With the new blade movie set to begin production any day now, it’s clear fans are clamoring for that most satisfying of genre hybrids: action-horror.
They are a pairing that goes hand-in-hand because they both want audiences on the edge of their seat, hearts pounding out of their chests. It is impressive when an action movie can thrill audiences with its setpieces, but it is even more impressive when it can make popcorn leap from the hands of its audience. Ranker users have cast their votes to select some of the best examples of this hybrid genre.
Note: Ranker lists are live, and continue to accrue votes, so the order of this list may differ from the date of publication.
10 The Mummy (1999)
A box office smash upon its release, The Mummy is, without question, director Stephen Sommer’s best-known work. The plot follows Rick O’Connell, an adventurer who sets out to explore the City Of The Dead only to end up accidentally waking the long-dead Imhotep, a high priest with unearthly powers.
Boasting revolutionary visual effects for its time, The Mummy is a fast-paced and wildly entertaining movie, bolstered by campy performances and a cliche-ridden script of the finest variety. Despite splitting critics when first released, the movie has an endearing charm that has won the hearts of audiences and will continue to do so.
9 Blade (1998)
Written by David S. Goyer, who was involved in the writing of The Dark Knight Trilogy with Christopher Nolan, blade was released at a time when comic-book movies weren’t so serious. The plot follows Blade, played by Wesley Snipes, who, with the help of his mentor, must fight off an evil league of vampires.
Full to the brim with awesomely-implausible action scenes, blade gets the blood pumping while the blood’s spilling. morbius introduced several vampires to the MCU-adjacent Sonyverse, but blade brought Marvel’s creatures of the night to the screen much earlier. With his Gothic style and brooding manner, he left his mark on a whole generation and set comic-book movies on the path to be what they are today.
8 Predator (1987)
From famed action director John McTiernan, who went on to make Die Hard (1988) and The Hunt For Red October (1990), predator follows a group of soldiers, led by the scene-stealing Arnold Schwarzenegger, that find themselves prey to an elite hunter, deep in a Central American rainforest.
With an airtight script and enough machismo for even the most demanding of moviegoers, predator is a masterful display of both action and suspense. In the first half, there are plenty of explosions to satisfy the action fans. But, as the soldiers are caught on the back foot, the film becomes much more patient, and the dread is palpable. The climactic showdown between the Predator and Arnie is iconic.
7 Blade 2 (2002)
Blade 2 comes from the abundant imagination of Guillermo Del Toro, who gifted moviegoers with pans Labyrinth in 2007. The plot follows Blade, again played by Snipes who, along with his human allies, must work alongside an elite group of vampires, in order to prevent a genocide of humans.
With a plethora of familiar faces, like Ron Perlman or hellboy and Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead, the movie is a blast from start to finish. The action choreography is fantastic, and, as always, Perlman is the physical embodiment of cool. The horror, as would be expected from Del Toro, is top-notch. The atmosphere is thick enough to cut through, and the vampire designs are truly terrifying.
6 Predators (2010)
Releasing 20 years after 1990’s Predator 2, predators follows a group of mercenaries, led by Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, who wake up stranded on a mysterious jungle planet. Upon finding out that they have been abductred, they must get themselves back to Earth before being picked off by Predators.
A box-office success upon release, the movie brings the franchise back to the days of testosterone-fuelled carnage, but with some notably modern differences. It has a grimy aesthetic, which compliments the uncompromising brutality of the Predators. It also brings us a new breed of action stars. Gone are the days of hyper-masculine heroes. These heroes are fallible, altogether far more human.
5 #Alive (2020)
Despite being shot before the COVID-19 pandemic, the plot and social commentary found in #Alive seem very timely. It follows Oh Joon-woo, a live-stream gamer, who struggles to survive a zombie outbreak, all whilst trapped in the confines of his apartment.
Hitting number 1 on Netflix less than a week after its release, #Alive is most certainly a crowd pleaser. It boasts strong performances from all its cast, along with grisly practical effects and a mixture of bleak horror and gallows humor. What’s more, there’s a lot of depth to be found here beyond what’s in most zombie flicks.
4 The Terminator (1984)
From James Cameron, the director of the audacious but undeniably cheesy Titanic (1997), 1984’s The Terminator is absolute tonal whiplash. It follows Sarah Connor who, with the help of Kyle Reese, evades the titular Terminator, a cyborg from the future, sent to kill her and prevent her son from being born.
The movie boasts memorable performances on all sides. Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor starts out as rough-talking and vulnerable, but, by the end of the movie, is a worthy adversary to The Terminator. Speaking of which, Schwarzenegger is truly iconic in the role. His monotonous delivery and lifeless features make him one of the most effortlessly terrifying action villains of all time.
3 Train To Busan (2016)
From South Korea, a country not at all known for its moviemaking until recently, Train to Busan is a shining example of foreign horror. It follows a distant father and his young daughter aboard the titular train to Busan, as they struggle to survive a zombie outbreak.
Made for a fraction of the typical Hollywood budget, Train To Busan impressed audiences with its strong characters and emotionally-resonant story. Every performer brings their A-game, whether they’re a main player or a miscellaneous zombie, and it makes their characters all the more believable. It’s a movie that goes a mile a minute and never lets up.
2 28 Days Later (2002)
From the writer-director dream team of Alex Garland and Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later is a bona fide classic. It follows Jim, a bicycle courier who, after suffering a collision and falling into a coma, wakes up to find the world has fallen to a vicious disease: rage.
Because of its tiny budget, the movie was shot on handheld cameras, which actually work greatly to its advantage. It has a rough and ready aesthetic, setting it apart from slicker Hollywood fare, and the realistic dialogue and performances only accentuate this. It also introduced fast zombies into the mainstream, a trope that, whilst overdone now, was very innovative at the time.
1 Aliens (1986)
Despite dazzling us with his work on the Terminator franchise, James Cameron’s action-horror classic aliens is, for many, a cut above the rest. The plot follows Ellen Ripley, a space technician, who returns to defeat an onslaught of deadly Xenomorphs after a human colony is lost.
Wowing audiences with its unbelievable practical effects, aliens offers thrills and scares in equal measure. Sigourney Weaver’s performance as Ripley is iconic, offering moviegoers the ultimate girl boss; the film itself is one of cinema’s greatest creature features. The Xenomorph Queen, Ripley’s final foe, offers a real fight for her and a visual feast for fans.
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