Greetings ghouls and vamp tramps! Our horror haul grows ever darker as All Hallow’s Eve approaches. Let’s pursue October’s waning nights further into the seedy underbelly of centuries-old monster turf wars with Underworld, director Len Wiseman’s slick 2003 hybrid fusing creature features with sci-fi action.
Underworld introduced viewers to a perpetual secret war between aristocratic vampires and feral werewolves (properly called Lycans in the story’s mythos). Centuries of violent conflict arise from forbidden love between vampire Selene and Lycan Lucian, spawning byzantine plotting and tribal vendettas. A familiar Romeo & Juliet trope done gothic.
But the original Underworld transcends B-movie trappings via addictive style and pacing. Wiseman crafts a perpetually rainy, grimy urban atmosphere teeming with aristocratic covens and feral beast dens straight from horror tradition. Leather-clad Kate Beckinsale proved an inspired choice as brooding heroine Selene with her combination of melancholy beauty and imposing physicality.
The stylish gloom and parkour-infused action scenes quickly won over genre fans, making Underworld a surprise box office hit. Critics also praised the gloomy comic book sensibilities and engrossing if convoluted central feud. Underworld revived classic monster archetypes as slick, kinetic blockbuster fare without losing their elegant gothic edge.
Underworld also deserves recognition for pioneering the popular hybrid sub-genre fusing creature features, science fiction, and high-octane action. Its blue-tinted world of ancient rival species warring across eerie cityscapes became quasi-trendsetting. Later efforts like Blade andVan Helsing built upon its foundation.
While spawning over-stuffed sequels of declining quality, that initial Underworld entry remains sterling Gothic action horror. This Halloween season, revisit where Beckinsale and Wiseman first immersed us in an ever-entertaining cycle of monstrous tribal vengeance, forbidden paranormal romance, and plenty of bravura underground ass-kicking. Just don’t get bitten along the way!