While they may seem diametrically opposite, humor and horror have a lot in common. Both cause a strong physical reaction from the viewer, whether it be a short scare or chuckle or sustained dread or a belly-laugh.
When a film encompasses both these genres, it’s ripe for cult classic territory.
Here are the 14 best horror comedies to date.
14. ‘Night Of The Creeps’ (1986)
An odd hodgepodge of alien invasion, zombie and slasher film all add up to a movie so over the top it offers more laughs than scares. A fun guilty pleasure.
13. ‘Tremors’ (1990)
Nice salt-of-the-earth folks battle giant underground dwelling carnivorous snake-like creatures in the desert. Kevin Bacon gets a chance to flex his comedic muscles in this fun horror romp.
12. ‘Reanimator’ (1985)
Author H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘Reanimator’ is given a sublimely gory and hilarious adaptation in this 80’s ‘splatstick’ classic. Suffice it to say that a mad scientist’s work with bringing the dead back to life has over-the-top gross out comedy to spare.
11. ‘Zombieland’ (2009)
Part coming of age tale, part scary zombie flick and part hilarious. This proved a breakout vehicle for actors Jesse Eisenberg and comedic actress Emma Stone, and a comeback vehicle for Woody Harrleson as well.
And keep an eye out for a iconic comedic actor halfway through the film.
10. ‘Beetlejuice’ (1988)
Tim Burton’s sophomore theatrical feature is also one of his funnest, with great gallows humor and an over-the-top bravura performance from Michael Keaton.
He plays a mischievous entity who’s job is to scare the living out of a haunted house so that a ghost couple (played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) can have their privacy. Things do not go according to plan.
This movie offered a breakout role for Winona Ryder.
9. ‘Gremlins’ (1984)
‘Gremlins’ tale of devious creatures running amok during Christmastime is the perfect mix of scary and hilarious, but director Joe Dante’s vision is a tad over sanitized by producer Steven Spielberg. Regardless it delivers.
8. ‘The Return Of The Living Dead’ (1985)
‘The Return Of The Living Dead’ is actually an unofficial sequel to ‘Night Of The Living Dead.’ It shared the same producer, John Russo, but director George Romero was not involved.
This signals a dramatic shift in tone, but offers a fun zombie flick filled with vintage 80’s punk rock. It also introduced the concept of zombies eating the brains of the living.
7. ‘Ghostbusters’ (1984)
Short on scares, but long on laughs, it’s become a classic with hilarious performances from the best 80’s comedians and iconic scenes (the giant Stay puft Marshmallow Man being the most memorable). The title theme has become pretty annoying however.
6. ‘This Is The End’ (2013)
I recently reviewed this hilarious apocalyptic comedy, which features moments of absurd horror mixed with big laughs from its impressive cast and assured direction from Seth Rogen (who also stars).
5. ‘Creepshow’ (1982)
Director George Romero’s homage to E.C. horror comics is plenty gruesome, but it’s also wonderfully funny, with five separate vignettes of bad things happening to bad people. In particular, Stephen King’s performance as a country yokel who has bad luck with a meteorite is both hilarious and disturbing.
4. ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ (2004)
The first film in Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ is also its most frighteningly funny, with just a touch of emotion for good measure.
I recently reviewed ‘The World’s End’, which is the third in the trilogy, and while it liked it best, ‘Shaun’ is the most horror-centric of the three.
3. ‘Young Frankenstein’ (1974)
Director Mel Brook’s ‘Young Frankenstein’ is the perfect mix of loving homage and bawdy comedy. It looks like it was made straight from the 40’s, with the exception of Gene Wilder’s crazy spirally 70’s hair.
It will also permanently change the context of classic song ‘Puttin’ On The Ritz.’
2. ‘Evil Dead 2’ (1987)
Director Sam Raimi toned down the scares and amped up the goofiness in his sequel to ‘The Evil Dead.’ Raimi combined gore with Three Stooges-esque kinetic zaniness. Lead actor Bruce Campbell chewed the scenery in an inspired madcap performance as the tortured protagonist Ash.
Click here for my review of the recent, and far more somber Evil Dead remake.
1. ‘Dead Alive’ aka ‘Braindead’ (1992)
Before he became the lofty director synonymous with ‘Lord Of The Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’, New Zealand director Peter Jackson made ‘Braindead’ (known as ‘Dead Alive’ in North America’). A truly disgusting horror comedy about Lionel; a son who takes care of his overbearing mother, even after she turns into a cannibalistic zombie.
She’s contagious and soon he’s having to fend off zombie hordes in some of the most gruesome, yet gutbustingly funny (pun intended) ways imaginable.
(Jackson’s horror comedy ‘The Frightener’s’ is also good fun.)
So there’s out list of the 14 best horror comedies. Which ones would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments.