Horror That Makes Me Laugh
I am in the process of putting together a list of some incredibly influential horror films that I absolutely LOVE, however, also make me either laugh, or just have an amazing time with. Of course, this is also a list going into a plan for making a feature film (Which, I intend to bring all of you dear readers right along with me as this happens, from start to finish). While putting together said list, I thought that I would share some of my favorite horror films that also promote laughter.
Now, I could very well call these "Horror Comedies" like every other blogger out there who like to put categories into nifty little boxes that ultimately mean nothing... BUT, I like to think of these films as being fun horror films. John Landis directed one of the indelible entries listed below, and he's always seemed to find the term "Horror Comedy" disparaging. I've heard him on different podcasts talk about how he made a horror film, and while it is funny throughout, it is still very much horrific imagery and moments that tend to leave nightmares in the minds of all who were children of the 80's.
Hitchcock (infamous as being the master of suspense, kids) always had a clear rule about having humor in a solid suspense story. It's that release that helps us appreciate the horror and fun for life. It's that moment on the rollercoaster after the big drop, when everything comes to a brief stop, allowing us to catch our breath, that promotes laughter in the face of being afraid. Sure, being genuinely creeped out or frightened by an entire film leaves us with great bouts of looking over our shoulder while trying to fall asleep (I'm looking at you, Freddy...), but, without the essential rest that well-timed comedy brings, it's just tension without release. Don't get me wrong, I love straight up horror, like The Exorcist, The Shinning, or Rosemary's Baby, which intends to make skin crawl, but, they just don't belong on this list.
Right..... the list.... So, I digress. Here's a list of Horror That Makes Me Laugh. If I miss anything, definitely let me know in the comments.
One more caveat, I'm not putting lame movies on here, like one's that are so bad that it's funny and straight out of the DVD rack at Walmart starring some ex wrestling diva who's ok with showing her boobs on screen to remain relevant... (If that exists, leave a comment below, I may need to research it...)
Onto the list!
An American werewolf in London
Dir: John Landis
Sure, An American Werewolf in London is hilarious, see the above quote from the dialogue of the two hapless Americans while on their backpacking journey through Europe. The moments of David stealing balloons from a little boy to conceal his naked body while running through the zoo, or the ridiculous porno movie scene playing in the theater in Piccadilly Circus, or the precise moment when Can Morrison's Moon Dance kicks in just before the sweet love scene. It's just brilliant... And also HORRIFIC!!!
OK, let's take the samples above. David is naked because he just turned into a freaking werewolf, in the absolute best transformation ever put on film, completely deserving of an Oscar (which it won in the first ever Make Up category). I mean, that scene is freaking terrifying. Sure, it has the backdrop of the very classy Blue Moon behind it, but the sounds of bones moving, and the sheer pain in David's face and screams make that sequence real and intense. Watch it late at night with the volume up, all by yourself, and also only be 12.... It's scary. So, that's why he's naked. The porno movie? Well, he is meeting with the people who he killed the previous night as a werewolf as they convince him to kill himself. And the love scene? Well, beside it being a very tasteful and sexy scene, it sets up what has to happen in the end of the movie; how to stop the monster.
Rewatch the film. It's a masterpiece. The music cues are perfectly selected to include all moon-related themes (It's all I think about when I hear Bad Moon Rising by CCR). The dialogue is real for the time period. The effects are spot on. The suspense is brilliantly tense for a monster movie. Just, watch it. Laugh. Have a good time. Be scared. Go for a ride.
Shaun of the Dead
Dir: Edgar Wright
Look, it's a lot of people's favorite movies... And for a damn good reason. It's a damn good movie.
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg made a perfect movie. Sure, as it says on the poster, it's a romantic comedy with zombie, but don't leave out the fact that it's actually pretty damn scary for a story that's been told to death to this point. In my opinion, this is the best depiction of the zombie apocalypse. We are a pretty lazy world, currently, so this actually sounds like the most realistic way the society would react to such a phenomena.
But, come on, when people unexpectedly get mauled by a pack of zombies, such as David being torn apart while trying to apologize to Shaun at the Winchester, it's gory goodness that I can't get enough of. It's also amazing solid at making us care so much about the character that we are actually sad when Barbara turns into a Zombie and Shaun has to shoot his own mum in the head.... Should I have said "Spoilers" at some point? Yes, laugh and have a good time. But, don't overlook the meticulous detail taken to the horror aspects that puts this up there as an instant classic.
Dir: Tim Burton
The tone of Beetlejuice is superb. It's the story of a couple who dies, then despise the people who move into their house and attempt to get rid of them by way of help by a bio-exorcist. So, a haunted house movie from the POV of the ghosts. Great. Throw in the brilliant casting of Michael Keaton as the ghost with the most and you have the most fun one could have this side of the after life (That's cheesy enough to say, right?).
Despite the great, lighthearted characters, you know, like the couple who can't have children then die, and the little girl who just wants to die from not being understood by the living, or the social worker who basically says "Hey, you're dead... get over it," it has some pretty dark moments. When Beetlejuice is a snake, my kid brother (who isn't a kid anymore) said "That was scary!" Boom.... Point proven. I don't know if I was trying to prove a point, but there it is. Fact is, it's one of my absolute favorite and original films that have yet to be duplicated. Mix in a catchy score by Danny Elfman, and you have yourself a solid horror flick, with some comedy mixed in for the squeamish of the group.
This film also has my favorite movie quote of all time. If you're feeling froggy, ask me to deliver it for you. I'll probably get into it.
The Monster Squad
Dir: Fred Dekkar
When I was maybe 10 or 11 years old, I would actually watch this film on repeat, or back to back with Gremlins 2, every single day. In fact, I may watch it right now!
I know what you're thinking, I should have used the "Wolfman's got nards" quote. But, the fact that you know that line shows me how important this film actually is to our youth. In my opinion, as a story and technical movie, it's damn near perfect. If you're not shedding a tear when Phoebe throws her little stuffed animal, Scrapps, to Frankenstein's Monster, then I question your existence of a heart, good sir.
OK, so, that's not what makes this a horror film with laughs. Here's the deal, The Monster Squad doesn't sugar coat on the horror. People die. Stakes are real. If these kids don't stop these creatures of the night, then evil takes over the earth. Remember earlier when I talked about the best werewolf transformation on screen? Well, this is the second best! Freaking Dracula picks up a little girl by the face, calls her a bitch, then flashes his fangs and blood-red eyes, making her scream. The Wolfman blows up into bloody pieces, then merges back together an howls at the moon. A little boy drops his twinkie in the river, and before he can get it, the Gill Man Creature pops up to scare him away. Dracula, the jerk, tosses dynamite under a car, blowing up the dad's partner, after telling the kid's parents that his going to feed on their son. All in all, it takes itself seriously, and thats what a solid horror movies makes.
Did I mention that there's a part where Horace kicks Wolfman in the nards? I would only dream to make a film as solid as this.
Dir: Stuart Gordon
How does one put H.P. Lovecraft on screen? Enter Re-Animator. This film is quirky, ridiculous, and amazing. It doesn't shy away from the horror in the slightest. It's not just another generic zombie movie, it's the story of great scientific minds going mad with knowledge. Outside of Pet Semetery, it has the creepiest, un-dead cat, be-headed scientist brings to life a whole morgue of dead people to do his bidding, and a master performance by Jeffery Combs as the brilliant Herbert West.
From the opening music, clearly imitating Hitchcock's Psycho, to the odd color pallets, to the final act of living versus the dead, Re-Animator has it all. If you're able to fall for the characters and believe that this is really happening to their life, then you will definitely be afraid of the depths they will go for not only science, but for love, hate, and greed. The main character, Dan, is our POV of this story. He is caught in the middle of following the love of his life, meaning his girl friend, or science. By the end, when she is lying on a hospital bed, dying, he pulls out the glowing green liquid that West created to reanimate her corpse, starting the madness all over again. Tell me you wouldn't do the same thing in his position....
This could be a far longer list. Who knows, maybe I'll do a Part 2: Revenge of the Dead Comedy in a future blog post. These are just a few of my personal favorites, and a great marathon that I could watch pretty much at any time, and I will be for research for upcoming projects.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading. Till next time.....