Horror and comedy genres reside on either end of the spectrum and while together, they sound like an oxymoron in a sentence. However, horror comedies have always garnered wide attention from avid cinephiles. And, some of the best comedy horror movies cater to all types of people, as they evoke laughter as well as scare equally.
A horror comedy ushers the best of both worlds and takes the audiences on a laughing spree while the element of horror lurks in the air. A successful horror comedy film makes the spooky-loving audience hop on such a joyride where heightened scary moments are backed by comic relief only to escalate to another frightening scene later.
How did horror comedies gain prominence?
The horror comedy genre has been around for a long time. It is quite difficult to say which is the first horror comedy film, but there have been debates over titles such as the 1920 silent film Haunted Spooks. However, it was the 1948 horror comedy flick Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which received much acclaim.
Over the years, this horror subgenre is firmly established and has gifted the entertainment world with some amazing titles. From The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) to An American Werewolf in London (1981), Re-Animator (1985), Evil Dead II (1987) and They Live (1988), the array of horror comedy films have cemented the subgenre in the minds of cine lovers.
Moreover, on occasions like Halloween, viewers who feel like staying back home can also include horror comedies as an implausible part of the binge-watching list of movies. Horror comedy musicals like Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Young Frankenstein (1974) and Little Shop of Horror (1986) are among the choicest horror films to watch on Halloween night.
Today’s horror comedy movies have come a long way from being just slapstick humour infused in a scary movie. For instance, flicks such as Jennifer’s Body (2009) or Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) have made a niche for themselves by smartly weaving in horror movie tropes with bouts of laughter and sarcasm.
So if you are up for a fun light-spirited Halloween, ring in the classic spooky flavour of the season with some of the finest horror comedies.
Here are some of the best horror comedy movies for a fun movie night
(Main and featured image credit: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil/IMDb)
Shaun of The Dead (2004)
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg as Shaun, Kate Ashfield as Liz and Nick Frost as Ed
Synopsis: This cult classic revolves around the rather uninteresting life of Shaun, a salesman who works at an electric store and lives with his dull friend Ed. Things take an unwarranted turn when he buckles up to protect his ex-girlfriend Liz on the break of a zombie apocalypse taking over London.
Awards Won: Winner of 2005 Best Horror Film at Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA. Wright and Pegg won the best screenplay at the 2004 British Independent Film Awards. It was also nominated for three 2005 BAFTA Awards — Best British Film, Interactive Award and Most Promising Newcomer (Nira Park).
Watch Shaun of the Dead here
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Cast: Kristen Connolly as Dana, Christ Hemsworth as Curt, Anna Hutchinson as Jules and Fran Kranz as Marty
Synopsis: Another zombie movie, The Cabin in the Woods follows a group of five teenagers who go on a vacation at a suburban cabin in the woods. The horror unfolds when the cellar door opens on its own and the gang goes down to investigate. They fall prey to backwoods zombies and with their body count rising, and there’s more than what meets the eye.
About the film: Like most horror movies, it begins with the classic tropes of secluded woods, a young group of friends and zombies but The Cabin in the Woods soon morphs into a great horror comedy by deconstructing the horror genre. The movie mocks the flaws of such flicks with bouts of sarcasm and laughter among gory scenes. It also marks Goddard’s directorial debut.
Awards Won: Won Best Horror/Thriller Film at 2013 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard won the award for Best Screenplay at the 2012 Bram Stoker Awards.
Watch The Cabin in the Woods here
Evil Dead II (1987)
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell as Ashley ‘Ash’ J Williams, Sarah Berry as Annie Knowby, Dan Hicks as Jake and Denise Bixler as Linda
Synopsis: The second instalment in the three-part Evil Dead franchise, sees Ash return for some more horror adventure. He travels to a woody cabin with his girlfriend Linda where the latter finds a tape recording with readings from the ‘Book of Dead.’ When she is possessed by demonic spirits, Ash has to fight deadly creatures for them to survive.
About the film: The original 1981 cult classic movie marked Raimi’s directorial debut and with Campbell reprising his role, the movie is as funny as it is scary. Various colours of blood including blue, black, green and even black also accentuate the horror comedy factor.
Watch Evil Dead II here
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Cast: Bill Murray as Dr Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd as Dr Raymond Stantz, Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett and Harold Ramis as Dr Egon Spengler
Synopsis: A popular title from the banner of Columbia Pictures, Ghostbusters revolves around a group of three scientists from Columbia University — Peter, Raymond and Egon — who conduct unethical experiments on their students which causes them to lose their jobs. After being kicked out, the trio embark on a raging war against the paranormal. They open a conduit to another dimension that becomes a passage for evil spirits to enter. The Ghostbusters now have to save New York City from all the diabolic forces.
Watch this horror movie on Halloween and enjoy its slapstick humour, witty lines and over-the-top CGI.
Awards Won: Nominated for two Academy awards in 1985 — Best Effects – Visual Effects and Best Music – Original Song; won the Best Original Song at the 1985 BAFTA Awards
Watch Ghostbusters here
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Directed by: Eli Craig
Cast: Tyler Labine as Dale, Alan Tudyk as Tucker and Katrina Bowden as Allison
Synopsis: Dale and Tucker are country folk buddies who are out on a backwood vacation for some fishing, drinking and a good time when they save a college girl named Allison. However, the two face a rather odd situation when other college kids mistake them to be some Texas Chainsaw Massacre-type killers.
About the film: The film thwarts the common storyline of a fright night slasher flick and makes the audience root for the main characters. Devoid of any particular evil, it showcases a completely different, yet quite frightening and thrilling angle to a funny movie.
Watch Tucker & Dale vs. Evil here
The Final Girls (2015)
Directed by: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Cast: Taissa Farmiga as Max Cartwright, Alexander Ludwig as Chris Briggs and Nina Dobrev as Vicki Summers
Synopsis: Max is a young woman who recently lost her mother and is out with her friends to watch a B-grade horror scream movie which stars her late mother. Under some mysterious circumstances, the group is sucked inside the movie realm and has to team up with ‘Camp Bloodbath’ to fight the machete-wielding masked killer.
About the film: The Final Girls is one of the best horror comedies of all time and received positive reviews after its release. Though it is an underrated film in this genre, The Final Girls seamlessly weaves in drama and horror tropes such as an emotional mother-daughter relationship, a masked killer and horror screams.
Watch The Final Girls here
Dead Alive (1992)
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Cast: Timothy Balme as Lionel Cosgrove, Diana Peñalver as Paquita Maria Sanchez and Elizabeth Moody as Mum (Vera Cosgrove)
Synopsis: Lionel is a messed up young man living with his oppressive mother Vera in New Zealand’s Wellington. He falls in love with the local store worker Paquita but his happiness doesn’t last long. On her trip to the zoo, Vera is bitten by a giant Sumatran rat monkey and slowly transforms into a gross puss-hurling splasher cannibalistic zombie hungry for flesh. With dead bodies piling up in their basement, Lionel has to pull up his socks and confront these grotesque happenings.
About the film: Before taking audiences into Middle Earth, Peter Jackson started his directorial career with this gut-wrenching horror comedy.
Awards Won: Winner of the Best Genre Video Release at the 1994 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA.
The Witches (1990)
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg
Cast: Angelica Huston as Miss Ernst, Mai Zetterling as Helga, Rowan Atkinson as Mr Stringer and Jasen Fisher as Luke
Synopsis: Luke is an orphaned young boy, visiting a beachside English resort with his grandmother Helga. Unknowingly Luke overhears the conversations of a witch congregation where they are plotting to turn the children of England into mice. When they realise that they were being eavesdropped on, the witches decide to test the magic potion on Luke and he turns into a mouse. Now, the mouse Luke, Helga and resort manager Mr Stringer have to fight against the old hags.
About the film: Based on a Roald Dahl book of the same name, this is one of the best horror comedy movies and is the perfect spooky Halloween flick for kids. In 2020, Robert Zemeckis released a remake of this classic.
Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Directed by: Karyn Kusama
Cast: Megan Fox as Jennifer, Amanda Seyfried as Needy Lesnicki and Adam Brody as Nikolai Wolf
Synopsis: Jennifer is Needy’s childhood best friend. While Needy is the quintessential nerdy bookworm, Jennifer is the cool kid. At a glance, it seems like the two have nothing in common but the girls share an unbreakable bond. One night, the two go to a bar to see Jennifer’s favourite band and she decides to hook up with the lead singer Nikolai. However, things spiral out of hand when the band, associated with a satanic cult, sacrifices her to evil forces for fame. Jennifer is now possessed by diabolic spirits and is out killing all those guys in their small town who ever had a chance with her. Needy realises what’s happening and sets out to put an end to all the gross killings and take revenge on the band.
About the film: While the film was grossly mistaken upon release, it had underlying layers of feminism and depicted themes of revenge and female friendship.
Watch Jennifer’s Body here
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus, Emma Stone as Wichita, Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, Abigail Breslin as Little Rock and Bill Murray as Bill Murray
Synopsis: In a post-zombie-apocalyptic world, a shy college student, Columbus is heading back to his family in Ohio to see if anyone is alive. The film is a witty road trip comedy interjected with scary zombie scenes. He shares the ride with a brutal zombie-slayer Tallahassee, Wichita, a young woman and her sister Little Rock who has been bitten by a zombie.
Columbus has a number of zombie-avoiding rules and techniques to kill them, which the group follows and makes its way into the city.
Watch Zombieland here
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Cast: Gene Wilder as Dr Frederick Frankenstein, Madeline Kahn as Elizabeth, Marty Feldman as Igor and Teri Garr as Inga
Synopsis: Frederick is a young and respected neurosurgeon who learns that he has inherited his eccentric grandfather’s eerie Transylvania castle. While Frederick is sceptical of his grandfather’s experiments, he changes his mind once he discovers his notebook. He, then successfully creates a monster along with servant Igor and lab assistant Inga. What follows is chaos and mayhem especially when Frederick’s fiancé Elizabeth arrives.
Awards Won: Nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay Adapted From Other Material and Best Sound at the 1975 Oscars. Winner of Best Horror Film at the 1976 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA.
Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
Directed by: Halina Reijn
Cast: Amandla Stenberg as Sophie, Maria Bakalova as Bee, Pete Davidson as David and Chase Sui Wonders as Emma
Synopsis: A brooding dark humour looms over a gang of rich young adults in their twenties who go on a wild hurricane partying at David’s rural family mansion. When a seemingly harmless party game goes out of hand, one of the players loses an eye and another ends up dead. Amid such a gory situation, fake friends and backstabbing come to light.
Warm Bodies (2013)
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Nicholas Hoult as R, Teresa Palmer as Julie, Dave Franco as Perry and Lio Topton as Nora
Synopsis: R is a contemplative zombie who is in a pensive mood after a zombie apocalypse divides the world into walking dead and humans. When a zombie horde attacks a young woman named Julie, he feels protective of her. They embark on an unusual relationship and R begins to feel more human.
Watch Warm Bodies here
Directed by: Christopher Landon
Cast: Vince Vaughn as The Butcher, Kathryn Newton as Millie, Katie Finneran as Paula Kessler
Synopsis: The Butcher is a notorious serial killer and Millie is a young girl in her teens. And, somehow their bodies have swapped. What follows is a laughter riot and horror as Millie has just 24 hours to get her identity back before she permanently becomes a middle-aged freak.
Watch Freaky here
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Directed by: Christopher Landon
Cast: David Naughton as David Kessler, Jenny Agutter as Nurse Alex Price and Griffin Dunne as Jack Goodman
Synopsis: The werewolf genre gets a horror comedy spin in the hands of Landon. David and Jack are young Americans backpacking across England when they are attacked by a werewolf in the forests. Jack is gruesomely killed but David survives with severe bites and wounds. While recovering, he hallucinates about hunting on all four and sees images of his friend and other victims of the werewolf. In order to release the others of a ghastly curse, he must take a strong step.
Awards won: Rick Baker won Best Makeup at the 1982 Oscar as well as at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA, where the movie also won Best Horror Film.