Horror is a vast and complex genre.
There are stories about vampires, werewolves, and zombies; there are stories about the supernatural and the occult; and there are stories about clowns, guys that invade your dreams, and hockey-mask-wearing lunatics who are hellbent on your death and destruction.
The list goes on . . . and on . . . and on.
But one of the coolest horror genres is the comedy. For instance, you can take a standard vampire story, give it a comedic twist, and, all of sudden, you have something completely new. It also highlights overused tropes—like the Wayans brothers did in Scary Movie (2000)—and encourages filmmakers to push the envelope and make even better horror movies.
So, if you’re looking for a horror comedy to watch, but don’t know where to start, here’s my list of The 15 Best Horror Comedies of All Time.
15. The Old Dark House (1931)
Director James Whale is best known for his work on Frankenstein (1931), its sequel The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and The Invisible Man (1933), but few have seen his underrated horror-comedy classic, The Old Dark House (1931).
And it’s no surprise either; it received mixed reviews upon its initial release and for decades The Old Dark House was considered to be a lost film. However, after a print of the film was discovered in the vaults of Universal Pictures in 1968 and undergoing a 4k restoration in 2017, its reputation has steadily grown. In fact, it currently holds a 100% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Old Dark House follows a group of strangers who are forced to seek refuge from a storm at—you guessed it—an old dark house. The occupants of the house are a bit odd, to put it lightly, and the evening slowly goes from worse to terrible. And just when you think you know who the bad guy is, you’re immediately hit with a twist that will leave you reeling.
Featuring performances from Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Stuart (yes, the old lady from Titanic (1997)), Charles Laughton, and horror legend Boris Karloff, The Old Dark House will make your flesh creep and your sides split.
14. One Cut of the Dead (2017)
Made on a shoestring budget of $25,000, One Cut of the Dead is an independent Japanese horror film that carries an emotional punch. Unfortunately, if I described this movie, it would give away the film’s greatest strength. So, don’t read any in-depth reviews or even the description, just go into this one blind.
Let me put it like this: you’ll think you’re watching one kind of movie after 30 minutes, but, really, you’re watching something completely different. If you’re a theater brat, you may get some Noises Off vibes.
13. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010) & Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Cabin in the Woods is superior to Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, but they’re cut from the same cloth. Where Cabin in the Woods follows a group of college students trying to escape the murderous Buckner family (and their evil overlords), Tucker and Dale vs. Evil flips the script by telling the same story from the perspective of the “evil murderers.”
If you’re looking to play a double feature on Halloween that’s suitable for an audience of all ages, this would be a great line up.
12. Beetlejuice (1988)
Tim Burton’s unique flair and style may seem a bit overdone and warn out these days, but back in 1988, Beetlejuice was truly a unique, stylish, and devilishly funny movie.
When a young couple ends up dead (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin), they come back to haunt the weird new family that occupies their home. When they enlist the help of a strange poltergeist named Beetlejuice (don’t say that name three times), their odds of success get worse and worse.
As Beetlejuice, Michael Keaton has never been better and Winona Ryder shines in an early career role.
11. Re-Animator (1985)
When you have horror icons Barbara Crampton and Jeffrey Combs at the helm, you know you’re in for a treat.
Re-Animator is loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s 1922 novelette “Herbert West—Reanimator” and, remarkably, it’s one of the finest Lovecraft film adaptions ever made.
Directed by the late Stuart Gordon, the man behind notable films like From Beyond (1986) and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), Re-animator is a cult classic.
10. Bride of Chucky (1988)
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: Bride of Chucky is not a perfect movie, but for some horror movie buffs who love their frights served with a side of camp, it’s just the thing the doctor ordered.
After Chucky is resurrected by his ex-girlfriend Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), Chucky ultimately kills her and puts her soul in a doll too. From there on out, they’re on the hunt for a magic amulet that can return them both to human form.
Love it or hate it, Bride of Chucky is a 90s classic.
9. Young Frankenstein (1974)
Mel Brooks is the king of parody and Young Frankenstein is the synthesis of his skills. Drawing upon the films from the Universal Classic Monsters of the 1930s and mixing it with his unique brand of humor, Young Frankenstein is a movie lovers wet dream.
Comedy legends Gene Wilder, Cloris Leachman, and Marty Feldman lead an all-star cast through a Frankenstein story told like you’ve never seen it before.
8. Zombieland (2009)
Even though its sequel Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) didn’t live up to the original, Zombieland was a breath of fresh air when it debuted in 2009 and launched the careers of Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin.
Zombieland tells the story of a crew of misfits—led by the hilarious, Twinkie-obsessed Woody Harrelson as Tallahasse—trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Remember, follow the rules and you just might make it out alive.
6. Army of Darkness (1992)
If chins could talk, I think they’d tell Army of Darkness star Bruce Campbell that this is the best movie in the Evil Dead franchise.
Directed by Sam Raimi, who would later go on to direct Drag Me to Hell (2009) and the Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007) starring Tobey Maguire, Army of Darkness follows the chainsaw and shotgun-wielding anti-hero Ash on a journey for survival through the Middle Ages.
This film is best enjoyed when you’re a little “impaired,” if you know what I mean . . . and I think you do.
5. Hot Fuzz (2007)
Part action movie parody and Celtic paganism movie parody, Hot Fuzz is the second film in director Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
Taking most of its inspiration from Bad Boys II (2003) and The Wickerman (1973), Hot Fuzz follows a by-the-books cop named Nicolas Angel (Simon Pegg) who stumbles across a murderous cult in the quiet rural town of Sandford. Who can he trust? Who will help him when he needs it most? And will they fire two guns while jumping through the air?
With villains like Timothy Dalton as Simon Skinner, the manager of the supermarket in Sandford, Hot Fuzz is a damn good time.
4. Ghostbusters (1984)
Recently, the original Ghostbusters has been caught in the middle of a fake controversy created by SONY to bolster the box office of the critically derided Ghostbusters (2016). If you don’t know what I’m talking about, do yourself a favor and don’t even worry about it. Essentially, it boils down to this: men and women can both be Ghostbusters as long as your fucking movie isn’t garbage.
And what else can be said about the original Ghostbusters that hasn’t already been said? The cast is full of comedy legends like Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Annie Potts, and Rick Moranis with Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, and William Atherton rounding out the cast.
The writing is funny. The acting is funny. The direction is funny. This is a funny movie.
Some of the special effects don’t quite hold up today—mainly the demon dogs who terrorize Manhattan—but all in all, Ghostbusters is a feast.
With a sequel planned for release in 2021, it’s time to give Ghostbusters another watch.
3. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
What We Do in the Shadows takes the faux-documentary style of filmmaking made popular in movies like Best in Show (2000) and applies it to the horror genre.
Much like the TV adaptation of the same name, What We Do in the Shadows follows three inept vampires living together in New Zealand and their misadventures dealing with the modern world.
Directed by and starring Taika Waititi, alongside Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords (2007-2009)), What We Do in the Shadows is an uproariously funny movie that can be enjoyed by the entire family.
2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
This loving homage to the films of George Romero strikes the perfect balance of grief, action, horror, and comedy. It’s no wonder that when Shaun of the Dead was released in theatres, it took audiences by storm, and made stars out of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright.
The camera work and script are genuinely excellent throughout. The fast, witty dialogue is filmed with flair and is interrupted by quick cutting montages to set the scene.
It’s so good, in fact, it almost took the number one spot, but was narrowly edged out by . . .
1. Get Out (2017)
It’s easy to forget that Jordan Peele’s critically adored directorial debut Get Out is a comedy. The horror is visceral, and the modern-day social implications of the story make you forget you’re laughing, but the chuckles match the frights.
Taking its cues from the best Twilight Zone episodes, Get Out tells the story of photographer Chris Washington meeting the parents of his white girlfriend for the very first time. As these things tend to go, it’s awkward in a way that makes you squirm, but there are devious things at play just below the surface.
Get Out is always one step ahead of the audience and the ending is even more impactful in 2020 than it was in 2017. You’ll know it when you see it.
With good reason, Get Out was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning Peele the award for Best Original Screenplay.
If you’re looking for even more horror comedies, be sure to check these out too:
- An American Werewolf in London
- Happy Death Day
- Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
- Evil Dead 2
- The Invisible Man
- Murder Party