Start your engines – there’s a wild new street racing drama on the way. Sky One’s Curfew puts ordinary people in an extraordinary situation; racing the length of the UK in the world’s deadliest street race, all in a bid to win their freedom.
Curfew boasts a who’s who of great acting talent. Sean Bean heads up a cast that also includes Miranda Richardson, Adrian Lester, Billy Zane and Adam Brody. Sky’s drama chief describes the show as “Funny, emotionally truthful, visceral and above all fast.”
The series is a fast-paced adventure that crosses a multitude of genres – it’s a street racing drama at its heart, but it’s also about oppression and the fight for freedom, with a fair bit of dark foreboding mystery thrown in for good measure. That wild mix of tones got us thinking about other shows and films that have blurred the lines between genres to good effect. Here are 10 of the best…
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
High School is Hell – literally. That simple premise was the basis of Joss Whedon’s late 90s TV classic. Buffy is a young girl, growing up with all the problems that regular teens go through in school: fluctuating levels of popularity, romances, break ups, fall outs with friends. But Buffy Summers also has to contend with the fact that she’s the Slayer, the one girl in all the world tasked with protecting humanity from vampires, demons and the myriad forces of darkness. Beautifully played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, the series ran for seven seasons and spawned an almost-as-good spinoff, Angel.
Shaun of the Dead
Billed as a “rom-zom-com”, Shaun of the Dead smartly brought genuine scares and drama to a touching, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy. Shaun (Simon Pegg) is dumped by his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), leading to him getting blackout drunk. When he comes round the next day, something much worse has happened – the world has been overrun by ravenous hordes of the undead. While Shaun of the Dead is packed with ever-quotable lines, it’s the moments of shocking violence and heartbreak (Shaun’s mum dies!) that make the film one for the ages.
Bugsy Malone isn’t just a comedy and a gangster film, it’s a musical too. Made with an all-child cast – including a prominent early role for Jodie Foster, filmed the same year as her appearance in Taxi Driver – it’s a sprightly mix of cartoonish action (the climactic splurge gun battle is a hoot), catchy tunes and outright silliness. A cult classic beloved by 80s and 90s audiences that, despite pulling from various genres, feels unique.
David Lynch’s game-changing series felt like nothing else on TV in the early 90s. The mystery of who killed Laura Palmer made for both a gripping central narrative and a loose-framework for Lynch to embrace horror (demons, other dimensions), surreal soap opera pastiche and an increasingly avant-garde sensibility amid the show’s small town cosiness. Twin Peaks lurched between genres and tones on a week-by-week basis, ending after two seasons and a movie with the mystery solved, but the fate of heroic FBI agent Dale Cooper left ambiguous. 2017’s belated third season delved further into the weirdness, reinventing the series as uncompromising art horror.
Harrison Ford has starred in not one, but two, films that redefined sci-fi cinema forever. Star Wars, obviously, but the impact of Blade Runner was arguably almost as great – even if it didn’t perform particularly well at the box office. Smashing the film noir and the science fiction genres together, it redefined the look of SF cinema. Where most films set in the future looked to the gleaming likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Star Trek, Blade Runner felt grubby, down-at-heel and lived in. The plot, meanwhile, was a street level detective story of corrupt businessmen, a femme fatale, and ruthless killers.
The Wicker Man
Arguably Britain’s greatest horror movie is a deeply unsettling mix of scares and songs! While The Wicker Man‘s tale of bloody pagan sacrifice in the (then) modern day is deeply sinister, a large part of the film’s peculiar ambience is down to the fact that the residents of Summerisle have the disconcerting habit of bursting into song at regular intervals. It’s not quite a traditional musical – they’re not singing for the sake of the audience, music is just a large part of life on the island – but when the locals join hands and take up ‘Summer is A-Cumen In’ as Edward Woodward’s Sgt Howie burns to death, you’re not sure whether to laugh or scream.
Joss Whedon’s sci-fi Western follows a gang of outcasts and low rent criminals trying to make their way in the universe, while falling foul of an oppressive galactic Alliance and savage, cannibalistic “Reavers”. What made Firefly so fascinating – and no doubt contributed to it’s early cancellation – was how it both embraced the look, feel and themes of westerns and science fiction stories, while also refusing to fall into genre cliches. There was a logical reason why all the frontier worlds looked like the American Midwest; ships don’t make noises while in space, and there are no aliens. The show lasted a mere 14 episodes but, by the end, had a big enough fanbase to encourage a cinematic revival in the form of the equally excellent Serenity.
Rian Johnson’s debut feature couldn’t be more different from the glossy sci-fi action of Looper and The Last Jedi. A low budget, high school-set detective story, it borrows the tone and hardboiled dialogue of Raymond Chandler’s noir novels, while throwing in a dash of knowing humour and bleak tragedy. Teenager, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) investigates the disappearance of his girlfriend, Emily (Lost’s Emilie de Ravin), and gets pulled into the machinations of a sinister local kingpin. Sitting somewhere between Twin Peaks, Bugsy Malone and The Big Sleep, it’s a unique film that marked Johnson out for greatness.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Penned by Quentin Tarantino as his first paid writing assignment, From Dusk Till Dawn starts out as gritty crime thriller about the Gecko brothers, two bank robbers on the lam. As soon as they arrive at a strip club in Mexico, however, the film takes a surprise lurch into splatter-horror territory. Turns out, this club is absolutely rotten with vampires… The sudden gearshift proved divisive amongst audiences, but was also the reason the film became a word-of-mouth cult hit that launched a small franchise.
Written and directed by Jurassic Park novelist Michael Crichton, 1973’s Westworld was a goofy-but-fun sci-fi Western about a Wild West theme park inhabited by robots – not least Yul Brynner’s iconic Gunslinger. The film became the basis for the still-running, jaw-droppingly ambitious TV series that debuted in 2016. The tone of the show is far darker, delving into themes of morality and sexuality, while still telling a rootin’-tootin’ good tale. A third season is currently in production and we can hardly wait…