Netflix’s new vampire hunting movie Day Shift brings back an old classic: combining action, horror, and comedy into a fun, audience-thrilling package. It helps to have a leading man like Jamie Foxx, and a director like J.J. Perry.
First-time director Perry, a veteran stunt performer and action choreographer, brings electric action sequences to the movie, while Foxx and co-star Dave Franco layer on the charm. Perry talked to Polygon about his love for movies that can combine the three genres of action, horror, and comedy.
“When you have those three ingredients and implement them perfectly,” he says, “you’ll always have the upper hand on the audience.”
Perry’s work on the John Wick franchise and his longtime friendship and work partnership with director Chad Stahelski meant he started receiving a lot of scripts for his first directing project. But most of those scripts were laser-focused on traumatic experiences in the military. Perry, an Army veteran, wasn’t interested in doing that kind of work.
“People were sending me scripts and they were all darker,” he says. “And because I was in the Army, [they were all], Oh, this is about a PTSD guy, with a sniper that has PTSD and Oh we want you to do a John Wick kind of movie, and I was like, Well, I kind of did that.”
That changed when Perry found out about Day Shift, a movie where Foxx’s vampire-hunting Bud Jablonski must team up with friends old and new to repair his relationship with the Vampire Hunters’ Union and take down a whole lot of bad guys in order to secure a big score.
“When I got the script [for Day Shift],” Perry says, “immediately when I read it, I knew right away this is the one.”
In our chat, Perry mentioned four movies that combine action, horror, and comedy that he grew up with. These movies were on his mind as he worked on Day Shift, and you can see the influence in one of Netflix’s best action movies yet. So if you’ve seen and liked Day Shift and want to revisit some classics, here are Perry’s picks.
Big Trouble in Little China
Buckaroo Banzai director W.D. Richter rewrote the script for Big Trouble in Little China, taking it from an 1880s Western and turning it into a modern-day martial arts story. Director John Carpenter’s fourth project with leading man Kurt Russell, this was Carpenter’s one and only martial arts movie — something he had long wanted to do.
While Big Trouble has grown a significant cult following since its release, the poor reception to the movie resulted in Carpenter leaving the Hollywood system and returning to making movies on his own. Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, and James Hong join Russell in the cast.
Big Trouble in Little China is available to watch on Hulu.
The Lost Boys
There are a lot of things to write about Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys, a dark and funny coming-of-age story that operates much like a demented adaptation of Peter Pan. But if I’m going to mention just one thing, it’s the unforgettable performance by Kiefer Sutherland as the villainous David Powers. Aided by the movie’s incredible costuming, production design, and hair and makeup, Sutherland’s Powers is an iconic movie villain from an era filled with them.
The Lost Boys is available to watch for free with ads on Tubi, or for digital rental or purchase on VOD platforms.
The Evil Dead
Arguably the zenith of horror comedies, Sam Raimi’s original movie in the excellent Evil Dead franchise remarkably balances its tone of wicked humor with the horrors that unfold in front of your eyes. It’s a deft feat, and one that feels like nobody but Raimi (and his star and vessel, Bruce Campbell) could have accomplished.
The Evil Dead is available to watch for free with ads on Tubi and Pluto TV, or for digital rental or purchase on VOD platforms.
Tom Holland (no, not that one) is best known for directing the excellent Child’s Play, spawning the Chucky franchise. But his directorial debut was this vampire horror comedy about a young boy who finds out his neighbor is a vampire. What does the boy do? He finds an actor who played a vampire hunter in movies to stop the vampire, of course.
Fright Night is available to watch for free with ads on Pluto TV, or for digital rental or purchase on VOD platforms.