20 Horror Comedies You Need to Watch

06 Nov

1. Abbott and Costello Meet
Frankenstein, 1948
By the end of the ‘40s, the classic
Universal monster movie series was on its
last legs. In the wake of WWII, the old
monsters simply couldn’t hold up, so the
studio instead turned to comedy with
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
while simultaneously including their most
iconic monster creations. The movie is
significant for being the one and only
time that Bela Lugosi ever returned to
play the Dracula role in a second film
after the 1931 Dracula, although he
played a different vampire on several
other occasions. He brings his magnetic
presence back to the role while also
introducing an unexpected sense of
humor. The film is great fun, with
reverence both for the classic monsters
and the blockbusters they starred in
while also injecting levity and classic
Abbott and Costello wordplay/physical
comedy. There’s plenty of madcap
sequences of the pair opening and closing
doors, running through hallways and
suffering pratfalls. It’s a must-see for fans
of classic cinema and is also a great
Halloween movie for kids, presuming they
can be convinced to watch something in
black and white.—Jim Vorel
2. Young Frankenstein, 1974
Routinely listed as one of the best
comedies of all time and one of the 10 or
so films I can quote almost entirely from
memory, Young Frankenstein is a classic of
the genre. At once a spoof of traditional
Universal horror films and a loving tribute,
Mel Brooks and his immensely talented
cast have created a timeless film.—Mark
3. An American Werewolf in London,
There’s gallows humor, then there’s the
more direct approach of a-wolf-tearing-
out-one’s-esophagus humor. John Landis’
other werewolf (non-King of Pop) entry is
practically an overachiever in balancing its
genuinely scary-as-hell moments with
scenes of absurd levity. Rick Baker’s
wolfen SFX also serves as evidence that
David Cronenberg didn’t hold the
monopoly on bodily horror during the
’80s, nor Industrial Light and Magic the
monopoly on putting the fantastic on film.
—Scott Wold
4. Pandemonium , 1982
This obscurity might be permanently
imprinted on your brain if you were young
and impressionable and had HBO in the
early 1980s. Years before Scary Movie,
Pandemonium parodied both specific
horror films and the genre as a whole. It
fires out gags almost as relentlessly as a
Zucker-Abraham-Zucker movie, and
although they don’t land quite as often,
there’s still some great work here from
the always excellent Carol Kane. It also
features a pre-fame Phil Hartman and
Paul Reubens, for the Pee Wee
completionists out there. I saw this
before I had seen any actual horror films
—hell, I saw this a half-dozen times
before I had seen any horror films—so in
a way it’s colored my entire history with
the genre. It’s one of those movies that
gets a little bit worse every year past the
age of maybe seven, so if you didn’t see
it in your youth the window has probably
closed.—Garrett Martin
5. The Slumber Party Massacre , 1982
The script for The Slumber Party Massacre
originally envisioned the film as a satire of
the burgeoning slasher genre, which was
pumping out cheapo films at this point
after the huge successes of Halloween in
1978 and Friday the 13th in 1980. It
appears that no one told the film crew or
actors about that whole “satire” thing,
though, so what you get is a really goofy
film with earnest attempts at delivering
comedic material, and it just works. It
feels like a teenage boy’s idea of “what
would totally make Halloween way
better,” and thus sets the film at a
slumber party of nubile, oft-times naked
young women. The killer is a beautifully
silly pastiche of psycho killers—no known
motivation, he’s just some “mass killer”
who happens to escape from prison and
then goes right back to his favorite
pastime. Weapon of choice? An electric
power drill, which seems completely
impractical. The dopey characters make it
something of an accidental horror
comedy, but the laughs are real, provided
you have any fondness at all for the
classic era of slashers.—JV
6. Ghostbusters , 1984
Ghostbusters was a simple concept: put
some of the best comedians of the day in
a live-action riff on the classic Disney
short “Lonesome Ghosts,” but, y’know,
kind of scary. Adults maybe didn’t shake
at the sight of an as-yet-unnamed Slimer,
or at Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis
increasingly giving over to demonic
possession, but when you’re a kid that is
some legitimately horrific business. It
warmly embraces the corniness inherent
in the word “spooky,” evoking Saturday
afternoon creature features and the
Haunted Mansion while letting Bill Murray
be as Bill Murray as he can possibly be.—
7. Gremlins , 1984
You know those stories of kids who
thought Gremlins was going to be a cute,
funny movie about a cute, funny critter
named Gizmo, and then lost their minds
with terror while witnessing its true
horror in the theater? Nice to meet you!
Gremlins is violent and disgusting and
even kind of mean-spirited at times,
which is to say it’s a legitimate horror
film. It’s also a lot of fun. It may not be
as clever or funny as the amazing sequel,
but it’s still funny, and more of a straight-
up horror film. If you have kids today,
maybe prepare them for what’s coming.
8. Night of the Comet , 1984
A forgotten little gem from the ‘80s,
Night of the Comet can easily be
dismissed as nothing more than a goof of
a film. Those with an open mind,
however, will find an intriguing example
of a film that mixed genres before such a
thing was readily acceptable. The story
centers on two teenage Valley Girls who,
after a comet passes right near the Earth
and vaporizes billions in its wake, decide
to take advantage of the end-of-the-
world situation by having an epic
shopping spree. On the way, however,
they encounter zombies, the military and
countless other “totally lame” detours. A
hilarious send-up of ‘80s culture, Night of
the Comet provides a thoroughly
entertaining time capsule of the decade.
—Mark Rozeman
9. Return of the Living Dead , 1985
Return of the Living Dead, or simply
ROTLD, is an important film on numerous
fronts—important to the history of
zombie movies , important in terms of
“youth-focused” horror films, and
important as a great horror comedy.
Plenty, even most horror flicks before this
one featured teenage protagonists/
victims, but few feel like they really
captured the zeitgeist of being a young
person in that time period. ROTLD, on the
other hand, simply feels like one of the
most profoundly “teen ‘80s” films ever
made. The kids are exaggerated
archetypes, satirical depictions of nerds,
punks, greasers, mall junkies and leather-
studded badasses. The zombification,
meanwhile, creates ghouls that are much
different from George Romero’s Night of
the Living Dead zombies—faster, smarter
and far chattier. The film’s humor has a
sick streak, a morbid delight in the comic
ultraviolence necessary to even make a
dent in the zombies. It delights in its
juvenile nature and the celebration of
youthful vitality (cut short). All that, and
it’s got a ridiculously cheesy punk
soundtrack that will make you laugh all on
its own.—JV
10. House , 1986
William Katt wasn’t just the guy from The
Greatest American Hero when I was a kid;
he was also the guy from House, a
frightening movie full of violence, horrific
images and two of America’s favorite ‘80s
sitcom stars. George Wendt and Richard
Moll moonlight from Cheers and Night
Court, respectively, to add some comic
relief to this haunted house story.
Wendt’s basically playing just another
shade of Norm, but Moll turns the
weirdness always present in Bull Shannon
into something genuinely threatening and
terrifying. It’s perhaps forgotten today,
but House was a cult hit at the time, and
inspired a number of sequels.—GM

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Posted by on November 6, 2016 in Uncategorized


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