10 comedy horrors you must watch on Halloween
From Psychoville to Shaun of the Dead, Rob Gilroy takes you through the chuckle-filled horrors you must watch this Halloween.
It seems that every time a comedy horror comes along, people are shocked at the merging of these two genres.
I don’t know why, the two have been inextricably linked since the dawn of time – when the first cave man ran from the dinosaurs in fear, there was another pissing himself from behind a shrub. In the same way, The Exorcist is just a sitcom about a mother and her stroppy teenager writ large. And don’t even get me started on The Chuckle Brothers – their dead-eyed dancing with Tinchy Stryder is utterly terrifying.
If you watch Scream with the sound down, I swear it’s a knockabout farce telling the story of a nun with a melted face, who keeps getting interrupted in the middle of trying to carve a turkey.
In fact, comedy and horror work on the same principle – surprise. What would a slasher film be without the surprise of a masked man jumping out of the shower (admittedly less surprising the more it happens, I’m looking at no one in particular Jason Voorhees)? In the same way; the slapstick elements of Laurel and Hardy, Mr Bean and The Marx Brothers rely on you not knowing what’s going to happen next.
Granted there are times when watching a comedy, you spot the joke a mile off, but that just means it’s bad comedy, in the same way that if you can predict the scares in a horror film, then it’s because it’s not doing it well enough. The best films subvert what you think you know to provide stronger, richer reactions – whether you’re laughing or pooping your pants.
When this time of year comes round and children are wandering the streets like sugar-infused cross-dressers, I always reach for the comedy horrors instead of the bog-standard horror films. Any accusations that I only do that because I’m not brave enough to sit through a proper horror film are completely unfounded. Let it be known that I have seen the film Leprechaun. In small chunks, spread out over several months, in the middle of the afternoon, with the lights on.
If you’ve never considered sitting down with a bowl of Haribo and watching some comedy horror greats then I suggest you get on it – here’s my top ten comedy horrors. Read if you dare…
The Psychoville Halloween Special
I thought I’d start off with the obvious one. Pyschoville was a brilliant show and while the bulk of it took on every genre from conspiracy thrillers, science fiction and chase movies (but set in a kid’s play area) this special was out and out horror. More disturbing than the League of Gentlemen Christmas Special, this is Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton at their horrific best.
Shaun of the Dead
A great film this, but one that also spawned a resurgence in the comedy horror genre. Few handle both the comedy and horror quite as well as this though. With a terrifying sense of dread creeping through the film and a bleak final third, this film is also packed with brilliant laughs.
Most of you will know that I love Ghostbusters – love it. I have sung its praises quite a lot (too much, as some emails to the editor would have you believe) but it remains brilliant in every way. The opening scene caused severe bowel movements when I was younger – and still does – but then it gives way to a tidal wave of jokes.
A surprisingly accurate homage to the Universal horror films of the 30s and 40s, with an inspired cast that includes Willy Wonka, Raymond’s dad, Phoebe’s mum and a bloke with an incredible case of ocular distortion. This is very funny. Very.
An American Werewolf in London
Definitely a film that focuses on the horror as much, if not slightly more than the comedy, this is a classic. The changing scene remains better than anything that’s been knocked up on a Macbook by some douche with a beard and lens-less specs.
Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible
A forgotten gem from Steve Coogan now. While it doesn’t reach Partridge heights, it is incredibly funny with a cast that’s like a who’s who modern comedy greats – a bit like Churchill: The Hollywood Years but not as shit. It features one of Coogan’s best characters – a geriatric psychopathic story teller – and a tale about a killer table.
This is Tim Burton and Michael Keaton at their absolute best.
The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse
The feature film outing for the inhabitants of Royston Vasey is often overlooked for not being as strong as the brilliant TV show. But it is as strong, and more inventive than the majority of Hollywood’s output. And it features the pest possible description of the film Evil Dead.
Dracula Dead and Loving It
While not in the same league as Young Frankenstein, this Mel Brooks film gets my vote for three reasons. One; it was the late Leslie Nielsen’s last great spoof role, two; it features the always excellent Peter MacNicol being always excellent; and three – it’s bloody silly. If you don’t watch it, it’s like you’re spending your life walking around in a daymare.
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
Like watching Diagnosis Murder inside the head of a shit Steven King, this series is utter madness. Take the withered hand of horror icon Marenghi and enjoy his hit TV show, which was wrongly cancelled after one season.
So there you have it, 10 perfect ways to laugh yourself white with fear this Halloween. And if you need more proof that comedy and horror are linked for all eternity, then I have two words for you my friend: Mike Myers.