Tuesday, October 31, 2017

31 Days of Horror: Dell's Favorite Horror Comedies, the Top 25

Yesterday, I gave you the bottom half of the list of my favorite horror-comedies. Today, we're counting down the top 25. This is just a reminder from yesterday, but this is a highly subjective list. Hopefully, you'll find something here that will tickle and horrify you at the same time.

Dell's Top 25 Horror Comedies

25. Piranha 3D
It knows that it's a remake of a Jaws rip-off, and doesn't mind one bit. It just goes full-on-nutty and fills every frame of itself with something titillating, gory, hilarious, or all three. And it never lets up. I know, you thought it was dumb. Lighten up. (Full Review)

24. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
This is the oldest, and almost by default, most family friendly entry on the list. It’s one I grew up with and includes all of the Universal Studios classic monsters. In this case, it’s up to our pals Abbott and Costello to stop Dracula from taking over everything. And they do, with a comedic style all their own. (Full Review)

23. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Normally, I wouldn’t be too confident if my life depended on a trio of nearly adult boy scouts and a stripper, but that’s all we got as yet another zombie apocalypse breaks out. Lots of gross out humor, at times heavily featuring zombified private parts, straight gore, and some ingeniously employed pop-culture references make this one a treat. (Full Review)

22. Army of Darkness
The last entry in the original Evil Dead trilogy really abandons any pretense of scaring us and just goes full tilt with the comedy. Our hero, Bruce Campbell, battles hordes of undead and does it in a way that causes hysteria.

21. Fright Night
You might be wondering how this got here. The truth of the matter is that this is a spoof of all those late-night horror shows of the 1970s and 80s and their host. Witness the tongue-in-cheek performance of Roddy McDowall as evidence. You can also make note of how self-aware this movie is. These characters have seen plenty of vampire films and discuss them often. Unlike some other films here, this isn’t a laugh-a-minute joke fest, though. It’s subtler than that. The trick is that even though it gets in a few digs on vampires here and there, the film plays that part of it mostly straight. That means that while it’s slipping in punchlines, it’s just serious enough to that it works both sides of the fence equally well. (Full Review)

20. This is the End
No, there are no zombies here. However, we are dealing with an apocalypse – the biblical one. I’d say that qualifies. We get a bunch of Hollywood A, B, C, and D-listers playing themselves at a party when hell quite literally breaks loose. Our main group of celebs, led by James Franco and Seth Rogen try to avoid eternal damnation. It mixes survivalist humor, profanity, and some sly commentary on society and religion to great effect. (Full Review)

19. From Dusk till Dawn
Robert Rodriguez strikes again with his take on the whole secluded bar in the middle of nowhere trope. It's also Quentin Tarantino's take since he wrote the screenplay. In this case, the place is overrun with vampires, including the seductive as always Salma Hayek. Watching none other than George Clooney try to navigate this mess is thoroughly entertaining.

18. Zombieland
This time, when the zombie apocalypse starts we follow Jesse Eisenberg as he tries to make it across the country to a safe area guarded by the U.S. military. Luckily, he’s not alone. He’s got three more with him, including a wonderfully unhinged Woody Harrelson. And I mean that in a good. Not for nothing, Bill Murray’s appearance here is my favorite cameo of all-time.

17. Death Becomes Her
Two women have found the secret to eternal youth. Sorta. They’ve really become a pair of undead creatures who can’t stand each other and wage a catfight through the ages. Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep both play it to the hilt, giving some very underrated performances in a very underrated, and funny, movie.

16. Ghostbusters
I am one of the few who like the remake. However, for this, I have to go with the original. It’s unquestionably a horror-comedy classic with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Sigourney Weaver doing some of their best, and most memorable, work. Now, sprinkle in some of the most magical moments in movie-making history.

15. Drag Me to Hell
After refusing to give an old woman a loan extension on her house, our heroine is very much in danger of being literally dragged to Hell. It’s recession-angst wrapped in humor, and set on a breakneck pace. The laughs are uneasy as the film actually goes about the business of scaring you quite nicely. Director Sam Raimi may have cut his horror-comedy teeth on the Evil Dead franchise, but what he accomplishes here rivals anything else he has to offer.

14. Beetlejuice
A couple that has just died is trying to haunt the new owners of the house they once lived in. But that’s not going too well, so they call on a specialist by the name of Beetlejuice. In the titular role, Michael Keaton completely owns the screen in what is his craziest, and arguably, his best performance. (Full Review)

13. Gremlins
By now, you know what the three rules are for caring for mogwais. Needless to say, they get broken. When they do, the town is overrun by some pretty nasty little monsters with a bad disposition and far worse intentions. As innocent as it starts, it becomes a fantastic mash-up of 1950s and 1970s B-movie creature-features, spoofing the hell out of both all the way through.

12. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
You may not have been looking for Freddy’s third tussle with the children of Elm Street, but rest assured this is pure comedy. Sure, Mr. Krueger is killing people left and right, and in some of the most inventive ways ever committed to film. At the same time, however, he’s doing some of the best schtick the genre has ever seen. He’s so good that the next couple of Elm Street flicks tried to recreate the magic by having Freddy give us a steady diet of one-liners with our murders.

11. Scream 2
Sidney is off to college, but still can’t escape masked madmen who not only want to kill her, but tries to kill everyone around her in the process. Keeping in line with the self-aware style of the original, this one goes hard on sequels with characters rattling on about them as the events of the film seem to mirror the rules for them. The trick here is that while it is quite funny, it’s still a horror movie, and a damn good one.

10. Little Shop of Horrors
Seymour is so in love with Audrey he names a rather special plant after her, calling it Audrey II. The problem is that Audrey II is an insatiably carnivorous plant with a nasty attitude. Rick Moranis is at his best and the script sizzles as it throws us from one musical number to the next. All the while we’re entertained by, and a bit afraid of, this gigantic talking plant. Steve Martin’s work is another of my all-time favorite cameos. Full confession, by the way, I still haven’t seen the original.

9. The Cabin in the Woods
More teenagers go into the woods, only to start being slaughtered by a crazed lunatic. Like a number of movies on this list, it draws you in under the guise of being a straight-up horror flick, only to flip the switch on you. Only, this film does it more ways than one. When we realize it’s a joke, we think it’s just a spoof of slasher flicks. Before long, some commentary is made, just about every type of horror is incorporated and made fun of while the film still manages to keep our heart rates up. (Full Review)

8. Evil Dead II
Teenagers…er…twenty-somethings…hanging out in a…um…cabin in the woods…find a mysterious and evil book. Before you know it, everything is trying to kill them, even the forest itself. The original Evil Dead contains some elements of dark humor, but is a pretty straightforward horror flick. The sequel, which actually plays like a funnier remake more so than a continuation of the story, is most certainly a horror-comedy. Lots of iconic moments come out of this one, both funny and terrifying.

7. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Some troubled travelers happen upon a house looking for help and get a whole lot more than they bargained for. It’s the second, and last, musical to make the list, and with good reason. It completely makes a joke out of all things macabre with one insanely memorable moment after another. And Tim Curry proudly owns the entire production.

6. Shaun of the Dead
A slacker and his friends are forced to get their butts in gear when faced with, what else, a zombie apocalypse. Yes, it’s bloody and gory, but it’s also laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end. The chemistry between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is out of this world good and the script almost never lets us breathe. When it comes to zom-coms, this is the gold standard. (Full Review)

5. An American Werewolf in London
A couple of Americans are attacked by a werewolf. One survives, one doesn’t. The one that does has his world turned upside down as he goes through the process of becoming a werewolf himself. It’s a nice, even blend mix of horror and humor and some flat-out awesome practical fx. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better werewolf movie of any type, let alone one that makes us laugh as much as this one. (Full Review)

4. Get Out
A young black man goes to meet the parents of his white girlfriend for the first time and finds himself in something akin to The Twilight Zone. It’s known for being a horror flick with a large dose of commentary on race relations in America. However, it’s also infused with plenty of satire and straight up comedy. If you don’t think this wonderful film isn’t trying to make you laugh as it wrecks your nerves, please watch it again. (Full Review)

3. Carrie
Okay, you understood about Get Out, but this is really pushing it, right? You probably know it’s about a bullied girl who gets her period and telekinetic powers at the same time. And there’s that legendary prom scene. Pure horror flick. I get it. I also get that I view this movie differently than most people. Most is the operative word. I’ll get back to that. Thing is, the interactions between Carrie and her ultra-religious mom, and the very character of the mom herself, are so over-the-top, so ridiculous, it seems as if the director is making sure we know this whole situation is one hundred percent preposterous. While watching this movie again recently, I didn’t doubt for one second I was watching a very dark comedy. And you know what? I’m not alone in that assessment (told you I would get back to that “most”). None other than Piper Laurie, the woman who plays the mom, agrees with me. She is on record saying, “Our movie always seemed like lyrical black comedy.” Why yes, Ms. Laurie, it is. (Full Review)

2. Young Frankenstein
When Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, he pronounces it FRONK-EN-STEEN, inherits his grandfather Victor’s estate, he goes to Transylvania to find it’s a castle complete with its own staff. Before you know it, Frederick is trying to replicate and improve his granddad’s work of reanimating a corpse cobbled together from a number of dead bodies. We get a relentless spoof of 1931’s Frankenstein that’s more consistently funny than any other movie on this list. To achieve this, it mixes the incredibly witty with the seriously dumb to give us one of the most enjoyable viewing experiences we’ve ever had. And for my money, the late-great Gene Wilder has never been better. (Full Review)

1. Scream
As would happen to her three more times, all of her friends and acquaintances start getting murdered one by one. I’ve professed my love for this movie a number of times on this blog. That love is twofold. On one hand, it’s pulls off the difficult trick of not just being self-aware, but actually pointing out all the tropes the genre is known for and that it will use in the very film you’re watching. And somehow, this works. By the end, Scream has done everything with wink and a nod. On the other hand, it never sacrifices genuine chills for humor. The two work hand in hand to enhance each other. This is what puts in the top spot over Young Frankenstein. As great as that movie is, it never bothers trying to scare us. Scream does. This makes the film work on a number of levels. It also works because it does what a good spoof does. It gives us a film that needles the thing it’s parodying as its own story fits snugly into the same genre. And this, people, is also why Scary Movie is not on this list. That movie does none of those things. It just reenacts everything Scream or some other movie already did and adds something gross and goes on to the next scene. In other words, it pointlessly spoofs what’s already a spoof. And a far superior one, at that.

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  1. So...we'll disagree on a few of these and I'd still move a bunch up from your previous list into this one, but I can't complain too much.

    That said, I genuinely hate Rocky Horror. I get why people love it; I just don't.

    1. I know some other folks who hate Rocky Horror, so I get it.

  2. I've never heard of anyone call Carrie a comedy or a dark comedy before.

    I love a lot of the films here. Cabin in the Woods is my #1 though. I love that movie so much.

    1. That's how I felt about Carrie the first time I saw it. Hearing Laurie say the same thing meant I wasn't crazy, lol.

      The Cabin in the Woods is awesome, so that's a great choice.

  3. With the exception of Cabin in the Woods, Get Out, and Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (as I haven't seen those films though Get Out is coming to HBO this weekend), I can agree with all of these films. They're fun.

    1. Looking forward to your thoughts on Get Out. There's a lot to unpack with that one.

  4. Cabin in the Woods is, hands down, my #1. I am in love with that movie, now and forever. Lots of good ones on this list, and #2 is a good call. (Abby Normal!)

    Never thought of Carrie as a comedy, but you made a good argument. In his book On Writing, Stephen King said the book was inspired by a girl he'd known casually in high school. She didn't fit in and had an ultra-religious mother, and King wondered what her life was like. I don't remember the book as being funny, but seeing Piper Laurie on screen does get a laugh from me. ("I see your dirty pillows!" Oh, mon dieu.)

    1. Glad to see so much love for The Cabin in the Woods. It's a fantastic film.

      Yes! Her dialogue is so over-the-top ridiculous, I really had no choice but to take it as satire. Hearing her say as much about it was reaffirming.

  5. So many love Cabin In The Woods that I might break down and watch it. Love Abbott & Costello...a fun movie. Love Ghostbusters and the staypuff still cracks me up. I have to say Young Frankenstein should be #1 because it is brilliant from the writing to Marty Feldman’s Eyes:) I love it that Mel Brooks used the original set from 1931 Frankenstein.

    1. There really is a lot to love about The Cabin in the Woods. The writing in Young Frankenstein absolutely brilliant. I just happen to think Scream shares that quality in creating a film with dual purposes, horror and comedy, and succeeds at both.

  6. Okay I did better with this list than the other but I haven't seen the majority. I can't honestly say I love any of them but my favorite would be American Werewolf in London which I really liked and appreciated the skill and care put into the making of it. Otherwise I like Young Frankenstein, Fright Night (Roddy McDowell and Chris Sarandon make it so much better than it would have been without them), Carrie, the first Scream, Beetlejuice, Gremlins and Death Becomes Her. The Abbott & Costello movie is goofy fun though not one of my faves from the pair but a harmless good time nonetheless.

    Rocky Horror is only fun if you attend a midnight showing with people interacting with the movie which is how I saw it for the first time. It however is NOT fun if you are the manager of the theatre running one of those midnight shows as I was years afterwards....by its very nature it's a hell of a mess to clean up.

    I detest Ghostbusters! I fell asleep the first time I went to see it and tried to give it a second chance where I promptly fell asleep again. Do not get me started on that damn theme song. It's agony.

    1. I had you pegged for a big Young Frankenstein guy. Guess not. I'm impressed you watched Scream.

      I could not imagine being a manager at one of those theaters with that movie going. Yeesh.

      No love for Ray Parker Jr.? So, if you play host to a freaky ghost, who ya gonna call?

    2. I like the parts of Young Frankenstein-Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr (Roll in the hay...roll...roll...roll) & Cloris Leachman (Say it, Say it! He vas my Boyfriend!!) Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle's spirited playing more than the sum.

      Please do not put any hint of that ghastly song (only made worse by the atrocious music video!) into my head!

  7. Your two posts have sold me on horror comedy is a pretty big deal. Bigger than I was conscious of. I've seen 19 of 25 here so I guess I'm in your good books :) Your top 50 seems to cover most of the big ones, although I will give a shout out to Peter Jackson and his classic splatter-horror-comedy Braindead (1992). Definitely check that out if you haven't already, you won't regret it.

    1. I have not seen it. I might line that up for next year.

  8. So many good picks here but my favorite is This is the End. I'd love for this guys to make a sequel to that, it's one of the funniest comedies I've ever seen

    1. This is the End had me in stitches. Good stuff.

  9. Love this list. So happy you included From Dusk till Dawn. I’ve always been such a fan of that film. Bettlejuice, Scream 2, Scream - all faves of mine. Also very interesting to see Carrie listed here. I dug you reasoning behind that. You’re right, a lot of that movie is so preposterous it’s funny.

    1. Thanks for being open about Carrie. It just goes way over the top.

  10. Some great movies in there. I've never seen the ending coming a mile away as I did in Drag me to Hell but still enjoyed it as much.

    1. That movie is a complete blast, so I completely understand.