Editor’s Note: On Monday May 17 Red Mango Reviews celebrated its fifth anniversary! In celebration of this milestone we’ve implemented several new things, including a new look (hope you like it), bringing on former guest writer Wayne Rock as our new featured writer, and six days of Top 5 Articles. For our penultimate Top 5 Sommer serves up some action-flavoured horror films.
Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Do you know what makes an action movie better? When you add loads of over-the-top kills, blood, gore and a bunch of monsters to the mix. Of course I’m talking about the type of movies most people wouldn’t even think of as horror movies because they’re so focused on the ensemble of video game-like heroes and their big ass guns. They’re called action horror movies and they’re awesome!
Even if you don’t like horror movies, chances are you’ve watched an action horror and maybe didn’t even realise it. Resident Evil, Starship Troopers, and Pitch Black are all examples of the subgenre. Even The Terminator. Everyone thinks of it as an action movie or a sci-fi movie, but the truth of it is The Terminator (and even T2) also fall in the horror category, and they aren’t the only ones. The list is a long one, but to celebrate #RMRTurns5 (our fifth anniversary of bringing you kick-ass content) I’m cutting it down to the best of the best. Here are the TOP 5 ACTION HORROR MOVIES:
#5 From Dusk Till Dawn
I will never forget my experience of seeing this movie for the first time. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-written by Quentin Tarantino, the first half of this film plays out with straight-up action. It starts with two brothers (Tarantino and George Clooney) on the run from the cops after one of them breaks the other out of custody. I had no idea halfway through the story these two criminals, along with a few innocent civilians they picked up along the way, would be fighting for their survival against an entire nest of vampires!
You would never be able to keep a secret like that now with the internet acting like that one friend who can’t help but spoil everything for everyone by giving away all a movie’s secrets. No, this uber gory love letter to vampire horror worked so well because none of us knew what to expect. Once the action starts it never lets up, never giving you time to breathe, and by the end, you’ll swear you were in that damn bar yourself, fighting off some of the coolest-designed, most original-looking vampires to hit the big screen in years. And in case you’re wondering, the Netflix television series ain’t half bad either.
When it comes to taking a small budget and making a movie that leaves a helluva impact, Leigh Whannell is king! He’s one of the minds (James Wan being the other) who gave us sleeper hits that have spawned entire franchises (Saw, Insidious) and of course who can forget last year’s The Invisible Man?! Yes, Whannell is a master of blending horror and action and the movie that puts his skills on full display is Upgrade.
Heavily inspired by Robocop (a movie that I would also argue falls in the horror/action category) it tells the story of a man who, after losing his wife in a brutal attack that left him quadriplegic, gets a chance to seek revenge when a brilliant scientist inserts a computer chip implant to his brain that turns him into an unstoppable one-man army. Stylish, smart, and full of memorable camera angles and brutal takedowns, Upgrade is the kind of action horror movie I would recommend to any of my friends who don’t like horror. That way when I tell them I want to watch a horror movie and they say, “Oh, I never watch horror” I can hit them with the “Well, remember the time we watched Upgrade?”
#3 Dog Soldiers
What’s better than one werewolf terrorising people? How about an entire pack of them! Throw in a remote location and a group of hardened soldiers with nothing to lose and you’ve got yourself one of the absolute best werewolf movies, and one of the best action horror movies of all time.
I never tire of watching this. Even though most of the real action takes place in the latter half of the movie, the entire thing is worth the price of admission. Bullets fly, explosions…well, explode, and limbs are torn asunder left and right. It’s a horror fan’s dream come true, and action fans will have plenty to appreciate as well. That’s a match made in horror heaven if you ask me.
#2 Train to Busan
Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead 2004) is back in the action horror game this week with Army of the Dead, a zombie action movie that follows a group of impossibly-ripped heroes fighting their way through hordes of various undead to pull of the heist of all heists. Zombies are certainly not new to the action-horror genre because as monsters go they’re an easy choice for this subgenre, but the one movie that stands heads and tails above them all (so far) has got to be South Korean zombie action flick Train to Busan.
I’m still amazed by what they pulled off here. A zombie movie with heart and drama that also delivers with heart-stopping action sequences and genuine terror?! I haven’t seen anything like it since Night of the Living Dead, and that came out all the way back in 1968! An absolute triumph of the subgenre, if you’re adding films to your Blu Ray collection feel free to add Train to Busan to either your Action or Horror movie section, because it works perfectly either way.
Honourable Mention: Blade
Not only does Blade get overlooked as the movie that truly started the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but a lot of folks forget to recognise the fact Blade is as much a horror movie as it is an action movie. The eponymous hero hunts and kills vampires with brutal efficiency and a big dash of Shaft-like attitude. And while the third movie is a dud, the first two are action-horror movie gold.
#1 Aliens & Predator
It’s a tie!
While James Cameron’s Aliens is the better movie, both films are the platinum standard when it comes to action horror movies. Both have held up really well and can be watched over and over without losing their charm or their impact. And both deliver memorable one-liners (Game Over Man!/Get to the Chopper!), a cast of characters so well-developed they’ve basically become the mould for how to put together an ensemble of heroes, and horror movie monsters that are, in a word, iconic, and did I mention the kills? I didn’t? That’s because if you haven’t seen them (where the hell have you been?!) you need to experience the awesomeness that are these movies for yourself. Aliens and Predator are what action horror is all about.
These are just my top favourites, but the list goes on and on and on. Action Horror movies are what cinema was made for. Sadly some of us won’t be able to experience Army of the Dead on the big screen, but whether you’re at home or in theatres these are the kinds of movies that were made for sitting back with a big tub of popcorn, the volume all the way up, and your brain turned all the way down. A ton of blood, bullets and fun, action horror is the Snickers bar of the genre. Oh so satisfying.
So what’s your favourite action horror movie? You can check out more genre-bending horror content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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