The 10 Most Unfathomable 'Franchises' in Film

by Bill Gibron

10 July 2012

#5: The Ernest P. Worrell Franchise (10 Films)

Jim Varney was an accomplished character actor who stumbled upon a local ad campaign and the rest is redneck reject history. As Ernest, nosy neighbor to the always unseen Vern, the genial gentleman became a human punchline, and it wasn’t long before Hollywood came hacking for his comedic presence. A pile of films later, and Varney went from phenom to farce. Up until his untimely death, he was stymied as a stooge when the truth was far more complicated. While his movies where nothing more than broad slapstick set-ups, his talent nearly transcended them… nearly.

#4: The Underworld Franchise (4 Films)

Vampires vs. Werewolves. Add in some unnecessary romance and you have Stephanie Meyers in an illiterate nutshell. In this case, the Matrix influenced film series, set in a world where monsters battle each other for fashion sense superiority, became a hit with those hoping for more comic book, superhero sass. What they ended up with was ghoul glamour encased in a bullet ballet veneer. After a mandatory sequel and a limp prequel, star Kate Beckinsale punched her permanent paycheck, returning to the skin tight spandex role that made her a male adolescent crush. Not as bad as Twilight, but twice as unnecessary.

#3: The Step Up Franchise (4 Films)

Sullen country/suburban girl hits the big city. There, she meets her creative equal in a misunderstood stud who can flex like a Chippendales and dance like MC Hammer. Thus we have this weird combination of choreography and calculated melodrama, all given the So You Think You Can Hoof heave ho in order to make viewers wish they could move like Jagger. Yes, it’s all formula and footwork, the music video flash of each film covering up the complete lack of characterization or emotional investment. Still, as long as sweaty skin-slicked model types trip the light false-tastic, who cares?

#2: The Resident Evil Franchise (5 Films)

There is probably no franchise on this list that had as much glorified geek anticipation as this eventual underachiever. After all, the games remain uber popular and the premise—zombie apocalypse couched within a corrupt corporate scheme—is just ripe for genre joy. Unfortunately, the series fell under the misguided muse of Paul W. S. Anderson, who left almost everything he knew about filmmaking back when he managed to make Event Horizon watchable. Truth be told, the living dead shouldn’t be shuttled aside for more starring vehicle vacancy from Ms. A, otherwise known as Milla Jovovich. So much potential pissed away.

#1: The Land Before Time Franchise (13 Films)

First of all, one imagines that many of your reading this didn’t realize that someone in the subterranean regions of Tinseltown was still cranking out these creaky cartoons. After all, the original Don Bluth effort came out in 1988! Still, never discount the desire of beleaguered parents to push anything quieting on their overly hyperactive offspring. In this case, we have the unnecessary adventures of a group of young dinosaurs, each “journey” acting as another platform for a series of Sesame Street lite life lessons. Dull as dino droppings and twice as rancid, the fact that there’s more than a dozen of these derivative excuses for entertainment should be considered something akin to child abuse.

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