November 6, 2009

Fave Five: Comedic Horror Movies

If there is one thing harder to pull off than effective horror, it's effective comedy. Combine the two at the same time and you're just asking for trouble. But, boy oh boy, when it's done right it can be some of the most rewarding time spent in a theater or living room.

I'm a fan of both. And I've seen movies meant to be funny that have just made me cringe, as well as movies meant to scare me that have caused me to erupt in derisive laughter. As for the films out to do both, I have a few favorites. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure at least a couple of them may be movies that you've enjoyed watching in the past. Then again, you might have a movie or two in mind that should be on this list instead of what I've included.

Don't be shy, though. If you can think of a comedic horror movie or a horrific comedy in you fave five that's not on mine, leave a comment. In the meantime, here are my five favorite comedic horror movies:

#5) Idle Hands - Maybe I like this movie because Seth Green rips off one-liners like nobody's business. Maybe I like this movie because Jessica Alba rips off her clothes during the climax like nobody's business. The important thing is that I like this movie. It kind of came out of nowhere back in the late 90s. After showing up on the Blockbuster shelves on a slow weekend, my friends and I rented it and were instantly entertained. Snarky, Gen-X humor coupled with a pretty cool--pretty nonsensical too--villain taking the form of the main character's right hand. It felt like it was in the same vein as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which may be why I still count it among my favorites. As time has soldiered on though, I think this movie has fallen off everyone's radar. But I'll always cherish it for all of its faulty goodness.

#4) Ghostbusters - Okay, okay, so this isn't a movie many people count in the horror genre, even if asterisked as a comedic horror. But I'm including it anyway. It's funny as heck and it's got ghosts, ghouls, and demons. That's good enough for me to put it on the list. It came out in the mid-80s, a time when movies were either iconic in their eightiesness or absolutely dreadful for the same reason. I count the teaming of Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis as iconic--Sigourney Weaver and "the token black guy" weren't exactly cast for their comedic talent. I still love this movie because it's not only good, but because it takes me right back to my childhood when I reveled in a movie that could scare me and make me laugh at the same time--The Masters of the Universe garnered the same reactions from me, but for all the wrong reasons.

#3) Army of Darkness - The third movie in Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy, and in my opinion, the best of the three. The first two had their share of camp and comedy, but Bruce Campbell was a Gatling gun of one-liners and mugshots in this movie. It's not a film that's friendly to newcomers to the franchise, as Ash (Bruce's character) is thrust into medieval times with a minimum of explanation for why he's there. I'm not a huge fan of "the Bruce," but I could be very easily thanks to this movie and a few other flicks--even the Old Spice ad is good. The effects are incredibly dated by today's standards, but when you consider it was made in the very early 90s on a bare-bones budget, you can't help but admire what everyone accomplished with this movie.

#2) Shaun of the Dead - I like British comedy, so let's throw in some zombies and see what happens. Oh look, one of the funniest horror movies ever to enter into existence. I think this movie is so damned great because Simon Pegg and everyone else involved in writing and developing the story have a genuine love for zombie lore and the horror genre. I think this is the kind of movie that should be on everyone's Halloween viewing schedule. It's even a great date movie if your girlfriend insists on seeing something with some romance. Granted, she may make you sleep on the couch because she was expecting Breakfast at Tiffany's.

#1) Young Frankenstein - God, I haven't seen this movie in ages, but I still love it to death. Gene Wilder is a king among men and Mel Brooks really knew how to make people laugh. If you've ever seen the old Universal studio classics like Frankenstein, The Wolfman, or Dracula, then you can imagine the source material that's ripe for parody in this movie. Even throw in a few Hitler jokes since Brooks can't pass up taking at least one potshot at the villain of the millennium in each of his films. And I can't forget the iconic performance of Peter Boyle as Frankenstein's monster. You will never hear the song "Puttin' on the Ritz" again, after seeing this movie, and not think of Peter Boyle.

Yet Young Frankenstein hasn't aired on television (to my knowledge) for Halloween, or any other time, in years. I scrolled through the weekend's movies this Halloween and was disappointed yet again by how many of the lackluster Hollywood remakes and sequels aired, but very few of the classics. Please don't tell me that Paris Hilton and that abhorrent House of Wax remake bring in more ratings than something genuinely good.


  1. Ghostbusters is one of my favorite movies!!!! Love, love it.

    Thanks for the reminder. I think I'm going to dig it out today and let my boys watch it for the first time.

  2. I JUST got Shaun of the Dead. Can't wait to check it out. My first zombie movie ever was Zombieland last month, and given this list, you will HEART it in a big way. Like, seriously. I screamed and laughed and loved it. If you've already checked it out, I'd love to know what you think... (and there's a Bill Murray cameo, too!)

  3. Bella - It's timeless in its 80s-ness, ain't it? :)

    Celia - I am definitely looking forward to seeing "Zombieland" when it hits DVD. Bill Murray appears? Double bonus.

  4. There's a nice low-budget redneck zombie comedy called HIDE AND CREEP, although it might not be as funny if you're not a redneck also. I liked it, naturally.

  5. Fortunately, I'm a redneck with self-deprecating tendencies. :) Sounds like it might be right up my alley.

    I hear "Wrong Turn 3" is surprisingly humorous as well.