Hack-Off: Best Horror Comedy?
The Bloody Good Horror Crew goes at it on a new topic every Friday afternoon, we call it the "Hack-Off". Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments.
The first thing that comes to mind for many people, is the Wayan Brothers. And by Wayan Brothers, I mean the 'Scary Movie' franchise. If that's your only flirtation with the cross genre however, you've sorely limited yourself. There's many a high brow laugh to be had, all while surrounded by some solid scares and some good old blood and guts. Many times the humor is more subtle in something such as a dark comedy, other times they're out right blatant. (No, I'm still not talking about 'Scary Movie')
Since I'm kicking this off, I'm going to jump the gun and pull one on Eric. One of my favorites of recent years, is 2004's Dead & Breakfast. There's a loose story here believe or not, and it's really not too bad. Top that with some good over the top gore, it's getting better. However, when you get to the line dancing zombies, my heart has been won. Plain and simple. There are many different elements at play here and they all combine nicely for a low budget flick. The soundtrack itself is a stand out with rapping redneck troubadours, with lyrics to match. Throw in some decent talent, such as David and Ever Carridine, (yes, those Carridine's) Diedrich Bader, Jeremy Sisto, and Portia de Rossi, well let's just say I found my self pleasantly surprised and highly amused.
I mean really, line dancing zombies.
There's two horror comedies that I've really enjoyed that do what the Scary Movies do (that is appeal to non-horror fans), but do it much better. I would say that it's not a coincidence that both of these films are also musicals: Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I saw both of these movies when I was still pretty young, and I was hooked. Like most of the best horror comedies, in both films the humor plays off the tension. I can't possibly do justice to all the stuff that Rocky Horror does in playing with gender and sexuality, but needless to say, anyone who doesn't love a sweet transvestite, from transsexual, Transylvania, should probably take their pogs and go home. And with a cast that includes Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, John Candy and others, Little Shop probably needs little defense from me.
In general my "horror comedy" tastes are relegated to films like Dead Alive that aren't necceasrily comedies, but don't take themselves terribly serious either. I can't imagine that the room was dead silent when someone brought up the idea of having an infected "Sumatran Rat Monkey." On a (very) similar note, I think Meet The Feebles has all of the elements of a true horror comedy: sex, violence, depravity, and to an extent music. In all honestly, I haven't been able to make it through more than twice, but I enjoyed it on a "good god this is some ridiculously nasty shit" sort of level. It's a shame that Peter Jackson has devoted his career to directing blockbusters, because he had a pretty solid grasp on what makes an irreverent horror comedy work.
That said, I'm not about to say it was the "best" horror/comedy. Many people would probably default to "Evil Dead 2", but I'm one of the few who happens to love Raimi's low-budget original better than it's follow-up. In a lot of ways, Mark also hit the nail dead on by bringing up Peter Jackson and "Dead Alive". He invented his own sub-genre with that movie (lovingly called "Splat-stick") and young directors have been imitating him ever since. So, if you're talking "Best"? "Dead Alive" wins my vote.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some other titles, specifically "Sleepaway Camp 2". I mean, a lot of those slashers ended up being horror comedies without even realizing it. "Jason Lives" is probably the funniest entry in the entire series, thanks in large part to the character of "Court", or as I like to call him - "80's ripped jeans guy". Since I'm a TROMA fan, I'd throw a few of those titles in just to mix things up... "Tromeo and Juliet" and/or "Terror Firmer" could definitely enter the conversation, depending on your particular sensebilities.
Like I said though, it's really hard for me to give anything the nod over "Dead Alive".
"Shaun of the Dead" deserves a special mention here as well. There are so many zombie movies out there that are all derivative of each other; Shaun managed to lampoon them all, and in a way that was still hilarious to those not as familiar with the genre. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have a special knack for genre spoofing as seen with their follow up, Hot Fuzz. I'd be loathe to leave them out because they truly do have a knack for genre blending.
Dead Alive is definitely worthy as well. It's been a long time since I've laughed that hard at a movie so gory! The zombie baby is something that has to be seen, and the phrase 'I'm kicking ass for the lord!' has forever entered my nerd lexicon.
I don't want to spend too much time rehashing other great horror comedies; everyone's done a good job of covering the breadth of the genre cross-section above. Two other films are worth mentioning here though. The first, "Black Sheep," is a new movie that we've talked about some on the podcast. It very much fits into that Jackson/Raimi mold of splattery good times. It also has one of the more amazing costume jobs in recent memory, coming in the form of a man-sheep hybrid. As one might expect, there's also many a giggle to be had over the practice of sheep buggering, which may or may not be the best way to keep warm on a cold New Zealand night.
The other movie is one that I'll be a little surprised if anyone else remembers. It's called "Nothing But Trouble," and it's sitting at 3.9 right now on IMDB, which is to say it's probably pretty terrible. I bring it up here only because this was one of those movies that I watched back when I was 10 or 11 because it was showing non-stop on HBO, which we received—through the act of some benevolent creator, no doubt—for free. This movie features Chevy Chase and others trapped in some back-country, hillbilly mansion. It was directed by Dan Aykroyd, so you can likely imagine how it's the perfect film for a pre-pubescent boy. Anyway, if I remember correctly, there's loads of inbreeding references and vague threats to all the protagonists well being, but it was probably more horrifying in my 11-year old brain than it would seem if watched again today.
If you have any thoughts, please leave them in the comments, and check back every Friday for a new edition!