9 Comic Book Horror Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen
It’s easy to get excited by the newly released trailer for The New Mutants. It’s a horror film set in the X-Men cinematic universe, a completely different genre in a well-worn franchise, and a bold shift in tone for the lucrative and popular series.
But of course, comic book horror movies have been around for decades, even before the superhero genre dominated the landscape. The classic horror comic Tales of the Crypt came to the big screen way back in 1972, and inspired a hit HBO series nearly two decades later. Blade helped kick start the superhero movie revolution, and Hellboy capitalized on that good will with two cult favorite comic book horror movies. Constantine was a successful adaptation of the Hellblazer series, the Ghost Rider movies are… well, they’re mixed bags, but at least you’ve heard of them, right?
Indeed, all these high profile comic book horror movies do a good job of obfuscating all the other, relatively obscure films in the genre. The straight-to-video oddities, the anime adaptations, the films based on comics that never made a big splash in America, leaving audiences unaware that they were based on a comic book in the first place.
So while you’re waiting for The New Mutants to prove itself, why not dig a little deeper into the history of comic book horror movies and explore some flicks that might surprise you. Some are cool, some are campy, some are just plain awful, but they’re all a part of the rich tapestry of comic book adaptations we all seem to love so much.
Comic Book Horror Movies You Have Probably Never Heard Of:
Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned was the first of two anime horror films based on Marvel Comics characters. Adapted from Tomb of Dracula, this film tells the story of the time Dracula kidnapped Satan's bride and evaded a bunch of vampire hunters. Also, he eats a hamburger, which is an undeniably funny image.
Photo Credit: Toei
The long-running Italian horror comic Dylan Dog finally got the live-action treatment in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, starring Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Legends of Tomorrow) as the title character, a paranormal detective solving a monster-related mystery. The movie was too cheap to be taken seriously as a feature film, but if it was the pilot episode of a SyFy Original series, it would probably have worked. The characters are fun and the ideas are intriguing.
Photo Credit: Freestyle Releasing
The manga Bio Booster Armor Guyver was more of a sci-fi series than a horror series, but the American adaptation was c0-directed by horror makeup effects luminary Screaming Mad George, so The Guyver plays like a superhero monster flick. A guy stumbles across an organic super-suit and fights over grotesque monstrosities, and in one scene, Mark Hamill turns into a giant cockroach. It's a bizarre sci-fi/horror mashup, but a watchable one.
Photo Credit: New Line Cinema
Richard Stanley's stylish cyberpunk horror thriller Hardware stars Dylan McDermott as a guy who gets his girlfriend an interesting robotic antique as a gift, unaware that it's programmed to repair itself and kill any living thing it finds. Hardware was inspired by the short story SHOK! from the comic 2000 A.D., but they they failed to acknowledge that in the original release. The credits were eventually updated after a lawsuit.
Photo Credit: Miramax
Lady Death: The Movie brought Brian Pulido's cult creation to life as an animated feature, one that trimmed the rough edges off of a character who, in the comics, wanted to kill every living person on Earth. In the movie she's leading a revolution against the devil, making her seem more heroic.
Photo Credit: ADV Films
The second anime adaptation of a Marvel Comics horror character, Monster of Frankenstein, is a more straightforward retelling of its classic horror story. (At least, compared to Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned.) Doctor Frankenstein creates a monster and tries to destroy his work, the monster escapes and accidentally kills people, and their paths converge at the end with tragic consequences. The movie was also released in America under the title Frankenstein Legend of Terror.
Photo Credit: Toei
A woman with dissociative identity disorder uses one of her personalities to solve a series of murders in The Scribbler, written and based on a graphic novel by Daniel Schaffer. The cool cast includes Katie Cassidy (Arrow), Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse) and adult superstar Sasha Grey.
Photo Credit: XLRator Media
Junji Ito's manga series, about a town with a mysterious curse that has something to do with ubiquitous spirals, became a live-action film with incredibly striking imagery. Uzumaki didn't quite capture the American imagination the way some of its J-Horror contemporaries did, but it's a respected cult classic amongst many horror fans.
Photo Credit: Omega Micott
Forrest J. Ackerman's and Trina Robbins' cult comic book character finally got her own movie starring Taliso Soto from Mortal Kombat, and everyone seems eager to forget it ever existed. Even director Jim Wynorski - whose credits include The Witches of Breastwick, Busty Cops Go Hawaiian and Para-Knockers Activity - said it's the one film he wishes he'd never made. Yikes.
Photo Credit: Concorde Pictures
Top Photos: Concorde Pictures / Miramax
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on Canceled Too Soon and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.