Last year, we talked about how horror and comedy inherently work in tandem better than almost any other genre combination. They’re like cinematic chocolate and peanut butter. Or peanut butter and jelly. Or peanut butter and… well, anything. The point is, horror and comedy just inherently mesh together, for a number of reasons.
I’ll spare you a repeat of that particular rant, which you can read here.
In that post, I recommend some of my favorite horror/comedies. But because this area of genre cross-pollination is so enormous, there are still dozens of others that would make excellent additions to your October watchlists.
So here’s five more, free of charge.
New Zealand, as a producer of content, has become virtually synonymous with comedy over the years, thanks to the likes of Jermaine Clement, Rhys Darby, and, more recently, Taika Waititi. But even before any of these figures hit the mainstream, the island nation was churning out a steady stream of quirky, subversively hilarious films. Black Sheep, released in 2006, is one of the weirder examples out there. It’s about – what else – a rising threat of mutant, carnivorous sheep, whose bites can transform their victims into hideous weresheep. And, naturally, our protagonist has a deathly phobia of the furry farm animals. It’s super violent, cartoonishly serious, and definitely self-aware, Black Sheep is one of the funniest, most bizarre modern-day B-movies around. And it has some incredible practical effects done by Weta, who are frequent Peter Jackson collaborators. Just be prepared to hate the sound of “baaa” after it’s finished.
Army of Darkness
Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy is perhaps one of horror’s most beloved franchises, for a multitude of reasons. Part of this is because it features some of the genre’s most genuinely frightening, bloody, and harrowing imagery ever. But I like to think it’s also because the films are uniquely comedic, their tones walking a very fine line between goofy and gory. And each film progressively embraces Raimi’s distinct sense of humor more and more, until we arrive at the final film in the trilogy, Army of Darkness, which becomes a full blown comedy set in medieval times. Series protagonist and Deadite punching-bag Ash, played to perfection by Raimi mainstay Bruce Campbell, is at his absolute wits end by this point, basically devolving into a deadpan-snarking Looney Tunes character. Who just so happens to be a zombie-fighting, chainsaw-handed badass. Army of Darkness would set the tone for the rest of the franchise, cementing The Evil Dead as almost the quintessential example of horror/comedy that leans a little more horror than most. And it’s in my top 10 favorite movies ever made. Hail to the king, baby.
Another one of my absolute favorite films, you just can’t go wrong with the Gene Wilder/Mel Brooks combo. Releasing in 1974, the same year as the duo’s other genre smash hit Blazing Saddles¸ Young Frankenstein is both a loving parody and a fantastic example in its own right of the classic, black-and-white Universal Horror films of the 30s and 40s. A laugh-a-minute riot, full of the most quotable comedy routines I think I’ve ever seen in the nearly 50 years since the film’s release, I could watch this movie back to back to back and never get sick of it. Not a single bit has aged a day. This is not only one of the greatest horror/comedies of all time, it’s arguably one of Hollywood’s greatest films period. If you don’t find Young Frankenstein funny, you need serious help.
Return of the Living Dead
Believe it or not, the modern pop-culture portrayal of the brain-eating zombie is one that actually has very little to do with George Romero’s original vision for the monsters. The obsession with brains didn’t appear until nearly two decades after Night of the Living Dead, with Alien screenwriter Dan O’Bannon’s now cult-classic Return of the Living Dead. A punk-rock semi-parody of the already-tired zombie tropes that had been established in previous years, the film is a manic, goofy, sexy send-up of both popular horror as well as the counter-culture music scene that was thriving at the time in the mid-80s. Spawning it’s own franchise of unique, rock-flavored undead movies, Return of the Living Dead is one of the most energetic, head-banging, and (ironically) lively horror/comedies ever released.
Fred Dekker, writer and director of cult-classic hit Night of the Creeps, brings us this 1987 gem that asks the brilliant question: “What if The Goonies, but spooky?” Following in the popularity of similar “group of kids get into trouble” films like Goonies and Stand By Me, Monster Squad follows a group of horror-obsessed kids as they accidentally stumble on to the diary of Van Helsing and find themselves embroiled in a centuries-old struggle between good and evil. Befriending Frankenstein’s monster, they seek to find a legendary magic amulet before Count Dracula can get his own vampiric hands on the artifact. The Count is backed up by a squad of his own, made up of classic Universal Monsters the Wolf Man, Gill-Man (a copyright-questionable version of the Creature From the Black Lagoon) and The Mummy, and chews scenery with just the right amount of pseudo-Bela Lugosi charm. It’s campy and cheesy as all hell, in the best possible ways. This movie holds a special place in my heart as a family favorite, and I’m pretty sure both my mom and my grandmother can quote the whole thing by heart.
There’s just so many to choose from out there that narrowing it down to just five at a time is immensely difficult. But, if I did anymore at a time, I’d have no more material left for next year, so don’t be greedy. Plus, I’m lazy. So sue me.
What are some of your favorite horror/comedies? Let me know down in the comedies.
And Happy Halloween!