A Guide to Superhero Horror Movies

‘Brightburn’ is the latest addition to a sub-genre filled with misfortune and interesting movies.
By  · Published on May 22nd, 2019

Darkman (1990)


Following the success of his Evil Dead movies, Sam Raimi set out to make a lifelong dream come true: direct a superhero movie. Initially, he set his sights on Batman and The Shadow, but he was still unproven in the mainstream and studios weren’t willing to take a gamble on the young buck. Instead of pursuing other established superheroes afterward, Raimi decided to create his own character. Darkman was born.

In the movie, Liam Neeson plays a deformed scientist who develops a synthetic skin and becomes an avenger. His targets: the criminal thugs who turned him into a hideous monster. The set-up is familiar, but Raimi peppers the movie with Universal Monster and Grand Guignol influences to give his superhero opus a truly demented feel. And let’s not forget about the violence, either — it’s crazy compared to other mainstream flicks of this ilk. The movie also spawned two direct-to-video sequels: The Return of Durant and Die Darkman Die. Neither Neeson nor Raimi returned for the follow-ups, but they’re both entertaining slices of bargain bin action fare nonetheless.

Doctor Mordrid (1992)

Doctor Mordrid

Before Doctor Strange was a star in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Charles Band and Full Moon Entertainment ripped off the character. The original plan was to make a Marvel Comics adaptation of their own, but the studio lost the film rights before they had a chance to make the movie. Of course, this didn’t stop Band and friends from making their own superhero flick inspired by the Master of the Mystic Arts anyway.

Starring Jeffrey Combs as the eponymous magician, the story sees our hero tasked with defending Earth from an evil sorcerer. What ensues is a delightfully odd fantasy adventure that remains one of the best movies ever released by Full Moon.

The Crow (1994)

The Crow

Alex Proyas’ adaptation of James O’Barr’s graphic novel about a reincarnated rock star out to avenge the lover’s murder is an enthralling supernatural vigilante tale that boasts plenty of R-rated action and stunning Gothic visuals. At the film’s core, however, is a tragic love story that will touch the feels of anyone with a heart. Not only is it the best horror-adjacent superhero movie ever made, but it’s also one of the greatest superhero movies period.

Brandon Lee’s tragic death during filming also adds an emotional gravitas to this one which makes it more than just a typical action romp. The Crow’s entire legacy is steeped in real-life misfortune, but in a strange way, that’s what gives the movie its soul. The less said about the terrible sequels, though, the better.

Spawn (1997)


In the ’90s, the Spawn comics were so popular that they were even outselling Spider-Man at one point. That was unprecedented for indie titles back then. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before movie studios came calling to bring the popular Image Comics property to the big screen.

Spawn revolves around a government assassin who, after being viciously murdered by his employers, is resurrected as a demonic anti-hero. He agrees to serve Hell in order to see his wife again, but when he learns that his new employers want to usher in the end of days, he decides to defend humanity instead. Like the film’s toasty hero, Spawn was scorned upon release and flopped at the box office. However, it really isn’t as bad as the naysayers would have you believe, either.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.