Ten Funny Horror Movies
Jun 4, 2000
I like almost anything better if it makes me laugh. Even horror movies. I think the mixing of genres that has dominated popular cinema in the last fifteen years has produced a lot of awful movies- it's a lot easier to poke fun at yourself than it is to write something that works on its own merits. The movies on this list have often been bad influences, but, judged on their own merits, I think each is a lot of fun. Since I've already done top ten lists on comedy and horror, I didn't include any movies from those on those lists here.
10. Gremlins (1984)
Cute little creatures go bad and terrorize an idyllic small town. Although the cloying puppets get irritating, this movie has some of my favorite horror comedy sequences. The best is when the hero's mother (Frances Lee McCain) realizes there's trouble when she hears Andy Williams' "Do You Hear What I hear?" She then defends her home by grossly destroying several of the title creatures in her kitchen. Phoebe Cates' drama school monologue about "Why I Hate Christmas" is also a hoot.
9. It's Alive! (1974)
"There's only one thing wrong with the Davis baby... It's Alive!" Larry Cohen's 1974 movie isn't half as good as the commercial for it, which showed a monstrous claw suddenly emerging from a bassinet (but most movies aren't half as good as that commercial.) The movie itself is still pretty funny, what with the monster baby running around and killing just about everybody. When I was in college, my Christian youth group watched all of the It's Alive movies over the course of a semester. I wanted the minister to put this is his newsletter ("We've found the It's Alive film series to be a blessing. . .") but he wouldn't.
8. The Evil Dead (1982)
A group of young people start turning into monsters after they play a tape of an ancient book. Most people think the sequels are funnier, but I think Sam Raimi's original is the scariest and most hilarious. Apparently photographed by the Blair Witch, the film features a wonderful performance by Bruce Campbell, who is much less over the top than he is in the sequels. My favorite moment comes when the ghoul in the cellar taunts, "It's your sister Cheryl!"
7. The Black Cat (1934)
Two newlyweds end up mixed with a Satanist and a sympathetic doctor. Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi movie do the Baby Jane bit in a strikingly bizarre movie that works even though it makes almost no sense. Karloff's satanic character is so cool that I am willing to forgive the many lapses in the plot and the total lack of any resemblance to the Poe story that this claims to be based on. Is David Manners the lamest leading man in screen history?
6. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Two American boys run into some trouble in the English countryside. The hilarious Griffin Dunne becomes a wisecracking corpse. Former Pepper David Naughton becomes a sensitive werewolf. John Landis' most impressive achievement in this film is mixing audacious comic scenes (like the confrontation in the porno theater) with both strong horror sequences and genuinely tragic moments.
5. The Lost Boys (1987)
When a kid moves to a new town, he falls in with a gang of teen vampires. Although this movie is low on genuine scares, it has a nice score and a remarkably likable cast. Little brother Corey Haim and his bad of pubescent vampire hunters steal the film from such pros as Barnard Hughes and Dianne Wiest.
4. Scream (1996)
Masked killer uses knowledge of horror movies to torment and kill teenage victims. So influential that it has become a cliché, Kevin Williamson's script was genuinely hip and nastily funny. Craven's artistry gave the material a confident tone and atmosphere. The funniest things about the film are Ghostface's clumsiness, David Arquette's twitchiness, and Matt Lillard's improvisation.
3. Theatre of Blood (1973)
Actor Vincent Price borrows from Shakespeare to kill the critics who savaged his last season. Alternately witty and gross, this movie is very funny about actors, Shakespeare, and critics. Oddly, it makes the violence in Shakespeare's play seem much more real than many productions do (those poor dogs.) Diana Rigg is typically glamorous and brilliant as Price's daughter. I like this movie so much that I include it, even though it's barely distinguishable from
2. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
A possibly dead doctor seeks revenge on the doctors who botched his wife's operations. The use of the biblical plagues here gives the movie structure and allows for several impressive set piece murders (the frog!). The Phibes character is hilarious, with his mute assistance and his non-working mouth. The climactic father-son scene is genuinely nerve-wracking, despite the general campiness.
1. Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
An old professor and his bumbling assistant get in over their heads while hunting vampires. This is by far the best movie on this list, a genuine classic with wit, originality, and gorgeous cinematography. Roman Polanski wrote, directed, and played the engaging, incompetent hero. The riffs on vampire clichés have been copied enough that they are not as funny as they once were, but the ending still packs a wallop.