They may seem like strange bedfellows, but comedy and horror go hand-in-hand.
Some of the most revered horror movies of all time contain moments of extreme humor: Jack Torrance’s famous “Here’s Johnny!” line from The Shining, cannibalistic Hannibal Lector “having an old friend for dinner” in Silence of the Lambs, and the near entirety of Get Out.
“Comedy and horror are opposite sides of the same coin,” said Robert Bloch, the writer of Psycho. “Both deal in the grotesque and the unexpected, but in such a fashion as to provoke two entirely different physical reactions.” This couldn’t be truer, but it’s missing an important point. Comedy and horror may be opposite sides of the same coin, but it’s an easy coin to flip. You can transition from comedy to horror and back again to great success.
Hell, even Shakespeare did it! Titus Andronicus is categorized as a tragedy, but I’d like to argue that it makes for one bad-ass horror comedy.
I’ve always liked my horror with a dash of comedy—something that the newly released Halloween (2018) does to a fair amount of success. If a horror movie is completely devoid of levity, it’s not an enjoyable ride.
With all this in mind, I’d like to recommend a few new(ish) horror comedies to give you a frightening case of the giggles this Halloween.
Murder Party (Netflix)
Don’t let the kitschy cover art fool you, Jeremy Saulnier’s (Green Room, Blue Ruin) directorial debut is chockfull of the surprising twists and elegant camerawork that have become his calling card.
When a strange man accepts a random invitation to a Halloween party, he quickly finds himself in a fight for his life. It’s a basic survival story set against the backdrop of the hoity-toity New York art scene. It’s an offbeat concept, but it plays surprisingly well.
If you’re a fan of Shaun of the Dead and Evil Dead II, give Murder Party a shot.
What We Do in the Shadows (Amazon Prime)
Taika Waititi is the brains behind Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok and the lesser known, but equally as awesome, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The movie that put him on the map, however, is the 2014 vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows.
What We Do in the Shadows follows three vampire flatmates struggling with the realities of modern living. It’s heartfelt, hilarious, and completely gruesome. In the film, Waititi pulls triple duty; in addition to starring in the film as the vampire Viago, an 18th-century dandy, he served as co-writer and co-director alongside Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords). In one standout scene that deftly balances horror and comedy, Viago prepares to bite a victim. While the victim prattles on about the pointlessness of her life, Viago spreads newspaper beneath her so that he doesn’t mess up the flat.
Mark my words, What We Do in the Shadows will one day be considered the Citizen Kane of vampire horror comedies.
Better Watch Out (Shudder)
This one may be best saved for the holidays since it’s set during Christmas, but Better Watch Out is a gift that may need to be unwrapped early.
Following in the footsteps of recent holiday-horror films like Krampus, Better Watch Out is a humorous take on the home invasion horror subgenre. It’s pretty standard fare—a babysitter defending a twelve-year-old boy—but there’s a big twist that turns everything on its head in a super satisfying manner.
I previously recommend Better Watch Out last year. If you didn’t check it out then, now’s your chance! And avoid reviews if you can, I’d recommend going into this one spoiler-free.