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Where Is Horror's Super Smash Bros.?

Blumhouse Productions recently announced its intention to break into the world of video games, igniting a flurry of excitement among fans of gaming and horror alike. The studio behind smash hits like "Paranormal Activity" and "M3gan," as well as newer cult faves like "Malignant," Blumhouse has a knack for finding projects and directors with a unique take on what scares us. The studio — along with contemporaries like A24 — has been largely responsible for the boom in mainstream horror successes at the box office, which puts the company in a position to do something really interesting with the video game medium.

Horror video games are also undergoing something of a renaissance, thanks to massive successes such as "Resident Evil 4" and the highly anticipated "Silent Hill 2" remake being just over the horizon. Beloved spooky movies are also getting their own video games that go above and beyond the typical tie-in dreck. Back in the day, the most horror fans could hope for in their game adaptations were excruciatingly difficult 8-bit nightmares like "Friday the 13th" or "A Nightmare on Elm Street" for the NES. Now, gamers are receiving true labors of love like "Evil Dead: The Game" or GUN Interactive's upcoming "Texas Chain Saw Massacre." Both of these games borrow some tricks from the "Dead by Daylight" handbook to create terrifying isometric survival horror experiences, but there's another series that could lend its template to the horror genre to great effect.

With icons like Freddy Kreuger and Leatherface already proving their fighting game mettle in titles like "Mortal Kombat X," why not create a game that brings all of these monsters together in a wacky crossover tournament? Where's horror's answer to "Super Smash Bros.?"

Horror crossovers are a tradition at this point

The idea of a brawl between recognizable figures isn't exactly a new concept, of course. Crossovers have a storied (and successful) history in the realms of both video games and horror.

Aside from the aforementioned "Super Smash Bros." franchise, video games have given fans plenty of other unlikely matches. The "Injustice" franchise has forced DC's heroes and villains to duke it out with characters from rival publishers such as Dark Horse Comics and IDW. "MultiVersus" throws crowds of characters that literally don't make any sense together into one arena, resulting in fever dream battles between Bugs Bunny and Arya Stark. Meanwhile, horror cinema has yielded throwdowns like "Freddy vs. Jason" and "Sadako vs. Kayako," not to mention literary confrontations between disparate entities like Pinhead and Sherlock Holmes, or even the Predator and Archie Comics (no, really)

The sheer strangeness and vastness of the horror genre seems to lend itself well to these kinds of big swings. Even when they don't turn out perfectly — depending on who you ask, "Freddy vs. Jason" is kind of a disaster — they still stand as a marker of how flexible the genre can really be. 

Part of the fun here is seeing these disparate mythologies melded together, even if it might be difficult to balance pitting all of these characters together in a game. It's hard to imagine Chucky putting up much of a fight against the Djinn from "Wishmaster," but the right developer could take the challenge of figuring out those disparities as a fun project. After all, Nintendo has spent plenty of time tweaking power levels in "Super Smash Bros.," so it's possible to have these characters co-exist in a single playable space.

A horror fighting game could be a huge win

There's a clear hunger for this kind of game, considering the fact that fans have already made their own. "Terrordrome: Rise of the Boogeymen" has garnered a great deal of attention for putting some of the biggest names in horror against each other in a "Mortal Kombat"-style tournament. The unlicensed game was released for free by its developers, but the response was so positive that Huracan Studios eventually followed it up with a game using public domain horror characters, "Terrordrome: Reign of the Legends." And while it's still a great deal of fun to fight the likes of the Invisible Man, Dracula, and anoff-brand Pennywise (hilariously named T.H.I.S.), projects like "Terrordrome" can't help but inspire further fantasizing about what a AAA studio could do with licensed slasher villains.

Horror continues to have a stranglehold on cinemas in 2023, particularly when it comes to recognizable IP. "Scream 6" is carving out series-high returns in theaters, while "Evil Dead Rise" is currently attracting new fans to a 40-year-old franchise. Franchise horror is where it's at, even in audiences' homes. In March 2023, Capcom's "Resident Evil 4" outsold "Hogwarts Legacy." Between the rise in quality for video game horror adaptations and the continued dominance of franchise horror at the box office, it feels like the gaming industry is leaving money on the table. 

Rights issues would certainly be a legal nightmare to untangle, of course, but a horror mash-up fighting game feels like a natural move. As long as it captures the spirit of these franchises and the competitive fun of "Super Smash Bros." or "MultiVersus," fans will definitely turn up.