Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Laugh Until It Hurts (Horror Comedies)

“When lights flicker, this sometimes means that your electrical system is inadequate, but more often it means that your home is possessed by demons.  If you’re not sure whether your house is possessed, see The Amityville Horror, a fine documentary film.” – Dave Barry

As a genre, many modern horror films don’t do much for me.  Over the years I would watch a horror film for the suspense and scares, while others would watch them for the blood and gore.  It feels like in the last 20-30 years that the “gorehounds” are the ones buying all the tickets to see horror movies so studios have been catering to them more and more. 

In addition, I find most of the chase scenes boring, not suspenseful.  The woman is being chased by the killer/psycho/monster/alien.  She trips (gee, didn’t see that coming.)  She hides behind a door/tree/rock.  She keeps looking back the way she came and doesn’t see the pursuer.  Suddenly, she is killed from a different direction, with a loud noise in the musical score to tell us we should now jump (gee, didn’t see that coming, either).  There are only so many ways that filmmakers can show this same scene and they ran out of new ones a long time ago.  The only way to make them different is to increase the gore factor over what has been seen in earlier films.

In all honesty, if I’m going to watch a movie with little to no plot then I would much prefer to see a beautiful woman naked, with her insides where they belong – on the inside.  Seeing various organs and intestines scattered all over the place has never held any appeal for me.  (Please note that I am not opposed to a certain level of bloodiness; I just don’t find it entertaining.)

When I have mentioned this in the past I usually get the horrified (pun intended) response, “You don’t like horror movies?”  I would tell them that of course I like some horror movies and then proceed to name off a bunch.  After I did it a few times, though, I noticed a pattern where many of the ones I was naming had comedic elements in them in addition to the horror.

Oh sure, I like plenty of “straight” horror movies, too.  28 Days Later (2002) is a very good, modern horror film that has a whole other layer about human nature in the face of a breakdown in society.  The Descent (2005), in addition to being scary, inspired many debates about whether it had a positive or negative portrayal of women in it.  The Haunting (1963) is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen.  (Know how much gore is shown in it?  Zilch.  Nada.  Nary an intestine to be found.)  These are just a few examples.

Horror movies that make me laugh, though, seem to be the kind I prefer.  I’ve already written reviews of enough horror comedies for other categories that I could fill this new category with just those.  I will include the links to them below, but I will also be writing reviews for roughly ten more films that I feel you might like.

A few notes:  I will not be reviewing Evil Dead II (1987) here.  I am saving it for a “Sequels That Are Better than the Originals” category I will do someday.  The same goes for Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008), which will go in a future “What the Hell Did I Just Watch?” (title subject to change) category.  Finally, I have seen Cemetery Man (1994) twice and I still don’t know what the heck is going on in the second half of it, so I can’t in good conscience recommend it.

After I post each review for the films in this category I will add a link to them here:

An American Werewolf in London (1981) – reviewed August 29, 2012
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) – reviewed April 17, 2011
My Name is Bruce (2006) – reviewed August 26, 2011
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) – reviewed December 17, 2011
Serial Mom (1994) – reviewed December 20, 2012
Shaun of the Dead (2004) – reviewed April 7, 2011

On to the reviews…


  1. Great choice of category.

    I do like horror films, but I'm really picky. I don't mind gore, but I really appreciate it only when it actually makes sense. Blood and guts for the sake of blood and guts doesn't interest me. If it has a function in the story more than just being there for shock value, I don't take issue. If it's there just to gross people out, I wonder why the filmmaker didn't make better choices.

    1. "Great choice of category."


      "If it's there just to gross people out, I wonder why the filmmaker didn't make better choices."

      I agree with this. I think it's just that it has felt to me that this has been happening more and more often as horror films have been coming out. Of course, I see fewer horror films than you, so perhaps the ones I am choosing are more weighted towards having these scenes for some reason.

  2. Interesting categories. You should write categories for Netflix - I love their level of specificity in dividing up, say, comedies or dramas further.

    I can't really deal with gore. I admit to being squeamish. I avoid torture porn films like the plague.

    I imagine we'll be seeing Scream at some point?

    1. "Interesting categories. You should write categories for Netflix - I love their level of specificity in dividing up, say, comedies or dramas further."

      Thank you. One of my main goals before I even wrote a single review was to have interesting/amusing categories of films outside of the standard "comedy, drama, etc." (Hence "Movies Narrated By Dead People", "Ballet Dancers Kick Ass", et al.) My problem is that I've brainstormed nearly 200 now and I've only used around 50 of them. I want to get to a bunch of them more quickly, but I don't want to shortchange the category I am in by skipping reviews.

      "I imagine we'll be seeing Scream at some point?"

      I thought about it and I decided not to include it. To me it feels like it is really a true horror film that just happens to have some self-referential jokes in it regarding the rules of surviving a horror film. ("Never say you'll be right back...because you won't be.")

  3. I prefer atmospheric horror films from past decades, such as the original Haunting, along with a handful of recent examples, including The Others and The Devil's Backbone. Although I have no problem with gore, I'm bored with the crazed stalker sub-genre of horror films.

    Looking forward to seeing your reviews.

    1. I liked The Others. Even though I figured out the twist it didn't hurt my enjoyment of the film. I haven't seen The Devil's Backbone. Steve at 1001plus mentioned it to me a while back and it has been slowly working its way towards the top of my Netflix queue.

      "Looking forward to seeing your reviews."

      Thanks. I did delay the start a day for my unplanned post on Roger Ebert.

  4. I used to be really into them back in the day, but they just don't do anything for me now. Scary Movie was hilarious though.

  5. "Scary Movie was hilarious though."

    I agree, although as more and more came out they got less funny.