George Romero's Dead Series Vs The Conjuring Universe – The Greatest Horror Franchise Ever [Round 8]

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 saw you, the iconic "Friday the 13th" was waving its machete at the unseen terrors of "Paranormal Activity." Now, we have another battle of the old school against the new school, with the greatest zombie franchise of all time shambling toward a very modern horror phenomenon. In one corner is filmmaker George Romero's gory, cynical, brilliant, and intensely political "Dead" series, consisting of "Night of the Living Dead," "Dawn of the Dead," "Day of the Dead," and more. In the other, we have "The Conjuring Universe," which consists of the three core movies about the ghost-hunting couple Ed and Lorraine Warren as well as the various spin-offs built around their various nemeses. 

Which one wins? That's up to you. First, the arguments. And then, you vote!

George Romero's Dead Series

George A. Romero's "Dead" films changed the course of horror cinema forever. It was "a manifesto for the modern horror film," and while there are many who would refute the political nature of the genre, Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" proves horror's subversive political influence.

In 1968, Duane Jones auditioned for "Night of the Living Dead" and was cast as the film's hero, Ben. Romero decided against rewriting Ben's dialogue because he was a Black man, instead defending the at-the-time controversial casting choice with sound logic — he was the best person for the role. This would change the shape of cinema as we knew it. Up until that time, zombie movies largely focused on discussions and analyses of the past, scrutinizing colonialism and slavery. Now, thanks to Romero, the subgenre would look at the crises of the present with unflinching honesty.

"Dawn of the Dead" would analyze the crushing weight of capitalism while suggesting that women's characters could do more than just run and scream. "Day" would go a step further by giving us Dr. Sarah Bowman (Lori Cardille). What's more, Bub (Sherman Howard) solidified the notion that the greatest threat we have to fear is our own inhumanity.

Without the "Dead" films, we wouldn't have "Get Out," no "Slither" or, potentially, "Guardians of the Galaxy" as we know it, no "Shaun of the Dead" or really anything by Edgar Wright, no "The Evil Dead." He even changed the face of independent cinema, and it's all thanks to the "Dead" films. Thank you, George. We miss you. (Ariel Fisher)

The Conjuring

This is an unenviable position to be in. In the blue corner, the granddaddy of the modern zombie horror genre and the franchise that spawned my personal favorite zombie movie of all time, "Day of the Dead." And here in the red corner, this upstart little eight-year-old baby that is the "Conjuring" universe — so young that its head is only scraping the lower end of the zoomer age bracket. 

But let the granddaddy vs. small child face-off begin, and let the granddad hit the floor, because director James Wan came roaring out of the gate in 2013 with "The Conjuring" and this horror behemoth has not paused for a single breath since. "The Conjuring 2" was a worthy follow-up that (importantly) found time to have Patrick Wilson croon an Elvis song in between scares, and even the lesser movies of the "Conjuring" franchise are still eminently watchable. "The Nun" might not necessarily be great, but it's enjoyably chaotic, and what "Annabelle" lacks in overall quality it makes up for with solid creepy doll-based scares.

The "Conjuring" franchise also scores points for how well it works as a cinematic universe — something that's been attempted many times since Hollywood first saw Marvel Studios being buried under an avalanche of cash, but which has rarely been pulled off so successfully. It feels like a single cohesive world that's adjacent to our own, but is much, much spookier. (Hannah Shaw-Williams)

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 George Romero's "Dead" series or "The Conjuring"? Whoever wins will return for the quarterfinals this week, facing off against the winner of the "Friday the 13th" and "Paranormal Activity" showdown.