7 superhero horror movies you’ve probably never seen

Sam Ashurst
'Brightburn' isn't the first superhero horror movie (credit: Sony Pictures)

With Brightburn soaring (or sinking) into cinemas, you’d be forgiven for thinking the plot (basically, ‘The Omen meets Superman’) makes it the first superhero horror movie ever made.

The marketing material certainly wants you to believe so, claiming that director David Yarovesky has created a whole new genre for the film.

But, of course, as anyone with a memory longer than the Dark Universe’s lifespan will tell you, superhero horror is definitely already a thing.

Though, there’s probably a good reason why most of these have been completely forgotten about.

Please, please, Hollywood - never make an Avengers style movie featuring this lot.

Faust: Love of the Damned (2000)

Mark Frost as the demonic Faust (credit: Castelao Productions)

Based on the Avatar comic series that started in 1987, this bizarre horror movie sees an artist selling his soul so he can take revenge for the death of his girlfriend. The price? He occasionally turns into a demonic superhero (complete with cape, cowl and Wolverine-style retractable claws), who gleefully kills people.

Probably the goriest movie on this list (the effects were done by someone called ‘Screaming Mad George’) it’s also - somehow - the dullest.

Earth Vs The Spider (2001)

Devon Gummersall mutates (credit: Sony Pictures)

A comic-book fan decides to transform himself into his favourite superhero - ‘The Arachnid Avenger’ - by injecting himself with an experimental serum developed from spiders.

However, instead of becoming a hero, he mutates into a monster that needs to suck the fluids from humans in order to survive.

Basically, imagine Spider-Man if Spider-Man turned into an actual spider / serial killer, and that’s this film.

Vampirella (1996)

Terrifying for all the wrong reasons (credit: Sunset Films)

We’re not going to patronise you by suggesting you haven’t seen Blade (which, as it’s a vampire movie, is definitely a horror film), but you almost certainly missed the ‘90s Vampirella movie. Mostly because it’s awful.

Essentially a vamp version of Wonder Woman, Vampirella starred Talisa Soto as the titular alien from (don’t laugh) Drakulon, who crashlands on Earth and starts saving humans from evil vampires.

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Like Brightburn, it feels like a spin on the Superman myth, except with added blood. Unlike Brightburn, it’s been disowned by its director, Jim Wynorski, who called it, "a mess... a film I cannot watch. Everything went wrong. Everything!”

Coming from the director of The Bare Wench Project, that’s quite an accolade.

Darkman (1990)

Liam Neeson's disturbing Darkman (credit: Universal)

Yes, it’s a studio movie, but if there’s a chance you haven’t seen Darkman, we have to put that right immediately, because it’s amazing.

It’s got a fairly typical comic-book origin - a man is disfigured in a lab accident / assassination attempt, and takes revenge on the people who destroyed his life. But the plot isn’t what’s exciting about this one.

Directed by Evil Dead’s Sam Raimi, and featuring a villain that enjoys chopping people’s fingers off with a cigar-cutter, this really isn’t the first comic-book movie we’d stick our kids in front of.

And, yes, we know the film wasn’t based on a comic, but comics based on the movie were eventually released by Marvel, so it counts. Our campaign to bring Darkman to the MCU starts now.

With some genuinely horrible moments - our ‘hero’ has no problem with killing people, with a gruesome traffic accident being one highlight - and some cool prosthetic effects (bandages removed, Darkman is scarier than Freddy Krueger, and even Freddy doesn’t have a face that melts off every 99 minutes), Darkman is essentially a Universal monster movie, disguised as a superhero flick.

Swamp Thing (1989)

Wes Craven's swamp monster (credit: Embassy Pictures)

Like Darkman, Swamp Thing is a superhero film directed by someone known for their horror work, which features a monster created by a deliberately orchestrated lab accident.

Yep, Wes Craven’s comic-book film would work in a double-bill with Sam Raimi’s comic-book film, because they’re both tributes to scare flicks like Frankenstein and The Invisible Man.

Toxic Avenger (1984)

THIS is a superhero?! (credit: Troma)

Plunged face-first into a barrel of toxic waste, our hero - janitor Melvin - transforms into a mop-twirling freak, who beats up bullies and criminals, in this parody of monster movies and superhero comics.

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Despite the fact it was later turned into a Saturday morning cartoon series, Toxic Avenger is definitely a horror movie, with a gruesome head-squash special effect as disturbing as anything in the Friday The 13th franchise.

Spawn (1997)

Spawn's nemesis Malebolgia has more teeth than Venom (credit: New Line)

When a mercenary is killed by his own team at the request of a demon, the mercenary is resurrected by the demon so he can lead Hell’s army to earth. Yeah, that sounds like a horror movie to us - it’s basically the best Hellraiser sequel never made.

Except Spawn is based on Todd McFarlane’s Image comic series, and Spawn has a costume that looks like Venom meets Superman, so he’s definitely technically a superhero, even if he doesn’t do anything that’s massively heroic. R-rated for violence, this makes Brightburn look like Brigsby Bear.