Welcome to the Tournament of Terrors, a /Film bracket where we argue about the greatest horror franchise of all time, and you, the readers, get to decide the winners. The rules are simple: two iconic horror movie series enter the ring, each represented by a /Film writer ready to champion them. And you — yes, you, the person reading this right now — will vote on which one gets to move forward.
You can find all the details, including a schedule for all the showdowns, right here. And here is the complete bracket, so you know where things stand.
The last time we checked in on the bracket, "Child's Play" and "Scream" were facing off. With this showdown, we're moving away from slashers and toward something more cosmic. Something more unknowable. The "Alien" franchise began with the tagline "In space, no one can hear you scream" and ran with it, delivering the most memorable, traumatizing science fiction horror of all time across six genre-bending entries. Meanwhile, "Final Destination" cast Death itself as the main antagonist in its five films, concocting one gruesome fate after another for unsuspecting people who managed to dodge the grim reaper and now must pay the price. It's the Xenomorph versus Death in this shown — the battle of cosmic dread!
Which one wins? That's up to you. First, the arguments. And then, you vote!
If this were a fight between the original "Alien" and any one "Final Destination" film, well, this would be thoroughly anticlimactic. Who could possibly argue against the Ridley Scott classic that consistently ranks among the scariest movies ever made? But the addition of the sequels and those pesky, divisive prequels helps even the playing field a bit … or does it? Try to name any horror franchise that bests "Alien" in terms of taking a one-off story and putting idiosyncratic stamps on each subsequent film. James Cameron took the '80s action romp approach to xenomorphs and did so to spectacular results. David Fincher mercilessly cut ties with franchise favorites and stranded the rest in a hellish prison-world of industry and masculinity. Even "Alien: Resurrection" had the wherewithal to sidestep the safe harbor of familiarity, bringing satire/parody to the "Alien"-verse in one of the most fascinating, misguided trainwrecks you'll ever see. And then there's "Prometheus" and "Covenant," those two redheaded stepchildren that suddenly snap into place when taken less as a fill-the-gaps origin story and more as an excuse to explore spirituality, existentialism, and our collective failings as a species in the only way that one can do on a big budget these days: through the mask of pre-established IP. Ash and David would appreciate that irony.
I'm not here to trash "Final Destination," the franchise that singlehandedly changed the driving habits of my entire generation. It's through no fault of its own that it drew the short straw of immediately squaring off against the crown jewel of horror. It did, however, and now it's up to you to make the correct decision. (Jeremy Mathai)
There aren't a lot of hills I'm willing to die on, but the "Final Destination" films being undoubtedly one of the best horror franchises of all time is absolutely one of them. A series born without heavily marketable or merchandisable horror characters, "Final Destination" has persevered not with iconography, but on the terrifying premise that death is always coming for us. Speaking purely from the law of averages, "Final Destination" is pretty untouchable. Of the five films, only one of them ("The Final Destination") is universally panned, with the rest all genuinely loved or, in the case of "Final Destination 3," boasting a huge cult following. Sure, "Alien" and "Aliens" have some of the highest highs, but there are some other entries in the "Alien" franchise that are so low, the bar is in Hell.
Not to mention, "Alien" films skew far more into science-fiction the longer the franchise exists, whereas "Final Destination" is pure horror from start to finish. Okay, yeah, Ripley in "Aliens" is a beloved female hero, but "Final Destination" has genuinely changed the way people live their actual lives. No one on the planet who has watched "Final Destination 2" will drive behind a logging truck ever again (if you say you do, you're lying and I'm telling your Mom), and people dying in freak accidents are frequently labeled as being "Final Destinationed." These movies have stellar kills, memorable one-liners, and are a great exploration in survivor's guilt. This bracket isn't about powerhouse singular entries, it's about entire franchises, and in this case, "Final Destination" must cheat death and come out on top. (BJ Colangelo)
And Now It's Time To Vote
So there you have it. The arguments have been made. The defenses have been mounted. The attacks have concluded. The ball is now in your court, folks. Using the Twitter poll below (which will close 12 hours after publication of this article), vote for which movie franchise you want to see advance. Will it be "Alien" or "Final Destination"? Whoever wins will return for the quarterfinals next week, facing off against the winner of the "Universal Monsters" and "Evil Dead" showdown.
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