Happy Halloween everyone! If you're a regular Screen Rant reader you'll have noticed (and hopefully read) our Halloween lead-up series called "Horror Plus." If not, just so you know it's a feature which sets out to showcase one film that combines horror with another genre. Each instalment will basically serve as a review of the film at hand, explaining why it’s such a good example of genre merging.
So far we've had Horror Plus Comedy: Shaun of the Dead, Horror Plus Sci-fi: Alien, Horror Plus Thriller: 28 Days Later and Horror Plus Crime: Se7en. And finally we come to our final installment which is Horror Plus Action.
So which film have we chosen which merges both the genres of horror and action so well? After much deliberation I decided to go with Stephen Norrington's excellent 1998 comic-book adaptation, Blade, starring Wesley Snipes as the titular vampire killer. Just an FYI, I almost went with its arguably more fun sequel, Blade II (directed by Guillermo del Toro, BTW), but opted for the original since I felt it better displayed the merging of the two genres (I think the sequel leans more heavily towards action instead of balancing the two).
(The following may contain moderate SPOILERS)
Written by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), the film follows a vampire killer named Blade who himself was born half-vampire (since his mother was bitten while she was pregnant with him). His mission is to rid the world of all vampires that cross his path, being equipped with all of the vampire's strengths but none of their weaknesses (except for the thirst for blood). With the help of Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) - the man who took him in when he was younger - and a new ally, Dr. Karen Johnson (N'Bushe Wright), Blade sets out to stop the vampire Deacon Frost from unleashing La Magra, the blood god, upon the world.
When Blade came along in the late '90s, it was a time when the comic book genre of movies looked dead after the disaster that was Batman & Robin. Many people think/consider the revival of the genre to have been X-Men in 2000, but really when you look back I think Blade was the one to kick things off again. Maybe it goes unnoticed in that way because it doesn't feel like a regular comic book adaptation, and probably the larger movie going audience wasn't even aware it was based on a comic book character at all.
Part of that is due to how the film feels, with it's dank and almost gothic look offset by some really gory scenes of violence and death. Much of that is caused by Blade himself, who I think is one of the most iconic and fun action characters to grace the screen in the last 15 years. Whenever Blade is just doing his thing, chopping up vampires, fighting hand-to-hand with them and so forth, it's just flat out entertaining.
But at the same time the film manages to be as much a horror film as it is an entertaining action movie, with buckets of blood being splattered everywhere, vampire bodies disintegrating and other, sometimes downright disturbing images. An example of the latter is when Blade visits a vampire called Pearl "the record keeper." He's basically a vampire version of Jabba the Hutt with a chipmunk-like voice. Blade uses a UV lamp to torture him until he gives him the information he needs, and if you've seen the film you'll know the disturbing parts I'm talking about (he gets more than a tan!).
What's important with a film like this is a great, well written, iconic and intimidating villain and Blade definitely has that with Deacon Frost, played brilliantly by Stephen Dorff (an actor we don't see enough of these days). I think it's one of the things that makes Blade stand out amongst its two sequels and other vampire films. I would love to see more of the character, perhaps in a film (or even a set of them) that focuses purely on him (which there has been rumblings of, FYI).
As with any film which I hold as a personal favorite, it really is hard to pick out a highlight scene. There's the fight scene in the map room kicked off with the deceptive girl with quick-kicking feet, and of course the amazing end sequence involving (inevitably) Blade and Frost. But for me the highlight of the film is actually right near the beginning, in the vampire nightclub:
A poor unknown guy is brought there by his "girlfriend" only to be drenched in blood from the sprinklers once in amongst all the blood-thirsty vampires. The film certainly doesn't shy away from letting you know right off the bat that it's going to be gory and pretty hardcore, definitely earning its R-rating. Of course, not long after the blood is turned on, our hero Blade arrives to kill as many vampires as possible. It's a fantastic scene that really sets the film onto the path it travels thereafter.
On a purely entertainment level, I would probably favor Blade II, but as an overall movie, particularly one that merges horror and action, I'd favor this, the first one in the trilogy (please don't bother with the third one, and if you already have, I think it's wise to do your best to wipe it from your memory :P ). I go back and rewatch this film every so often, and for good reason, I hope you'll agree.
Well that concludes Screen Rant Halloween related lead-up series "Horror Plus." I hope you've enjoyed reading the five installments, which altogether celebrate the merging of the horror genre with others.
Any thoughts on our last instalment, Horror Plus Action: Blade? Have you seen the movie and if so have you got any favorite moments/aspects of it that you'd like to share? Leave your thoughts and opinions below.
Happy Halloween everyone!