Comic book movies aren’t always about spandex and capes and superfluous cleavage. There’s a whole subset of four color cinema that’s legitimately scary (and I don’t just mean Peter Parker’s swing dancing in Spider-Man 3). You can look no further than the classic Tales from the Crypt comics to know that comics have deep roots in horror, and Hollywood is all too happy to accommodate with flicks like 30 Days of Night and Blade. I’ve rounded up the scariest of the lot for the perfect Halloween marathon — and I’ve even included drinking games! Of course, we would never condone the imbibing of alcoholic beverages on Halloween, so use the Superman energy drink instead.
Blade II (2002)
This one is easily the best Blade flick, and quite possibly the scariest comic book movie ever made thanks to director Guillermo del Toro’s terrifying vampire creations. These super-mutated Reapers are so freaky, they force Blade to team up with other vampires (and you know how he feels about them.) Far more crazed and animal-like than today’s teenage vamps, these bloodsuckers wouldn’t be caught dead sparkling in the sunlight and pining over their human girlfriends. Take note, Stephenie Meyer.
Drink: Every time Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) delivers a surly quip like, “Better get you some sunscreen, Buttercup.”
From Hell (2001)
Though I’d rank From Hell somewhere below Sleepy Hollow (but above The Corpse Bride) on the Johnny Depp Halloween movie spectrum, the Hughes Brothers’s underrated 2001 Jack the Ripper tale still works for some real scares. It only slightly resembles Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s massively dense comic, but the cast is stocked with some great British actors, the atmosphere is appropriately moody, and Depp as an opium addict makes for some great unintentional hilarity (all but essential during a horror marathon).
Drink: Any time Heather Graham loses her shaky “cockney” accent.
Heavy Metal (1981)
While technically scifi, the 1981 animated movie based on the fantasy comics magazine is the trippiest, creepiest cartoon since Yellow Submarine. The movie kicks off with a spooky orb demon thing called the Loc-nar terrorizing a poor little girl, and just gets weirder from there. Zombie B-17 bomber pilots, big-nosed aliens (voiced by Harold Ramis and John Candy) snorting what looks like alien cocaine, half-clothed barbarian women riding dragon bird things — the whole thing is like a freaky Yes album cover from the ’70s.
Drink: Whenever a character sheds his or her clothes for no apparent reason.
Swamp Thing (1982)
Honor the late Swamp Thing actor Dick Durock with this, the best movie of all the Things. While far campier than director Wes Craven’s usual fare, his Swamp Thing works as a B-level ’80s monster movie and pushes the limit for how many wet T-shirt shots can be shown in a PG-rated movie. Still, ya gotta feel for the green guy. Hopefully Guillermo del Toro will get around to adapting Alan Moore’s comics one of these days, so we can have a Swamp Thing that doesn’t look like a guy in a rubber suit.
Drink: Whenever you see Adrienne Barbeau sporting a wet shirt.
The Crow (1994)
The Crow, marking its 15th anniversary this year, is actually a perfect movie for Halloween seeing as it takes place on Oct. 30, aka “Devil’s Night.” With graveyards, masked characters, and creepy birds galore, it’s no wonder this movie has become a Goth classic. Plus, the whole thing basically takes place at night, with The Crow knocking off bad guys like a heroic version of Michael Myers. (And don’t forget that the late Brandon Lee’s painted, smeared face was inspiring Halloween costumes long before Heath Ledger’s Joker became the go-to seasonal getup.)
Drink: Each time Ernie Hudson gives one of his patented “I’m too old for this” eye rolls.
And five more ghoulish treats to round out the evening…
The Return of the Swamp Thing (1989) – Follow up Craven’s solid Thing movie with the laughably awful sequel, which represents a low point even for Heather Locklear, if you can believe it.
Spawn (1997) – While the effects haven’t aged well, John Leguizamo’s demon Clown still gives nightmares to fans of hammy overacting. And listen for veteran voice actor Frank Welker (Transformers‘s Megatron) as the demon Malebolgia.
Hellboy (2004) – Skip the more fanciful Hellboy II and pop in the monster-riffic first outing, which hits the perfect balance between CGI terror and Ron Perlman witticism.
30 Days of Night (2007) – The lackluster 2007 adaptation is the perfect comedown after reading Steve Niles’ creepy comic book, but still has a few truly terrifying scenes.
Vampirella (1996) – Add some more camp to your marathon with the only space vampire movie that stars a former member of The Who (Roger Daltry).
When not writing for places like The Onion and HBO, Nick Nadel is in line at the comic book store alongside the other geeks, er, fans of speculative fiction. Want more comic book movie news and opinions? Follow Nick Nadel’s column on Twitter.Read More