Comedy and horror are two of the most popular movie genres, combine them together for some of the most entertaining movies to grace your screen.
Sometimes, horror or comedy alone isn't enough. Some people don't want to be afraid or amused; they want to be both – and that's where comedy-horror comes in.
It is, of course, a genre that combines comedy and horror fiction elements. However, it also often parodies or spoofs horror clichés as its primary source of humor. Then it can utilize those components to take a story in a surprising direction.
So, be prepared to smile, scream, laugh, and hide behind your sofa because, in this piece, we'll be taking you through the finest comedy-horror movies ever made.
1. Ghostbusters (1984, Directed by Ivan Reitman)
Dan Aykroyd's fascination with ghosts inspired Ghostbusters. The movie is about three eccentric parapsychologists who start a business devoted to catching spooks in New York City – just before a spiritual event triggers an apocalypse. Its phenomenal cast includes Aykroyd, Bill Murray, the late Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, and Rick Moranis.
Arguably the best movie of its kind, Ghostbusters is a hugely influential technical triumph with incredible special effects. In addition, it's brilliantly acted and contains some of the most iconic lines in movie history. If you watch one comedy-horror in your lifetime, it has to be this one.
2. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971, Directed by Robert Fuest)
The British movie The Abominable Dr. Phibes is about the eponymous Dr. Anton Phibes. Phibes blames his wife's death on the medical team who performed her surgery four years prior. Then, inspired by the Ten Plagues on Egypt from the Old Testament, sets out to exact vengeance on them all.
A true cult classic, The Abominable Dr. Phibes saw Vincent Price thriving in the titular role. It's a very stylish movie that juggles horror and comedy as well as any other in history. The score is superb and, along with Price's performance, helps it evoke real emotion and empathy in its audience.
3. Beetlejuice (1988, Directed by Tim Burton)
From the brilliantly weird mind of Tim Burton, Beetlejuice is a quintessentially Burton movie. It's about a recently deceased couple existing as ghosts in their former home. When a new family moves into the said home, they contact Betelgeuse – a somewhat perverted “bio-exorcist” from the Netherworld – to scare them off.
Michael Keaton is a revelation in the role, but what makes Beetlejuice stand out is its stunning aesthetics – the sets are fantastic and so obviously heavily influenced by Burton. As a result, it's creepy and funny in equal measure. In addition, it has a brilliant and eccentric supporting cast led by the likes of Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, and a teenage Winona Ryder.
4. Shaun of the Dead (2004, Directed by Edgar Wright)
Shaun of the Dead is a bona fide modern classic of the comedy-horror genre. Starring the excellent Simon Pegg, it's about a downtrodden salesman in London who finds himself amid a zombie apocalypse with his friend Ed (played by Pegg's real-life pal and regular collaborator Nick Frost).
It's a charming take on the zombie subgenre. It's teeming with witty satire and the odd fright. It's also full of likable – and mostly recognizable – British stars whose characters all invoke a reaction (whether it be laughter, sadness, or outright hatred). As a result, it's one of the finest British movies ever made.
5. Arachnophobia (1990, Directed by Frank Marshall)
With the word “arachnophobia” referring to the fear of spiders, this is one movie you should steer clear of if you don't like them. However, it's about a small California town invaded by an aggressive and dangerous species of eight-legged creatures. It stars Jeff Daniels and John Goodman, so you know it's good!
Arachnophobia is like an alien invasion movie with a far more plausible – and therefore even more terrifying – twist. It's genuinely chilling and doesn't take a comedic turn until Goodman's exterminator character Delbert McClintock arrives. If you're even slightly afraid of spiders, you'll be covering your eyes for most of this movie.
6. Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965, Directed by Freddie Francis)
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors is a British anthology movie that stars the iconic late pairing of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. While on a train, Cushing's Doctor Schreck opens a pack of tarot cards and reveals his fellow passengers' destinies. The cards provide the framework for the movie's five stories; “Werewolf,” “Creeping Vine,” “Voodoo,” “Disembodied Hand,” and “Vampire.”
Although it leans more towards comedy than horror, this movie still provides a few minor chills on top of the laughs. The cast performs splendidly – no surprise, given how many horror veterans are in it – and the cinematography is gorgeous. All five stories are well worth watching.
7. Gremlins (1984, Directed by Joe Dante)
Gremlins is one of the most popular alternative Christmas movies ever made. Drawing on legends of mischievous monsters who cause malfunctions, it's about a young man who receives a mysterious but cute creature as a pet. Unfortunately, the pet then spawns offspring that transform into monsters and cause chaos in a small town on Christmas Eve.
This movie is heaps of fun and manic throughout! Unfortunately, it's a send-up of several movie cliches. However, it still comes across as highly original (even to this day). In an equal number of frightening and funny scenes, you'll be enamored with the exceptionally cute “mogwai” known as Gizmo (even though “mogwai” means “monster” or “devil” in Cantonese).
8. House (1977, Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi)
House is an experimental Japanese movie starring a cast of predominantly amateur actors. It's about a schoolgirl who travels to her ailing aunt's country home with six of her friends. While there, the girls encounter supernatural forces and get devoured by the house one at a time.
It's quite a cheesy movie, but trust us when we say that only adds to its charm. Unfortunately, it also happens to be an absolute bloodbath. Still, it executes it so playfully that you can't help but smile. House is the work of playful (and slightly twisted) geniuses. Simply put, it's one of the best and most unique movies to come out of Japan – and that's saying something.
9. An American Werewolf in London (1981, Directed by John Landis)
A co-production between the United States and the United Kingdom, An American Werewolf in London is about two American backpackers, David and Jack. The pair are attacked by a werewolf while traveling in England, resulting in Jack's death. David survives but ponders the possibility that he'll become a werewolf when the next full moon comes.
An American Werewolf in London epitomizes the notion of comedy-horror being terrifying and hilarious in equal measure – it's incredibly and effortlessly entertaining. The make-up effects remain brilliant to this day, and the cast's performances – particularly that of Jenny Agutter as Nurse Alex Price – are superb.
10. Evil Dead II (1987, Directed by Sam Raimi)
Evil Dead II is the sequel to – and, uniquely, a remake of – 1981's The Evil Dead. While its predecessor was pure horror in nature, this one added more of a comedic element, hence its inclusion here. It's about Ash Williams, who vacations with his girlfriend to a remote cabin in the woods. There, they unleash demons that possess and torment them.
This movie is as good as – if not a little better than – The Evil Dead. It boasts better special effects, more gore, and the bonus of laughter. Bruce Campbell throws himself into the role of Ash, and the movie benefits greatly from the resulting silliness.
11. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948, Directed by Charles Barton)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is a classic Universal monster movie with a comedic twist. It sees Count Dracula seeking a “simple, pliable” brain to reactivate Frankenstein's monster. The madness begins when the Count learns that the most suitable brain belongs to Wilbur Grey (played by Lou Costello).
It's a lively, fast-paced, and rather giddy movie that's a lot of fun to watch – it's far funnier than frightening. Still, Abbott and Costello are fantastic in it. In addition, the inclusion of Béla Lugosi's Dracula, Lon Chaney Jr.'s Wolf Man, Vincent Price's Invisible Man, and Glenn Strange's monster make it well worth a watch.
12. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010, Directed by Eli Craig)
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a black comedy-horror about a pair of well-meaning hillbillies. After purchasing their dream lakefront vacation home, Tucker and Dale find themselves being mistaken for psychopathic killers by a group of ignorant college students. One-by-one, each of the students inadvertently dies through no fault of the hillbillies.
It's a hilarious and gory movie – as you'd expect from a comedy-horror with this premise – but it's unexpectedly slick, good-natured, and teeming with heart. Viewers will undoubtedly find themselves rooting for Tucker and Dale, who Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine wonderfully portray.
13. Tremors (1990, Directed by Robert Underwood)
An incredible combination of western-themed comedy-horror, Tremors sees the residents of the small desert town of Perfection, Nevada, fighting for survival against massive, prehistoric, worm-like creatures that crave the taste of human flesh.
Tremors is a real character-driven movie. The monsters take a backseat to the eccentric human characters portrayed by the likes of Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, and Reba McEntire. It's exciting from start to finish – and it perfectly balances the horror and humor, with some moments of genuine tension and suspense to top it off.
14. Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988, Directed by Stephen Chiodo)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a sci-fi comedy-horror about a clan of evil extraterrestrials who all look like clowns. When they arrive on Earth, they immediately set their sights on the small town of Crescent Cove. Their intentions? Capture, kill, and harvest the town's human inhabitants for sustenance.
It's a silly, goofy, rather ridiculous movie, but it's also imaginative and a lot of fun. Its vivid colors also make it a great visual experience. While the actors' performances aren't precisely polished, that adds to the movie's likability and charm. If you want some mindless fun, this is one of the best movies to sit and watch.
15. The Cabin in the Woods (2011, Directed by Drew Goddard)
The Cabin in the Woods is another true modern classic. It's a brilliantly meta comedy-horror about a group of college students who head to a remote forest cabin for the weekend. There, they find themselves on the lunch menu of backwoods zombies. At the same time, technicians manipulate events from an underground facility teeming with classic horror villains.
It has such a unique premise that it could have failed spectacularly. Still, The Cabin in the Woods is astonishingly executed and very clever. It has a great cast that includes Thor star Chris Hemsworth, but Kristen Connolly and Fran Kranz stand out. Horror fans will also love spotting Easter eggs and references to other horror movies and franchises.
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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Kev is a UK-based sport and entertainment writer - a job he's been doing full-time since 2013. He's produced content for a wide variety of websites and publications all over the world. He's a huge movie fan with a particular love for horror, superhero movies and 80s movies. For his sins, Kev is a fan of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.