5 Great Movie Genre Mash-Ups
Since Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead was first unleashed on the world, you can’t go a year without finding half-a-dozen horror-comedies (Zombieland, Dead Snow etc.) on the release schedule. Genre mash-ups are big business, automatically infusing tired genres with new ideas that suggest nifty titles like Cowboys vs. Aliens and Cockneys vs. Zombies.
And with the return of Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and co. for The World’s End this summer, we’re surely in store for another seamless blend of two opposing genres – this time sci-fi and comedy. The trick seems to be that, from Shaun to Hot Fuzz and now the third in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, the filmmakers are just as in love with cinema as their fans.
To celebrate the release of The World’s End, here are five more brilliant genre mash-ups (though there are many, many more) to revisit and enjoy:
Whoever it was who thought of staging a heist movie inside the human mind was a genius, and the idea was translated into lots and lots of cash when Inception hit theatres a couple of years ago. Although director Christopher Nolan had already built a reputation with the Dark Knight franchise, at the time, absolutely no one expected a summer blockbuster with such an original concept to be such a success. I myself have a serious soft spot for heist movies, and the genius of Inception was the futuristic twist it gave to that genre. A similar mash-up was attempted this summer with Now You See Me to much more mixed results.
The space western has become a legitimate sub-genre since George Lucas unleashed his uber-iconic sci-fi on the world, but back in 1977 it must have seemed like a completely bonkers idea. While the legacy may now be all but trashed (but hopefully mended with a new trilogy), its influence on genre cinema can’t be overstated. Sadly, for every Empire Strikes Back and Serenity, there’s a Wild Wild West or Jonah Hex, so it’s understandable why they’re so few and far between. A recent example was Cowboys and Aliens, which also sadly failed to set the world alight, and The Lone Ranger may have just put the final nail in the coffin of off-beat westerns.
A recent example of Shaun of the Dead’s influence on horror cinema, with this year’s zom-rom-com Warm Bodies taking that film’s lead and going one step further. Parodying the ridiculousness of various teen fantasy films such as Twilight, the movie managed the impossible and kept a foot in both world’s – pleasing fans of teen romance movies as well as those who think such things ridiculous tosh (a not insignificant portion of the world). Sadly, it hasn’t stopped other films from trying to claim the YA romance crown.
Every horror sub-genre seems to have pilfered the documentary mash-up from Blair Witch Project over the years, making the found-footage film worthy of genre status in and of itself. Even though it wasn’t strictly the first to use the technique to support and heighten existing scares, the film was a revelation at the time of release and the publicity trail made great use of the concept to fool an uninitiated audience. Since then we’ve had countless imitators like Cloverfield, REC, The Last Exorcism and the Paranormal Activity franchise – this is one trend that looks like it’ll live forever.
We take it for granted now, but the fact that Ridley Scott’s Alien is referred to as a horror movie just as often as a sci-fi isn’t something film buffs can easily ignore. Though it obviously wasn’t the first time science-fiction concepts and imagery had been used to frighten an audience, Alien was masterful in its execution, with a sense of terror and suspense to rival the scariest horror movie. The endless Alien vs. Predator sequels may have damaged the legacy somewhat – along with last year’s needless prequel, Prometheus – but the quality of this first in the franchise can never be tarnished.