Anatomy of a Horror Sub-Genre

by on November 1, 2012  •  In Articles

Whilst I was in the midst of October-Horror-Movie-Marathon-athon-athon-athon(yes that’s right it’s more than just a marathon because I already watch horror flicks on the regular basis) I thought to myself; “What makes a horror movie sub-genre? How many movies must you have to make up a sub-genre? Does it even count if there are a lot of movies that could make up their own sub-genre but aren’t well known at all? Well I’m here to offer my opinion on the matter, and I’ll try to propose the most appropriate candidates for a potential unrecognized  sub-genre of horror.

Little Creatures Run Amok

We all know of the perfect example of this horror sub-genre; Gremlins. With the success of Gremlins we got lots of films that came after that, to the untrained eye, seemed like rip-offs.  Take Critters for example, yes you could draw the conclusion that the movie was made because of the success of Gremlins, but if you compare the two films you’ll notice there are enough key-differences to make Critters not a rip-off. While both these creatures are in large groups, are small in stature, and torment anybody in proximity to them, the main difference in itself is obvious; it’s the creatures. Critters don’t multiply in water, Gremlins don’t shoot quills, the monsters themselves don’t even look similar. Besides that, Critters’ director  Stephen Herek claims that the script for Critters was made long before Gremlins was even in production, so can we please put the myth of Critters being a Gremlins rip-off to bed so we can enjoy both films equally. Also, even if Herek did rip-off the idea, why wouldn’t someone want to use this concept; it’s scary to be overwhelmed by a never-seen before sadistic pack of creatures with a motive for mayhem.

Examples of Movies in this Sub-Genre

  • Gremlins 1 & 2
  • Critters 1,2,3, & 4
  • Ghoulies 1 & 2
  • Troll
  • Munchies
  • The Puppet Master series
  • Demonic Toys
  • Hobgoblins
  • Dolls

Requirements for this Sub-Genre

  • Basically the idea is clear, there exists a pack of creatures significantly smaller than their victims.
  • The creatures (or in some cases “possessed or living toys”) either murder or torture(sometimes just mildly annoy) the humans that inhabit the setting of the movie.
  • In most cases each creature is given at least a little bit of a different personality to distinguish it from the others.
  • The ending usually(but not always) involves a mass extermination or banishment of the creatures.

Is this Genre Legitimate?

I’d say definitely, as a matter of fact it’s one of my favorite horror movie types, I’d like to it see get resurrected some day too(of course not in the form of a remake but someone’s actual effort to recapture this genre’s essence in the form of an original idea).



“Melt? Melt? Okay, what on earth is a melt movie?” one may ask. Well I’ll tell you, a melt movie is just what it sounds like, a horror movie with melting in it, lots of melting in it. Movies like Street Trash and The Incredible Melting Man and and….and….hmm I don’t think I can think of much more than that to be honest.

Examples of Movies in this Sub-Genre

  • The Incredible Melting Man
  • Street Trash
  • Slime City
  • ???

Requirements for this Sub-Genre

  • Death by melting, a perpetually melting character, or mutation/transformation by melting.

Is the Genre Legitimate?

Well do to me being unable to think up more than just three movies I guess it isn’t until other people can bring up some more movies with a plethora of victims dying by melting or a melting main character. Maybe there are plenty more melty movies I’m just not aware of. But boy do I wish there were more movies of this ilk, golly gee.

More of THIS, less of Micheal Bay. Or rather more of this HAPPENING to Micheal Bay.


Ah yes the swarm movie, not to get confused with LCRA, the swarm movie is probably the one that gives me the most amount of the heeby jeebies. This genre is probably the most common and alive out of all the genres mentioned thus far. It may also fuse itself with the body-possession and zombie genre depending on the movie.

Examples of Movies in this Sub-Genre

  • The Deadly Spawn
  • Slither
  • Squirm
  • Shivers
  • Night of The Creeps
  • Slugs

Requirements for this Sub-Genre

  • Instead of a group a small semi-sentient creatures with personalities bent on mischief or murder the creatures in the “swarm” genre are more primal and plentiful.
  • It has an over-encompassing number of creepy-crawlies that slither and seep their way to their goal whether it being to take over a host or eat someone alive.
  •  They flood their way into peoples homes until the whole neighborhood is in peril.
  • The horror from this one comes mostly from the fact that these small wiggling and writhing creatures look so gross, the very last thing you want is for these things to get on you, let alone under your skin!

Is the Genre Legitimate?

I’d say with out a doubt,  there seems to be enough films to make up this genre for a movie marathon. I’m not sure what it is about this genre but it does seem to have more sustainability than the other genres mentioned.  Maybe it’s because people will always be afraid of slimy squirmy things.

yeah, you’re pretty much screwed.


James Louderback

James, like every normal man, likes to drink Drano and pee on dinosaurs, he is also a compulsive liar.

Latest posts by James Louderback (see all)

  • Danny Gallegos

    Body Melt counts as a Melt movie

  • Carniefilms

    Yes, particularly annoyed that Body melt was not in place of ‘????’  or the class of nuke ‘em highs for that matter but thats just me being a fanboy. (Or you need to watch more trash)

  • Adam

    The Stuff? That’s a melt movie, right?