film

Genre Blending: Is having your cake and eating it too much of a good thing?

Recently the trailer for Kurt Russell’s new Horror-Western film “Bone Tomahawk” surfaced online and it got me thinking, is genre blending always a good thing? In recent memory Hollywood has enjoyed a resurgence of interest in Genre films within the last five to ten years, surpassed only by the eighties’ love of this previously B level form of entertainment. Now that filmmaking technology has exploded into a multitude of visual possibilities movies that would have been laughed off, or renounced as cinema “junk” are earning the most buzz and the most money. Granted there is an argument to be made among cinephiles that these movies are still flawed and to be considered the junkfood of moviedom, but I disagree. Now that there is much more interest, and notably much more money, involved in the production of these films there has generated interest in high brow talent, not just Michael Bay and his explosions. How else do you think we almost got a “Wolverine” movie directed by Darren Aronofsky?  So, in the defense of Genre movies and their continued evolution ( i.e. “Pacific Rim”) here are my top picks of genre movies that have more than one traditional genre.

Tucker and Dale Versus Evil

I figure, its nearing that time of year when things traditionally go bump in the night, so why not start with a horror movie.. that’s also a rollicking comedy. “Tucker and Dale versus Evil” is one of my favorite movies with a horror spin to it. It is a wonderful flip of the traditional “hillbillies-in-the-woods-murder-college-youth” horror movie palette. In this tale, Tucker and Dale are but two good hearted rednecks that are just trying to enjoy a fishing trip at Tucker’s new “vacation cottage”, a ramshackle hole of spiderwebs and newspaper clippings of murders happening in the area over the last few years. As chance would have it a herd of brash obnoxious college kids arrive in the area for typical shenanigans at the same time. As Tucker and Dale are fishing in the moonlight one of the girls attending this skinny dipping is startled by the good ole boys and falls into the water, knocked unconscious. This is interpreted by her friends as an act of creepy villainy. And it goes from there, amid surprising gore and hearty laughter this flick is a great case of mistaken identities in the best ways possible, chainsaws and sawmills abound. If you haven’t seen this one yet, do yourself a favor and look it up!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Continuing the trend this next entry is admittedly less nuanced, in my opinion, than “Tucker and Dale” but nonetheless it delivers the spectacle it promises. That spectacle being Abraham Lincoln actually being a vampire killing badass. Remember, this movie came out months before Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”, oh what a diverse year of performances depicting our sixteenth president. In this historical, and fantastical, retelling of our beloved Lincoln’s story the civil war wasn’t just a fight between the North and South, but between Yankees and the confederate undead, yes, a vampire army. If you can get past this premise and enjoy the film, then you will probably get a kick out of Lincoln swinging his, apparently trademark, silver axe like a baton, murdering hordes of filthy confederate vampires. It’s worth a watch at the very least.

Cowboys and Aliens

Some might say this movie is an example of what not to do when melding genres so obviously, but I really don’t know how you could tackle a title like this one and do any better to be honest. Personally, I quite enjoyed this flick. Directed by Jon Favreau, after the “Iron Man” films, this film not only features a stellar cast, Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Sam Rockwell, but delivers its tonal changes well. Favreau shot the Western heavy portions on film, on location, in traditional framing and shot sequencing. When the *spoiler* alien spaceship becomes part of the locations, the angles switch to typical sci-fi standards, the color palette even changes in these scenes as well. Now, the aliens’ motivations aren’t the most well explained, or best reasoned, but hey, I bought it within the rules and context that the film had established by that point in the film. Check it out if you haven’t seen it, it’s a fun romp through both genres, and the performances are solid.

Outlander

This movie (not the series by the same name) didn’t make a splash when it was released, but after stumbling across it a few years later I wondered why I hadn’t heard of it at the time, because I thought this to be quite the gem of a movie. Set during the Viking age in Scandinavia the movie follows a human, Jim Caviezal (Jesus from “The Passion”), from a far off (offworld that is) human colony that has followed a treacharous monster to Earth. Among the vikings are Ron Perlman and John Hurt who seem to be having fun with the material. As Caviezal’s character tracks the beast he encounters these vikings, from there you can probably surmise what happens next, the Vikings catch Caviezal, he has to earn their trust, the monster shows up to wreck stuff and kill people, then they believe him and together they hunt the intergalactic alien down. Fun stuff. As an admitted lover of anything sci-fi this movie had me from the beginning. The action is great as it happens and the pace is steady. Definitely a fun one to dig up and enjoy if you can find it, I highly recommend it for a rainy day.

There are a litany of other movies I could keep describing and saying, “go watch this!” but this is a fun collection of films that I know I loved, hopefully you will too. Some honorable mentions are the obvious Cornetto Trilogy from Edgar Wright, seriously if you haven’t seen “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, or “The World’s End” then stop what you’re doing and watch those, they are absolutely wonderful. But, I know there are a fair amount of failures out there too when it comes to messing with a blend of genres, because for every “Blazing Saddles” out there, there’s an “A Million Ways to Die in The West” to counteract it. So get out there fellow cinephiles! Challenge yourself and watch something you normally wouldn’t! You might just come across your new favorite movie. Thanks for reading!

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