Hack 'N Slash: 20 Horror Movies That Should Be Video Games

A video game based on the Friday the 13th movie series hits Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC today, offering gamers the chance to step into the boots of everyone's favorite hockey-masked, redneck, undead serial killer with mommy issues. Or you can play as one of his victims. It just depends on whether you want to be the stalker or the stalkee.

Technically, the multiplayer component of the game arrives as a digital download today – the single player mode is expected a little later this year. However, we're using this as an opportunity to talk about other great horror movies that would be a great fit for video games. Three of our resident horror buffs and avid video game players – Alex Riviello, Vanessa Bogart, and Jacob Hall – have teamed up to make some suggestions...and pitch what a video game version of some iconic (and not-so-iconic) horror films would look like.

cube movie

Cube

What It Is: Vincenzo Natali's 1997 chiller is low-budget genre ingenuity at its finest. A group of strangers wake up in a bizarre maze of color-coded rooms. Some rooms are perfectly safe. Others are full of hidden booby traps. With death around every corner, this crew must work together to escape this bizarre (and never explained) prison.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: Here is a story that literally revolves around puzzle-solving and exploration. While the cube doesn't offer up monsters, it does offer up instant death at a moment's notice. What feels like a twisted game to the characters in the movie could actually be a twisted (and actually fun!) game for folks in the real world.

The Pitch: You start with a single character with a very narrow skill set. As you explore the cube, you can find other survivors, each with their own specific skills. The more people you have on your team, the more prepared you will be to suss out various traps and stay alive. However, different character types will clash, increasing paranoia and distrust amongst your crew. In addition to navigating the cube and solving puzzles to keep your team alive, you must also navigate the dynamics of your crew...and try to keep them from turning on each other. An overhead-style 2D game (think Don't Starve) may be the best way to sell this concept. (Jacob Hall)

Demons

Demons

What It Is: This Dario Argento-produced, Lamberto Bava-directed splatterfest is maybe the best starting point into the madness that was 1980s Italian Horror. Demons is a film about a group of people who go to see a free movie late one night. Rather than enjoying a renovated theater and old-school props on display, they end up fighting off a horde of demons that were their former friends. (It never pays to go to the movies anymore.)

Why It Would Make a Great Game: It's a movie that's all about bashing demons. It's bloody and violent and features about as many stereotypes as a 1980s video game would have had. Plus, there's a sequence that has our heroes riding a motorcycle through the theater wielding swords which is almost too good to be true, and would make a perfect mini-game.

The Pitch: If they're not going to make any more Splatterhouse games, someone has to at least try. This could be the new sequel we always wanted, and follow the events of the first film. Start in a movie theater, fight through the entire world, and perhaps end up in hell to finish things up. Imagine a beat'em up that sees you grabbing whatever you can find in the environment to bash waves upon waves upon demons. (Alex Riviello)

the descent

The Descent

What It Is: Neil Marshall's 2005 horror gem is one of the scariest movies of the '00s before the monsters show up. The film follows a group of women who go spelunking in a newly discovered cavern system, get hopelessly lost...and awaken something ancient and hungry. The first half of the movie, where the main threats are claustrophobia and lack of resources, is somehow more upsetting than the more traditional back half.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: A lot of games like to label themselves as "survival horror," but The Descent could actually live up to that phrase. This story has plenty of combat, but it's also a tale built around navigation and knowing when to fight and when to flee. It would fit in perfectly with horror games like Amnesia and Outlast, where fighting is secondary to running for your life.

The Pitch: A game of The Descent should be playable in about an hour. At the start of each run, you pick a character, each with her own stats and specialities. You are then dropped into randomly generated cavern and you must find your way to the exit. Some runs may emphasize the navigation of claustrophobic tunnels. Others may drop a horde of monsters on you almost immediately. Some runs may offer an easy solution. Some will be next-to-impossible. Much like the film itself, The Descent will be brutally unfair in its treatment of the player, forcing you to make do with what you have. And since each run is so brisk, you'll keep coming back to try again. (Jacob Hall)

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Evil Dead 

What It Is: An evil spirit is released from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in an abandoned cabin. While on a romantic getaway in the woods, the spirit turns Ash's girlfriend Linda into a deadite, making Ash, his boomstick, and his chainsaw arm the only things standing between the world and the evil dead.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: The Evil Dead series, particularly, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, are campy, fun, bloody, scary, and an all-around-good-time take on the zombie genre. Featuring unique weaponry and a dashing hero, Evil Dead is a series you want to jump into.

The Pitch: To make an Evil Dead game properly, it has to feature evil possessed deadites, serious chainsaw action, and of course Ash's scintillating commentary. What better way to capture this wacky horror jaunt than a rail shooter a la House of the Dead? Making great use of the underutilized Playstation move sticks, all you control is the direction your chainsaw is pointing and the trigger of your boomstick. The camera moves through the rooms of the cabin, the woods, S-Mart, and the castle, as the first person perspective takes you through each level of Ash's fight against the damned. Ammo and fuel for the chainsaw can be picked up throughout the game by a simple point click...that is, if you have time, as the onslaught of the bloodthirsty dead are coming your way, and there is nowhere to hide. (Vanessa Bogart)

the faculty

The Faculty

What It Is: A mismatched group of teens discover that their school is being taken over by aliens, and they must band together to stop the invasion before it takes them and the rest of the world.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: Nuanced character interactions, teenage hormones, stealth tactics, and life and death decision making – The Faculty is a story that could have a million possible outcomes that all hang on the branching effects of seemingly small actions.

The Pitch: Making the decisions for not just one of the teens, but all of them, you will face the alien parasite invasion through the eyes of Casey, Delilah, Stokes, Zeke, Marybeth, and Stan in this Until Dawn-style decision-based game. Your main objective is make it to the end and defeat the alien queen. Any choice could lead to the death of any one of your group, and to survive, you will need all the help you can get, so choose wisely and use each character's strengths to the advantage of the whole. Changing perspectives at key moments and splitting the characters up to find any method to fight the spread will keep the suspicion between the teens alive. The thinly veiled trust amongst the group slowly falls to pieces as you are never quite sure if one of your own is working against you. Limited methods of defense make stealth and strategy as your most important tools. (Vanessa Bogart)

Freaks

Freaks 

What It Is: The creator of Dracula was given free reign to do whatever the hell he wanted next after its massive success, and what he did pretty much ended his career. Tod Browning's Freaks may now be considered a classic, but at the time of its release it was so shocking to 1932 audiences that it was never actually released in its original version. Browning drew on his real-life experiences in a traveling circus and made the the "freaks" here all good, decent people – it's the "normal" people who are the real monsters. It's a cliche now, but it was way ahead of its time.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: They cut the hell out of the original film, trimming almost half an hour down from its violence, humor, and even switching around the epilogue. A game could add it all back and expand upon it, bringing you closer to the characters than ever before.

The Pitch: Freaks would work best as a point and click adventure game. A black and white game (perhaps with hints of color here and there to highlight important objects) full of classic carnival imagery, that sees you trying to unveil a murder mystery? Telltale Games, you know what to do. (Alex Riviello)

Hannibal

Hannibal

What It Is: Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter has been portrayed in five films, most famously by Anthony Hopkins, but it was Mads Mikkelsen's incredible take on the serial killer that perhaps would be best for this video game adaptation. That's mostly due to his culinary skills. The serial killer is well known for killing people and serving them to his unsuspecting guests, but Hannibal revels in it, showing him making some truly mouth-watering meals out of the most dangerous game. Don't believe me? They looked so good they made an actual cookbook out of it.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: If there's anything that Hannibal Lecter has shown us he understands, it's nose-to-tail cooking. His meals are divine, his presentation immaculate. Sure, there could be an investigation-type game where we work alongside him to find other serial killers, but why not focus on the culinary artist himself?

The Pitch: Think of an M-rated Cooking Mama. For the uninitiated, Cooking Mama is a cutesy minigame compilation that allows you to slice and dice and serve delicious meals. It would work perfectly for our dear Hannibal... although it would be a whole lot bloodier. You will be scored by how well your guests enjoy their meals and how much you hide the actual ingredients! Failing ratings means someone discovers an ear or a toenail in their food and calls the cops. (Alex Riviello)

the haunting tv series

The Haunting

What It Is: Robert Wise's 1963 adaptation of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House is one of the best haunted house movies ever made. The story follows a scientist who takes up shop in mansion supposedly inhabited by spirits and the two women he invites along as test subjects, so to speak. Things do not go well.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: The miraculous thing about The Haunting is that it's very frightening without ever manifesting a single ghost on screen. The chills are purely psychological, stemming from imagination and perception. The characters never see a specter, but they sure as hell feel them. So what about a video game that asks you to personally experience these uncomfortable feelings?

The Pitch: Think of "walking simulator" games like Gone Home and Firewatch, experiences that eschew traditional goals and gameplay in favor of immersing the player in a story and asking them to get emotionally involved in everything that is happening on screen. The Haunting would be perfect inspiration for this admittedly niche genre, letting the player navigate a deeply personal and open-ended horror story and them to come to their own conclusions based on what they discover. (Jacob Hall)

Hobo With a Shotgun

Hobo With a Shotgun 

What It Is: Jason Eisener's irreverent and gory revenge film started out as a joke trailer for Grindhouse, sandwiched in-between Planet Terror and Death Proof. Like its trailer compatriot Machete, it was so deliriously nutty that it needed to become its own feature film, which it did so in 2011, starring Rutger Hauer as the titular character.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: It's a story about a homeless man rising up against the society that has shunned him, and getting even with a shotgun. Almost every single person he faces hates him and wants him dead, so he is more than happy to return the favor. How much more game-like could you get?

The Pitch: A throwback movie needs a throwback game, so Hobo With a Shotgun could be a lightgun arcade game that comes with a physical, pumpable shotgun controller. Memorable villains like the armor-wearing demons The Plague and the homeless-murdering Chief of Police can be end-level bosses before the final fight against Drake, the drug dealer that's running the town. Imagine how wonderful it would be to hear Rutger Hauer himself blurt out one-liners after particularly gruesome kills. (Alex Riviello)

The Howling

The Howling

What It Is: The other great werewolf movie of 1981, Joe Dante's The Howling still stands up among the best, and somehow went on to spawn a staggering six sequels and a reboot. (To be fair, Rob Bottin's effects were indeed that good.)

Why It Would Make a Great Game: Do you know how many werewolf video games there have been? Hardly any. It's a problem with films and TV shows, too. Vampires and zombies get dozens upon dozens of titles, but werewolves?  It's not a good thing when Altered Beast is the first game that comes to mind. Since we drastically need new werewolf games, why not a game that lets you play as one?

The Pitch: We'd actually mine The Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf (yes, an actual name for an motion picture title) for inspiration. This is the first and only time someone should do this. Think a Dungeon Keeper-type game where you play the Queen of the werewolves and have to build up your castle. You'll have to keep your werewolf minions happy with new wave parties and other werewolf-pleasure rooms, all while fighting off Christopher Lee lookalike werewolf hunters and their absolutely insane plots, some of which involve blessed earplugs and killer dwarves. (Alex Riviello)

Killer Klowns from Outer Space tv series

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

What It Is: A quiet town is overrun by alien clowns armed with an arsenal of carnival tricks and treats as they seek to harvest the townsfolk in cocoons of cotton candy.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a cult classic, combining humor and horror and kitsch in one perfectly screwed-up package, offering up a different class of villain, with weapons found only in your weirdest childhood nightmares.

The Pitch: Hurry! Hurry! Step right up! Explore the kooky inner workings of the Big Top spaceship from the first person perspective as you arm yourself with cotton candy guns to fight off man-eating popcorn and deadly shadow puppets through terrain not unlike the N64 classics Chameleon Twist 2 and Glover. It is easy to get lost in this diabolical fun house, with level complexity rivaling that of Doom, and a varying range in opponent difficulty, from clowns launching some not-so-sweet pies to adversaries in ice cream truck-style tanks ready to obliterate anything in their path. Not even balloon animals are innocent in this technicolor hell. While you are busy avoiding popcorn and shadow puppets, be on the look out for codes and key cards. You will need these to build your safety net, unlocking the restricted areas on your map and finding stronger weapons. Never let your guard down in this outlandish and funky fight to the death. (Vanessa Bogart)

MSDMUMM EC008

The Mummy (1999) 

What It Is: Rick O' Connell, a gun-happy American adventurer leads a group to the Egyptian city of the dead, where they accidentally awaken Imhotep, a cursed Mummy who comes armed with the ten plagues of Egypt. They must commit him back to the afterlife before he can awaken his love, and spread evil across the world.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: Between an exciting setting, multiple classes of foes, and a clear final boss, The Mummy has a continuous flow of action and adventure that carries the audience through each "level" as Imhotep gets stronger, and each plague causes more chaos.

The Pitch: Uncharted meets God of War in this third person action adventure game. You play as the gruff, battle-beaten, Rick O' Connell as he fights to survive against rival treasure hunters, ancient orders, scarabs, and the deadly reanimated mummies of Hamunaptra, all before he can kick Imhotep back to the afterlife and save the world from evil. Evelyn is the brains behind your brawn, and you better keep her safe. Without her and the resources of the library, your pistols will be little more than a locust on the back of this immortal threat. Make connections in town to gather supplies before you explore the buried rooms of the city of the dead, as resources will be few and far between underneath the sand. Through your adventure, you will battle sub-bosses like Imhotep's sandstorm and you will have to piece together clues to figure out the puzzles and booby traps of ancient Egypt, armed only with your wits, your guns, and your mitts. (Vanessa Bogart)

Freddy 2

Nightmare on Elm Street

What It Is: The residents of Elm Street are transported to a psychotic dream world where the murdered child molester, Freddy Krueger, gets his revenge on the parents that burned him alive by killing teens in their dreams.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: Nightmare on Elm Street wasn't just about a man chasing teenagers around in their dreams – Freddy Krueger controlled the dream. He could kill the teens instantly if he wanted to, but instead, he altered everything from the environment to his appearance to toy with his victims, making everything you are seeing and hearing as untrustworthy as Freddy himself.

The Pitch: You have to outwit Freddy's devious tactics in this puzzle-based side-scroller. Think Limbo. You are trying to outrun Freddy, but the path in front of you is constantly changing, forcing you to think quickly on your feet and figure out how to disarm Freddy's traps. As you are pulled into some of Krueger's most vicious dream settings, you will have to continue analyzing the obstacles ahead and sort out an exit strategy, whether he has pulled you underwater, into a seedy alley, or Elm Street itself. You can run, jump, climb, push, and pull, but you can't fight back and you can't spend too long in one place, because once Freddy catches you, it is time to "die, bitch!" (Vanessa Bogart)

plan 9 from outer space

Plan 9 From Outer Space

What It Is: Edward D. Wood Jr.'s 1959 sci-fi horror movie about aliens who plan to destroy the Earth by resurrecting an army of zombies has often been called the worst movie ever made, which is both accurate and unfair. It's a hilariously cheap movie filled with actors who can't deliver dialogue to save their lives, but it's also charming, imaginative, and made with a spirit that you don't see in many big-budget movies. It's something special.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: It's all in the concept! Here's a story about mankind fighting zombies and aliens! That's double the number of things you usually get to shoot in a normal video game.

The Pitch: Imagine, if you will, a glossy, big-budget third-person shooting game. Now imagine it in black and white. Now imagine the cheap sets from the film rendered in exacting and lavish detail. Imagine dialogue and acting that reflects the performances from the actual movie. Imagine a tutorial hosted by Criswell, the psychic who introduces the original movie and notes that "future events such as these will effect you in the future." This will never get made, but a huge action game that goes out of its way to replicate the B-movie charms of this movie would be a hoot. (Jacob Hall)

the purge election year trailer

The Purge

What It Is: America finds its solution to violence and prison over-crowding by allowing an annual 12-hour period where all crime is legal. While some let the rage flow through them, others just fight to survive.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: You would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't watched The Purge without thinking "What would I do?" The answers range from leave the country for a couple days to robbing your favorite store to exacting bloody revenge. The Purge will (hopefully) never become a real government-sanctioned event, but through the wonderful world of video games, you can find out how well you would fair in your first Purge.

The Pitch: America is lawless. Anything goes. Death. Is. Final. Can you survive for 12 real time hours in this open-world RPG, where it is kill or be killed, and you are only as good as the character you design?  Is your character street smart? Does your character have any military training? Are you fast? Are you strong? Do you want to kill? Or, do you just want to survive? The Purge video game is the answer to the question, "What would you do?" A social experiment on the depravity of human nature, this mature title is not for the weak. Your weaponry is what you can find or take off of an opponent. Don't be fooled into a safety net of brute force and ammo. Whether you are pleading for your life or conning another player out of their supplies, charisma will play a key role in your end strategy. If survival is your game, then being able to inspire people into following you and working together may be your only chance. But you'd better always keep a close eye on that health bar and stock up on medical supplies, because death is game over. If you want to know what you would do in the Purge, there are no second chances. Twelve real time hours. Can you survive? (Vanessa Bogart)

REC

[REC]

What It Is: Only the most famous Spanish horror series of all time. REC showed what could be done with found footage films, and was so scary and successful that it spawned three sequels and an American remake (Quarantine).

Why It Would Make a Great Game: One need only look at the first-person view from the first two films (and the first act of the third) to realize its potential as a first-person game. After all, Outlast basically stole the night-vision sequences and made two whole games already!

The Pitch: If they really wanted to be ambitious, they could make this a game covering the entire REC saga. It beings with the TV crew and firefighters dealing with the craziness of the apartment building in the first REC, in what starts out as a spooky and jarring sequence in which you're mostly defenseless and forced to rely on a night-vision mode to stay away from an unkillable enemy. Then, for REC 2 you can control one of the cops coming in to storm the place. Here, the game does a F.E.A.R.-like shift into fast-paced action/horror as you finally get an arsenal of guns to use against the former inhabitants of the block. A later level features a sidestory into the wedding from REC 3: Genesis that mostly involves melee weaponry and has one of the greatest set-pieces of the game. Then it could have a lousy final level. (Alex Riviello)

The Strangers

The Strangers

What It Is: It takes a lot for a home invasion horror movie to stand out these days, but Bryan Bertino's 2008 film is one of the best of its kind. There are no elaborate bells and whistles here, just straightforward tension and terror as a couple played by Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler fight for their lives against a trio of masked murderers who surround their isolated vacation home. 

Why It Would Make a Great Game: Horror games used to be all about shooting monsters, but the genre has seen a major evolution in the past decade. Now, the most popular horror games are all about avoiding monsters that you can't kill. While the monsters at the heart of The Strangers are all human, they hold the advantage at all times. They have greater numbers, hunter's instincts, and an inexplicable, psychotic desire to end your life.

The Pitch: It's easy to imagine The Strangers coming to life as a first-person horror game, but why not take advantage of new technology to emphasize the truly personal nature of the movie? What better way to simulate being hunted through a dark house than a virtual reality game? Strap on your headset and find yourself in a house. Maybe you're making dinner at first. Maybe you're just sitting on the couch, watching TV. Eventually, if you look around enough and actually take notice of your environment, you'll see the masked figures watching you from the windows. And then the chase is on! The house is an open sandbox – where you choose to run and how you choose to hide is up to you. But you will be hunted. And it will all feel very real thanks to that VR tech. (Jacob Hall)

texas chain saw massacre restaurant

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

What It Is: Tobe Hooper's 1974 classic has become a pop culture touchstone, its title something that you namedrop in real life to describe any situation or location that looks like a creepy, redneck murder waiting to happen. But the glorious thing about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is that it's still terrifying over 40 years later. Even after so many lesser movies have stolen its best parts, it holds up brilliantly.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: Is there room for a Texas Chain Saw Massacre video game in a landscape where we already have a Friday the 13th video game? After all, wouldn't that game capture the awful, stomach-churning thrills of hunting and being hunted that this movie evokes? Yeah, the obvious adaptation wouldn't work at this point. So you have to approach it from a different angle.

The Pitch: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is really the story of a family, their home, and their local business: a gas station and BBQ joint (where they prepare the flesh of ill-fated motorists, of course). So rather than another game where you have to hack and slash a bunch of teenagers to death, how about a management sim? Your overhead view shows off the Texas countryside, complete with the the family's crumbling estate and their business. You must manage the various members of the family, run your roadside store, make money, and selectively pick victims to get chopped up and served. If people wander too close to your house, you can encourage Leatherface to go out and take care of the problem. It's The Sims with a body count. (Jacob Hall)

The Thing

The Thing

What It Is: If you don't know John Carpenter's The Thing, you need to make better choices with your life.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: It's already made a decent one! Computer Artworks' The Thing released in 2002 and was mostly successful, even working as a direct sequel to the events of the film (spoiler: it insinuates that Childs was human). But a rushed development and poorly implemented fear/trust system made for a frustrating experience. While the concept that your companions could actually be an alien imposter at any time is a strong one, scripted moments where someone on your crew would automatically turn into the Thing were maddening. You could do a blood test on someone, verify they're human, and walk down the hall past a trigger moment only to have them sprout tentacles from their heads.

The Pitch: Rather than another third-person shooter (or an open world adventure like the game originally planned), they need to look towards Until Dawn's success. Forget an open world – The Thing needs to be a contained, claustrophobic story. It needs to have strong performances from a likeable (or hateable!) cast. How better to do that than with an adventure game that changes depending on your actions? Depending on what you do, everyone could make it out alive, or no one. Paranoia and fear are perfect analogues to the quick-time events that would startle you into making a decision. Just remember – watch Clark. (Alex Riviello)

Tremors-cast 2

Tremors

What It Is: The people of a small desert town in Nevada are being attacked by giant underground worm monsters that can detect even the slightest movement on the surface. The survivors have to find a way to safety before the monster springs from ground and eats them alive.

Why It Would Make a Great Game: Tremors is the adult equivalent to pretending that the floor is lava. From climbing on roofs and shelves, to using distractions, and pole-vaulting between rocks, you had to admit that it kinda looked like a lot of fun...except for instead of pretend lava, you would eaten alive by a worm. Semantics.

The Pitch: It is a high stakes game of Frogger in this adaptation of Tremors, as you try and get your character from point A to point B without getting caught by the monster slithering below. Alternate between indoor and outdoor levels with an overhead perspective and increasing difficulty. Pole-vault your way from rock to rock to try and make it to the safety zone, but be careful! If the distance between rocks is too far, you better watch your seismograph to make sure the monster isn't near by while you make a run for it. Inside, use counters and shelves to your advantage, but if you stand on that old vending machine for too long, it might just start up and give you position away. Move quickly and intelligently. You have three lives per level and losing all three means game over. (Vanessa Bogart)