Let's state this up front: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is intended for adult audiences. The massive amounts of graphic bloodshed and nudity are designed to fully exploit the freedoms afforded to filmmakers who wish to explore the boundaries of the ratings system. And this is good news for horror fans, a dedicated group that's usually eager to see challenging new material that might put off more mainstream viewers.
The approach taken by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez is not necessarily to frighten anyone, though we must say that a fair portion of their new movie will surprise, and possibly shock, certain audience members. Really, their approach is similar to how horror filmmakers might tell the story: introduce a group of sympathetic, if sleazy characters -- Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin and Jessica Alba -- and then see how they deal with the horrors around them.
Consider a few examples of past comic book movies that contained terrifying sequences.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Guillermo del Toro's sequel broadened the scope of the danger facing the world and presents a number of disturbing sequences, even though it shies away from any explicit violence, capturing the tone of Mike Mignola's brilliant series.
30 Days of Night (2007)
David Slade's adaptation of Steve Niles' three-issue comic book series, vividly illustrated by Ben Templesmith, never really caught on with the public but it's a hidden gem that is unsettling and riveting.
As a whole, admittedly, the movie adaptation lacks the creative spark found in the Hellblazer comic book series, based on a character created by Alan Moore. But it's more effective -- and occasionally quite frightening -- than many people may remember, with Keanu Reeves serving as the dapper, doomed antihero.
From Hell (2001)
Grotty and unpleasant, the film adaptation by Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes did not fare well with the public. Loosely based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, the focus is on the mystery rather than the horror, and its period setting and dramatic tone were not what audiences expected at the time -- which doesn't diminish its frightening power.
Before Hellboy burst on the cinematic scene, Todd McFarlane's comic book creation first presented a heroic demon, leader of the army of Hell. Just the concept is sufficient to upset people in general, and the execution of those ideas proved to be deliciously harsh and, well, hellish.