Movies & TV / Columns

Stew’s Top 10 Horror Comedies

August 27, 2022 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Shaun of the Dead Image Credit: Focus Features

So to the surprise of no one who is aware that the Stew World Order podcast exists, my absolute favorite genre of movie is “Comic Book”. I have yet to get tired of seeing these amazing properties and ideas that I loved in my most formative years get turned into blockbuster epics with fantastic effects and A-list actors.

But a very close second for me is Horror. If I did not decide to do a CBM based podcast, it’s very likely I would have done horror instead. I was raised on the stuff. And the variety of the genre can be stunning at times! We have slashers and monsters and paranormal and grounded thrillers. You can do a lot under the umbrella banner of “Horror”.

My wife and I recently watched a surprisingly great flick on Shudder called “Bloody Hell” (check it out if you have the streaming service; it’s much better than the generic name implies), and that reminded me that my favorite subgenre of my second favorite genre is the Horror-Comedy. I really dig when a smart film can take all the conventions of something that is supposed to scare you, but twist them enough to make you laugh, too.

I was thinking of saving this list for my next entry into my Thirteen The Fridayth series, but we don’t get another Friday the 13th until January! I can’t wait that long; I want to talk about this now!

So I will.

10. Zombieland

Image Credit: Sony Pictures

A classic example of how a mediocre sequel that retroactively paints how you remember a classic movie, I struggled with whether or not to put Zombieland on the list because Zombieland 2 was such an enormous letdown.

But trying to put that aside and JUST focusing on the original outing? This is still a crazy ride of a movie with a climactic act that is a wild blend of humor, drama, action, and scares. I remember being CERTAIN than Tallahassee was being set up to die, and the feelings that the movie inspired in me when I thought that was coming. It was so damn effective.

9. Tucker & Dale Vs Evil

Image Credit: Magnet Releasing

The “problem” (such as it were) with horror comedies is getting the formula right. It’s hard to do a purely 50/50 split between scares and laughs. Some movies like Tucker & Dale Vs Evil barely even try, though, and they still work perfectly well. T&D is basically a comedy just about horror tropes. It’s nowhere near a 50/50 split. More like 15/85 or something. And that’s fine because it is a riot.

The titular Tucker and Dale are two backwoods hillbillies who a group of vacationing teens mistake for horror movie killers, and whacky hijinks ensue. Including some of the best deaths you will see in a movie. There’s a ham-fisted messaged about judging books by their cover, sure, but the love/friendship story that develops in this one feels earned.

8. Jason X

Image Credit: New Line Cinema

My rankings don’t make any sense here. Tucker and Dale and Zombieland are both definitively better movies than Jason X. And on my Letterboxd, I have them scored higher than Jason X. But gun to my head, which would I watch again right now if I had to? It’s Jason X. So it moves ahead of them!

I just love this movie for standing on a pier and shouting to the world “I know what I am, and I know how stupid my existence is!”. Make no mistake, Jason X is a horror-comedy, and NOT unintentionally. They made exactly the movie they set out to make, “Hey guys, he just wanted his machete back” and all.

7. Hatchet II

Image Credit: Dark Sky Films

“Do you like this better than Jesus? Do you like this better than baby Jesus?” The high point of the Hatchet movies (that I’ve seen so far; I’ve not had a chance to catch Victor Crowley), Hatchet II improves upon the original in every way. Better humor. Better lead actress. Better kills. Better gore. It’s a huge upgrade.

And, oh yes, the “Do you like this better than Jesus” scene, which KILLED ME the first time I watched it. I had to pause the movie and catch my breath.

6. Shaun Of The Dead

Image Credit: Focus Features

What I said earlier about how hard it is to hit that 50/50 target with horror comedies? Shaun of the Dead is one of the few to do it almost effortlessly. And for a while, it never seems like it will.

The first two acts of Shaun are little more than Tucker & Dale level comedy-ABOUT-horror more than anything. So it really takes you by surprise when the last half hour or so becomes this gripping, emotional, terrifying event that you can’t take your eyes off. It’s not even THAT it happens, but just how fluid and natural the shift is when it should be jarring. A star-making turn for Simon Pegg and a launchpad for the career of Edgar Wright, Shaun of the Dead was such a shock when it hit big in theaters, and all of these years later, it holds up.

5. HouseBound

Image Credit: Alameda Entertainment

This New Zealand flick from the mid-2010’s was another lucky Shudder find for my household this year, and Shudder never ceases to amaze me with some of the quality we unearth between, like, two-star nothing movies. HouseBound is the story of Kylie, a delinquent twenty-something sentenced to house arrest in her mother’s home, who quickly becomes reminded of why she was convinced that home was haunted when she was younger.

The best thing HouseBound does–and it does a lot exceptionally well–is organically transition Kylie from a completely contemptible protagonist to one for whom you find cheering as the movie goes on. This one is more of a genuine horror with quite a few laugh-out-loud moments spread throughout. But the formula really works!

4. The Final Girls

Image Credit: Sony Pictures

A horror-comedy whose most impressive aspect is its heart. This damn genre can be so versatile! This is basically a straight send up of the Friday the 13th franchise focused on the relationship between a daughter who lost her mom, and the character her mom played in a classic 80’s franchise. And Malin Ackerman doing a striptease to “Bette Davis Eyes” shouldn’t choke me up, but HERE WE ARE.

3. Army of Darkness

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

What can I say about Army of Darkness that hasn’t been said before? Everyone knows this flick. It’s wild to watch the original three Evil Dead movies go from Horror Movie to Horror Movie With Comedic Elements to Comedy With Horror Elements. AoD doesn’t even try to hit that 50/50 target. It’s just a romp.

It’s also a vehicle to really let Bruce Campbell shine after he showed so much willingness to goof off in Evil Dead 2. It’s one-liner after one-liner here and a ton of physical comedy from Bruce. This was the movie that strapped a rocket to his career’s back.

2. Happy Death Day

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

I still live in this flawed world where this movie happened, and yet Jessica Rothe has not been cast in every movie ever since. I simply do not understand. Seriously, Rothe gives one of the very best horror and/or comedy performances from a lead actress ever. She is a STAR in this Groundhog-Day-Meets-Slasher-Movie outing.

I’m a sucker for the Groundhog Day formula, too. I’ve yet to see a flick use that gimmick and not be at least “Very Good”. And this is one of the very best efforts in that regard.

1. The Cabin In The Woods

Image Credit: Lionsgate

For me, this will almost certainly always be the pinnacle of what a Horror-Comedy can achieve. Do I think it nails the 50/50 aspect? Not really, but it’s close. I’d say it’s slightly more Horror than Comedy, but it might be the best example of a horror movie that will make you laugh. Does that make sense? Maybe only in my head.

This flick is so damn smart, and the climax is a blast of letting horror fans point at the screen and say “Hey, that’s a reference to _____!”. It’s truly a love letter to almost every aspect of the genre, which… as horror fan what more could you want than something that both pays homage to everything you love AND creates its own wonderful entry into the annals of the genre?

As always, that’s just my personal list–and I feel bad I did not squeeze Bloody Hell onto it after all, but hey… this is a really strong category–and now I want to know: WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TEN horror comedies? What are your thoughts on the genre? And what are your favorite horror subgenres?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments and maybe influence me to check out some great horror comedies I’ve missed. Just like I hope you visit Bloody Hell and HouseBound if you never have before.

Until next time… take care!