The horror genre is as popular as it's ever been right now. More and more people are watching modern-day scary movies, while obscure cult classics are becoming more mainstream thanks to references in mainstream entertainment. The current cultural landscape also seems intent on connecting different franchises together into cinematic universes, and the funny thing is, the horror movie world already did that.
Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and before the Fantastic Four or Justice League even existed, Universal Studios combined their most famous monsters into big crossover films: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein and Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Then, years later, Toho did the same thing with it own kaiju Monster Universe, which inspired this year's Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Decades later, Freddy vs. Jason and Alien vs. Predator picked up where Universal left off.
But a recent fan theory goes even further, claiming that more than sixty horror films are all part of a combined multiverse of nightmares. The theory, posted to Reddit, claims that, by using official crossover material and looking out for cross-universe references, decades' worth of horror films exist in the same linear continuity.
Let's look at the core connections established by the theorist, bit-by-bit, and see how much of it holds up.
FREDDY, JASON AND ASH
The 2003 movie, Freddy vs. Jason, is an obvious tie. The core Friday the 13th series and Nightmare on Elm Street films, ignoring reboots, contain 10 and seven films, respectively. Freddy vs. Jason takes those tallies up by one apiece. (We can ignore Wes Craven's New Nightmare, since that takes place outside continuity.)
The theory goes on from here, however, to tie in two more franchises to these two. One makes sense, the other does not. The ones that doesn't is Hellraiser. In an unfilmed draft of Freddy vs. Jason, Pinhead from Hellraiser was supposed to break up the fight. This never made it past the planning stages, so can't be counted.
What did get released, however, is an adaptation of the script for Freddy vs. Jason's sequel, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash in comic form. The comic adds in the Evil Dead franchise into the mix by throwing Ash against Freddy and Jason.
Further connective tissue comes from Jason Goes to Hell, which features the Evil Dead's Necronomicon and a Freddy Krueger cameo. It also features the monstrous crate from Creepshow. The Necronomicon later appears in Pumpkinhead 2, which means that the four Pumpkinhead films can be added to the total.
The proposed horror cinematic universe, so far, consists of 26 films.
LESLIE VERNON AND HATCHET 2
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a slasher homage that further ties together the shared horror universe. Leslie Vernon is a slasher aspiring to match the greatness of previous slashers, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. The film also features an older slasher who is implied to be Billy from Black Christmas.
Many might argue, though, that due to Leslie Vernon's satirical angle it contradicts the prior Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Halloween films. For the sake of our argument, let's say it does count. Leslie Vernon is also explicitly referenced in Hatchet 2, which itself references the events of Frozen -- no, not the Disney film, the horror film about being stuck on a ski-lift. This means that the Hatchet franchise (four films) and Frozen share the same canon with the shared horror universe. In addition, a Lament Configuration appears in Leslie Vernon, which means the ten Hellraiser films can now be added in.
However, problems arise when trying to tie in the Halloween series into all this. Halloween has multiple timelines that often ignore other films in the franchise. Again, for the sake of convenience, we can assume that the first two Halloween films are in canon with Leslie Vernon, as, until Halloween (2018), those films were continuously canon throughout the franchise.
This brings the total film count in the horror cinematic universe to 48.
BRIDE OF CHUCKY AND SHARKNADO
Another self-referential horror film that nods to many aforementioned franchises is Bride of Chucky. The most notable of them takes place at the beginning of the film, where a police storage locker containing Chucky's remains also contains Freddy's glove, Jason's hockey mask, Michael Myers's mask and Leatherface's chainsaw.
According to the theory, Michael's mask confirms that this film takes place after Halloween: Curse of Michael Myers, as that's the only entry where Michael's mask is left behind. This part of the theory is strained, however, if one considers the Producer's Cut of that film, where this isn't the case.
However, this makes more sense than the alternative, which is that Bride of Chucky exists in the H20 timeline, since H20 features a new mask.
Leatherface's chainsaw, however, opens up new doors. While Leatherface did crossover with Friday the 13th in the comic Jason vs. Leatherface, this inclusion in Bride of Chucky offers solid cinematic proof that the franchise exists in the same continuity. Which films those would be remains an unanswered question because, as the theory points out, Texas Chainsaw Massacre's continuity is a self-contradictory mess. However, if we accept Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 as canon (as it is the one most closely tied into the original franchise), this means that Stretch, who appeared in the sequel, exists in this shared universe.
Stretch also appeared in Sharknado 4, meaning that, yes, Sharknado is in canon with Hellraiser and Freddy Krueger.
This means we can add in three additional Halloween films, seven Child's Play films (remake not included), six Sharknado films and at least two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. That means the proposed horror cinematic universe consists of 66 films, at minimum.
DOES IT HOLD UP?
Sadly, none of this really holds up, continuity-wise. The theory tries to used various potential in-universe justifications, but considering how many plot holes exist in the continuity of ONE series strains the thing as a whole.
The biggest strain is Sharknado. While the rest of the franchises seldom stretch beyond their specific parts of the world, Sharknado features a world absolutely reshaped by the series' events. But if you ignore Sharknado -- or maybe just toss it out entirely -- everything holds together better than you'd expect.
Magic and demons are responsible for much of the hardships throughout each franchise. The Necronomicon? Cult of Thorn? Chucky's abuse of voodoo magic? The Dream Demons? Lament Configuration? All of it opens up magic the likes of which the characters don't fully understand, which, in turn, makes awful stuff happen. Sure, some films don't perfectly fit. Leslie Vernon's irreverent style might not mesh with Halloween's more serious one.
The best part of the theory is that can just keep going and going. Hellraiser and Clive Barker's Nightbreed crossed over. Mortal Kombat has all the slashers as guest characters, plus the Alien and Predator. Where does it end?
The answer is: Wherever you want it to. The horror genre already plays very fast and loose with continuity. Why should a horror cinematic universe be any different?