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While horror is the genre that Halloween calls its own, there's a subgenre that's just as important as its parent classification: the horror-comedy. If horror's the trick, then comedy must be the treat, as laughing and screaming have gone hand in hand for a long while. And yet, for as legendary a field as the land of the horror-comedy is, there are 10 films that top the rest, no questions asked (in our humble opinion, anyway). These 10 films take the world of the absurd, the unexplained, and in some cases, the vicious, and make them into films that can thrill as well as chill. So dim the lights, grab your popcorn, and get ready to laugh at the best genre crossovers that the horror-comedy field has to offer!
Zombieland is a film that's basically the American cousin to Shaun of the Dead, though in the case of Ruben Fleischer's directorial debut, it's a little more on the nose, and tends to weigh heavier in its comedic execution than it does in its horror prowess. But without the heavy compliment of laughs and rich character moments that our cast of four zombie hunters keep the film stocked with, those moments of frightening action wouldn't be worth a box of Twinkies after the zombie apocalypse. The planned sequel can't come soon enough, as that failed Amazon pilot reminded us just how delicate of a balance the original film existed in.
9. The Cabin In The Woods
The fact that The Cabin In The Woods sat on the shelf for two years is enough of a justification for this film to be classified as a horror story, as the Joss Whedon / Drew Goddard collaboration is such an entertaining flick that any doubt of its marketability is retrospectively ridiculous. Using the classic Whedon mechanic of mocking horror convention with a look behind the scenes, even the "manufactured" horror is pretty terrifying at times. But let's not undersell the magic that is Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as the bureaucrats running the show, and a certain 80's horror vet in a pivotal cameo as their boss. If you haven't seen this one yet, that mistake's on you... and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
If Pee Wee's Big Adventure wasn't enough of an indication that Tim Burton was a mad genius who time traveled from the 1960s in order to find a decade that appreciated his madness, Beetlejuice is the ultimate proof of such a fact. Replete with retro flourishes, and a very '80s sensibility when it came to color schemes and the behaviors of yuppies, the movie that introduced us to "the ghost with the most" stood out during an era where masked psychos, knife happy dream enthusiasts, and killer dolls made a killing at the box office. The world would never look at shrimp the same again.
He may be a big wig over at Marvel Studios now, but before James Gunn even set foot on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy, he was breaking into Hollywood by way of Troma Studios. With an education in both extreme body horror and effective dark comedy in hand, Gunn created Slither, a film that harkened back to the heyday of 80's horror, while keeping an extremely modern sensibility about it. It works perfectly, thanks to a cast of seasoned vets (Michael Rooker) and fresh faces (Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks,) and a constant balancing act between what's laughable and what's frighteningly disgusting.
6. Evil Dead 2
While The Evil Dead will always be known as a horror classic through and through, the character of Ashley "Ash" Williams has gone on to represent both worlds of comedy and horror equally. You can thank to Evil Dead 2 for that, as the film took the setting and premise of The Evil Dead and recycled it into a more ferocious horror-comedy hybrid. In fact, depending on who you talk to, Evil Dead 2 does what most horror sequels can only dream of: it outpaces the original in terms of quality. If you're a Bruce Campbell fan, then you've more than likely paid homage to this very film numerous times already.
5. Young Frankenstein
Yes, Young Frankenstein isn't really that scary of a film. In fact, there's no real scares to be had in Mel Brooks' comedic classic, but the scares aren't what make the film a horror, as well as a comedy, flick. Rather it's Brooks' dedication to parodying the style of James Whale's iconic Frankenstein that makes Young Frankenstein a classic horror film. As for the comedy half of the equation, it's not hard to sell the world on how Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, and Peter Boyle turned out a comedic classic - all with the steady hand of Mel Brooks and his sharp wit.
The one... the only... the original! Ghostbusters is a hell of a comedy, and everyone knows it and thinks of that factor first when discussing the film's merits. However, think back to when you first saw it as a kid. Remember the first time you saw the librarian ghost? How about the scene where Dana (Sigourney Weaver) finds that portal to another world in her fridge? Hell, even Zuul was creepy beyond all recognition to a young kid who was drinking it all in for the first time. The big reason Ghostbusters is such a good horror-comedy is that while the jokes are fast and furious, the scares fill in the cracks and do so in epic fashion. You may remember getting huge laughs out of this all-time classic, but it was those frightful moments that helped sell the jokes all the better.
3. The Lost Boys
Vampires have changed over the century and change they've existed, and the current state of the beasts is in flux. While Twilight tried to tell the story of vampires that spanned separate genres, The Lost Boys did that a good couple of decades ago - and it did so in a very hip manner that didn't forget to laugh at itself. The film's plot of sussing out the secret network of vampires in fictional Santa Clara is not only a great opportunity to show off some killer facial prosthetics, as well as Kiefer Sutherland's fantastic chops as a villain, it's also a great chance to delve into the lore of vampiric legend. That's where the legendary Frog Brothers come in, as these two laugh drivers help anchor both sides of the film's story, creating one hell of a combination of laughs and shocks.
Arguments can be made that Gremlins 2: The New Batch is the better of the two films in Joe Dante's horror duology involving ill-suited house pets. However, if one were to argue which film was the scarier one, Gremlins' original recipe would be the winner hands down. Filled with a sense of tension that rivals some of the best horror films out there, Dante's first entry in the series manages to play as one hell of a creature feature. If you cut the scenes of comedy from Gremlins, you'd have a hell of a horror film left to watch. Conversely, if you cut all of the horror elements from the film, and you'd have a pitch black comedy that still pleases the crowd. In its original form, it's a legendary blockbuster that walks the fine line between both worlds.
1. Shaun of the Dead
The first thought I had after seeing Shaun of the Dead was the fact that Edgar Wright had not only created a hell of a comedy that runs down the tropes and trials of a zombie film, but he also managed to craft a truly emotional horror film in the process. The best part about Wright's prolific mash-up is that you can't spot the seams between the two genres, as one can have you so occupied in the moment that the other is allowed to blind side you with its full potential. With no set pattern of which move it'll make next, Shaun of the Dead is the perfect horror-comedy because it plays in both sandboxes, but does so in such a subtle and brilliant manner.