Find hack & slash horror a bit too simplistic? Have enough of labyrinthine horror in your dreams? Enjoy horror films best when they’re being deconstructed in hilarious ways? Then these film and movie picks are for you!
My husband and I decided to have a horror themed movie festival for the month of October in celebration of Halloween. Problem is, we don’t even like horror. American Horror Story? Hated it. The Saw Series? I’ve been tortured by psychopaths enough in my real life. The Walking Dead? No thank you! We only like our zombies when they’re wisecracking detectives.
We tried. We found ‘Halloween (1978)’ free on The Roku Channel and watched it on a Saturday afternoon, just in case it might mess with my dreams. But what was clearly terrifying to my 10 year old self fell completely flat. All we felt in the end was regret for 90 waisted minutes.
We also have other classics like ‘The Shining,’ and ‘Poltergeist,’ but after ‘Halloween,’ we just may skip them. Especially since just looking at the cover of ‘The Shining’ simply reminded me that Jack was far too close a facsimile of one of my step fathers.
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It all started by rewatching some of my favorite sci-fi/horror TV shows of the late 90s-early 2000s: Joss Whedon’s cult series ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and its spin-off ‘Angel,’ both available currently on HULU. Not because it’s October, but because we love them and hadn’t viewed them in 15 years.
Still, it birthed the idea for our little film festival, and I realized about the only horror we really enjoy is horror-comedy… unless it also has sci-fi and fantasy themes that are intriguing and doesn’t ruin my sleep.
Which of course got me thinking about other shows and movies that fall into this category, some of which are on our list, while others we simply watched too recently to be ready to revisit. Here’s my list of my most beloved, totally wacky, not-quite-horror shows and movies to watch in honor of Halloween, in no particular order.
Favorite Horror Comedy TV Shows
The ‘Buffy the Vampire Hunter’ Franchise
Our first three come from the same franchise. It only seems fair to put them first, since they’re not only a cult classic, the TV shows quirky personality and flippant vampire hunter and her Scooby-esque entourage stand up to the test of time flawlessly. at least until you get to the graphics. Late twentieth century movie technology can hardly compete with today’s digital technologies. Yet it somehow seems to improve the show by adding even more hilarity to a series that can’t help but make every big baddie the butt-end of the joke.
First a movie, each link in this franchise has its own charm, though I’ll readily admit the movie was the least favorite of the three. I may prefer the series to the movie, but you can’t have one without the other. The film is the perfect way to understand the full context of Buffy’s introduction to life as a Vampire Slayer and just how much she needs to grow into the role, making it worth the watch.
While the Buffys are filled with wise-cracking teenagers and monsters, Angel is the slightly darker, more adult side to this franchise. Of course adults love humor, too. You’ll find it’s still replete with Angel’s broody sarcasm, hilarious human sidekick missteps and as always, wise-cracking evil things; the lawyers most of all.
If zombies normally freak you out, you’ll probably find the world of iZombie a lot more palatable with this new brand of cogent types. In the world of iZombie, the living dead only turn into revenants when first changed. Provided they have access to plenty of brains, loaded with plenty of hot sauce (for the flavor enhancement, of course), they’re just like you and me.
Part horror, part detective show, Liv Moore et al work to contain zombie related crimes caused by a band of misfit villians, while searching for a cure. Of course, hilarity always ensues when Liv, an ER doctor turned zombie mortician takes on the personality quirks of the murder victims whose brains she eats in order to uncover the truth.
Stan Against Evil
‘Stan Against Evil’ is pure slapstick comedy in a monster suit. Stan can’t seem to stay retired from the position of Sheriff in a small New England town with big secrets and bigger monster problems. Can Stan and newly appointed sheriff Evie find the source of evil before they succumb to a century’s old curse? The inhabitants and their dedication to ignorance certainly do much to help!
Favorite Comedy Horror Films
This film simply can’t be left out of a discussion of the best horror comedies of all time. Their target? Classic monster films, of course! This Frankenstein remake is chock-full of satirical twists, hilarious characters, corny lines and slapstick comedy popular of the day, presented by an all-star cast of comedic geniuses.
As much as I love feminist remakes of classic films, the best “Ghostbusters’ remains the first and it’s a film the whole family can enjoy. This 80’s film hit comedic gold with a hilariously charismatic cast of ghost chasing scientists. With villains like hotdog eating green goblin ghosts to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man, you can hardly get more campy than the Ghostbusters when it comes to paranormal activity.
Shaun of the Dead
Another zombie related flick, this one comes out of the UK, ‘Shaun of the Dead’ pokes a tremendous amount of fun at the whole concept of the traditional, mindless, slow-moving zombie. While Shaun and his circle of friends remain oblivious to the zombie apocalypse developing in their neighborhood, the problem soon becomes too persistent, and often too hilarious, to ignore.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil
An uproarious spin on the backwoods killer motif, this comedic horror film when two affable hillbillies named Tucker and Dale are mistaken for murderers by a preppy group of college students with overactive imaginations and more than a few class biases. The miscommunications and misunderstandings that arise as a result make this film a great watch for those who’d rather poke fun at the genre than be terrified by it.
I hesitated to add this one to the list, since Scream is chock-full of genuinely frightening scenerios and yet the movie is so satirically self-aware that you can’t help but laugh at it all. Scream relies heavily on the exposure of the tricks and tropes common to many hack and slash films with expert results, making it an instant classic.
Zombieland & Zomieland: Double Tap
It seems only fitting to wrap things up with one more zombie apocalypse franchise designed to turn the genre on its head. ‘Zombieland’ and its sequel relies on a misfit band of survivors, all with their own self-interested approaches to survival in a world gone mad as they try to find other survivors and a more suitable home, or at least one last joy ride in an amusement park.
While I hate zombies, clearly I can’t get enough of the films making them the butt of every joke. I think I’ve put a pretty great list together which includes many of my favorites, but of course I likely I’ve missed a few, given my faulty memory. I also haven’t seen them all! Help me out. What would you include on your own list of comedy horror favorites?