Reel Talk Presents: Top 10 Horror Comedies
Reel Talk is back from the dead, and out for revenge oooooooooh. Once a year, I’ll return (possibly) to find the nubile teens who wronged me all those years ago. Essentially I thought I would break my self-imposed exile from Geeks Unleashed to discuss some spooky shit for Halloween. As previously stated, I’m not a fan of scary movies, but I am a fan of comedy, and will count down some fantastic examples of the much-maligned comedy horror genre for your entertainment. They may not scare you shirtless, but you may poo your pants through laughter. Either way, you’re going home soiled, which is the whole point of Halloween to begin with.
10: Scary Movie (2000)
A lot of the films in this list I would have seen as a child or in my teens, so sue me for nostalgia if you must. Scary Movie ill-advisedly resurrected the spoof genre perfected by Airplane, Hot Shots and The Naked Gun films. Riffing on the slasher genre, the original instalment I really enjoyed in my heyday. Obviously it now looks worn and dated, and is in no way scary at all, I feel it’s a nice enough way to start us off, and still has some laughs, even if they are of the lowest-common-denominator kind.
9: Arachnophobia (1991)
Spiders. Nuff said. Only deviants like spiders. This Disney release had the right balance of creepy scares and humour to traumatise all the family, with a great turn as ever by John Goodman.
8: Idle Hands (1999)
This Stoner comedy about a possessed hand on a murder spree was released 10 days after the Columbine Massacre, and therefore was a bit of a flop on release. Like Scary Movie, Idle Hands is a guilty pleasure of my 12 year old self. At the time I thought it was clever and had some stupid but self-deprecating slapstick, if a little cheesy. Seth Green and some other guy I can’t be bothered to research the name of play the main character’s murdered slacker best friends in zombie form, and provide most of the laughs.
7: Gremlins II: The New Batch (1990)
Directed by Joe Dante, Gremlins II continues his long tradition in the horror comedy genre (he also directed the first Gremlins instalment and the classic neighbourly paranoia Tom Hanks vehicle, The Burbs, which nearly made it onto the list) with a post-modern monster flick that takes a pop at the major media outlets and TV networks at the time. Once again, not at all scary, but the concept of the Gremlins is fantastic, and it even has a fourth wall breaking cameo by Hulk Hogan, so it makes it onto the list. It’s very funny and well made, and cemented the iconic Gizmo and the evil Gremlins into movie monster history.
6: Dead Snow (2009)
Again, this film can be summed up in very few words: Nazi Zombies. This is a great film for a big group viewing, with plenty of jolts, gore and laughs as a squadron of haunted Nazi Zombies plague a group of Norwegian medical students. The black humour really works with the deadpan European sensibility, and has solid gore effects, which is obviously important for a zombie film. The highest of high-concepts expertly executed.
5: Braindead (1992)
The bloodiest film on the list by a long chalk, and the first from Peter Jackson, Braindead tells the tale of a man whose life falls apart when his mother is bitten by a Sumatran Rat Monkey. She reanimates after her funeral, and soon enough timid Lionel (Timothy Balme) has a basement full of zombies to look after, whilst also trying to woo the woman of his dreams. It has it all: zombie procreation, lawnmowers, Kung fu priests kicking arse for the lord, and a dinner scene worth the admission price alone.
4: The Frighteners (1996)
Another childhood classic, The Frighteners stars Michael J Fox as a paranormal investigator who can see the dead, and uses his skill to con people by setting up ‘hauntings’ with his ghost pals. He gets embroiled in a spate of killings being perpetrated from beyond the grave which only he can stop. This would have been my first encounter with the wizards at Wingnut Studios with impressive special effects for the time on display. I loved the spin on the traditional 6th sense type film, with Frank Bannister actively exploiting his powers, which is typical of the type of humour in the film.
3: Zombieland (2009)
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this at the pictures, with a couple of jolts offsetting the raucous comedy that lays down the rules to surviving a zombie apocalypse. Like all of the zombie comedies on the list, it has it’s tongue firmly pushed through a cheek, and also has possibly the greatest cameo of all time.
2: Shaun of the Dead (2004)
One last zombie film, promise. This is however, the only Zom-Rom-Com, with Simon Pegg using the undead uprising to try and impress his ex-girlfriend. At the time of release I remember seeing the film twice in two different countries and laughing my balls off each time. It felt fresh and original, and is well paced, flashing between scene-flattening comedy and emotional drama or scares. Like most zombie films, it looks at deep issues, with Shaun reassessing his life and ruminating on friendships and relationships along the way. It’s something most men my age can relate to as the only apocalypse ready generation, and certainly struck a chord with UK cinema-goers, catapulting Pegg to global stardom.
1: American Psycho (2000)
I know it’s neither a straight comedy nor a horror, but this razor sharp satire examining sanity and capitalism is an absolutely stunning example of what can be achieved if you blend some genres together. Christian Bale’s performance as Patrick Bateman the murdering yuppie extraordinaire is perfect. His descent into madness and horrific acts of brutality bring the horror, whilst his reaction to these crimes, and the privileged world around him adds the sabre-like wit and surreal comedy. Phil Collins’ Sussudio and Huey Lewis and the News’ Hip to be Square sit proudly on my Halloween Spotify playlist, and when it comes on if the room isn’t full of Bateman impressions, then you need new friends. As the acts get more depraved, you just like him even more, which is all I ask in my psychopaths.