Horror mashups have become increasingly popular in recent years, although they have always existed. Whether they combine genres, characters or simply mash together the monsters themselves, they’re always out there. Recently, of course, we had the literary mashup craze led by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which naturally led to Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and so many other things, including Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter which was of course adapted into a feature film.
Mashups of genres are commonplace now. You see recut trailers popping up on YouTube every single day—although Scary Mary and Shining! are pretty hard to top. Then you have the mashups of the monsters themselves which, I’m sure, will never disappear. These things kicked off in the ‘40’s with Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein. They’ve only grown since, with classics like The Munsters and various cartoons and specials over the years, not to mention their cereal counterparts.
Fans love to see things they love combine and meshed together in any way they can. It’s an interest that’s almost universal. Some of the mashups we’ll be looking at are pretty famous, but perfectly represent why these things work. Others are not as well-known, but really should be. And there are some that are just so out-of-left-field and unexpected that they simply had to be included.
Kanye West: Reanimator
Kanye’s journey into the reanimation of dead tissue is the most recent thing on this list, having only made its debut within the past month. It ironically reanimates the all but dead literary mashup genre by going back to Lovecraft’s original text and swiping out Herbert for a new, more successful West. This is sure to be an underground hit and is the first of hopefully many more from YOLO House Publishing.
Zombies are injected into everything these days, whether they should be or not. But this is one of the strangest, going back to Eric Carl’s classic children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The most bizarre thing, though, is that it is done in such a similar style with such similar artwork that it is almost the same book. Either way, this could be great for introducing kids to horror or for traumatizing your young children.
Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman, is one of the most definitive genre mashups of all time. It has a specific focus on vampires but it uses that focus to create an in-depth mythology featuring cameos from every vampire you can imagine from Dracula himself to Orlok from Nosferatu, Barlow from Salem’s Lot, Martin from the George Romero film of the same name, Lestat, Barnabas Collins, and Mamuwalde from Blacula. Everyone either appears or gets mentioned in this alternate history in which Dracula won at the end of the novel and proceeded to marry Queen Victoria and claim England as his own.
Semi-satirical, often melancholy, A Night in the Lonesome October is essential Halloween reading that brings together many characters, events and places from the classic literary horror canon. While the primary focus is on Jack the Ripper, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Victor Frankenstein and Sherlock Holmes all make appearances in this book which is structured to have a chapter for each day in the month of October.
Mad Monster Party should be a perennial classic akin to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman. It should be played every October in rotation with The Great Pumpkin. It’s a shame that it isn’t more beloved and I would hate to see this Claymation classic, featuring just about every monster you could imagine as well as the voice of Boris Karloff and so many others, fade into obscurity.
It’s hard to imagine that people aren’t aware of this one by now, but Penny Dreadful makes the list to show just how much impact these stories still have. The unique thing about Penny Dreadful is that the characters from classic literature, like Victor Frankenstein and Mina Murray, are there to aid the ongoing narrative but not to define it, as the core focus still appears to be on the original characters.
Can it really be topped? For horror fans, especially those that saw it at a young age, this is it. The Monster Squad is the pinnacle of classic monster mashups. It’s not just the fact that all the Universal monsters are present and accounted for. It’s the fact that they’re pitted against modern-day monster worshipping kids who have constantly daydreamed and fantasized about what they would do in exactly this situation. It’s a movie that speaks to every young horror fan.