I’m back for our last week together as we delve into another round of horror movies. Last week was my favorite of all these lists, and I’ve had a great time rewatching some of those flicks! This week’s list is perfect, and just in time for Halloween. Essential horror comedies are a great gateway into the genre and a great laugh when times are rough. A couple of these movies are actually in my top ten favorite movies of all time! I love recommending these to friends who aren’t ready to dabble into more intense movies like those from last week’s list, but want to share in the Halloween spirit or are just feeling some spooky vibes.
Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead (2004) dir. Edgar Wright | R 1h 39min
An incompetant man pulls together his friends and family to lead them to safety during a zombie infestation.
By now you’ve hopefully seen Shaun of the Dead or at least one of Edgar Wright’s other films. When this first came out, I showed it to everyone who would let me. I thought it was the most brilliant, hysterical thing I’d ever seen, and it didn’t seem to catch on for a few years. Now it’s an instant classic, especially with film buffs. The comedic timing and use of soundtracks that Edgar Wright has popularized really takes form in this movie. It’s a silly zombie film full of jokes but there’s enough backtory and characterization that you’ll actually be worried for the group trying to make their way across town to their only beacon of safety: a pub, where they can wait for this to all blow over. If you like this, consider making your way through the rest of the Cornetto Trilogy with Hot Fuzz, my all time favorite movie, and The World’s End.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992) dir. Fran Rubel Kazui | PG-13 1h26min
A teenage cheerleader learns that she must fulfill her destiny as the chosen one and become a vampire slayer.
Let’s forget the TV series for a second even though a ton of us grew up on it. This movie has a massive cast of huge stars. If you’re not familiar with the lead Kristy Swanson, you’re definitely familiar with Luke Perry, Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer, David Arquette, Hillary Swank, and even a small cameo from then unknown Ben Afflek. Paul Reubens’ character in this movie might be the funniest part of it, outside of the non-stop valley girl lines. It feels shallow to think shopping and prom could be more important than saving the world, but that’s the whole point of the movie: Buffy just wants to be like other girls, even if she is the slayer.
Tucker & Dale vs Evil
Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil (2010) dir. Eli Craig | R 1h29min
Two hillbillies renovating a vacation home in the woods are mistaken for back-woods killers by preppy, partying college students who think they’re the next victims.
This is another one of those movies that kept coming up on my recommendations from streaming services so I finally gave in. It hilariously subverts your expectations as it shows the story from each side. Tucker and Dale, played by Alan Tyduk and Adam Labine respectively, are just two country boys that have finally saved up enough to have a nice cabin in the woods and these college kids keep dying all over the property! Its satire without parody and it will make you roll your eyes at every stupid thing any “survivor” group has ever done in a horror movie that immediately gets them killed – except in this movie, its their own fault, literally.
Elvira Mistress of the Dark
Elvira Mistress of The Dark (1988) dir. James Signorelli | PG-13 1h36min
A horror hostess arrives in a small town to collect an inheritance left by a great aunt and must now battle evil and ignorant townspeople.
Elvira, the real queen of Halloween, has had quite a year this year. Her creator, Cassandra Peterson, just turned 70 and came out as queer. The character turned 40 this year, and to celebrate, she’s had a showing of this film and several others on Shudder. I could talk about Cassandra Peterson and Elvira forever. This movie ended up becoming an unintentional feminist piece as well, with Elvira always reminding others that how she looked had nothing to do with what others thought of her. The jokes and one liners are some of my favorites, with total late 80’s in the core of it. The little town in which this all takes place is glaringly boring in intentional comparison to Elvira’s look. Give this movie a chance and you’ll understand why Elvira has been ever-present for the last four decades, from local TV horror host to queer icon.
What We Do In The Shadows
What We Do In The Shadows (2014) dir. Jermaine Clement and Taikia Waititi | R 1h26min
A documentary crew interviews a group of vampire flatmates about their daily lives.
This is still genuinely one of the funniest mockumentaries I’ve ever seen, and its so incredibly brilliant with its deadpan humor. The movie even spawned a TV show that is now in its third season and very, very good. What We Do In The Shadows is a slice of life piece of art, with completely mundane activities like vacuuming, getting dressed to go out, doing dishes, and flatmate meetings, but adding in vampires who are hundreds of years old and very stuck in their ways. Their turf wars with werewolves and inability to enter parts of modern society, including visits from police, are woven in as if this were part of our current society.
Freaky (2020) dir. Christopher Landon | R 1h 42min
A nerdy high school girl and deranged serial killer accidentally switch bodies only have 24 hours before the change becomes permanent.
Kathryn Newton absolutely carries this film with her acting talent and range. Its easy to forget that Vince Vaughn has a great range as well since a large chunk of his roles in the early 2000s were playing a caricature of himself (which, very fairly, were extremely popular). While this film relies on the “freaky friday” concept, it takes it to another level and does not shy away from making you uncomfortable while laughing at Vince Vaughn believably playing a teenage girl. The deaths are gruesome, and Kathryn Newton sells the violence and psycho killer vibe amazingly.
Death Becomes Her
Death Becomes Her (1992) dir. Robert Zemeckis | PG-13 1h 44min
To out-do her lifelong rival, a woman takes an immortality treatment to stay young and beautiful.
Even for 1992, effects on this movie are still very good. This movie is very much a “Frankenstein’s monster meets Hollywood” vibe. It shows a hilariously horrifying view into the idea of an immortal body that lives forever, but isn’t indestructible. Each of the main characters take a turn as an absolute monster and an unwilling victim. For me, it’s the grandiose aesthetic, the outfits, and the over-the-top plot that has made me love this since I was a kid. The scene of Golide Hawn rising from the fountain is pure comedy.
Evil Dead 2
Evil Dead 2 (1987) dir. Sam Raimi | R 1h24min
A romantic getaway to a cabin in the woods goes awry when ancient demons are awoken, possessing the bodies of those in the woods, and leaving a lone survivor to fight them off.
The Evil Dead series, specifically Evil Dead 2, is another film I could talk about forever. Firstly, if you’re just into checking it out, I’d highly suggest this one over the first movie. The first is intended to be straight horror and had a very small budget, so unless you’re looking to check all your boxes, you can skip it. This movie was made after receiving financing for a sequel and has an almost identical plot but was rewritten to be a horror-comedy that would then have Army of Darkness to follow. Plus, this one gets you the chainsaw hand. Evil Dead 2 gives us a couple of amazing things: Firstly, it really premiered the idea of the “cabin in the woods” trope to audiences. Secondly, Ash is intended to be the scream queen and the last girl of the film. Bruce Campbell truly sells himself in this movie, making him one of the greatest horror icons of our time. If you fall in love with Evil Dead 2, please check out Army of Darkness and Ash VS. Evil Dead. While it doesn’t follow the same comedy, I even vouch for the 2013 soft reboot of Evil Dead which, warning, has no Ash and is very graphic but amazing. There’s even another Evil Dead reboot (noted to be titled Evil Dead Rise) allegedly slated for next year that’s being worked on by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. And if you ever have the chance, please, I beg you, go see Evil Dead: The Musical. Like I mentioned prior in Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Evil Dead 2 is everywhere and there’s a reason it has persisted for so many years and is so beloved by so many fans. The first Evil Dead (1981) just passed its 40th anniversary this year. There are even several games where you can play as Ash, with another one coming out next year. Evil Dead 2 is the one sequel where a bigger budget didn’t ruin the franchise – it birthed great careers and a horror legend.
That’s the end of this journey of our list of movies. I hope this one has given you some fun ideas for a Halloween full of laughs. I’ve been a guest writer here this season for Variant Ventures, so there’s a chance you’ll see me around these parts again. Until next time, don’t go reading any old books you found in the basement! They’re cursed!
- Scary Jess 🖤
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