Tuesday, October 6, 2015

WRI Fright Fest Presents: Author Eva Darrows' Top Five Horror Comedies

@HillaryMonahan @EvaDarrows #WRIfrightfest #giveaway #horrorreads #Halloween


Horror comedy is one of my favorite things. It's a glorious dichotomy of entertainment; it builds up that good horror tension, releases it with a couple of laughs, and then scares you again so you can ride a rollercoaster of conflicting emotion for two hours straight. Sure, the laughs can diminish the overall creepiness of a movie, but sometimes that's just what the doctor ordered—a few short order thrills and a big goofy smile on your face when you get up from your seat on the couch.

Today I talk about my top five favorite horror comedies and why they're so spectacular, and on the off chance you haven't seen any of them? Get thee to Netflix!

5) Cabin in the Woods (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1259521/ )

The brilliant thing about Cabin in the Woods is that it takes played-out horror tropes and spins them on their heads. Five friends go to a cabin in the woods. A creepy man warns them away. The undead rise to take their revenge on the living, targeting the promiscuous girl first. It's all stuff we've seen before, but that's the point, isn't it? The set-up is formulaic because it has to be to satisfy Those Below, who require the blood of the young so they won't, you know, murder the world.

And the best part?


(Warning: Gruesome Violence Ahead)


4) Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0437857/ )

Let's pretend for a moment that there's a universe where Chucky, Jason, Freddy, and Mike Meyers all exist. It's not a pretty universe, and I'm pretty sure girls under twenty wouldn't fare well there, but go with me on this. Now let's pretend that, in this universe, there are wannabes who study the atrocities committed by our most famous movie slasher killers. They admire Jason's body of work and determine that they not only want Jason's fame, they want to surpass Jason and become the foulest of the foul.

This premise is how the mockumentary Behind the Mask came to be. Leslie Vernon is the "murder name" of a one-day serial killer who outlines to a burgeoning journalist how he's trained to become the next great murder master. From showing us how movie killers keep up with us at a walk when we're at a run (see the cut scenes) to how they survive with little to no air for long periods, Leslie Vernon is a tip of the hat to the horror genres greats. Also? It's absolutely hysterical.

3) Tucker and Dale vs Evil (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1465522/ )

I had no idea what to expect when I sat down to watch this movie and I think that was part of the magic? I love Alan Tudyk. I have since he made dinosaurs fight on the bridge of Serenity. Seeing him on the cast was part of the initial draw, but he ended up being only a fraction of the awesomeness that is Tucker and Dale. Again, like Cabin in the Woods, T&D takes a bunch of tropes (especially ones against Rednecks) and turns them on their heads. No, that hunter is not a bad guy. And no, not all mountain men will carry your women off into the woods to wife them. This is hysterical and bloody and full of surprises, and I know for a fact it's on Netflix streaming right now so you should stop reading this silly article and go watch it.

No, seriously. Shoo.

2) Shaun of the Dead (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0365748/ )

I almost said Shaun of the Dead was my first encounter with horror comedy, but then I remembered my number one pick. And, you know, Ash from the Evil Dead Series. 
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFriRcIwqNU )

So it's not so much that Shaun of the dead is the first, it just rekindled a long-dormant love of silly and scary together. There are a couple of things about Shaun of the Dead that still strike me as remarkable, even after a couple billion rewatches. Edgar Wright is one of the few directors who does visual comedy perfectly. You saw a lot more of this type of film making back in the glory days of Hollywood, during silent films (think Charlie Chaplin.) Or, for a more relatable example, think The Three Stooges. Words weren't needed to make the jokes. A good expression, a silly walk, a certain pan of camera were enough to elicit giggles. Wright follows in this tradition. Some of the best moments of Shaun of the Dead aren't from talky scenes but well directed visuals, and I appreciate that. It's a lost art in a movie industry that beats us over the head with unsubtle gags.

The second thing that crosses me as fantastic about Shaun of the Dead is Edgar Wright's obvious love for his source material. The hat tips at Night of the Living Dead—from scenes that were near perfect reworks of the original to lines like "They're coming to get you Barbara"—show that Wright has written a love letter to Romero, except he's done it in a way that makes it totally original. The humor is fresh. The scares are real. This is set in the same world as Romero's movie, and yet it's a totally different country. Related but not the same. Excellent, but a different type of excellent.

In short, I love this movie. 

1) Young Frankenstein (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072431/ )

There are Blazing Saddles people and then there are Young Frankenstein people. I am a Young Frankenstein person through and through. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty sure Mel Brooks was sent to us mortals by a humor god to tickle our fancies until we die of laughter and Blazing Saddles is brilliant, but Young Frankenstein is, to me, the quintessential comedy, and on this list, the quintessential horror comedy. Sure, it's not really scary. I jumped a little when the skeleton wouldn't release the will in the beginning, and the sets are moody and dark as they are the sets actually used in the original Karloff Frankenstein movies, but beyond that, it's just silly, gloomy fun.

"Frau Blucher!"

"There wolf. There castle." "Why are you talking like that?" "I thought you wanted to."

"What Knockers?"

"Taffeta, darling! Taffeta!"

"What hump?"

"You must be Ee-gor." "No, it's pronounced "eye-gor." "But they told me it was "ee-gor." "Well, they were wrong then, weren't they?"

The lines keep coming and coming, the laughs are a mile a minute, and folks who've seen the original Frankenstein movie are in for a treat in that they'll see the actual machinery used in the 1930s films come alive again for Brooks' incredibly talented cast.

And seriously, who can forget the theme song?


Honorable Mentions

I could go on and on about horror comedy because my love for it is real and strong, but instead I'll add a list of a other great movies that should make it onto your play lists if you haven't, somehow, stumbled across them.

The original Evil Dead Movies. Dead Snow. Trick R' Treat. Grabbers. Housebound. Witching and Bitching. Slither. Teeth. Rubber. Gremlins. Zombieland. Tremors. The Witches of Eastwick. Trollhunter. Creepshow.

About the Author
Hillary Monahan is Eva Darrows is holed up in Massachusetts with a couple of smelly basset hounds and too many cats. She writes funny, creepy things for fun and profit.  MARY: THE SUMMONING and MARY: UNLEASHED under Hillary Monahan out through Disney Hyperion.  THE AWESOME under Eva Darrows out through Ravenstone Press.  

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