One of the best parts of the October Spooky Season for horror fans is that the world starts to celebrate and embrace our outcast genre. It allows us to share the movies and stories we love with people who may not be so receptive to them at other times of the year. It also gives us a chance to create new horror fans by showing them just how diverse the genre can be.
Those of you who’ve been participating in the #31DayHorrorChallenge already know that horror has something for everybody, but today’s theme of “Genre-Bender” is the perfect time to show that off to others. To help you do that we’ve compiled a diverse list of genre-benders to watch with your non-horror watching family and friends that are a Reese’s Cup style combo of the genre we love and other film categories
Predator is a perfect example of why Arnold Schwarzenegger was a box office king back in the ’80s. In the film, the Austrian actor is bad-ass, charismatic, and delivers some great one-liners as the leader of a mercenary special operations rescue team. At the beginning of the movie, his team is dispatched into the jungles of Central America to free hostages from armed insurgents. So the film is very much an action movie, but it’s also a slasher style horror. That’s because there’s an alien force lurking in the jungles that starts picking off members of the team one-by-one.
So, Predator is a great blend of action and horror, but it’s also a sci-fi film as well. The titular alien hunter is a mysterious character whose motivations are revealed over the course of the film, but by the time of the climactic, final battle their culture is a fully realized and fascinating one. The Predator society and technology are part of the reason why the characters earned their own starring film franchise and a second one pitting them against Fox’s other iconic otherworldly monster, the Alien Xenomorph.
Batman Begins (2005)
Streaming: HBO Max
Superhero films are wildly popular, and Batman Begins is the kick-off chapter to one of the most successful and beloved cycle of superhero films ever, the Christopher Nolan directed Batman trilogy. It’s also a film though about the power of fear. We see both the film’s titular protagonist and its antagonists try to weaponize the emotion, and the emotional heart of the film is Bruce Wayne’s (Christian Bale) quest to overcome the childhood fear and guilt that he believed were responsible for his parents’ death.
On top of that, the villainous Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) employs a fear toxin that is used to create some great, gruesome, and creepy scenes. Horror movie fans will especially appreciate the demonic looks of Batman and The Scarecrow when they’re viewed through the lens of the fear toxin
Horror and war stories are sister genres in that they often feature characters who either overcome their fears or are destroyed by them. So, they compliment each other very well as director Julius Avery and writers Billy Ray and Mark L Smith showed off with their World War II meets supernatural evil film, Overlord.
The movie’s first act will ease reluctant horror fans and avid war film buffs into the supernatural tale with a riveting sequence that introduces the film’s cast by dumping them into the action of the Allied invasion of Europe. That allows us to meet a cast of charismatic main characters and see them confront the earthly evils of the Nazis. Then, as the story unfolds, we learn the Nazi malevolence extends into the realm of the supernatural as well. What follows from there is an exciting, creepy, and fun film featuring some great performances, especially from Jovan Adepo, who plays the film’s lead and Wyatt Russell (Kurt’s son), who plays a tough as nails corporal.
Psycho Beach Party (2000)
Psycho Beach Party is a send up of ’60s era beach/surfing movies and ’80s era slashers films, but like the best spoofs it doesn’t just mock tropes it celebrates them. Director Robert Lee King and screenwriter Charles Busch (who also wrote the play that inspired the film) get why the things they’re spoofing are fun. So the film is both very clever and laugh out loud funny. The dialogue pops with both jokes and the crackerjack surf lingo of the ’60s
It’s also an incredible showcase for the film’s star, Lauren Ambrose, who plays Florence “Chicklet” Forrest a high school girl who wants to learn to surf and be respected by the male surf rats who prowl the beach. Trouble arises when she begins to experience blackouts right around the time a series of gruesome murders start happening. Those murders put her in the sights of the delightfully campy police captain, Monica Stark (Charles Busch), and lead to the emergence of whole new side of her personality.
The Pale Door (2020)
Westerns and horror movies go together like peanut butter and chocolate. That’s partly because the Western genre is often about the unknown dangers that lurk on the edges of what was at the time, the American frontier. So, the weird western, which combines the two is a great genre, but it’s one you don’t see a whole lot of these days.
That’s why when a truly great one comes along, like The Pale Door, from writer/director Aaron B. Koontz and his co-writers Keith Lansdale and Cameron Burns, it deserves to be celebrated. Part of the reason why it’s so great is it’s a perfect mash up of the two genres. The other reason is it’s a film with great characters and tons of heart. Plus, like Overlord, it’s a movie that starts firmly in the grounded genre with a gang of outlaws preforming a train robbery before slowly immersing itself in the strange and frightening world of a town full of witches.
The Head Hunter (2018)
Fantasy is another genre that pairs well with horror. Because ultimately a large part of fantasy involves confronting monsters. That’s the job of the titular character in The Head Hunter. In this film, he embarks on his most personal hunt yet; to slay the elusive beast that murdered his daughter. His pursuit of vengeance though will plunge him into a nightmarish situation where the role of hunter and prey are reversed.
What’s incredible about this film is the fact that writer/director Jordan Downey and his cast and crew create a fully realized fantasy world with a budget of just $30,000! There is a sense of minimalism to it, but it’s used to escalate the tension and fear. You get a feeling that this lone monster hunter is isolate and in over his head even in a world full of things like magic healing potions. Plus, the film is practically a one-man show focusing almost entirely on Christopher Rygh’s lead character. The Norwegian actor does a fantastic job shouldering that burden. His character is a bad-ass who’s also haunted and very human.
The Mummy (1999)
Some non-horror fans feel that the genre we love is entirely too transgressive, and not any fun at all. If you know someone like that show them writer/director Stephen Sommer’s 1999 film The Mummy, which reimagines the classic Universal Monster as an antagonist in an Indiana Jones-style pulp adventure.
The film is an incredible thrill ride of action, humor, and horror. There are shoot outs, quips, daring escapes, monstrous undead, and even flesh eating scarabs. There’s also a little bit of romance. All of that is bound together by two great actors Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, bringing to life two great characters; soldier-of-fortune Rick O’Connell and adventure-hungry librarian, Evie Carnahan.
Big Trouble In Little China (1986)
Genres: Kung Fu-Action-Comedy-Horror
This is another film to show someone who doesn’t believe horror can be fun. That fun is achieved by taking the ghosts and demons of Chinese mythology, blending them with action tropes, and subverting the hell out of one those key tropes; the larger than life American hero.
Said hero, loud mouth truck driver Jack Burton, is one Kurt Russell’s most iconic characters. He’s fantastic because he talks like the brash hero of the film, when in fact he’s more of a sidekick. As Burton, Russell delivers so many quotable and funny lines. He’s not as good at the action as he’d like us to believe, but that’s okay because he gets by with the help of some very capable and determined friends. So, the film is jam packed with humor, incredible fight scenes, and a creepy Chinese ghost story that provides some fun and fantastically rendered set pieces.
Genres: Romance/Body Horror
Got a friend or family member who prefers films about the bonds of romantic love and how it can change and empower people? Then you’ll want to show them this movie from directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead about an angry, adrift, American who finds love with a mysterious woman while vacationing in Italy.
This is a body horror film so there are grotesque and painful-looking special effects, but they don’t just add to the movie’s horror elements. They add to the love story as well and make you invest in the characters more. Plus, the film’s two leads Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Louise (Nadia Hilker) have an amazing chemistry together. On top of that, Benson and Moorhead make the most of the film’s location with shots that perfectly capture the beauty of Italy.
Horror and crime are complimentary genres because both often deal with fears of the unknown, monsters, and morally nuanced characters. This film, which is about two police detectives’ (Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) pursuit of a mysterious serial killer, features all of those things.
The killer’s crimes, inspired by the seven deadly sins, are incredibly elaborate and vicious. They push the detectives to some pretty dark places both literally and metaphorically. So there’s a lot to love here for fans of both psychological horror and police procedurals. Plus, it all comes to a head in a shocking climax that answers one of the most memorable questions in movie history, “What’s in the box?”
What are your favourite genre-bending horror films? What’s on your #31DayHorrorChallenge watchlist this Halloween season? Share your picks with us on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!