Of all the various sub-genres of horror, I have to confess that my absolute favourite is the horror comedy. Say what you will, but while splatterfests are all well and good, I like to have a few laughs with my gore. When the two elements are mixed together properly, they makes for a delicious combination, full of all the right vitamins for a healthy movie diet.
Originally, this was going to be a selection of 5 of my favourite horror comedies, but when I sat down to put the list together, I realised there were too many great movies I’d have to leave out and decided to make it a terrifying 10. Bear in mind that these are my choices, and while there are a ton of horror comedies I love, there wasn’t enough room to put all of them in.
Army of Darkness: Though I love all of the Evil Dead films, Army of Darkness is my favourite of the three. It’s so ridiculous and over-the-top, but it’s also incredibly entertaining thanks to Bruce Campbell’s perfomance as Ash and some of the brilliant chunks of dialogue he gets to utter. This isn’t the last appearance for either director Sam Raimi or Campbell on this list, but it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable films either has ever made.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch: I realise that this choice might prove to be controversial, but I much prefer this to the original Gremlins. There’s so much more going on here and much more variety in the different creatures, though I’m not sure what kind of company would have a medical research lab and TV studios in the same building. For me, this is a much funnier movie than Gremlins — it’s definitely tipped much more towards the ‘comedy’ side of the scales — but the horror side of things is still enjoyable. The Hulk Hogan appearance is completely daft and what really sold it for me. Also, who wouldn’t want their own little Mogwai?
Ghostbusters: This is undoubtedly one of the kingpins of the genre. It’s one of those movies where the meaning and what you enjoy most about it seem to change as you grow up with it — at least, that was the case for me. It terrified me as a tot, made me laugh like a lunatic as a teenager and as I’ve become an adult, have realised just what a damn fine film this is. Venkman was my always my favourite. Who’s yours?
Bubba Ho-Tep: The second time Bruce Campbell has been featured on this list, and it’s an even funnier movie than Army of Darkness. I don’t think he had any idea that when he said “Hail to the king, baby” as Ash that he would end up playing Elvis some years later. This one sees Mr Presley in a nursing home alongside a man who claims to be John F Kennedy in disguise — as a black man. The duo then have to stop a mummy, who is taking advantage of the fact that the elderly can’t run away from it the way young people can. It’s a genius idea and one that’s executed in a brilliant, hilarious manner.
Slither: This is a relatively recent horror comedy compared to some of the others on this list, but I enjoyed it so much that I felt it deserved to be included. It has a very strong B-movie feel, and that’s part of its charm. It sees a tycoon infected by an alien lifeform and mutate into a grotesque being capable of controlling a town’s zombified citizens after they also become infected. It’s tremendous fun, with the gore played for laughs. Nathan Fillion is as awesome as ever, while you can put Elizabeth Banks in anything and I’ll watch it.
Scary Movie: I know, I know — there are been some terrible sequels to this and, while it’s a little weird to have a spoof of a satire, this still packs in the laughs while ramping up the body count. It’s completely stupid, and it’s more of a guilty pleasure than anything. I can’t think of too many people who haven’t wanted to carry out their revenge on a noisy person in the cinema like it happens here.
Hatchet: Possibly the goriest of the 10 movies here, this is one I only saw recently but still managed to sneak its way into the top 10. It’s like a laugh-out-loud version of a Friday the 13th movie, but with strong acting and writing talent. A mismatched group of people go on a haunted swamp tour in New Orleans, only to discover that the legend of Victor Crowley is real. It’s honestly a lot of fun. I’m a fan of Joel David Moore and he’s good here, while Crowley is pretty terrifying.
Drag Me To Hell: After a break from the blood-letting to helm the Spiderman trilogy, Sam Raimi stepped back into the horror comedy genre last year with this fine effort. After denying an old lady a bank loan for the sake of her career, Christine (Alison Lohman) is cursed and will spend three days being tormented before, you guessed it, being dragged to Hell. It’s extremely enjoyable and you can tell Raimi is having fun. There’s more than one occasion where there’s a scare, a laugh to break the tension and another scare all in quick succession. It’s just like going through the haunted house at the theme park, only way more fun and without having water sprayed all over you.
Beetlejuice: This is another horror comedy classic. Way before he showed us just how hilarious he can be on 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin starred alongside Geena Davis as a dead couple who have had their home taken over by a family. After failing to scare the new occupants, they bring in Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), a ‘bio-exorcist’. Keaton is pretty fantastic here, and Tim Burton makes the whole thing visually dazzling. It’s funny and scary all at once, giving the perfect balance for a horror comedy.
Shaun of the Dead: I haven’t put this list in any particular order, but if I had, this would be number one with a bullet. I’m a massive fan of Spaced and I was looking forward to Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright teaming up for their first movie together. It didn’t disappoint. Spurned on by a razor-sharp script, the pair fill this romantic zombie comedy with enough laughs and thrills to make this worth watching over and over again. From start to end, it’s pretty much flawless. Hilarious, heartbreaking and terrifying, there’s plenty of blood to go round too — horror fans will love Dylan Moran’s death scene which has enough guts to fill the stomachs of many a zombie. There are tons of cultural references too, and you’ll have to watch it a dozen times to catch everything. It’s a true masterwork, in every sense of the word. Not just a great horror comedy, but a great movie of any genre.
Those are my choices, but I’d love to hear some of your suggestions. Which are your favourite horror comedies?