Most filmmakers take a straightforward approach to films – take a story and pick the appropriate genre so that you know what the writing, shooting and editing style should be. But single genres aren’t enough for Korean filmmakers anymore. Now they’re making genre mash-up movies, like the upcoming zombie period drama Rampant, which also stars heartthrob Hyun Bin and silver fox Jang Dong-gun. Those Koreans are just too creative for their own good!

However, zombies and period dramas aren’t the only mash-ups that work. Filmmakers with open-minded producers and executives backing them have been experimenting with fusions of different genres ever since moving pictures were made. You’d be surprised at just how prevalent this trope has been – even dating back to stories from the 1500s! Here are six genre mash-ups (they’re not all zombie flicks!) that did exceptionally well.


1. Alien – Horror & Science Fiction

Back in the 70’s, science fiction was a pretty niche genre for films (read: low budget) – so they were few and far between, and those that got made usually didn’t have the budget to live up to the vision of their creators. Then a little thing called Star Wars came along, and it blew the lid off the science fiction genre. Suddenly, everyone wanted in!

At the time, Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett were trying to get Alien made – which they pitched as “Jaws in space”. 20th Century Fox picked it up, and it became a smash hit in cinemas – making $104,931,801 on a budget of $11 million. That’s almost a 10x return on investment!


2. Journey to the West – Superheroes + Period Drama

If you think about it, Journey to the West is one of the earliest superhero stories out there. Published in 1592, it featured the tale of four super-powered beings (the Monkey King, Pigsy, Sandy and Tripitaka) battling other super-powered beings (the Bull Demon King, the Iron Fan Princess, the White Bone Demoness, and so on) in order to save the world (by enlightening humanity with sutras from the West). They never really ever get hurt, too.

All Journey to the West adaptations count as superhero and period drama mash-ups, by virtue of the fact that they were written so long ago. But we’re picking Stephen Chow’s Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons as the best performing one – it was the top grossing Chinese film before 2015, making $215 million on a reported budget of $64 million. That’s almost a 4x return on investment!


3. Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame – Crime Drama & Period Drama

Based on the life of the historical Tang dynasty official, Di Renjie (played by Andy Lau in the film), the Detective Dee series began in 2010, with a sequel and a prequel made after that. It won six awards at the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards when it first debuted.

We know, we know – where’s the excitement in a crime drama when there’s no high-tech equipment (like UV light scanners and portable DNA test kits) for the investigators to use? But that’s where the excitement lies – instead of using tech to solve everything (like a CSI drama), Detective Di Renjie used his wits, intelligence and powerful deductive skills to solve mysteries. Kind of like Sherlock Holmes. Plus, the period setting made it all the more engaging.


4. Harry Potter – Fantasy & Teen Drama

While the Harry Potter series started off with tiny little mites in a world of magic and monsters, it sort of became a teen drama by the fourth movie (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) – with love triangles and crushes galore. Teenage angst was added into the mix in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (if you read the book, you’ll remember how emo Harry was in that incredibly thick tome) – and remember that scene with the smokey Hermione apparition in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1?

Yeah, it was a teen drama by then – dressed in the trappings of a magical fantasy. But we loved it, wanted to wave our wands and Avada Kedavra all those people who shoved us in MRT stations, and now we’ve got Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald coming soon!

Psst: we heard there’s a Fantastic Beasts marathon coming up.


5. Ghostbusters – Horror & Comedy

Did you know that the original pitch for Ghostbusters had them wielding magic wands instead of proton packs? We might have gotten a version of Harry Potter with four middle-aged men back in 1984. Back in the day, it was pitched as a comedy with supernatural trappings, before it became the horror comedy that was eventually filmed.

But wait – horror and comedy don’t quite mix, right? How can you be scared one minute and laughing the next? Well, you’d be surprised at some of the more horrific things you’d find in Ghostbusters… like the library ghost scene below (which still shocks me).

Just like the horrible scene with Bilbo Baggins and the One Ring.

Did we forget to mention that it grossed $295.2 million a budget of $30 million? 10x return on investment – you’d be a millionaire today if you had invested in both Ghostbusters and Alien back then!


6. Rampant – Zombies & Period Drama

Then we have Rampant – the upcoming blockbuster hit where a feudal kingdom has to deal with a zombie invasion, amidst succession woes. It’s amazing how they managed to set it in the ancient kingdom of Joseon (the old name for the combined nations of North and South Korea) with horses, swords and giant pagodas to boot.

But it’s the zombies that we’re really looking forward to – how will they stop them without guns (the traditional way of dealing with zombies)? With good old-fashioned swordplay, of course – courtesy of Prince Lee Chung (Hyun Bin), the greatest martial artist in the world!

Rampant. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Rampant. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

So who is Prince Lee Chung’s opponent? None other than the evil Minister of War, Kim Ja-joon (Jang Dong-gun). Aiding Lee Chung in his battle is the beautiful peasant archer Deok Hee (Lee Sun-bin), who plays an instrumental role in defeating the zombie hordes. Rounding out this star-studded cast is Seo Ji-hye, who plays the royal concubine, Jo.

Will they be able to save Korea from certain doom? Or is this actually the beginning of a parallel timeline when zombies rule the world? Find out if they defeat the zombies – or whether they run Rampant!


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