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Horror-comedy Movie Essentials

If you like Horror-Comedy films, these are some must sees:

 


ALTERED (2006) – [R] Altered starts with an A making it number one, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best movie on this list. However, for alien enthusiasts, this may very well prove to be their favorite, as it does the alien genre well, with some jump scares and a healthy probing of humor. The action starts immediately in a forest with a spear gun, a need for revenge, and an arsenal of alien traps. The tension doesn’t let up except to allow a hearty laugh here and there. On the horror-comedy scale it falls more towards the horror camp. Its alien costumes, manners of death, and feeling of the unknown instill dread. This alien film is sure to please, unless you’re a vehement non-believing skeptic.

ARMY OF DARKNESS (1993) – [R] The kings of Horror-comedy, Director Sam Raimi and leading man Bruce Campbell, team up for this masterpiece of the genre. Transported to 1300 AD with a chainsaw-hand and a shotgun, Ash (Bruce Campbell) must teach a group of villagers to survive an approaching skeletal horde attack. More intentionally humorous than its predecessor Evil Dead, Army of Darkness lands itself in comedic water more so than horror. With the more recent Ash Versus the Evil Dead TV series, it might be time to re-watch the movie trilogy inspiration and treat yourself to the classic Raimi scares.

BAD MILO (2013) – [R] A horror-comedy centered around a man who comes to learn that a demon living in his lower intestines is the cause of his stomach pain. The movies illustrates the man’s attempts to tame the demon, and stars a great cast including Peter Stormare in an unusual role. As the Demon, Milo is ten times cuter than E.T., and the protagonist’s mother pitches some awkward table talk, Bad Milo gets more points in comedy and less in horror, mainly for the blood and idea of that thing crawling up somebody’s ass.

BUBBA HO-TEP (2002) – [R] And you thought Elvis was a goner. Not in this film. He’s alive and residing in a nursing home. Together with a man who claims to be JFK, they fight for the souls of their fellow residents, battling an ancient Egyptian Mummy. Bubba Ho-Tep maintains a good amount of tension earning it a spot in the horror genre, and is humorous to boot.

CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012) – [R] A group of young adults spend a weekend in a secluded cabin, but something’s not quite right. One of the few horror-comedies that was met with massive mainstream attention and praise. I can’t say much about the film without ruining it, other than it’s a group of horror clichés doing not so cliché things. You’ll just have to take my word for it and watch it.

CLOWN (2014) – [R] A clown costume that won’t come off begins changing a well-meaning father into a demonic clown. While this film leans far more towards horror than comedy, it does have aspects of both. It’s a dark sense of comedy, but it’s there, especially in the first half. For a lighter, more comedic clown movie, viewers should look for STICHES further down the list. Clown is a unique twist on the clown genre, utilizing demon skin and a horrific transformation. The imagery throughout is fantastic. Though many would say the ending is cliché, there is plenty of fresh content the film does bring, such as clown blood and a chainsaw contraption, which make it a worthwhile watch.

CURSED (2005) – [PG-13] A brother and sister find themselves cursed with the mark of the beast. The sound track is great, with an opening cover by Bowling for Soup. The werewolves are incredibly agile and surprisingly scary, but there is definitely comedy mixed in with this one. Overall, this has your typical werewolf movie aspects, such as new found strength and sensitivity, but Wes Craven keeps it feeling fresh, interesting, and altogether satisfying. There are a few twists to keep you guessing, as well. More horror than comedy.

DEAD END (2003) – [R] A family car ride takes a turn for the worst. Ray Wise and Lin Shaye play a great bickering couple in a car with their two adult children and their daughter’s boyfriend. On their way to a holiday dinner, Frank (Ray Wise) takes the scenic route, but it seems to never end. The longer the family travels the more apparent it becomes something is terribly wrong. The twist ending rivals The Usual Suspects (1995) and Psycho (1960), and the feeling of dread is palpable. However the cast delivers believable, yet hilarious performances as well, and there are plenty of genuine laughs to be had at their expense.  Dead End lands right in the middle of the scale, half horror, half comedy.

DETOUR (2003) – [R] In search for cannabis a group of attractive teens find cannibals instead. Ignore the opening scene that looks as if it were shot on a handheld camcorder. The production value of the rest of the film eclipses this tarnish on an otherwise awesome film. This movie has surprisingly well done character arcs, if you can roll with the ditsy girls and the gangster white boy for the first half. The gore and deaths are well done, and the cast of characters are a fun group, so the horror is balanced out by their comical reactions with lines like “That girl’s got a ba-donk-a-diezzy,” and of course the eye candy that is the majority of the cast. As such the film receives a balanced horror-comedy score.

DOG SOLDIERS (2002) – [R] A military exercise in Scotland goes to the dogs. These are the best looking werewolves on this list, and the terror is intense with all the action in this film. Paper beats rock, Scissors beats paper, Wolf beats automatic weapon. There are some great moments of comedy in this film, as well, for humor is a way of coping with the horrors of the world. And the dog soldiers top that list of world horrors. Mostly horror with a bite of comedy.

DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT (1995) – [PG-13] A classic Mel Brooks parody, this time a lampoon of Bram Stocker’s Dracula, starring Leslie Nielsen as Count Dracula. This remains one of Mel Brooks’ most underrated films, and I think it is one of the best comedies of the 1990s, far better than the more modern spoof movies, such as Superhero Movie and (2008) and Epic Movie (2007), although I must admit Vampires Suck (2010) made me laugh. The jokes in this work are timed perfectly, and Leslie Nielsen is on top of his game. The only horror this film contains is the vampire theme, some enthusiastic bug eating, and the suggestion of death. It’s mostly humor not horror.

DRAG ME TO HELL (2009) – [PG-13] A young loan officer evicts a gypsy from her home and finds herself the recipient of a curse. Director Sam Raimi delivers another masterpiece with Drag Me to Hell, starring not Bruce Campbell but the beautiful Alison Lohman. There are quite a few disgusting and horrific moments in the movie. The horror in this movie is both an immediate searing, followed by a slow burn when days later you’re still wondering if a gift is really a gift or perhaps someone is trying to curse you. The film has comedy, as well, though most of it has to do with Lohman’s desperate choices and animals. Drag Me to Hell scores a bit higher on the horror meter than it does on comedy.

ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK (1988) – [PG-13] Horror hostess Elvira drives to an uptight town when her Great Aunt dies, in order to claim her inheritance: a haunted house, a poodle, and a witch’s  spell book, but her creepy uncle proves to be a problem. As do some local prudes. Cassandra Peterson delivers a pun filled, fun performance as Elvira, and the whole movie is lighthearted and enjoyable. Some implied horror is all this movie provides, so like Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Elvira places much higher on the comedy scale than it does on the horror scale.

EVIL DEAD (1981) – [NC-17] Five friends plan to spend the weekend at a cabin in the woods, but they unwittingly release demons. The special effects in the 1981 Evil Dead are laughably bad, and yet there is something to be said for a movie that  takes it to level Evil Dead does, especially with a lack of resources. Probably the weakest of the three Evil Dead movies as far as humor goes, and while it does have scares, the real humor in this one is that it pretends to take itself seriously, and mocks the horror genre of its time. For a real good time, Watch this, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness consecutively and see how Bruce Campbell really develops the Ash character.

FEAST (2005) – [R] A deadly family of monsters attacks the patrons of a seedy bar. The patrons must fight for their lives. What makes this movie great is that it pokes fun of the horror genre, much like Evil Dead. It leads viewers to think the classic horror movie tropes are going to take place, then flips the clichéd events on their heads. It’s an unpredictable gore fest, with plenty of creative deaths. The entire trilogy is worth a watch, but the original Feast is the best of the bunch. This would be higher on the horror meter if it weren’t for the constant lampooning of the genre. So while yes, it does provide plenty of scares, it also delivers a monster amount of laughs.

GINGER SNAPS (2000) – [UR] Two gloomy sisters must deal with the fact one of them has been bitten by a deadly werewolf and is acting a bit strange. This remains my all time favorite horror-comedy. It’s got an interesting take on werewolves, beautiful scenes and lead actresses, and the best opening montage of any movie. The film met with some success and spun off both a sequel and a very loosely tied prequel, but the original Ginger Snaps is the sharpest film of the three. The events of the film all take place around Halloween so it really captures the feel of the season, and there is blood and gore enough to satisfy horror movie fans, and enough laughs to keep the rest entertained.

I SELL THE DEAD (2008) – [NR] An 18th century grave robber recounts his often times bizarre crimes before his execution. This is really a creepy, Odyssey-like adventure, with unbelievable encounters, and a journey of discovery. There are certainly some scares to be had while watching, but the charming cast and whimsical sound track tone even the scariest of events down into mostly humorous time. You might “never, ever trust a corpse,” but trust me when I say, this is one of the greats in the Horror-comedy genre.

IDLE HANDS (1999) – [R] It’s that awesome movie you saw that one night on the SyFy Channel and could never find again (until now). You know, that one with a beautiful, young Jessica Alba, and a hilarious Seth Green as a zombie, and the clever title you couldn’t remember for the life of you. More specifically, Idle Hands is about a lazy stoner’s hand becoming possessed by a murderous spirit in the spirit of the idiom: “Idle hands are the Devil’s playthings.” See, it is a clever title. And a clever movie at that. It does have some truly horrific moments, but is mostly funny… Unless you watch the alternate ending, then just bump that horror score up. It will suck the humor right out of the rest, which probably explains why they changed it.

JENNIFER’S BODY (2009) – [R] After being separated by a terrible concert house fire (inspired by true events) and an even more terrible pop-rock band, best friends Jennifer and Needy are reunited, but Jennifer has a new found hunger for young men. A totally different appetite than the promiscuous cheerleader flaunted before the accident. If you saw Transformers and didn’t really care for Megan Fox, this movie might very well change your view on the young actress. The performances are all great, the effects too, and the story is well written. If you’re anything like me, and didn’t even realize this was not a porno but rather a clever horror-comedy, definitely give it a shot. There’s no nudity, but the entertainment value is top notch.

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988) – [PG-13] Aliens disguised as creepy clowns come to earth in a circus tent space craft and terrorize a small town. It’s easy to see why this movie would score so high on the horror meter: it’s killer clowns! Clowns! You can’t ask a group of five people to name their top fear without three of them hollering out “Clowns. Definitely clowns.” This movie is made of nightmares, with cotton-candy cocoons for their food, like spiders. Spiders! And their food just happens to be people. The really scary thing about this one, though, is the characters choices throughout the film. Supposedly a sequel is coming to theaters in the near future, so get your washing machines ready to clean your whitey-tightys.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DORKS (2004) – [UR] Three loser friends get into an accident, but when they wake up on cold metal tables at the morgue, they aren’t quite dead. German with English subtitles, and an English dubbed version if that floats your boat. This movie provides an interesting twist on both the origin and nature of zombies. Overall, it has only a few spooky moments, making this lean far more to the comedy side of things.

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) – [R] When a couple of warehouse employees accidentally release a strange gas into the air, the vapors lead to the raising of the dead in a nearby graveyard. Not part of George A. Ramero’s living dead series of films, despite what the name might lead you to presume. At best it’s an unofficial sequel to the 1968 Night of the Living Dead, but really it stands alone as a great horror-comedy. It falls right in the middle of the horror-comedy scale.

SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER (2004) – [R] A young boy obsessed with both a video game and his older sister, unwittingly helps a serial killer on his night of Halloween mayhem. Also features Katheryn Winnick of the The History Channel’s Vikings (2013), in a revealing Halloween wench costume. It’s a one of a kind gem in the horror-comedy genre, and also has a great poster.  I have it in my living room, as a matter of fact, and it’s a great conversation piece. The sheer degree of murders and the methods of each are what make this movie more horror than comedy, thought there are still plenty of laughs. You might feel a little urge to punch the lead kid as well, but that will pass.

SERIAL KILLING 101 (2004) – [R] To impress his Gothic-beauty crush, Sasha (Lisa Loeb), Casey Noland wears Marilyn Manson shirts, acts aloof, and submits serial killer at his profession of choice in class. Together they plan out his perfect first murder, until something else comes up: a real murder. This is a dark but charming movie about young love and feeling lost as far as direction in life goes. Thomas Haden Church appears in the film, as well, as a hilarious gym teacher and bane of Casey’s existence, as he’s not athletic. The film gets an even score in horror and comedy.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004) – [R] Shaun wakes up to a world of Zombies and journeys to save his mother, ex girlfriend, and her roommates, then holds up in the Winchester pub. Most everyone has at least heard of this one, if not seen it. After all Simon Pegg went on to do the popular movies Hot Fuzz (2007), Paul (2011), and The World’s End (2013). As such, there isn’t much more to say other than there is a gratuitous amount of blood and gore, but far more humor to outweigh the heaviness of such imagery. So grab a pint and watch this fine film.

SLITHER (2006) – [R] A small town is plagued by a horde of slug-like parasites, which turn residents into all forms of mutants. Nathan Fillion of Firefly (2002-2003) costars in this fine horror-comedy. There are plenty of disgusting moments, and many scary ones, with humor sewn throughout. You’ll never be able to ask your uncle Clevis to pass you that possum (bowl of mashed potatoes) without laughing ever again. As most people are afraid of body disfigurement and gruesome deaths Slither scores high on the horror meter.

STITCHES (2012) – [R] A clown rises from the grave to seek revenge on those who took his life during a fatal party accident. Don’t judge a movie by its cover, or description for that matter. This proves to be good advice, at least for this movie. At first glance it appears to be another generic slasher film, but the pulpy content within is something far better. This film has a unique sense of humor, and while featuring a clown like Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Clown, Stitches the clown is far more earthly and relatable, while remaining frightening. The used of the clown nose is particularly good.

 SUCK (2009) – [R] A horror-comedy centered around a rock band, which will do anything to become famous just like Low Shoulder in Jennifer’s Body. Anything. This film features some very interesting camera techniques and music, as well as travel transitions, and has a fascinating cast. While not jump out of your seat scary, the lengths the band members go to, along with the blood and gore that entails, lead this to have a real horror aspect to it, especially with the “What happens on the road, stays on the road” mentality they all adopt.  Alice Cooper, Moby, and Iggy Pop make cameo appearances.

TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007) – [R] Four loosely interwoven stories, which all occur on Halloween: 1.) A high school principal has a skeleton (or a few) in his closet; 2.) a young virgin girl might just lose the big V; 3.) a group of kids pull a mean prank on a handicapped girl; 4.) a bitter old man faces his past and a little something more while he’s at it. This is perfect film to play at an adult Halloween party if music just isn’t enough, or you have a room of movie lovers. As it’s four fully encapsulated parts, there’s no need to miss the plot points of a typical linear movie in order to use the restroom, or to grab refreshments, or mingle. Great acting and great fun.

TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL (2010) – [R] Tucker and Dale are on vacation at their newly purchased mountain cabin when a group of college kids stumble upon them and think them dangerous. While there’s plenty of gore and blood in this movie, there just happens to be a lack of a true hacking-and-slashing antagonist. Stereotypes and paranoia do all the work. This is really a full on, roll on the floor with laughter comedy wrapped up in a horror movie skin. The funniest film on the list, but again very bloody.

WARM BODIES (2013) – [PG-13] A still-living girl and a zombie boy form a relationship that sets in motion events that might transform the dead infested world as they know it. A reflective, introspective zombie with a heart… you know, a heart actually capable of love, not just a shriveled up organ, makes even the scariest moments funny with his comments. Scary for the bonies.

ZOMBEAVERS (2014) – [R] Zombie beavers and a cast of stereotypical high schoolers meet. When one thinks horror-comedy, Zombeavers most likely fits the bill perfectly. If you don’t laugh at the opening conversation, then perhaps this one isn’t for you, but if it does make you laugh, you’ll probably find yourself watching the film multiple times as you’ll have to show all your friends. Nudity, cheesy zombie beavers, and creative deaths make this an instant cult classic. It’s a perfect mix of funny and scary. Let’s hope the hinted at sequel, Zombees, becomes a reality.

ZOMBIELAND (2009) –  [R] When a zombie apocalypse happens, a shy young man teams up with a shotgun-toting tough guy, and joins him on his quest to find Twinkies until they run in two sisters and a large horde of Zombies. Features an all-star cast, including Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and possibly the best cameo of all time. This is the theme-park to the carnival of all other zombie movies, and a must watch.

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Grotesque Volume 1, Issue 2