A horror fan, a comedy lover, and an admirer of fine musicals walk into a bar. You might be thinking, Well, that sure would be a quiet meeting. What could they possibly have in common to talk about? They might end up closing the place down together, actually, if the topic of discussion is musical horror comedies — one of the more underrated genre combinations in cinema.
In fact, the subgenre is so often overlooked that the mere idea of making a film that involves laughter, blood, and dance numbers might sound like a recipe for disaster, until I remind you of, or introduce you to, some of the iconic cult classic and more recent favorites, below. The following are our picks for some of the best horror movies that also qualify as some of the best horror-comedy movies and even some of cinema’s greatest musicals, along with a tip on how to watch them on streaming.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
After their car breaks down, a couple (Barry Bostwick and Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon) takes refuge in a spooky mansion, where they bear witness to the bizarre experiments of a mad scientist (Tim Curry).
Why it is one of the best musical horror comedy movies: One of the first and most beloved musical horror comedy movies of all time is The Rocky Horror Picture Show — director Jim Sharman’s cinematic adaptation of Richard O’Brien’s stage production that pays tribute to campy 1950s sci-fi flicks, introduced timeless numbers like “The Time Warp,” and, arguably, gave birth to the cult film.
Stream The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Hulu (opens in new tab).
Rent (or buy) The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Amazon Prime (opens in new tab).
Phantom Of The Paradise (1974)
A disfigured composer (William Finley) writes music for the woman he loves (Suspiria star Jessica Harper), only for his work to be stolen by a corrupt record executive (Academy Award-nominated songwriter Paul Williams).
Why it is one of the best musical horror comedy movies: A lesser-known cult favorite musical horror comedy that actually pre-dates The Rocky Horror Picture Show is Phantom of the Paradise — co-writer and director Brian De Palma’s rock ’n roll fantasy that clearly borrows narrative elements from The Phantom of the Opera, but is filled with enough visually inventive surrealism to feel wholly one of a kind.
Rent (or buy) Phantom Of The Paradise on Amazon (opens in new tab).
Little Shop Of Horrors (1986)
The life of a meek floral shop employee (Rick Moranis) changes forever when he finds an unusual plant and soon discovers that it is actually “a mean, green mother from outer space” with an insatiable craving for human blood.
Why it is one of the best musical horror comedy movies: Also one of the best Steve Martin movies, my personal favorite musical horror comedy would have to be Little Shop of Horrors — director Frank Oz’s cinematic update of Howard Ashman’s stage production (with a much darker original ending) that, itself, was directly inspired by a campy 1960s sci-fi flick from Roger Corman.
The Monster Club (1981)
A horror writer is invited by an ominous, elderly man to a hip music venue where he tells him a trio of creepy stories.
Why it is one of the best musical horror comedy movies: Speaking of old, campy B-movies, the king of those types of classics — horror icon Vincent Price — leads the cast of director Roy Ward Baker’s The Monster Club (not to be confused with The Monster Squad), which is a fun horror anthology movie that features performances from pop-punk artists in between each tale.
A centuries-old, but young-looking, vampire (Dean Cameron) has one last try to break the curse that has been preventing him from having a happily ever after with the love of his life by winning the heart of her reincarnated self (Tawny Fere Ellis) and becoming a rock star in the process.
Why it is one of the best musical horror comedy movies: Another underrated comedy with some cool tunes and themes of vampirism is Rockula — a cheesy and mildly raunchy take on the lore pioneered by Bram Stoker that also stars music legends Bo Diddley and Thomas Dolby.
Cannibal: The Musical! (1993)
On trial for the murder and consumption of a group of pioneers, a mountain guide (Trey Parker) retells the whole bloody affair through a series of flashbacks featuring song and dance numbers.
Why it is one of the best musical horror comedy movies: Another ridiculous comedy with music of varying genres from the early 1990s is also one of the best cannibal movies: Cannibal: The Musical!, which is very loosely based on historical fact and first put South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone on the map years before their dark sense of humor and love for show tunes earned them Tony Awards with The Book of Mormon.
Rent (or buy) Cannibal: The Musical! on Amazon (opens in new tab).
Stage Fright (2014)
A prestigious camp for young theatre lovers is terrorized by a masked killer who despises the very art form.
Why it is one of the best musical horror comedy movies: People with a dark sense of humor and a love for show tunes will surely love Stage Fright — a unique take on the summer camp slasher movie subgenre featuring beautifully choreographed numbers, clever satirization of the life of a young theatre prodigy, and Rocky Horror Picture Show star Meat Loaf.
Anna And The Apocalypse (2017)
A teenager (Ella Hunt) and other youths struggle to survive the outbreak of shuffling, hungry corpses — some of which were once Christmas shoppers, while others are dressed as common symbols of the holiday — invading Scotland.
Why it is one of the best musical horror comedy movies: Also one of the best horror movies set around the holidays, Anna and the Apocalypse can be enjoyed any time of the year for its astonishing blend of uproarious gore with cheery imagery and upbeat tunes.
Rent (or buy) Anna And The Apocalypse on Amazon (opens in new tab).
A teenage metalhead (Milo Cawthorne) and his new band get ahold of some mysterious sheet music that, when performed, unleashes powerful and possessive forces of evil that turn their small, New Zealand town upside down.
Why it is one of the best musical horror comedy movies: While not a traditional musical, music still plays a critical role in one of the best horror movies on Peacock, Deathgasm — a wonderfully witty and unabashedly brutal adventure that feels like how the Bill and Ted movies might have turned out if they were made by Sam Raimi.
Studio 666 (2022)
To record their tenth album, Dave Grohl and his bandmates (starring as themselves) move into an Encino mansion hiding deadly secrets that could threaten the future of the rockers.
Why it is one of the best musical horror comedy movies: While also not a traditional musical, Studio 666 is another fun, gross-out horror comedy that stars one of music’s most beloved bands, Foo Fighters, and that should be enough to pique your interest, as far as I am concerned.
Sometimes horror can benefit from some good laughs and some good tunes, and these 10 movies are living proof.