There is a mysterious link between horror and comedy. Perhaps the two do so well together because sometimes we need laughter to take the edge off the scares we have just seen. Who hasn’t jumped at a horror movie scene only to laugh nervously at the person next to you or walked out of a theater giggling at how scared you were during the movie ? Horror Comedies give us that release. The laughter not only reminds us that it’s okay to jump and scream…it makes it FUN. Here is a list of my favorite Horror Comedies:
#10 Young Frankenstein (1974) : A classic movie from the great director Mel Brooks, filmed in black and white. It stars Gene Wilder as the title character and includes plenty of other well-known actors such as Teri Garr, Marty Feldman, Gene Hackman,and Peter Boyle . This film is really more comedy than horror, but it is a great spoof of the old Universal studios Frankenstein movies. Whenever I hear “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” I think of this film.
#9 Drag Me To Hell (2009) : Sam Raimi goes balls out in a gross rapid fire frenzy of a horror comedy about a woman cursed by a slighted gypsy. Great scares will have you jumping in your seat and gross scenes will make you squirm with disgust but it’s the comedy relief that pulls it all together. The “here kitty kitty” scene had me laughing out loud in the theater.
#8 Fright Night (1985): Fright Night is the story of a teenager trying to get everyone to believe his next door neighbor is a vampire. Roddy McDowell stars as an aging “vampire hunter” horror host who is enlisted to help poor charlie. I think the comedy of the film rests with Charlie’s misguided outcast friend, Evil Ed, and the over-the-top campy vampire effects.
#7 From Dusk Till Dawn (1996): When Robert Rodriguez directs a film scripted by Quentin Tarantino, you know you’re in for a hilarious and twisted ball of fun. The movie starts as a traditional Tarantino story of wisecracking career criminals (played by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino, himself), then suddenly morphs into ‘psycho killers vs. vampires’. Plus the scene of Cheech saying “p*ssy,p*ssy,p*ssy “ had me in tears laughing.
#6 Shaun of The Dead (2004): Shaun of the Dead is a zombie satire that doesn’t stray from the genre formula, brilliantly lampooning while also paying homage. And, like the Evil Dead franchise, I have no doubt Shaun of the Dead will be a future cult classic that will be shown at midnight screenings years from now, with the patrons in zombie attire, and sporting broken records around their “bloody” craniums. It is smart and entertaining. And it makes you laugh for the right reason: because it’s funny. Gotta love the scene where they “blend in” with the zombies.
#5. Tremors (1990): A small isolated desert town, with a population of what? a dozen? comes under attack by mysterious underground creatures that give these people a run for their money. The heroes of the story, Valentine (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward), have terrific, hilarious chemistry. The show-stealers, however, are survivalists Burt (Michael Gross), and his wife (Reba McEntire) with their unique method of problem solving. You’ll never look at a rec room the same way again
#4 The Lost Boys (1987) : People are strange in the town of Santa Carla. And some of them are vampires, too. This is the story of two brothers who move to a new beach town with their divorced mother. The oldest son, Michael (Jason Patric), gets semi-infected, and together he and his brother try to get rid of the stylish vampires for good. There are lots of great one liners (the dinner scene was especially funny). Kiefer Sutherland rocks in his vampire role and there is a scene-stealing performance by screen veteran Barnard Hughes as the crusty old hippy grandfather.
#3 Evil Dead 2 (1987): A lot of folks would say Army of Darkness was funnier. I say it’s a lot campier. Evil Dead 2 gets my vote. It keeps the scares, yet throws in some pretty funny one liners. Bruce Campbell owns the role of Ash in this movie. and we are treated to the hilarious possesed hand scenes. I love the over-the-top style of Sam Raimi.
#2 American Werewolf in London (1981): If this doesn’t convince you of the link between comedy and horror, nothing will. Director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers ) brings us a tale of two American tourists attacked by a werewolf in the English countryside. The survivor soon learns that he is, in fact, a werewolf. This movie equally balances true fright with laughter. After we see some pretty scary werewolf scenes we are then treated to some very funny comedy relief.
#1 Zombieland (2009): My favorite horror comedy ever is set in a world overtaken by zombies. It’s not set during the actual zombie outbreak, but rather in the post-apocalyptic ruins left behind. Woody Harrelson stars as redneck, twinkie-loving, zombie-killer, Tallahassee, who meets up with Columbus , a nerdy, shy college student. Columbus’ rules for survival pop up throughout the movie. Zombieland is the perfect combination of humor, gore, scares yet it is also a touching story of family. Not only do they have some funny lines in this movie, but Bill Murray’s scene was the icing on the cake.
Honorable mentions: The Burbs, Severance, The Frighteners, Gremlins, Dead Alive, Arachnohobia, Feast, Critters