Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Animation makes everything better. Okay, that might be a bit of exaggeration, but let’s face it, there’s a reason we enjoy animated movies; they’re like a magic trick. We don’t have to look too deeply into what makes it work, we just enjoy the finish product.
Animating a film also gives the story’s creator the freedom to do things that aren’t possible with live action (or at the very least, very expensive to pull off) and when it comes to horror that freedom to go big and bloody means we fans get to enjoy our favourite genre in a totally different and delightful way.
Here are my Top 5 Favorite Animated Horror Movies for Adults:
#5 Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter
If you’ve read Alan Moore’s graphic novel The Watchmen, you’ll know among its many genius narrative choices is that there’s a story within a story. Throughout the main plot, a young boy reads a comic called Tales of the Black Freighter where a mariner survives a pirate attack and struggles to make his way home while facing horrifying odds. This animated adaptation of the story was actually co-written by none other than Zack Snyder himself who also cast Gerard Butler as the voice of the Sea Captain when he couldn’t find a role for him in his Watchmen movie.
Unlike the others listed here, Tales of the Black Freighter is not a feature length film but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good story. With artwork that brings the grisly tale to macabre life, this 20-minute short works well as a standalone animated horror tale or, for the completionist out there, a nice companion piece to the Watchmen movie.
#4 Dante’s Inferno
I’ve always wondered why we don’t have more movies centered around the story of Dante’s Inferno. The epic saga of a man who journeys through the nine circles of Hell to free his love Beatrice, it’s the kind of story tailor-made for adaptation, which is exactly what was done in this animated tale. The film features a couple of intriguing twists thrown in and varying animated styles representing the changes in environment, plus a multi-talented voice cast made up of stars like Graham McTavish, Mark Hamill and Kevin Michael Richardson, just to name a few.
Dante’s Inferno may not have been able to maintain its energy and passion throughout (the conclusion feels a bit anticlimactic) but this anime-styled tale of love, regret and redemption is definitely worth a look.
#3 Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)
An oldie but a goodie, Vampire Hunter D (1985) was the first Japanese anime I ever saw and it’s the movie that made me fall in love with the art style. The follow up, Bloodlust dropped 15 years later but this only meant the animation would be smoother, sharper and more jaw dropping than its predecessor.
A half vampire half human simply known as D is hired to bring back the daughter of a rich lord when she’s seemingly abducted. Of course like any great story there’s so much more going on here and Bloodlust beautifully delivers both with its animation and its story. I’ve revisited this movie time and time again and it never fails to entertain. It’s a damn shame live action vampire movies aren’t this good.
#2 Seoul Station
Did you enjoy Train to Busan? What am I saying, of course you did! But did you ever want to see what it would look like animated?
Look no further than Seoul Station, an animated prequel to Busan (the events here take place one day earlier). We all know the best zombie movies are the ones that explore the personalities and actions of the living while delivering hordes of undead carnage to keep the tension flowing. And, like Train to Busan, Seoul Station gives you people to root and care for and people you can’t wait to see get their just desserts.
A brutal mix of zombies and social commentary (Patient Zero is a homeless man who triggers the plague), the animation is excellent, with artwork that goes the extra mile to make the characters look authentic to the location. If undead mayhem is your bag, Seoul Station is one you won’t want to miss.
#1 Berserk: The Golden Age Arcs I-III
Yes I’m cheating by including all three films, but any fan of Berserk will tell you the same thing— this trilogy fits so well together you can enjoy it as one long, and extremely epic movie.
Anime and horror go together like peanut butter and jelly; it just works and if I wanted to this entire list could’ve been made up of just that. It wasn’t easy to choose mind you, with the likes of Attack on Titan, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and Elfen Lied out there, the list of fantastic anime horror is a long and vast one.
But I had to go with the one that stuck with me the most and that honour goes to Berserk: The Golden Age Arc. Think Game of Thrones with a ton more gore and a much more satisfying story which follows a young mercenary known as Guts who, with his gigantic sword (that’s not a euphemism, it’s an actual sword and it’s comically large), joins a group called Band of the Hawk. Their leader is the charismatic Griffith and to say any more would be to spoil a truly amazing movie(s). I mean have you ever watched an animated movie that was SO good you forgot it was animated? You’re complete sucked into this world, its characters and the hellish nightmare that engulfs them all. As animated horror goes, you would be hard pressed to find any better than these stellar films.
Recently we’ve seen a kind of resurgence in animated horror geared towards an older audience with the likes of Castlevania, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf and The Spine of Night just to name a few. Each one entertaining in their own right, I can’t wait to see what else the animated world has in store for the world of horror.
So that’s my list. Are you a fan of any of these? Any films you would add? And you can check out more great horror-themed animated content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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