As the villain in The Expendables 3, Mel Gibson gives a full-bodied, frightening performance. He's an arms dealer with a very sharp edge, capable of scary intensity yet always tossing off witty quips. In other words, he's the type of bad guy that was embodied in countless 1980s action movies, which is kind of the point for a flick that pays tribute to films from that era.
In fact, Gibson plays such a nasty, charming, yet twisted personality in The Expendables 3 that he could easily have played a similar character in an action-horror movie. The line that delineates rational human beings from demented psychotics gets terribly blurry in these films, as the following recent examples make clear.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
Witches are on the endangered species list when siblings Hansel and Gretel are around; they are not inclined to be merciful toward the murderous supernatural beings. This is an action vehicle that rarely slows down.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
What, you were expecting Hamlet? OK, we grant you that Timur Bekmambetov is not exactly a "subtle" director, and quite a bit of this movie veers into overkill. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) But, taken with a grain of salt, the idea of the 16th president of the United States as a righteous killer of vampires who plan to overthrow the government -- well, it's irresistible.
Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)
Admittedly, Jason Eisener's down-and-dirty independent movie leans more toward a straight exploitation approach rather than a horror entry, but there are certainly more than enough elements to qualify it as a gritty, jolting thriller for horror fans with a taste for the explicitly gruesome and darkly hilarious.
An above-average cast -- Dwayne Johnson, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Dexter Fletcher -- makes the most of this military horror/sci-fi picture that is determined to pile as much action carnage as possible into every horrifying second.
Vampires take on werewolves in Len Wiseman's relentless action movie. While the horror aspect is often forgotten, this is a bleak, almost monochromatic movie that never forgets that werewolves and vampires are, at heart, terrifying creatures of the night.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
The great Neil Marshall (The Descent, Centurion) made his directorial debut with a thriller that rarely stops to catch its breath. Set in the Scottish highlands, it follows soldiers on what should be a routine training mission, but it goes horribly wrong when a pack of ravenous werewolves suddenly appear.