Now Streaming | The Best Monster Hunter Movies
Horror movies are a deliciously broad genre. Some films are about getting killed by monsters, and some films are about fighting back, and kicking the ass of one demon after another. These monster hunter movies are sometimes scary, sometimes cool, but when done right they are ALWAYS badass.
Time will tell whether this weekend’s release of The Last Witch Hunter will join the ranks of the best monster hunter movies ever made, but in the meantime you can catch up with five awesome films about heroic demon slayers online!
This week, Now Streaming lists the five best movies in the subgenre, and you can watch them all with just the click of a button. Sharpen your stakes, polish your silver, and get ready to take back the night…
Blade (HBO Go)
It would be very surprising indeed to discover that anyone behind the production of Blade thought it would become one of the most influential films in history. This film – based on Marvel’s vampire hunting half-vampire (played by Wesley Snipes) – was such an unexpected success at the box office that studios took notice, and began to produce superhero movies en masse, to the extent that they became the most lucrative genre in the world.
But at the time it came out, it was merely a pretty good supernatural action thriller about a hardened badass dispatched nosferatu and looking damn good in black leather while doing it. As such, Blade has aged a bit. Its two-dimensional characters and thin storyline, combined with its sunglasses-at-night rave culture aesthetic, practically makes it a relic. But it’s still a fun film about killing vampires, with some neat touches (the blood club, the gross makeup effects) that make it stand out.
Big Ass Spider! (Netflix)
By now everyone knows the “SyFy Original Movie” genre pretty well, and everyone knows that although they can sometimes be fun, they mostly suck. Lousy writing, cheap CGI, primitive production design, it’s as though the films that Mystery Science Theater 3ooo thrived on survived wholesale into the modern era, with nary a scratch on them. You can laugh at these movies, but you can hardly ever laugh with them.
But one of the exceptions is Mike Mendez’s Big Ass Spider!, an impressively witty monster movie about an exterminator (Greg Grunberg) who is enlisted to hunt a mutant arachnid that’s rapidly growing into the size of a skyscraper. It’s a silly idea and Big Ass Spider! knows it, but unlike the comparable Sharknado movies, it bothers treating the heroes seriously. Grunberg is a wonderfully unlikely hero, alternatively frightened and bemused by his situation, and Mendez makes the action kick big ass all on its own.
John Dies at the End (Netflix / Amazon Prime / Shudder)
From the inventive director of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep came this ambitious and exciting adaptation of the hit novel John Dies at the End, by David Wong. It’s a hallucinatory story about a pair of normal dudes who take the wrong drugs and wind up able to see into other dimensions, and maybe even the future, and use their newfound abilities to hunt monsters.
It’s such a clever movie, with great performances and visual effects and jokes, that it probably could have coasted entirely on charm. But instead of simply pitting our young heroes against one crazy monster after another (which happens anyway), John Dies at the End also tackles loftier ideas that – if you’re as high as the protagonists are – will probably blow your mind. If anything, you’ll have to watch it twice, partly because you had so much fun (of course) and partly to figure out what the heck really happened.
Sleepy Hollow (Netflix)
Tim Burton’s smart and unlikely revision of Washington Irving’s classic ghost story reimagines the cowardly teacher Ichabod Crane as a cowardly police detective, struggling to explain via science the unusual horrors befalling the title community, and ultimately forced to admit that a supernatural Headless Horseman might actually be on the warpath. He’s a monster hunter alright, but the kind of monster hunter who uses small children as a human shield because… well, come on, headless horsemen are scary.
Bolstered by a hilarious performance from Johnny Depp, and bogged down a bit by an unnecessarily complicated storyline, Burton’s Sleepy Hollow was a hit in its day but gradually developed an increasingly noteworthy cult following. The film’s sumptuous imagery and painstaking throwbacks to the gorgeous Hammer Horror movies of yore, combined with exciting action and bizarre historical revisionism, have solidified the movie’s reputation as one of Tim Burton’s best films. No small feat.
From the icy tundras of Norway came this unusual cult classic, which somehow manages to work as an intimate found footage horror thriller and a giant action epic simultaneously. A documentary film crew stumbles across a man with a very unusual job and starts following him around the country. He’s a troll hunter, and he’s on a mission to stop the enormous monstrosities from wreaking more havoc than usual.
With impressive action scenes and memorable beasts, Trollhunter briefly captured the horror audience’s imagination. An American remake was announced almost immediately, although it has yet to be produced. As the years go by, Trollhunter is talked about less and less by audiences worldwide, and that’s a shame. It’s one of the most distinctive and remarkable horror movies in recent years, and it kicks all kinds of ass. Watch it today.
Top Photo: New Line Cinema
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.