Fans of the horror are very much aware of the amount of subgenres that have been birthed out of the general moniker of being called horror. However, out of all the different styles and variations, it is arguable that the most common and beloved rests with the ‘horror-comedy’. Essentially, horror is a genre that knows it does not always need to take itself seriously in order to entertain and appease the fanbase.
The appeal of horror comedy is so large that any list could easily make it into the hundreds and still be touching on productions that people hold near and dear. In an attempt to come up with a best of the best list, we reached out to several writers of the page and asked for a few samples of films that they feel standout. The result, 30 films that offer a diverse take on what makes the subgenre immensely popular.
Frankenhooker (1990) Dir. Frank Henenlotter
If your significant other was ripped apart by a high tech lawn mower, you would rebuild them using body parts from exploded prostitutes, right? Well, that’s the direction medical school drop-out Jeffrey Franken decides to take in Frank Henenlotter’s wildly absurd horror comedy Frankenhooker, and boy does he get some wild results! His bride may look fabulous in those new purple platform shoes, but her personality is not fully restored during his experiment. She instead begins to exhibit the behavior of her deceased limb donors, which leads to numerous amusing interactions with the city folk of New Jersey. Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein has been parodied countless times over the years, but no one has done it quite like Mr. Henenlotter!
Keep your eyes peeled for a quick cameo from Zacherley, the cool ghoul himself! Special shout out to actress Jennifer DeLora for playing the most hilarious hooker in the film, Angel! She even had me laughing during her interview that is included in the DVD. (Oki Covarrubias)
Tucker & Dale Vs Evil (2011) Dir. Eli Craig
Comedy thrives on subverting expectations, and you don’t get my more subverted than this! A couple of adorable yet clueless salt of the earth friends accidentally fulfil the horror movie tropes of murderous rednecks, and over excitable college kids go completely off the rails starting a battle to the death Tucker and Dale don’t even realize is happening. To say more is to start spoiling too much, and this is a gem of a film that you should really go in to see as a clean slate and just let it happen to you.
It still would have been pretty good on a lower budget with a weaker cast, but Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk elevate the premise to total classic levels. If this has slipped under your radar so far, you’re in for a real treat. (Luke Greensmith)
Psycho Goreman (2021) Dir. Steven Kostanski
Giving a youth, that embodies the in-your-face hyper energy of 90’s advertising, control of the strongest and most violent being in all the galaxy has made Psycho Goreman a nostalgia-inducing comedic masterpiece. In addition, the film boasts stand out pratical effects to perfectly capture the bygone era of horror.
Director Steven Kostanski is not stranger to the horror comedy with such works as the Giallo-inspired The Editor and the zero budget sci-fi adventure Manborg. While all of his work is notable for this list, Psycho Goreman is easily his best work to date; gross, hilarious and incredibly fun. (Adam Symchuk)
Deathgasm (2015) Dir. Jason Lei Howden
Being a low budget horror comedy from New Zealand, Deathgasm pay homage to the earlier greats such as Braindead and Evil Dead, adopting their similar, over-the-top attitude. While not taking its story too seriously, it embellishes on the stereotype that surrounds metal music and its fans. The group of misfits are formed together out of exclusion from other peer groups and form a band (black-metal face paint and all). After stealing an unreleased song from a local, washed-up musician, they accidently summon a demonic entity that possesses the entire town. The special effects are impressive, with a ridiculous amount of carnage on screen for a low-budget movie. Use the Effects well to switch gears with darkly humorous moment while the group are fighting for their lives.
Deathgasm may not be the strongest film for horror or comedy, but it is certainly an entertaining movie with some real laugh out loud moments that are sure to entertain the right crowd. (Jim Cox)
Happy Death Day (2019) by Christopher Landon
Director Christopher Landon is no stranger to horror, having co-created a couple of the Paranormal Activity movies and the underseen Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. With Happy Death Day, he tries his hand successfully to shake things up within the slasher genre, creating a PG-13 concoction of laughs and scares. Much of the comedic and emotional weightlifting done by more than capable lead actress, Jessica Rothe. Rothe’s Tree is the sorority girl victim trope turned on its head and deconstructed.
With hilariously various ways to die, Happy Death Day is a teen-friendly slasher comedy that works. (Dustin Domingo)
Prom Night 3: The Last Kiss (1990) by Ron Oliver
“A Romantic Comedy from Hell” is the most accurate tagline they could have possibly come up with for this film! Those who have seen Prom Night 2 will be familiar with Mary Lou, the malevolent spirit who once haunted the halls of Hamilton High, but gone is her plot for revenge against those who wronged her. This time around, she’s a lot more interested in Alex Grey, an average Joe at Hamilton who has a run-in with her after she escapes from hell by using a nail file to cut through the chains that were restraining her. Yes, you read that correctly. Alex is tired of being average, but when he gets a taste of the supernatural life awaiting him with Mary Lou, he begins to get cold feet. And who could blame him? Killing one of his teachers to help bring his grades up might have been a kind gesture from a ghost’s perspective, but once the body counts begin to rise, so do the problems with his metaphysical relationship.
This is one of my go-to films whenever I’m feeling a little blue; it’s incredibly self aware loads of fun to watch! You honestly don’t even have to watch Prom Night 2 to enjoy this, unless you’re super curious about Mary Lou’s backstory. (Oki)
Hausu (1977) by Nobuhiko Obayashi
Not the Hollywood one, the cult classic that keeps turning up as out of context clips online. Don’t worry about not having context for those clips, context doesn’t help much. Housu isn’t really something you watch, it’s more something you experience. It’s very unpredictably surreal, with a great sense of timing for throwing something extra on top of an already far out dream logic sequence just to throw you even further off balance. The finale especially just continues to spiral out of control in total defiance of logic, just when it shouldn’t be able to get any stranger something else will pile on top!
It isn’t fair to say this is a so-bad-it’s-good film. It has that feel of just winging it and hoping for the best, only to make a fool of itself, but this is a bit more deliberate than something like Troll 2 or The Room. They knew what they were doing, and probably laughed as hard as their eventual audience coming up with some of this stuff. Prepare to be astounded with this one. (Luke)
Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) by Stephen Chiodo
A charming film from the imagination of the Chiodo Brothers who also brought the world Team America and Critters, Killer Klowns from Outer Space is an iteration of an Ed Wood concept that’s approached with all the humour of begone slashers more as a fun romp: whimsical characters in a small town who encounter a dire situation. An ice cream truck pitching sales to horny teenagers in the backwoods, a life raft as a love sofa in the back of a car, a random circus tent in the forest adjacent to a farm – the set up pieces alone are enough to note and be amused.
The situation here, however, is ludicrous and the practical effects provide a wonderful experience to the full absurdity – alien clowns who want to kidnap people into cotton candy cocoons and deploy all the comical trickery expected of such icons. The clowns each have their respectively entertaining personalities and their performance, including their kills, are ridiculous fun. A sequel is planned, The “Return of the Killer Klowns From Outer Space in 3D”, as this is a cult classic with absolute adoration of fans – absurd and ridiculous fun which balanced the comedy perfectly with horror undertones. (Thomas Norman)
Cannibal The Musical (1993) Dir. Trey Parker
The first project of the iconic Matt Parker and Trey Stone, Cannibal the Musical follows a doomed expedition lead by the clueless Alfred Packer. In a style that has become familiar to the duo, the film leans on crass humor and absurd scenarios to entertain the audience. While the film is undeniably crude and amateurish, the contrast of extreme gore to catchy musical numbers works perfectly in cementing the films cult status.
Ultimately, I have watched this movie so many times the songs are engraved into my memory. At any point I may sing “Spadoinkle Day”, I am okay with this existence. (Adam)
Tremors (1990) by Ron Underwood
Tremors, to this day, is the perfect B movie set up. The town of Perfection, Nevada is incredibly isolated and the threat is basically Jaws in the desert with a super simple set of rules for the story to explore and work around. If you make vibrations on the sand or dirt, an underground monster comes for you. From there? The film fully explores its own rules for maximum fun and no small amount of fridge horror despite the comedic tone. The comedy here comes from the energy. The script is 90% rapid fire banter and 10% horrific deaths which turned out to be a wonderful formula.
The ironically named town of Perfection is populated with an assortment of oddballs who barely get along that are forced into a life or death situation together, and everyone involved in making this is clearly having a lot of fun. The practical monster effects are something special too, with Tremors well worth a watch just for the “graboids” alone. (Luke)
Freaky (2020) by Christopher Landon
Christopher Landon doubles down on his slasher love with this slasher comedy that brings us more of his team’s comedic wit but is also not afraid to get down and dirty. Freaky is gleefully bloody with foul-mouthed humor that catches one off-guard in a good way. Landon’s entire cast get their shining moments but its central characters, portrayed by Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton effortlessly juggle laughs, scares, and emotional beats.
Freaky is a refreshing bloodbath and a gift to slasher fans, with very sly and welcome social commentary. (Dustin)
Tusk (2014) Dir. Kevin Smith
Tusk is a black horror comedy written and directed by popular comedy director Kevin Smith. Tusk is the literal definition of ‘not for everyone’, the comedy is very slow moving and comes from the sheer absurdity of the entire situation along with obscure comedic relief by Johnny Depp. With a great performance from the whole cast, the show is stolen by Michael Parks’ perfectly unhinged portrayal of Howard Howe, switching from being hilarious to unnerving effortlessly, exploring the horrors of a broken mind and how dangerous it can be.
For some, Tusk will be a harrowing body horror, having very little to do with comedy. Through impressive special effects that really show of the brutality to the transformation, this is a dark piece of media that has rib tickling moments and brings the very strange dilemma of ‘what would happen if I was turned into a walrus’. (Jim)
Deerskin (2019) Dir. Quintin Dupieux
Horror can turn the mundane into an object of deadly obsession for comedic effect. Deerskin explores such an absurd situation with a deerskin jacked donned by recent divorcee, Georges. In this case, the jacket and man begin to speak to one another expressing a devious sentiment; “I want to be the only jacket in the world”. This statement acts as the catalyst for Georges to go on a killing spree throughout a small town targeting anyone who dares to don a jacket.
Director Quintin Dupieux is a master of the absurd with a rather unorthodox approach to comedy. While some might point to Rubber (the film about a killer car tire) as his best work in horror comedy, I really feel that Deerskin is a much more polished and better looking film. (Adam)
Evil Dead 2 (1987) by Sam Raimi
Sam Raimi surprised everybody with the first Evil Dead‘s success on a miniscule budget and was funded for a proper reboot, with a considerably higher budget to glamorize the production value, and again features the immensely charismatic Bruce Campbell to confront more torment with the emphasis on his character of Ash. Escalating into a violent slapstick comedy, where the situations are absurd as they are terrifying, Ash will have to overcome possession, the loss of his lover, a rogue hand, a laughing taxidermy deer head and incredulous arrivals. In a desolate cabin where all exits are closed, and the sly woods have machinations as an entity stalks underneath the suffocating canopies, no quips will salvage his decline of sanity that’s beautiful to see eventually evolve him into the badass hero of horror we know today.
A favourite of many, and the very embodiment of a cult classic where humour and campiness is balanced flawlessly to more serious considerations, Evil Dead 2 has a legacy to horror fans as the pinnacle of a Grand Guignol spectacle. The dark comedy, shocking effects, simple premise and focused acting all blend this film into an amusing and quality result. (Thomas)
Tragedy Girls (2017) by Tyler Macintyre
Like Freaky, Tragedy Girls is a high school-set slasher comedy. In this one, we follow a pair of high school besties who moonlight as serial killers to fuel their clout for their crime-themed social media outlets. The film plays out as a teen comedy would but injected with blood and guts. The humor of the film mainly stems from these high school comedy tropes being played during and in-between murders, making for an absurdly hilarious experience. That said, the film also has something to say about the youth of today and the lengths some go to for that sweet, sweet clout.
Tragedy Girls might be considered a guilty pleasure but in the usual way; it is funny but also equally disturbing. (Dustin)
This is more of an honourable mention, or interesting counterpoint to go over. These two together, made two years apart, are a great example of the difference between a horror comedy and a comedy horror. Both are about small dangerous creatures out of control, both sets of creatures are puppeteered brilliantly, and both find a lot of comedy in their rampages. Both even lean into very 80’s themes of family, too, with the human protagonists.
However, the two have a very different focus. Gremlins is a comedy first with horror elements less focused. Critters is the opposite, existing as a weirdly effective horror first with comedic elements to more diffuse the tension. They make a great double bill to highlight the differences in approach – which of the two genres has the most overarching emphasis. Any aspiring writers out there could benefit from seeing these back to back, and everyone else should just get the popcorn on the go as these films fulfil an awesome 80’s high concept creature feature double bill. (Luke)
All About Evil (204) by Peaches Christ
Feast Trilogy (2005-09) by John Gulager
The Feast trilogy is a group of creature feature films released under Division Extreme Films. The films are a blood-soaked battle between an invading alien race and the survivors of a small isolated town in the middle of the desert. With amazing creature design, top-notch practical special effects and a group of crazy characters, who’s survival is not guaranteed, the three films are a tour-de-force of blood, violence and tongue in cheek comedy.
The story and pacing help the films flow together with ease, making for one long, four and a half hour story that is worthy of devoting an afternoon to. The comedy of the films can sometimes border on childish, with extreme toilet humour bordering on disgusting, that would put some people off. If you can get past this, Feast can be a blast with its mix of extreme horror and outrageous comedy. (Jim)
Shaun of the Dead (2004) Edgar Wright
I find it very hard to believe no one has heard of the ZomRomCom, or that anyone doubts its significance. Hell, this was a zombie film George Romero loved! Take the British sensibility of a serious situation with comedy characters blundering through it, and put it in the hands of a talented cast and crew who clearly love the concept to get great results. It’s label as a “ZomRomCom” is a meta joke, but they take the concept seriously. All three aspects get serious weight given to them.
The zombie horror is legit, the romance drives a lot of the stakes, and the comedy is pure gold! This is a movie I can always rewatch, and I may well go do that right now. (Luke)
The Return of the Living Dead (1985) Dir. Dan O’Bannon
The quintessential horror comedy of the 80’s, The Return of the Living Dead delivers punch line after punchline along with some of the best visual horror gags of all time. In addition, the production embraces the punk aesthetic in a way that both pays homage while poking fun at it. How can you not love the likes of Suicide and Trash, particularly Trash (Linea Quigley) who likes talking about morbid subjects and stripping naked? The film also has one of the best soundtracks of the 80’s featuring the likes of Roky Erikson, The Cramps and T.S.O.L.
Perfect film for Halloween, this is a film I have had the joy to see both with a large crowd and with good friends on multiple occasions. One of the few films I will check out every year around Halloween, it holds up upon every revisit. (Adam)
You’re Next (2013) Adam Wingard
While You’re Next is known for its badass final girl, much of the genius in the film is the dry humor. In this home invasion slasher story of a family reunion gone wrong, our cast of bickering siblings (with their significant others in tow) continue spouting vitriol at each other as their house comes under siege by a gang of animal mask-clad killers, and it is a sight to behold. You’re Next gets to play it straight but find laughs among the carnage with off-the-cuff witty remarks and insults that are drier than the Sahara desert.
You’re Next gets the best of both worlds; it’s scary but also funny without having to be either separately. (Dustin)
Cabin in the Woods (2011) Dir. Drew Goddard
Cabin in the Woods is an intelligent take on the horror genre. Rather than try to change the formulaic structure of horror movies, it is more of a sneak behind the curtain at exactly how these movies follow a core concept that has interchangeable parts to suit different tastes but the end result is still the same. The comedy in Cabin in the Woods comes from identifying common horror movie tropes and leaning into them as hard as possible. The containment warehouse stores almost every horrific creation ever devised, ready to be released upon an unsuspecting group of walking stereotypes. The crew in the control room mirrors our own desensitization to violence and cheering on the carnage is like a packed movie theatre baying for fake blood.
Cabin in the Woods has something for all horror comedy fans with its numerous references to cult classic cinema, visceral horror and self-reflective look at horror movies as a whole. It is a film worthy of the high regard. (Jim)
Jennifer’s Body (2009) by Karyn Kusama
Though not initially well-received by critics and casual moviegoers, Jennifer’s Body has steadily found its audience over the years and is now considered a cult classic by many. Writer Diablo Cody’s goal was to make an “80’s horror comedy”, which is evident through the slang-heavy dialogue, the cheesy slasher story beats, and the intentionally retro theatrical poster that looks like something you would find at a video store, but the film was released before the 80’s revival took place thanks to the likes of Stranger Things and the various reboots that spawned over the last decade. The film is also incredibly feminist without being too in-your-face about it, so there are surprisingly tons of layers to be enjoyed!
I still quote this movie as often as I quote Heathers, which is actually the perfect dark comedy to compare this to! One major difference of course is the fact that Jennifer, unlike Christian Slater’s character in Heathers, is possessed by a ravenous succubus due to a failed Satanic ritual performed by indie rock bank Low Shoulder in hopes of getting famous. (Oki)
Braindead (1992) by Peter Jackson
Quick question! What’s the bloodiest zombie movie ever made? Okay, it’s not a great question, since this is a titled segment, but Peter Jackson’s gross out zombie comedy takes the trophy by an alarming margin. I don’t want to talk spoilers here half because I don’t want to talk about what happens, as it’s best not to think too hard about some of this stuff! It’s well worth the mental scars to watch at least once, though. You need a strong stomach to get through this, or frequent breaks with possibly a cushion to hide behind too.
Peter Jackson being daft easily eclipses most edge lord attempts to disgust an audience, it’s almost worrying that he can go from breaking out with stuff like this or Meet The Feebles and Bad Taste on to Lord of the Rings. Yet somehow here we are, and whatever the title is for your region, this film stands up. Definitely show it to squeamish friends who haven’t seen it yet for maximum comedy rewatch value. (Luke)
Tone Deaf (2019) Dir. Richard Bates Jr.
Zoomer vs Boomer, who do you cheer for when both are horribly obnoxious? Tone Deaf presents such a battle as ‘stay off my lawn’ boomer versus overly entitled an delusional zoomer. Highlighted by actor Robert Patrick delivering monologues straight to the camera shitting on youth and Amanada Crew (Olivia) surrounding herself with people unwilling to critique her. The film title is derived from Olivia’s belief she is a profound talent, despite being utterly tone deaf.
Admittedly, the comedic styling of Richard Bates Jr. won’t be to everyone tastes. The delivery in his work is noticeably dry and often awkward. In addition, the comedic tone comes from that awkward place at laughing at people who are objectively awful but committed to it. Regardless, I would say his work is certainly worth checking out to see if it vibes with your own comedic tastes. (Adam)
One Cut of the Dead (2017) by Shin’ichirô Ueda
A film that proved the horror scene in Japan is not stagnating, it follows the premise of a low-budget crew filming campy horror sequences until a real zombie apocalypse unfolds abruptly at the remote warehouse. The awful acting, cinematography and plot is soon dispelled as mediocre, however, when it all serves a meta purpose – every abysmal mistake, and ridiculous moment, has an underlying explanation that’s comical. The characters are whimsical and one will soon adore all their quirks that unravel this film as a unique vision dabbling in the pleasure of filmmaking that’s fun to the audience as it is the crew/cast.
These serve a lovely point on the improvisational machinations behind budget filmmaking – the frantic production process, the quirky actors/actresses and a clever director trying to adapt to all available. Clever, hilarious and a tribute to more playful antics during filmmaking on a budget (or with a deadline), the film takes horror in a powerful direction that’s a witty commentary on the very industry where it resides. The first hurdle of an intentionally abysmal opening, however, must be endured patiently to witness the true brilliance overarching. ‘Ingenious’ would be the one adjective to describe the whole film. (Thomas)
Little Monsters (2019) by Abe Forsythe
In our current state where zombie movies have gone stale, director Abe Forsythe and his team come out with this clever entry. Mostly crass but nevertheless laugh-out-loud funny, it’s strengths lie in the comedic and dramatic timing of its cast, making for a heartwarming tale of a teacher protecting her class against the undead, physically and mentally.
Little Monsters sees the resurgence of freshness in not just the zombie genre but of Romero-style slow zombies as well. (Dustin)
Re-animator 1&2 (1985-90) By Stuart Gordon & Brian Yuzna
With The Reanimator and Bride of Reanimator being loosely based on H.P Lovecraft’s serial novelette ‘Herbert West – Reanimator’, the source material wasn’t exactly full of yuks and giggles. Director Stewart Gordon made a bold decision adding dark comedy to a serious story, but by doing this, he managed to make one of Lovecraft’s more poorly received pieces of work into a cult phenomenon. Having an incredibly dark premises, the comedy follows suit, pushing the boundaries with its imagery that is in no way for the weak of stomach but is still comedic enough to make its decent into the horror that much more horrific.
Both films have their humorous moments, alternating between comedy and horror so skilfully that it becomes disorientating, pushing the movie forward to a disastrous endings. With impeccable acting from the entire cast, playing the whole film straight under insurmountable odds. This not only adds to the overall serious nature of the films but also to the comedy as well, making these two films a must see to those who prefers a fine line between their comedy and horror. (Jim)
Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2002) by Sam Irwin
Commercial parodies such as the Scary Movie franchise have always referenced modern horror films to appeal to a wide audience. What Cassandra Peterson does in Elvira’s Haunted Hills is similar, but the target audience is much more niche. This gem of a film lampoons a collection of Roger Corman films, namely The Pit and the Pendulum, The House of Usher, and Tomb of Ligeia. Fans of Vincent Price and the countless films he’s featured in that are loosely based (and I mean LOOSELY) on Edgar Allan Poe stories will find plenty to enjoy here. Filmed exclusively in Romania, the sets perfectly mirror the old gothic castles seen in Price’s films, the performances are incredibly over the top in the best way possible, and the special effects purposely mimic those from the films mentioned above.
I was still quite young the first time I saw this, and although I enjoyed it for Elvira’s presence alone, I didn’t quite “get it” until I started watching old Hammer films as a teen. These are the types of films you need to be familiar with in order to enjoy the film to its fullest capacity. (Oki)
House (1986) by Steve Miner
Not the Japanese one, this is an American comedy that leans harder into horror than some on this list. Poltergeist is a haunted house film, House is a film about what may as well be a portal to hell! Anything and everything goes at random here, it’s a bit of a wild ride. While the situation always seems to have a bit of a tongue-in-cheek approach, some of what turns up to torment the hapless protagonist will stick with you pretty uncomfortably. There’s at least one scene that burned itself into my childhood mind that has always stuck with me, it’s the moment when something smiles from upstairs and shuts the door… You’ll know it when you see it… It’s an imaginative somewhat unhinged anything goes house of horrors, and it doesn’t seem to get talked about as much as it deserves.
I pushed hard for this to be on the list with the better known Japanese cult success Hausu as a disambiguation, but also a plug for a film that well deserves more love. (Luke)
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