When people step into the theater for an adventure movie, they hunger for thrilling escapades packed with heart-racing action, mind-blowing setpieces, and heartwarming moments between their treasured actors. But every now and then, they also yearn for a spine-tingling chill, and that’s where the adventure horror subgenre comes alive. Adventure horror movies fuse the swashbuckling aura of classic adventures with bone-chilling tales and haunting visuals, crafting a fusion that ignites our darkest imaginations.
While The Mummy may spring to mind as the most renowned and adored adventure horror flick, there exist a plethora of movies that came before and after, molding the genre into what it is today. Films like Army of Darkness and Tremors dared to venture into the unknown, delivering petrifying horror experiences while still weaving epic narratives. Conversely, movies such as Van Helsing and Kong: Skull Island perfectly captured the spirit of adventure, while infusing a dash of terror.
If you’re intrigued, make sure to dive into the captivating world of your favorite horror adventure movies of all time. And don’t miss the chance to explore The Best Crime Horror Movies of All Time, The Best Horror Comedies of All Time, and The Best Horror Musicals of All Time, to unearth some of the most extraordinary hybrid horror subgenres that the world of cinema has to offer.
1. The Mummy
The Mummy, released in 1999, is a true embodiment of a horror adventure film. It takes the audience on a thrilling journey into the terrifying unknown, while also offering a delightful display of action-packed sequences and witty dialogue. With Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in the lead roles, this exceptional action film strikes the perfect balance between horror and adventure, appealing to fans of both genres without pandering to either. It’s safe to say that The Mummy is unparalleled in its genre and stands as one of the greatest horror adventures ever made.
2. Army of Darkness
The third installment in the Evil Dead franchise is Army of Darkness. Unlike the first film, this one takes a different approach. It embraces the wacky, absurd, and hilarious tone of Evil Dead II, while also incorporating a fantasy background. Originally called Midevil Dead, this movie offers horror fans an incredibly fun adventure with the beloved character Ash Williams. He finds himself in the past and desperately tries to find a way back home. Although it may not be as action-packed as other films, Army of Darkness stands out as one of the first horror movies to create a grand and epic adventure.
3. Van Helsing
Van Helsing was intrigued by the success of 1999’s The Mummy, which had a glooming, sinister, daring, and adventurous vibe. He decided to fully invest in the emerging horror adventure subgenre, but the outcome was a bit of a mixed bag. Although the film didn’t reach the blockbuster status that many had anticipated, it has gained a huge cult following in the past two decades since its release. This can be attributed to its unwavering dedication to the genre, its introduction of fantastical characters, and the undeniable charm and charisma that radiates from the film from start to finish.
Tremors, an early film that tried to blend horror, adventure, and Western elements, remains a top-notch creature feature even after three decades. Taking place in the quaint town of Perfection, the story revolves around monstrous creatures emerging from underground, determined to wreak havoc and obliterate everything in their way. In order to survive, the town’s residents are forced to go to great lengths. What sets Tremors apart from other creature features is its emphasis on genuine emotion rather than mindless killing. The film skillfully demonstrates how to build tension while maintaining a lighthearted and energetic atmosphere.
5. The Mummy Returns
1999’s The Mummy was a massive hit, so it was no surprise when a sequel, The Mummy Returns, came out in 2001. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The film was bigger, badder, and more bombastic in every way possible. It gave fans exactly what they wanted – more of the same, but with an extra dose of extravagance.
Sure, The Mummy Returns may not be as original as the first one, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a prime example of how to create a sequel that’s both fun and energetic. It doesn’t get weighed down by the pressure of living up to expectations or trying to outdo its predecessor. Instead, it simply aims to give everyone watching a damn good time. And boy, does it succeed.
6. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is an extraordinary mix of horror, thriller, fantasy, action, adventure, and science-fiction. This comic book film is truly bizarre and confounding, but it has managed to gather a massive cult following. The story revolves around a group of individuals who are up against Victorian-era monstrosities, determined to conquer the world. The film cleverly reimagines the classic Universal Monster characters in completely unique situations. While it may be overwhelming at times, the movie offers an unforgettable experience that will stay with audiences forever.
7. Kong: Skull Island
Monster movies of the 2010s tried to make a big comeback in popular culture, but the results were mixed. However, one film that stood out was 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. This movie told the familiar story of King Kong, but it didn’t take itself too seriously. Instead, it aimed to be a thrilling and action-packed experience, with huge setpieces, exciting adventures, and moments of intense terror. In my opinion, it’s one of the most enjoyable monster movies of its time and deserves more recognition than it currently receives.
8. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
In the Hellboy franchise, the first installment caused a lot of division among fans. But in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, director Guillermo del Toro made a drastic tonal shift. He moved away from the brooding pseudo-horror and embraced full-blown action horror, and it turned out to be a great decision.
Del Toro managed to maintain the overall vibe of the original while infusing a much more lighthearted and adventurous atmosphere. This change worked wonders for the film, making it more enjoyable and captivating. The moments of true terror became even more impactful in this new setting.
Blade, one of Marvel Studios’ early ventures into horror on the big screen, has become a beloved work due to its commitment to both absurdity and adventure. Although the film leans more towards horror with its graphic depictions of murder and mayhem, it still manages to maintain the trademark Marvel vibe. The movie takes us to grand sweeping locations, transports us to far-off lands, and ultimately creates an atmosphere that is both fun and frightening.
Underworld is a highly successful and much-loved horror adventure film that was released in 2003, and many consider it to be the best in the entire series. It’s a sprawling gothic epic that revolves around vampires and werewolves battling each other. The movie is a goth fantasy packed with lots of leather, rebellious soundtracks, and an overall dark and edgy vibe. It’s a really enjoyable watch that you can just sit back and relax with, without having to think too much. Underworld is surprisingly entertaining and will take audiences on a thrilling journey through its numerous sequels and spinoffs.
11. Blade II
After the smashing triumph of the first Blade, Marvel Studios took a bold leap by bringing Guillermo del Toro on board to helm Blade II. The result? A fantastic transformation that introduced us to an array of monstrous and awe-inspiring creatures, alongside a cast of beloved characters who quickly won the hearts of fans. Unfortunately, this exhilarating adventure didn’t achieve the same level of success at the box office, marking the end of an era where the Blade franchise dared to take such daring risks.