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Pennyworth's Showrunners On The Horror Movie That Inspired Season 3 - Exclusive

If you noticed the significant horror vibes in "Pennyworth" Season 3, you're not alone in that observation. Given some of the truly dark and twisted villains depicted in the "Batman" catalog, a prequel in this world makes perfect sense for some unsettling horror elements. Even though we're not getting the Joker's unhinged clown antics or the Riddler's disturbing mind games, "Pennyworth" has plenty of room to honor its source material. Yet the show puts a new spin on the dark storylines portrayed in the "Batman" comics, TV shows, and films that have come before. So, which movies and aspects of the genre most inspired the "Pennyworth" writers?

"Pennyworth" invited Looper to the press room at New York Comic Con, where we talked to Bruno Heller and John Stephens about their horror inspirations for the third season of the show. They discussed the genre inspirations along with the horror movie that impacted their storytelling.

A little drop of horror

On what made the duo decide to go in a horror direction and if they were influenced by any horror films, Heller said, "Oh, yeah. You caught that. Hammer horror, that kind of English, not-very-horrific stuff. That's the funny thing about when you watch those old horror movies — [with] "Dracula" and stuff, it's like ..."

Stephens popped in with, "When's the horror happening?" Heller added, "He's just creeping up on ..." 

And though the horror elements of "Pennyworth" Season 3 aren't necessarily visceral, that kind of unsettling horror can be much scarier than killer clowns and head-spinning demons.

"But compared with actual horror, it's gothic horror. It's not visceral, body horror. I don't like that sort of stuff. It scares me too much. Yeah, there's a horror element. There's also an element in terms of the storytelling; it's about a good time gone bad," Heller explained. "That's essentially what horror [is]. You['ve] got to start with the fun and then take it downhill. That's what happened in the '60s and '70s with that whole psychedelic drug culture. It turned into Charlie Manson and Altamont."

Stephens noted, "Everyone overdosing."

New episodes of "Pennyworth" Season 3 stream Thursdays on HBO Max.