There are a lot of horror movies that can make you laugh… unintentionally. This genre is plagued by shitty movies that set out to be serious and terrifying, but due to incompetence end up laughably bad. However, there are some stellar horror films that set out to bring both the scares as well as the laughs and succeed admirably. Listed below is, in my estimation, the 7 best horror comedies of all time.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil
A lot of what can make a movie funny is when it subverts the norm. There are tropes and archetypes that we just accept without any true contemplation, and to see them examined and flipped on their head can be the essence of comedy. As further entries will indicate, this is a common thread on display in the more effective horror comedies. Tucker and Dale vs Evil takes the well worn conceit of the psycho redneck killer to create one of the funniest and most entertaining movies I’ve ever seen.
Tucker and Dale are two best buds with hearts of gold. When college kids go camping nearby the rundown cabin that Tucker and Dale are staying at, they become convinced that the two hillbillies are going to slaughter them. The students then proceed to accidentally off themselves in comical ways. As the body count and the hilarious misunderstandings continue to mount, it becomes increasingly difficult for Tucker and Dale to maintain their innocence.
This movie is darkly humorous and exceedingly entertaining. Alan Tudyck and Tyler Labine are so appealing in the title roles that the audience can’t help but enthusiastically root for them until the credits roll.
This is one of my favorite homage movies. It is as if James Gunn took tropes from every horror film, stuck them in a blender, and this movie came out. You have zombies, alien invasion, creature feature, body horror, and many other other sub-genres on display here.
The basic premise is that a small town is overrun by an alien parasite that wants to absorb everybody into its hive mind. An ever diminishing group of survivors do battle with the threat before it expands further and takes over the world.
The director, James Gunn, got his start with the infamous Troma Entertainment. This influence is abundantly clear. Nasty and creative gore effects abound as well as a unique and lively comedic sensibility. Due to all of this, it may bewilder those not steeped in horror films. But for fans and those feeling particularly adventurous, you are in for a really fun ride.
Evil Dead 2
This is by far my favorite Evil Dead film. The first Evil Dead is a little too serious and the Army of Darkness is too campy. The second film strikes a perfect balance between these two extremes.
Bruce Campbell stars as the iconic Ash. He takes his girlfriend to a secluded cabin in the woods. After a recording by one of the previous inhabitants reading the Necronomicon is played, evil is unleashed and Ash must fight to survive the night.
This movie is genuinely scary at points, but the scares are buffered by some really funny moments and hilarious physical comedy. Fans of slapstick will definitely dig this movie.
Peter Jackson has a fairly strange history in terms of his filmography. Before he was directing big budget adaptations of famous fantasy novels, he actually got his start making “trashy” horror flicks such as Bad Taste and the insanely gory Dead Alive.
Right before The Fellowship of the Ring catapulted him into the triple A status he enjoys today, he directed a movie called The Frighteners. It stars the always likeable Michael J. Fox as a widower who can see ghosts but only uses this gift for personal gain and to con others with his “ghostbusting” business. However, when he sees numbers appear on the foreheads of people who are subsequently murdered by a grim reaper type-specter, he is called into action to get to the bottom of the mystery.
This movie is so playful and anarchic. Michael J. Fox is just so immensely amusing in the lead role. This is arguably the most sheerly enjoyable film that Peter Jackson has ever made. It’s pulpy; it’s stupid, but, most importantly, it is really goddamn fun.
Shaun of the Dead
I recently rewatched this film, and it served as the inspiration for this list.
Shaun is a slacker who spends his time playing video games or having a drink at his favorite pub with his even more idle friend Ed. His girlfriend breaks up with him for his stagnant nature right at the cusp of a zombie epidemic. Now, he must fight to save the ones he loves the most as well as grow up in the process.
This movie works on so many levels. Superficially, it is an enjoyable zombie flick with some incredible practical gore effects. Also, it is laugh out loud funny with an indelibly charming British wit. Ed, played by Nick Frost, serves as such an effectively comedic foil to Shaun’s straight man that they make one of my favorite film duos ever. Finally, it works as a touching examination of what it means to grow up and overcome adversity through love. All in all, it is a simply awesome movie. Strongly recommended to everyone, not just horror fans.
Cabin in the Woods
This movie has one of my favorite openings of all time. Not to spoil anything for those that haven’t seen this fantastic film, but it skillfully and hilariously sets the postmodern tone of the movie. I mentioned before that comedy often comes from subverting the norm. This movie absolutely epitomizes this notion.
Providing a summary of Cabin in the Woods is rather difficult. I am loath to ruin any of the surprises. So, I will keep it very vague. The basic idea is that a group of college students set out to vacation at a secluded cabin. This cliched premise serves as the springboard for one of the more brilliant films I have seen regardless of the genre.
Cabin in the Woods takes the horror genre, picks it apart, and examines its DNA under a microscope. It masterfully skewers it as well as serving as a loving tribute. And, of course, for the purposes of this list, it is flat out hilarious. There are some really uproarious moments liberally sprinkled throughout. In fact, thinking about the Merman scene just now put a beaming smile on my face.
An American Werewolf in London
Simply put, this is one of my favorite movies of all time.
David and Jack are Americans backpacking in England. One night, they are attacked on the moors near a remote village by a creature. Jack is killed, but David survives. Given the title, it is no surprise when the next full moon arises and David transforms into a werewolf that terrorizes the city of London.
There is just so much to like here that it is tough to even know where to begin. On the horror side of things, the transformation effects have been heralded endlessly and for good reason. They are unparalleled (director John Landis got his gig directing Michael Jackson’s Thriller video based on the effects in this film). Also, some of the dream sequences are truly terrifying. The Nazi monster home invasion sequence used to give me nightmares when I was younger.
The comedy mainly comes in the form of Jack. Even after death, he continues to speak to David, attempting to convince him to kill himself. Needless to say, most of the humor in this movie comes from a really dark place, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.