for that reference, Raimi upped the referential ante and, in turn, created the first point in the horror universe. In Evil Dead II, Raimi hung Freddy Krueger’s glove on the shed wall. This means that Freddy must exist in this universe.
Outside of the Hatchet franchise, director Adam Green is probably best known for making the film Frozen. No, not that one. The 2010 horror film Frozen. Well, despite what people think of the film, it’s quite good. In fact, it’s much better than you would think, especially given the premise of skiers abandoned on a ski lift. Well, in Hatchet II, during the scene in the voodoo shop, we see the character Parker O’Neil (from Frozen) being interviewed about her lawsuit against the ski mountain. This would imply that the characters from Frozen and Hatchet exist in the same world and that the films take place at roughly the same time. And that’s all we have at this point. One horror universe.