Horror Comedies are by far the most difficult horror sub-genre to execute. They’re also the most likely to fail commercially. While they’re one of my favorite sub genres and I wish there were more of them, when you combine those factors it’s a miracle there aren’t even less.
And many of them are quite great! So much so that I had to strip all numbers and rankings out of this list. While I certainly like some more than others, when you get down to stuff like Gremlins and An American Werewolf In London you’re dealing with grade A classics to which assigning a number would be an insult.
Also, please note that while I love The Cabin In The Woods and Scream, I don’t consider them “comedies.” They’re both intentionally funny, but I feel like their laughs exist to provoke a very specific conversation about horror tropes, which is its own thing.
So, in no particular order, head inside for my Top 10 Horror Comedies!
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
One of the very first horror comedies is also one of the very best. I’ve written an endless amount of words regarding this film on this site for a fairly clear reason. It’s one of my favorite movies. Ever. It never sacrifices character, or scares, for comedy. And yet there are plenty of laughs to be had.
One of the reasons I’m not looking forward to Ghostbusters 3 (should it happen) is how quickly the downward trajectory for this series set in. Not only is Ghostbusters 2 not as good as Ghostbusters, the second hour of Ghostbusters isn’t even as good as its first! Don’t get me wrong, we’re still talking about an altogether exceptional film. A classic, even. But very few movies truly sing like the first half of this film.
GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH
A sequel so bonkers I’m still in shock that it even exists. I mean, I get that Warner Bros. told Joe Dante he could do whatever he wanted as long as it was a Gremlins movie, but I doubt this is what they had in mind. I’m glad that this has emerged from history as something of a classic that rivals the original in quality.
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD
Another film I’ve written quite a lot about. Dan O’Bannon truly made a punk rock masterpiece with this one. An incredibly bold film that came at a time when American zombie films were nothing if not dour. Also, James Karen, Thom Mathews, Don Calfa and Clu Gulager turn in delightful perforamances.
This isn’t necessarily the funniest movie on this list for me. Its humor is fairly broad, so the amount of times I laugh at it probably decreases with each viewing. But there’s an interesting trade-off there; while I may laugh less at the film now, I find it no less entertaining. It’s a clever, fun time that whizzes by in 81 minutes and remains Ruben Fleischer’s best film to date.
NIGHT OF THE COMET
Running out of gas near the end, Night Of The Comet has a shelf life that’s slightly shorter than the film itself. But its joyous depiction of how Valley Girls might handle the apocalypse has always stayed with me. I also find the opening mother/daughter fist fight particularly entertaining.
God, I love James Gunn’s Slither. If movies were judged by the metric of how much fun they are to show to people who haven’t seen them before, its legacy would be up there with Citizen Kane. Elizabeth Bank’s willingness to make things work with Grant Grant, even in the midst of a horrific transformation, are worth a watch alone.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD
What can I say about Shaun Of The Dead that I haven’t said before? And when I said that sh*t before, was I really saying anything that hadn’t been said before by someone else? No. It’s a masterpiece. Great characters, nuanced direction, laughs, tears, gore and a script you could bounce a quarter off of. Indespensable.
Another classic. It’s such a well rounded movie that I almost left it off this list, so perfect is its balance of everything Amblin embodied in the early 1980’s. Still, its got a little bit of a mean streak and is more or less hilarious. It’s also a nearly perfect film (if not an absolutely perfect film), hence its inclusion.
Honorary mentions go to Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil, Jennifer’s Body, Dead Alive, The Frighteners and Critters (the latter of which I haven’t seen in forever and may have aged badly).