Fiendish face-offs: horror crossovers compiled!

Examining the history of horror crossovers in the wake of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

(L-r) GODZILLA and KONG in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GODZILLA VS. KONG,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures release. © 2021 LEGENDARY AND WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. GODZILLA TM & © TOHO CO., LTD.
(L-r) GODZILLA and KONG in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GODZILLA VS. KONG,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures release. © 2021 LEGENDARY AND WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. GODZILLA TM & © TOHO CO., LTD. /

Godzilla and Kong might be the latest genre titans to face off on the big screen in The New Empire, but they're certainly not the first. Fans have always argued about who would win in a fight between their favorite characters, but every now and then Hollywood gets in on the action with a crossover film! Here are some of the most important, most interesting and most oddball franchise mash-ups to date!

Universal Monster Mashes

Frankenstein and Wolfman Fighting
Frankenstein and Wolfman Fighting / George Rinhart/GettyImages

Universal Studios paved the way for franchise horror starting in the 1930s and continuing on through the 1950s. The output during that time included plenty of one-offs, but also some of the most beloved and iconic scare characters like Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man and the Creature From The Black Lagoon. Though continuity was not taken into account as much back then, each Universal Monster started off with their own series and then started squaring off in 1943's Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man.

Lon Chaney Jr. returned as the furry fiend while Bela Lugosi stepped into the monsters thick boots, though it's generally assumed Frankenstein's creation was played by a stunt man during the fight scenes. Still this outing proved successful enough that it lead to House Of Frankenstein and House Of Dracula in 1944 and 1945 respectively. Both films saw Chaney wolf it up again, Glenn Strange come in as Frankenstein's Monster and John Carradine play Dracula. The idea proved fruitful enough to bring many of the players into the comedy Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein in 1948, but with Bela Lugosi returning to the famous cape as Dracula.

Kaiju Carnage

Given that his current U.S. incarnation is leading the way with box office team-ups, it feels appropriate that Godzilla got in on that action over 50 years ago. By 1968 the terrible thunder lizard had starred in 8 films in 14 years. He'd taken on all comers, including King Kong and Mothra. There had even been multiple monster moments involving Rodan and the others, but Destroy All Monsters took it all to the next level by including Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Ghidorah, Anguirus and many more.

This cast of kaiju did not just feature Godzilla's former sparring partners, but stars of their own films. Rodan debuted in a 1956 self-titled film before Toho integrated the flying dino into the Godzilla mythos. The studio did the same thing with the star of 1961's Mothra. And, while Ghidora: The Three-Headed Monster sounds like a solo film, the title character fought Godzilla in it.

Destroy All Monsters also includes Anguirus from Godzilla Raids Again (1956), Varan from Varan The Unbelievable (1958), Baragon from Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965) and both Kumonga and Minilla from Son Of Godzilla (1967). Since then, the various Godzilla films have mixed and matched a number of different iconic creatures, but Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) also stands out as another monster jamboree for fans of the genre. These films also went on to inspire Legendary's Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, Godzilla vs. Kong and New Empire.

Slash Of The Titans

Much like how Godzilla and his giant monster pals ruled horror in the days of yore, slashers became kings of the horror castle in the 80s. Everyone had their favorites and plenty of conversations have been had extolling the virtues of one over the other. But the real question remained: who would win in a fight? Well after the slasher boom had quieted down, fans got an answer thanks to 2003's Freddy Vs. Jason. This particular match-up had been foreshadowed at the very end of Jason Goes To Hell when that classic clawed hand reached up and pulled the hockey mask into hell.

The Ronny Yu-helmed film found Freddy Krueger's influence on the wane after his legacy had been essentially erased by the parents of his victims. With kids no longer afraid of him, Krueger had no nightmares to fuel. Freddy brought Jason Voorhees back and sent him on a slasher spree through Springwood. The ensuing scream dreams helped Freddy return, but then he became angry that Jason was getting all the credit, resulting in one epic bash between the two icons. Speaking of which, this film marks the last time that Robert Englund played Freddy on the silver screen and the only time Ken Kirzinger portrayed Jason.

A movie like this, one that had been highly anticipated for years, would most likely fall short of expectations and it did for many fans. It certainly didn't help that Freddy Vs. Jason embraced so many of the stylistic embellishments and horror tropse prominent in studio horror of that time. There was a planned sequel, though, called Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, bringing in Bruce Campbell's Evil Dead character. While that movie did not get made, it was turned into a comic of the same name which came out from DC imprint Wildstorm in 2008 with a follow-up subtitled The Nightmare Warrior out the following year. Also, if you're interested in the many failed attempts at getting these two on the big screen together check out this section's namesake, Slash Of The Titans: The Road To Freddy Vs. Jason by Dustin McNeill.

Sci-Fi Monsters Collide

As with Freddy Vs. Jason, this next installment also got teased in a sequel, but was also showcased in other media as well. Eagle-eyed viewers noted that the ship in Predator 2 included a xenomorph skull on the trophy wall while Dark Horse Comics published its first Alien Vs. Predator comic in 1990. An arcade game of the same name followed in 1994, the same year a novel series launched featuring the two deadly aliens. So, unlike a lot of other big screen crossovers, fans had seen how this could play out a number of ways before the film version came out in 2004.

Though this continuity has since been abandoned, this story helmed by Paul W.S. Anderson set down roots on Earth that integrated aspects of both the Alien and Predator franchises. However, had bets been taken on the film's plot, few would have guessed that it would revolve around Predators building temples on ancient Earth and using a captured xenomorph queen to birth worthy challengers for their warriors to test themselves against. Once more, many fans who had been dreaming of this meet-up were left unsatisfied, but the film has a certain charm to it. The same can not be said for its sequel, 2007's Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem which is shot in such a dark, shaky way that it's hard to tell what's happening as the creatures run through a small U.S. town.

The Full Moon-iverse

Having seen the other horror showdowns, producer Charles Band got in on the action through his Full Moon Features. After years of building launching franchises like Puppet Master, Demonic Toys, Evil Bong, Gingerdead Man and many others, the characters started crossing over, creating a shared universe.

In 2004, Syfy licensed the first two and released Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys. If you're not familiar with either property, they're both pretty self-explanatory. The Puppet Master series follows a bunch of killer marionettes brought to life by an Egyptian incantation serving the Toulon family. As you might expect, the Demonic Toys franchise revolves around children's items that have been possessed by the denizens of hell.

Puppets Six Shooter, Blade, Jester and Pinhead star in the film opposite Corey Feldman who carried on the Toulon name as a doll repair person along with his daughter. The picture features Feldman trying to play an older man, a foul-mouthed baby doll, a demon with Flash-like speed and cybernetically enhanced puppets! Some might write this one off, but there are still some echoes of director Ted Nicolaou's underseen 80s fever dream TerrorVision.

In 2013, Full Moon released Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong, bringing together the killer cookie and the wrathful water pipe. Among other connections, this crossover also includes a character named Rabbit (Sonny Carl Davis) who originated in Trancers 2 and has gone on to become a recurring character in the Evil Bong series. Band directed this meet-up and fully embraced the exploitative nature of both series with a script that doesn't pull punches as it thrashes about. And don't worry, if you haven't seen the other films, this one presents extensive flashbacks featuring Tommy Chong and Gary Busey. As with the next film, you probably already know whether you want to watch this movie just from the title.

The Killer Animal Crossover

Over the years, Syfy has pitted all manner of creatures against each other, but in 2015, the network did so with two franchises that debuted in the 1990s as fun killer animal flicks. That was a strange time for horror with plenty of studio swings at the genre, but not many are considered classics today. Still, they can be fun to spend a few hours with. And thus, Lake Placid Vs. Anaconda was spawned.

You might be surprised to learn that the original movies spawned 8 sequels between them, including this one which pits the former franchise's killer crocs -- NOT alligators -- against the latter's giant snakes. In fact this face-off marked Yancy Butler's third appearance in a Lake Placid and Robert Englund's second!

The resulting film is...not good. It's filled with stock characters who range from purely sweet to patently sociopathic facing off against the most obviously CGIed animals you've ever done seen. And yet, if you can look past that, there are a few wild kills. Like the time an anaconda pops a croc or the time when a snake whips its tail so fast that it cuts a croc in half. Again, it seems likely that you know right now just from reading this whether you'd like this movie, so follow your heart.

And really, all of this just feels like the tip of the iceberg and it's only covering mostly U.S. films. The Ring and The Grudge crossed over with Sadako vs. Kayako. Beyond that, with the further conglomeration of media companies, it seems inevitable that more horror properties will wind up under the same banner and then in the same movies. We just hope the results are good!

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