There’s perhaps no two genres more closely aligned than horror and comedy. Both serve the purpose of eliciting a physical response from the viewer, and both rely on a rhythm, or precise timing to land their intended gags. Horror often uses humor as levity to punctuate long stretches of tension or scares, giving the viewer a moment to catch their breath before ramping up the suspense again. So, it’s no surprise the horror-comedy mashup makes for some of the most fun horror movies. Celebrated films like Cabin in the Woods, Slither, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Shaun of the Dead, Evil Dead II, and more have become tried and true crowd pleasers that even non-horror fans tend to love. But for those looking for something new or different, there’s a lot more horror-comedies out there that are worth seeking out. Here’s 10 modern horror-comedies that have been overlooked and deserving of more love:
I Sell the Dead
Harkening back to the gothic horror of Universal Studios horror films of the ‘20s and ‘30s, this period horror-comedy follows a grave robber as he recounts his story of crime from prison to a Father (Ron Perlman) as he awaits his execution. The grave robber, Arthur (Dominic Monaghan), tells of his partnership with Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden) as they turn a profit robbing graves and contend with blackmail by Doctor Quint (Angus Scrimm), before unwittingly digging up the undead. Vampires, aliens, ghouls, and rival grave robbers all contribute to Arthur’s current predicament with often humorous results. Glenn McQuaid’s first outing as director isn’t perfect, Arthur’s story drags on its own, but anytime Fessenden is on screen I Sell the Dead really shines.
Dead & Breakfast
If you prefer your horror-comedies heavy on the splatstick side with a musical number interlude, this one is for you. Following a group of friends road-tripping to Galveston, TX for a wedding who then wind up lost in the town of Lovelock where a murder results in them being caught up in the investigation. When one of the friends opens a mysterious box belonging to the deceased owner of the bed and breakfast, it sets a demon loose that begins possessing and slaughtering everyone around. Think Evil Dead II meets the honky tonk charm of the small town south. Gory, silly, and featuring many actors on the rise; Jeremy Sisto (May), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead), and Oz Perkins (The Blackcoat’s Daughter) round out a surprising cast of recognizable faces in this underseen film.
Witching & Bitching
Otherwise known as Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi, or The Witches of Zugarramurdi, this Spanish horror comedy by Alex de la Iglesia starts out with a bang, involving a pawn shop robbery by robbers disguised as street performers (think Jesus and Sponge Bob). On the run from the police, the robbers head for the border and stumble into the secluded town of Zugarramurdi. The encounters with the town’s inhabitants, a large coven of witches, grows increasingly bizarre. This is a dark, over the top horror comedy that leans heavily into gross-out humor. Though subtitled, Witching & Bitching is easily of the most accessible of de la Iglesia’s work, whose dark humor often falls more toward the bleak. Gory and irreverent, this zany comedy is a crowd pleaser.
Duncan (Ken Marino) deals with constant stress in his life, to the point where it manifests in his intestinal tract as a demon. A demon that crawls out of his butt and literally kills Duncan’s sources of stress. That’s correct. A butt demon. That Duncan winds up bonding with and naming Milo. Who knew a butt demon could be so gosh darn cute? Somehow, writers Benjamin Hayes and Jacob Vaughan, and the talented cast, manage to take an over-the-top premise and turn it into something so horrifically endearing. As if the comedic relationship between Duncan and his butt demon isn’t enough, the supporting cast is equally great, especially Peter Stormare as Duncan’s therapist. A creature feature in the distant vein of Gremlins should be more popular than it is.
This goofy Canadian indie gem about an alcoholic cop, Lou Garou (get it? Ha.), who gets turned into a werewolf is every bit as irreverent and silly as it sounds. Written and directed by Lowell Dean, this werewolf horror comedy is as much of a love letter to Canada as it is to werewolves. It’s the perfect B-movie to watch with friends, and if a drunk werewolf isn’t enough to sell you, then scene-stealer Willie Higgins (Jonathan Cherry) is worth the watch alone. The even better sequel, Another Wolfcop, is finally arriving on Blu-ray in July, which makes now a perfect time to get introduced to Lou and his straight-edged partner Tina (Amy Matysio).
The Final Girls
Perhaps because it’s far heavier on the comedy than the horror, or not as self-mocking as horror-comedies like The Cabin in the Woods, but The Final Girls seems to be far more overlooked than it should be. An accurate and loving break down of slasher tropes, Max Cartwright and her friends get sucked into the retro slasher Camp Bloodbath when a fire breaks out at the theater playing the film. Max and her friends must pass themselves off as new counselors and steer clear of machete-wielding maniac Billy Murphy to survive to the end credits. The only problem is that Max is now confronted with the character Nancy, the scream queen her deceased mother was known for playing. While humorously deconstructing the slasher tropes, The Final Girls also succeeds in doing what most slashers can’t- getting the viewer to care about its characters. This one pulls on the heartstrings.
Set in a 1950s alternate universe where space radiation has reanimated the dead, a company has created technology that neutralizes the zombie by way of a domestication collar. Therefore, most zombies have become household servants. When housewife Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) buys a zombie despite her husband’s phobia, the neighborhood starts to unravel when that zombie, Fido (Billy Connolly), breaks his neutralizing collar. This gory zombie comedy borrows heavily from the likes of Lassie Come Home, The Night of the Hunter, and of course, George A. Romero’s zombie films. A small Canadian production followed by a very quiet release in 2007 meant that despite being well-received by critics, Fido was mostly slept on.
On the surface, The Voices seems like a quirky sort of rom-com, with Ryan Reynolds as Jerry Hickfang, a socially awkward factory worker living alone with his dog and cat, and searching for love. Jerry is more than just awkward, though, he’s schizophrenic, and he chooses to stop taking his medication. This then means that his delusions take over, especially in the case of his pets. His dog Bosco is a good dog, representing Jerry’s pure nature, whereas evil Mr. Whiskers appeals to Jerry’s dark side. When Jerry’s unrequited work crush stands him up, his delusions get deadly. The way Jerry deals with his victims is surprisingly gruesome. This horror comedy is the darkest of dark, and sadly far less seen than it should be.
While almost anything by Astron-6 would certainly apply to this list, like Father’s Day or Manborg, The Editor is so very niche in its humor that it’s no surprise it’s not often brought up in conversations about horror-comedies. Written and directed by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy, and additional writing credits by Conor Sweeney, The Editor lovingly and humorously pokes fun of giallo films. Brooks stars as Rey Ciso, a film editor who gets caught up in a string of murders while working on a director’s latest giallo film. Using the same cinematic language and tropes employed in classic gialli, The Editor pays homage to numerous films from the 1960s to the 1980s, from Deep Red, Torso, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Black Belly of the Tarantula, and dozens more.
Attack the Block
This sci-fi horror comedy has it all, jokes that stick their landing, endearing leads, action, suspense, and above all, amazing creature design. After a nurse in trainee is mugged by a gang of street teens, she’s then forced to team up with them to defend their block from an alien invasion. Starring Doctor Who’s Thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, as the nurse, and John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) in his breakout role as gang leader Moses, Attack the Block is pure heart and vicious bioluminescent alien teeth. U.S. Distributors were concerned American audiences would struggle to cope with the street gang’s slang and their thick South London accents, and the U.S. release was limited. Attack the Block offers style and substance, and while it’s lighter on the scares, the creature effects make up for it. It’s the type of film you wish got a sequel.