Blade and 9 Other Great Gothic Action Movies

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What do leather trench coats, black eyeliner and choreographed fight sequences have in common? They’re the cornerstones of gothic action movies, a blockbuster subgenre that’s more goth’em rock’em than knock’em sock’em. Moody anti-heroes glide through soggy streets as a wistful song moans in the distance, only to slip into a balletic barrage of martial fury as the techno-industrial needle drops.

RELATED: 20 Best Gothic Horror Movies

In addition to heart-pounding action, gothic action movies can also have a strong underlying emotional intensity, and even passionate romance. But more importantly, what brings fans like a bat to a belfry is how the heroes (and villains) kick in their murderous ways.

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Van Helsing (2004)

Available on Peacock TV and Prime Video


Van Helsing and Anna Valerious in Van Helsing

In the early 2000s, there were a slew of historical action-adventure movies featuring heroes with unconventional weaponry, modern senses of humor, and outfits with lots of curls; the best of them was undoubtedly Van Helsing, a tribute to Universal Monster Movies (not to be confused with Van Helsing the TV series). It presented the famous vampire hunter as a hardy agent of an ancient brotherhood, armed with fancy sacred weapons by the monk equivalent of Q.

His vocation as a murderer brought him to Romania in the footsteps of Count Dracula, where he also found a love as cold and mysterious as the Carpathian Mountains. With Frankenstein’s monster as a sidekick, an encounter with Mr. Hyde, a werewolf curse subplot, and combat almost as elaborate as everyone’s costumes, Van Helsing remains the gothic action movie standard,


The Raven (1994)

Available on Paramount+ and Prime Video


Eric Draven surrounded by crows in The Crow

No action movie has more goth street cred than The crow. With a plot as tragic as the accidental death of star Brandon Lee during production, this gothic action film based on a graphic novel remains a perfect encapsulation of the gothic spirit of the 90s. Two lovers are separated by death when a roving street gang brutally murders them, but Eric Draven returns to hunt the criminals who stole his beloved Shelly, wearing head-to-toe leather and lots of corpse paint.

The crow is a compelling fusion of chic indie arthouse (Eric plays guitar) and high-octane action (he also sets people on fire), and thanks to former music video director Alex Proyas, owns iconic gothic imagery as the phantasmal avenger the “Crow” exacts his revenge.


Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

Available on Crunchyroll and Manga TV


In a post-apocalyptic world, one man stands between the hordes of the damned and the civilization of destruction; the mysterious d. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust chronicles the Warrior’s rescue of a beautiful noblewoman from the clutches of Countess Bathory with settings, characters, and actions all rendered in the exquisite Baroque style of Yoshitaka Amano.

Fans of Netflix’s gothic action anime Castlevania enjoy the source material while being amazed by the incredible amount of detail. Being animated, the artistry and intensity of the action sequences is far more creative than anything live-action (though fans are hoping it might one day get that treatment).


Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

Available on Peacock TV and Prime Video


hansel and gretel witch hunters gemma arterton jeremy renner

While many people are familiar with Grimm’s fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, they might not know that the siblings grew up, got cool leather outfits, big guns, and started hunting down all the witches interested in putting children in ovens.

RELATED: 5 Fairytale Horror Movie Fans Love Gretel & Hansel (& 5 Don’t)

Hansel and Gretel: witch hunters, to like Van Helsing, incorporates a bit of modern kick-assery into its Old World setting, with plenty of gothic angst to go along with its action. Sometimes over the top, it makes the most of its beautiful stars in jaw-dropping action scenes that require major stunts and the ability to move gracefully in daring clothes.


Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012)

Available on Prime Video


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter's Seth Grahame-Smith to direct The Flash

And so long before becoming President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln lost his mother to a vampire and swore revenge on the leeches forever? In Vampire hunter Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe seeks to rid America of its fanged enemies by becoming one of the most fearsome vampires to ever exist.

Abe walks tall and carries an ax with a silver blade, which he uses to expertly dispatch vampires throughout his political career. This revisionist fantasy turns the 16th President into a true action hero, whose feud with vampires helps turn the tide of the Civil War. And for those worried that its historic setting will revoke its gothic card, a 19th-century woman wears a signature ensemble far ahead of its time.

Underworld (2003)

Available on Peacock TV and Prime Video


Selene looking at the city in Underworld 2003

A mainstay at the base of the gothic action film subgenre for good reason, underworld set the standard in 2003 and launched a multi-million dollar franchise and half a dozen sequels. Who could help but be swept away by the ancient war of vampires and Lycans, the beautiful flowing trench coats and supernatural warriors preening for the camera?

After William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet and steeped in gunfire set to a Nine Inch Nails-inspired soundtrack, it’s short on substance but long on style, which is likely why the franchise has endured long after Selene became the last Death Dealer standing. .

Spawn (1997)

Available on Prime Video and Netflix


Spawn from the 1997 film

Todd Mcfarlane’s gothic masterpiece became a movie of the same name in 1997, and although a reboot has been in the works for years, Spawn will always retain its gritty, disturbing and action-packed quality. It centers on a government assassin who is double-crossed and left for dead, but a deal with the devil allows him to return to earth, where much like Eric Draven, he acts as a vengeance demon (much to the devil’s dismay).

RELATED: 5 Reasons The 1997 Movie Spawn Is A Big Guilty Pleasure (& 5 Why It’s Not)

For his day Spawn was considered visually stunning, with sleek, surreal action sequences and pushing the boundaries of the superhero genre long before it became mainstream.

Blade (1998)

Available on HBO Max


Blade surrounded by vampires in Blade.

From its earliest scenes, when half-vampire, half-human killer Blade nonchalantly confronts dozens of bloodsuckers at a rave, Blade established itself as a cool, effortless take on familiar genre territory. As techno thumps and blood pours from the ceiling, Blade dispatches each new opponent with ease, setting the tone for a wild ride that spawned two sequels.

Currently being rebooted, the original Blade nonetheless manages to combine advanced modern technology, polished editing, strong acting, and believable fight choreography into a film that still looks fresh today.

Dracula: Unspeakable (2014)

Available on HBO Max


Luke Evans from Dracula Untold

There have been dozens of Dracula movie adaptations, but perhaps none are as underrated as Dracula: Unspeakable, which serves as the origin story of Vlad Tepes, the righteous prince of Wallachia who succumbed to the bite of a vampire in exchange for the power to take on the Ottoman Empire that threatened to seize his lands ( or at least, according to the legend).

A brutal medieval epic, it nevertheless has all the hallmarks of a gothic action movie; moody visuals, a romantic love story threatened by violence, and very fierce and fashionable armor.

Batman Returns (1992)

Available on Hulu


Batman Returns poster Michael Keaton as Batman Michael Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny Devito as Penguin

Even darker than Tim Burton’s previous take on the Batman mythos in 1989, Return of Batman puts “gothic” to Gotham City, transforming the metropolis into a menacing skyline of cathedral towers and parapets, blanketed in perpetual winter and full of heroes and villains frolicking in tight leather. Burton was given more creative leeway and turned the franchise into a true gothic action movie.


Everyone looks dead or dying even with dramatic eye makeup, and there’s very little joy in the film despite its upbeat title. Instead, it’s packed with whip-wielding cat burglars in sassy jumpsuits and Victorian-looking little gentlemen with an affinity for the aviary. Batman has always been the darkest of superheroes, but in Return of Batman he became a full Gothic knight.

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