The Top 10 Horror Comics Adaptations

The success, both critical and commercial, of Hellboy II: The Golden Army may be a little overshadowed by other more prominent comic book properties like Iron Man and The Dark Knight this summer, but it definitely deserves a place right alongside them. Mike Mignola’s irresistibly funky comic masterpiece has inspired a bona fide motion picture franchise–the second one might be even better than the first, if you ask me. There haven’t been all that many movies over the years that were based on horror-themed comic books (if anyone at DC is reading this, we need a “Demon” movie, pronto!), but The Golden Army is definitely one of the best. Aside from that one, what would be the top ten, in my opinion? Well I’m glad you asked…

The Top 10 Horror Comics Adaptations

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10. Spawn (1997)


He may be a superhero, but much like HB, he’s a horror-themed superhero. And the movie based on him is without doubt one of the most underrated in the pantheon of comic book cinema. For one thing, John Leguizamo is spot-on as the Violator. While not a classic, this one just doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

9. The Vault of Horror (1973)


While not as solid as its predecessor Tales from the Crypt, this second EC Comics-based flick is still pretty damn good. You’ve got guest appearances by the likes of Tom “Dr. Who” Baker, Denholm “Marcus Brody” Elliott and Dr. Phibes’ Terry-Thomas, so how could it not be entertaining? And no, the name of my blog in no way influenced this choice…

8. Swamp Thing (1982)


A truly great Swamp Thing movie has yet to be made, but this Wes Craven effort is still appealing in a creepy, quirky sort of way. Though flawed, it definitely beats the hell out of the movie based on that other bog-dwelling behemoth, Man-Thing.

7. Tales from the Crypt (1972)


Years before it ever became a hit HBO series, the greatest horror comic of all time inspired this British effort. It features the great Peter Cushing in one of his last horror roles, plus you’ve also got Hellboy II’s very own King Balor, Roy Dotrice. The legendary Sir Ralph Richardson, never above genre work, plays the Crypt Keeper.

6. Constantine (2005)


A lot of fun, but it divides fans for one simple reason: it’s not terribly faithful to the original DC/Vertigo book Hellblazer on which it’s based. If you can get past that, it’s a pretty decent way to pass a couple of hours.

5. 30 Days of Night (2007)


I’ll never stop being mystified at the pounding this movie took from a lot of fans, but you can count me among those who considered it a fresh and interesting vampire film at a time when fresh and interesting horror movies of any kind are hard to come by. Yes, the Steve Niles comic series was a lot better, but this was still an effectively brooding and visually powerful effort.

4. From Hell (2001)


The best movie made from the work of brilliant comics writer Alan Moore (although that may change with next year’s Watchmen film.) The only thing that hurts it is the painful performance of the vacuous Heather Graham. Moore may have disapproved of the flick, but he’s kind of a wacko.

3. Blade (1998)


Another horror-themed superhero movie, Blade doesn’t get enough credit for truly helping to kick off the comic-book movie craze, a full two years before Bryan Singer’s X-Men. Blade may have been a fairly minor Marvel character created by Marv Wolfman in the `70s, but soon-to-be-prisoner Wesley Snipes’ portrayal of the vampire warrior in this blood-soaked action-fest made him an icon.

2. Hellboy (2004)


In terms of translating a comic book directly to the screen, only Sin City can hold a candle to Guillermo del Toro’s visionary adaptation. No one since Christopher Reeve has literally become the comics character they portrayed like Ron Perlman as big Red. And you can rank Hellboy II right up here with this one, as far as I’m concerned. Here’s hoping we get a third ASAP.

and finally, the number-one horror-comic adaptation….

1. Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)


Novelist/philosopher Umberto Eco has said of Tiziano Sclavi’s Dylan Dog series, on which this zombie classic was based, “I can read the Bible, Homer or Dylan Dog for several days without being bored.” It’s the best-selling Italian comic book of all time, and it inspired the last great Italian zombie movie. Martin Scorsese has called it one of the best movies of the `90s, and it’s definitely one of the best horror movies of that decade. Dark Horse put out English reprints some years back, with none other than Mike Mignola providing the covers (paisans stick together).

For more news and opinions on the world of horror, including how the genre will be represented at the Emmys, a look at the racism of H.P. Lovecraft, and the first part of the history of horror television, check out Brian’s daily blog, The Vault of Horror, at thevaultofhorror.net