Writer’s Note: There will be a youtube video ranking these movies accordingly. For the sake of this article, these are my top ten horror comedies in no particular order. Anyway — enough talk! Here is the list:
This movie was flat-out ENTERTAINING. A well-acted comedy set within a classic monster movie. Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon still find the time to break balls amidst the absurdities they face throughout the movie. Michael Gross shines as the over-prepared gunsman. This is an underrated flick that has aged extremely well — especially when you consider today’s CGI infested landscape. What makes Tremors shine is that the humor is grounded within the crazy situation these characters find themselves in: subterranean giant worms are out to kill them and no one knows what the heck to do to stop them. The characters have no clue that they are in a comedy — which oddly enough, makes the comedy work to perfection. It’s deadly “on the job training”. Tremors is an easy watch and its re-watchability is what makes it easily number one on this list (spoiler alert).
Army of Darkness (1992)
Sam Raimi’s third & self-contained installment of the Evil Dead series is a full-blown slapstick comedy. This movie is very tongue-in-cheek, unapologetic, and serves as a great vehicle for Bruce Campbell to showcase his chops as a comedic lead actor. Excuse the cliche, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else in this role as Campbell’s portrayal of Ash is central to the Evil Dead trilogy’s charm. He delivers his ridiculous one-liners (and there is a boatload of them) with such arrogant self-righteousness that you can’t help but crack up. A mindless but entertaining popcorn flick with one-liners will stick with you long after you’ve seen it.
Behind The Mask: Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
The horror takes a backseat to the comedy in Behind The Mask (BTM). This movie is heavily geared toward horror movie fanatics that are begrudgingly familiar with all the tired tropes & cliches that have plagued the genre. However, if you are a fan of shows like The Office, Arrested Development or Modern Family per say, you’ll enjoy the comedic mockumentary style of the first 75% of the film (checkout my full review of the film here). Overall, BTM is a true horror gem with a standout lead in Nathan Baesel. This movie is not to be missed. Go see it. Now.
Return of the Living Dead (1985)
This is a quintessential 80’s movie: heavily synthesized instrumentals, the lingo, the hairdo’s etc. The zombies are cartoony (they can talk, answer phones, have bulging eyes) and the whole movie feels like a live-action comic book. The zombies actually look like rotting corpses as the makeup & special effects are light years better than the zombies from Dawn of the Dead (which pretty much had blue/green face paint & blood). This movie is so 80’s that it even has Tommy Jarvis from Friday the 13th part 6 playing one of the leads. This was one of the first proper horror-comedies of the 80’s and it still holds up today. Very entertaining and well acted.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
This 80’s cult classic is on this list for the same reasons as Return of The Living Dead: it’s an all out 80’s fest and the antagonists are goofy fun. The plot is simple and sets the tone: killer clowns from outer space land on earth to harvest humans into cotton candy cocoons. What else do you want? The clowns look deranged and the comedic manner in which they dispatch their victims is still somewhat gruesome (because you know…they die?). Ballooned killer dogs, hand shadow monsters, jack-in-the-box clowns shooting lasers that turn people into punching-bag sized cotton candy cocoons, etc. The gags are creative and the movie is a fun entertaining ride.
Cabin in the Woods (2012)
This self-aware horror flick accomplishes what “Behind The Mask” does via a different route. Written and produced by Josh Whedon, the film hurdles horror cliche after horror cliche at the audience while trying to justify their existence at the same time. It will makes sense once you see it. Kinda. It is an exploitative criticism of the genre with a bizarre/absurd plot, but the humor/comedy keeps you entertained throughout.
Gremlins 2 (1990)
The sequel to the 1984 classic is clearly a cash grab and has abandoned the monster-horror feel of its predecessor in favor of a purely comedic tone. Gremlins 2 is set in a skyscraper in NYC and there are gremlins everywhere: they are making calls, cracking jokes, asking for more coffee, making office gag after office gag etc. This allegorical flick passes the one test essential to all comedies: it’s funny. And the movie “sticks” with you. Gremlins 2 is one of the few cash grabs sequels that actually work and for that, it deserves to be on this list.
This one is a bit of a stretch considering it isn’t exactly classified as a horror comedy — but the manner in which the plot unfolds (albeit gruesome) is pretty humorous. After being drugged and raped at a party, a woman thinks she’s been infected with an STD. However, after her body begins to decay, she realizes that she has been infected by something much worse… The comedy stems from her rapid physical deterioration and how nobody questions why this girl suddenly resorts to wearing hoodies, caps, and sunglasses indoors while conversing with people. She just looks absolutely ridiculous. In one scene when she’s fighting with her mom, she’s clearly zombified and her mother just chalks it up as drug abuse.
Beetle Juice (1988)
They don’t make movies like these anymore. Tim Burton’s 1988 film is on here for a lot of reasons: excellent cast, great set pieces, great special effects, memorable scenes and it’s entertaining (of course). Michael Keaton carries the comedic load with much gusto as the titular character. He gives it 110% and completely owns the role. Although the film centers around Alec Baldwin & Geena Davis’s characters, Keaton’s Beetlejuice dominates every scene he’s in. The film plays out like a real-life graphic novel/cartoon: it’s creepy, its fun and its funny. The film has aged well and the old school effects give it charm. That’s why it’s on this list.
Shaun of The Dead (2004)
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg co-wrote this comedy-horror about an aimless electronic salesman who gets drunk at a pub one night after his girlfriend breaks up with him. In the morning, he’s hungover, a bit distraught and incredibly slow to realize that the zombie apocalypse has arrived & is in full force. The cast is littered with British comedians and it shows as their timing is excellent.
Fans of the zombie genre will love this movie in the same way fans of slashers will love Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. However, the great writing makes it an entertaining watch for the casual fan as well. Its universal appeal is a safe choice to round out the list.