If PB&J burgers and chocolate covered bacon has taught me anything, mashups are a wonderful thing. It’s only natural to mush our favorite things together and see what monstrous creation comes out of it. Droves of fan fiction writers flood the internet with their ideal team-ups and romantic couplings. Walk through any playground and you’ll hear kids in heated debates on who would win in a fight. Hell, the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe is built on the idea that Thor is cooler when he has to team up with Iron Man and The Hulk to beat space bugs.
Horror is no stranger to its fair share of crossover fan service. We’ve got Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator, Sadako vs. Kayako, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein… the list goes on. But can one even talk about horror bonanzas nowadays without mentioning Death House? Described as “The Expendables of horror,” the film is a cornucopia of memorable names, faces, and fan favorites. So with the recent release of the film, I wanted to throw my own hat into the “shit I want to see” ring. Now as you might know, I’m more of a video game guy. And hey, gamers need love, too. So here is my stab at making a list in what I want to see in The Expendables of Video Game horror!
Forward: a few rules here. First, only a single character per franchise. That means I had to pick either a hero or villain. If you don’t see your favorite character on here, it’s likely because I had to cut them for someone I felt better fit the mashup. Also, some of these characters could be considered either a hero or a villain, so I took some creative license in my categorization. Lastly, I picked characters that I feel stood out on their own. I had to leave off some excellent titles when I couldn’t think of a character that would be good in a mashup (Fatal Frame, Siren, and Rule of Rose just to name a few).
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: Jack Baker (Villain)
Man, this was a tough one. I really wanted to put in Leon “Roundhouse Kick” Kennedy as my pick. RE4 undoubtedly changed the horror industry, and I’ve spent countless hours and playthroughs smashing heads in Leon’s boots. Ultimately, I didn’t include him because, prior to RE7, Resident Evil characters all kind of suck. These games never had exceptional plots. Let’s face it, we’re never given a good reason why Leon is just so damned dedicated to get Ashley back. He’s the living embodiment of blind duty and stoic determination in the face of cranial protruding bug monsters. Same reasoning behind not including Chris “Boulder Punch” Redfield, Barry “Jill Sandwich” Burton, and Albert “Please for the Love of God Get Me a Real Voice Actor” Wesker.
Jack has a lot of things going for him as a great villain. First, he’s a psychotic hillbilly. Always a good start. Second, he can recover from a ludicrous amount of damage. Useful trait to have in an industry where limbs are less attached than POTUS is to his cabinet members. Most importantly, there’s something so deeply off about just how human Jack is. When we meet him, he’s not wearing a dark robe and declaring himself lord of the mutant people. He’s wearing a dirty yellow shirt and chasing you around with a shovel. Sure, things get a bit snoopy loopy when he becomes a swamp monster, but that just makes him all the more fun to play with. I’d love to see more of this guy chasing hapless normies through new and interesting murder houses.
Wolfenstein: The New Order: BJ Blazkowicz (Hero)
In the era of the internet, we can all be renaissance men: skilled in some music here, dabbling in writing there, educated on a number of topics with a wide multitude of interests. But BJ? BJ kills Nazis. He wakes up to the comforting sound of a Nazi’s death rattle, takes a quick shower in the tears of Nazis, drives his stolen Nazi tank down to the Nazi killing factory, puts in his solid day’s work of killing Nazis, then heads on home to crack open a nice cold Nazi and fall asleep in a bed of dead Nazis.
I specifically picked The New Order Blazkowicz, because I feel that game got his Nazi killing down the best. The New Colossus was goofy and I just didn’t buy that there was pure hate behind BJ’s zany antics. Now in The New Order, there was some hurt behind the hurt he was delivering. And if I’m gonna see a jacked Polish-American Jew crush some skulls, I want it to be the one that really means it.
This one was a freebie. Pyramid Head isn’t just the most iconic Silent Hill character, he’s one of horror gaming’s most memorable pyramid faces. Now we’ve seen Pyramid Head a few times, but I we can all agree that his breakout role in Silent Hill 2 is easily his best.
Physically he’s the perfect antagonist, striking a balance between macabre nightmare, masculine power fantasy, and surreal menace. But what makes Pyramid Head so compelling is the unknown. We can speculate on his existence as a manifestation of Jame’s sexual urges, but under that mask we have no idea what’s going on in his pointy triangular brain. The only thing we know for sure is that whatever he’s thinking, it’s nothing nice.
Left 4 Dead: Francis (Hero)
Honestly, I just want to hear more about what Francis hates.
F.E.A.R.: Paxton Fettel (Villain)
Though often outshined by his mother and series antagonist Alma, Paxton Fettel is the real deal. He’s cold, calculating, cunning, and completely psychotic. Like a Hannibal Lecter with psychic powers. Leading a horde of psychically controlled soldiers, he’ll stop at nothing to reunite with his dead (kind of) mother. Even with an army at his back, he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. We’re first introduced to Fettel when he’s teeth deep into someone’s neck. But don’t worry, it’s only because he’s stealing their knowledge. He’s the perfect mix of blood and brain, savage and civilized.
Doom (2016): Doom Slayer (Hero)
You know what I said about BJ Blazkowicz and Nazis? That’s the Doom Slayer and demons. This might be explained by the theory that they are actually related, which would technically mean I’m breaking my one hero per franchise rule… Whatever. While the Doom Slayer (or Doom Guy) has seen many iterations throughout the franchise’s history, the 2016 Doom is where we see him in prime ass-kicking form. In terms of the ensemble cast, he’s the perfect kind of Boba Fett silent badass with some sweet armor. Sometimes you don’t need words to get your point across. Especially when your point is murdering demons.
Outlast: The Walrider (Villain)
The two Outlast games certainly have no shortage of memorable characters. We got Sister Cocksmash, Father Syphilis, Doctor Dicksnips, Professor Intrusivetongue, and a few others with actual names. But none is more menacing than the enigmatic and otherworldly Walrider. In a world where madmen with immense strength are free to run amok, even the insane fear the Walrider. And with good reason. The Walrider is more a force of nature than a conscious being. It sweeps away any that get in its way with no signs of stopping. It can go anywhere, do anything, and kill anyone it feels like. So you know, try not to piss it off.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “With all the hyper-powered characters on this list, does Frank West really belong? He’s just a journalist!” Don’t worry, Frank can take care of himself. He’s covered wars, you know. Besides, Frank has already proved that he’s tough enough to take on the likes of Thor, The Hulk, Nemesis, and even giant robots in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. More seriously, what Frank West brings to the team is his ingenuity. Not everyone can take a bucket, some drills, and make a murder-hat out of it. While some of the tougher cookies on this list might be able to dismember people with their bare hands, you can count on Frank West to do his killing with style.
Alone in the Dark: Edward Carnby (Hero)
I wouldn’t consider myself a big fan of the Alone in the Dark franchise. I get that the originals are classics, but I’m too old to take the polygonal graphics seriously. And hell, I don’t think anyone takes the newer games seriously. But you have to give Edward Carnby some serious credit. First, he’s got some legit experience under his belt hunting all manner of paranormal baddies. Second, he’s been doing it for over 100 years. Now that’s some work ethic. In terms of what he brings to the team, Edward is no stranger to using his noggin to get out of tight spots. He’ll do the research it takes to figure out how to send the bad guys back to whatever hell they came from. If that requires the use of his badass double-barreled pistol, all the better.
Do you miss the 80’s? It was a time where bad guys didn’t have to be so complicated. Just give them a mask, some teenagers, and an iconic weapon. Like chocolate and cookie dough, it is a simple recipe that delivers so much fun. Clock Tower’s Scissorman is a callback to this glorious gory age of horror. Just a dude in a weird bandage mask, a blue overcoat, and a ludicrous pair of giant murder scissors. And just like any good 80’s slasher villain, he might be invulnerable and teleport. His powers are vague. All we need to know is that he’s got some big ass scissors and a major grudge against people who are still in one piece.
Deadly Premonition: Francis Zach/York Morgan(Hero)
When Deadly Premonition came out, it cleaved the gaming community in two. You either loved it—claiming it was a complex surreal adventure in the vein of Twin Peaks—or you hated it because you are sane. To this day, I don’t know which camp I reside in. I’ve actually beaten the game twice, found all the useless collectibles, spent loads of time in the pointless minigames, and even listened to the lengthy movie recaps that restart if you get out of the car. This is a game where you die if your car runs out of gas. It is… confusing at best.
One thing I’m sure of is that Deadly Premonition is damned memorable. Of all the protagonists on this list, none are as poetically bonkers as Francis Zach/York Morgan. Keep in mind, this list includes Paxton Fettel, who eats people. What makes Zach/York so special is that he’s crazy, but he rolls with it. Sure he hears voices, and yeah he knows it’s all in his head, but that’s what makes him such a great detective. It’s just so damned bizzare that I’m happy to stick him into any situation and see what happens.
Oh hell yes I’m picking Dracula. Don’t give me none of that emo punk Alucard. Keep that BDSM Belmont shit to yourself. I’ll take my Count “What is Man but a Miserable Pile of Secrets” Dracula anyday. First off, just look at him. This man is a player to the max. We need some bad guys on this team that you might actually want to have a glass of wine with. Second, he owns a castle. Perfect setting for a horror icon mashup. It’s pretty much what he already uses it for anyway. Medusa in the library, Frankenstein’s monster in the attic, and Death in the cellar? Might as well lodge a few more baddies in the pantry. On top of all of that, he’s also a badass monster with insane powers that have only grown and evolved over the millenia. I’ll take that over a blessed piece of rope anyday.
As a special side note, I did consider including Gabriel Belmont/Dracula from the new Castlevania: Lord of Shadows series. I really like those games, and think that Gabriel is sufficiently badass to make the list. In the end, we just had enough good guys, and I genuinely like the classic baddie Dracula more.
For the record, I’m considering all of David Cage’s games to be one franchise. It’s not really THAT unfair. Quantic Dream has basically been trying to make the same game in one form or another since Indigo Prophecy. Not knocking it as I’m a big fan of the David Cage Interactive Storytime Show. I’d say my favorite of the series is Indigo Prophecy for the sheer batshit craziness of it, but I do have trouble saying that with a completely straight face. If we’re judging the games on narrative quality, characters, plot twists, and other things that aren’t quantity of mystical Mayan cults, I’d have to say that Heavy Rain comes out on top. I picked Norman Jayden as my favorite from the pack because of his sick VR glasses and glove. He’s a decent character, balancing a drug addiction with his dedication to catching the killer, but really it’s his gadgets that make him cool. Not everyone on the team has to be an action hero, and Norman rounds things out with some good ol’ cyber-police work.
Bioshock: Big Daddy (Villain (Hero?))
Even if you haven’t played Bioshock, chances are you’ve seen a picture of a Big Daddy. These lumbering leviathans in oversized dive suits are the perfect representation of the society that created them: bloated, deadly, and stripped of almost all humanity. They can also shoot lightning, and have a drill for a fist. People keep drawing fan art of these things for a reason.
There is some ambiguity here in whether the Big Daddy would be a good guy or bad guy. Canonically, there’s nothing really “moral” about a Big Daddy’s behavior. They are programmed to protect their Little Sisters at all cost. Someone touches the Little Sister, and it’s a swift trip to Davy Jones’ Locker courtesy of the S.S. Drillfist. And I think we can all agree that protecting little girls is generally a good thing. That being said, they are still monsters that wouldn’t hesitate to skewer the other heroes. So I’m willing to say that the Big Daddy could fill that crucial role of ambiguous villain that changes sides. Classic character archetype.
Metro: 2033 The Anomalies (Environmental Hazard)
Another one that doesn’t really fit into a hero/villian category, Anomalies are a staple of Russian post-apocalypse fiction that make most people go, “Bwah?” The easiest way to describe them is the byproduct of two realities colliding. Something so foreign and strange that the actual laws of nature warp and ripple around them. Seen prominently in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, it’s the Metro: 2033 depiction that stands out. It’s unclear if Anomalies have an objective, are just drawn towards certain things, or have any logic to them at all. In terms of our little mashup here, it’s a great way to add some spice to the world while presenting the characters—both good and bad—with an obstacle they must overcome.
Bill? Not Joel or Ellie? Naw man, Bill. Let me list the things that Bill has that Joel and Ellie don’t: a machete, his own town, tons of traps, the ability to make plans that require you to think three steps in advance, a church full of explosives, and severe paranoia. Bill is a survivor that’s learned through hard experience to dislike and distrust other people. Though the growing relationship between Joel and Ellie was touching, Bill’s attitude would be more entertaining in the group of misfits dynamic. Every group has got to have the guy that doesn’t want to be there. And that’s Bill.
Name one thing that wouldn’t be better without Velociraptors. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Safaris? Time to even the odds. Weddings? Better wrap up those vows quick before the raptors smell your tears of joy. The Walking Dead? “Rick, if we move through the city, we’ll have to deal with a horde of walkers! But it’s better than the Velociraptors in the woods.” Boom, no more boring episodes.
Just think, there’s all sorts of directions that these adorable deadly dinosaurs could go. If Jurassic Park taught us anything, it’s that these are some very clever girls. Maybe the Velociraptor packs are their own thing, threatening to both sides. Maybe they are Dracula’s newest minions. Maybe one of the good guys pulls a Chris Pratt and makes them their friends. Who gives a shit, just give me more dinosaurs.
Holy Sigmar! Bless this ravaged body! If you haven’t played Vermintide… then what the fuck dude? Go play Vermintide. It’s like Left 4 Dead, but with rat people. It’s freakin’ sweet. Now for those of you that have, you’ll agree that the Ubersreik Five are some serious badasses. Kruber, Sienna, Bardin, Kerillian, they all deserve a spot on this list. But chief among them, mister A+ number 1 rat killer himself, is Victor Saltzpyre.
While all the other characters just happened to be in Ubersreik when the Skaven decided to pop up, it was the Witch Hunter Saltzpyre who was actually looking for them. That’s right, this dude saw a horde of millions of rats and unspeakable horrors, and decided the best course of action would be to strap 32 pistols to his chest and get to work. That’s how you earn yourself some of that quality Sigmar’s blessing.
System Shock 2: Shodan (Villain)
For all their advanced programming and limitless power, most evil supercomputers are kind of dumb. HAL would still be alive if he wasn’t so emotional. Great going AM, you killed the world, now you only have 5 dudes to mess with for all eternity. Wow Skynet, you can’t kill one lady with your army of infinite metal skeletons? Shodan looks at all that weak shit and is so disgusted that she makes her own reality. That’s right, not only is Shodan a master manipulator, but she can reshape the world into a cyber-dystopia. How does she do this? You wouldn’t understand, you aren’t a supercomputer.
You know how Ridley Scott kept the alien hidden for most of the movie? The Kaernk takes this and really runs with it. We don’t know where the Kaernk comes from. We don’t know how it thinks. We don’t know what it even looks like. Invisible to the naked eye, the only way to detect it is its splashing footsteps. Bound to an aquatic environment, the Kaernk is only interested in finding its next meal. So as long as you keep chucking limbs into the water, you should be fine. Unfortunately, everyone runs out of limbs eventually…
Condemned 2: Bloodshot: Rabid Bear (Bear)
Don’t even for a second argue that this isn’t the most memorable character in the entire series. Try to even remember the names or faces of either of the final bosses or any of the serial killers you chase down. But sneaking through that house while we slowly realize it’s not a person causing all this carnage? The climactic final shot to take it down? That we remember. Morally ambiguous, what Rabid Bear brings to the ensemble is that he’s a rabid bear. He’s a real wild card here, not only as a bear, but because of the rabies. Does he side with the bad guys? The good guys? It’s up in the air. All we know is that Rabid Bear only takes care of Rabid Bear.
The motivations of the enigmatic G-Man are as mysterious and vague as whatever happened to Half-Life 2: Episode 3. With his trademark suitcase and signature stutter, the G-Man always seems to be at the center of whatever is going on. Is he just an observer? Does he directly influence events? Who are his employers? What’s his endgame? These questions have plagued fans since 1998, and they probably always will. If Valve feels like releasing a Half-Life 3, we might just get some answers. If you find a copy, go ahead and send me one on the unicorn express through the gateway to Narnia, because you are clearly living in fantasyworld.
Dark Seed 2: Mike Dawson (Punching Bag)
Now there’s one integral position that hasn’t been filled yet on this dream team: the bitch. The guy (or girl) that is just so unfathomably incompetent, so riddled with failure and self doubt, that everything they touch turns to shit. These are the guys (or gals) that forget to turn the safety off. These are the ones that locked the keys in the getaway car. Need to beat a simple ring toss game? Hey, you missed, pal. Mike Dawson is treated so poorly in Dark Seed 2, that you’d almost assume the developers had a serious grudge against him. When it comes to video game wimps, Mike Dawson is reigning champ.
And there you have it, the characters I’d like to see in an Expendables of Horror Gaming Mashup. As always, let me know what you thought below. Did you like my picks? Did you see your favorite character? What did I miss that you just can’t live without? Thank you all, and see you next time!