Horror comedies are often a turn-off for critics and usually fail at the box office, making you wonder about the tastes of modern audiences. If ever a genre had the potential for send-up, it’s the one that spawned the immortal classics Unfriended, Ouija and Annabelle.
Then again, it’s entirely possible that a modern crowd just doesn’t want to see horror being parodied. A decent horror comedy – or, failing that, Scary Movie 5 – will make fun of all the genre conventions and spoof their weaknesses, and the people who’re itching to see another Friday the 13th reboot don’t want that.
Or maybe they watched A Haunted House and Vampires Suck and wrote off the idea that horror can be funny. It can, but you won’t find many laughs in those opportunistic would-be comedies, so let’s not go there.
As is usually the case, that cinematic effluent was given a wide release while a bunch of movies that actually worked were consigned to oblivion. To seek out the best in comedy horror, you have to fearlessly search through all those Netflix and DVD titles you’ve never heard of.
Or you could just check out the following. It’s your dime.
15. Zombie Self Defence Force (2006)
Remember when Peter Jackson made zombie films that were heavy on blood and bad taste gags? Naoyuki Tomamatsu does, so here’s a movie that packs flying saucers, mutant babies, cyborgs and samurai zombies into its 76 minutes.
The plot is best described as “uncomplicated.” When a flying saucer crashes in rural Japan, it brings the dead back to life (“How unscientific,” remarks one character), causing a disparate group that includes a pop star, a soldier and a gangster to seek shelter at a nearby hotel, unaware that the owner has just killed his pregnant mistress. You can probably guess what happens next.
You don’t watch this sort of thing expecting to see finely nuanced characters delivering Shakespearean soliloquies but to see a zombie baby using its umbilical cord as a lasso while a cyborg soldier, the prototype for a proposed invasion of America, shoots up the place. As such movies go, Zombie Self Defence Force is top of the list.
14. You Can’t Kill Stephen King (2012)
You Can’t Kill Stephen King is a real surprise: a dirt-cheap horror movie , starring nobody you’ve ever heard of (and shamelessly exploiting King’s name) that’s actually worth watching.
We’re in B-grade slasher movie territory as a group of fans who’ve decided to pay the author a visit start getting knocked off one by one, but this is no mean and senseless Friday The 13th knock-off. YKKSK never takes itself too seriously and just wants to give the viewer a good time, which considering the budget was a smart move.
It helps if you’re a fan of King’s work (the in-jokes come thick and fast), and a fan of comedy slashers in general, and those who are will have fun. Those who aren’t should stay away and stop bleating on social media about how it’s the worst movie ever.
13. Cockneys Vs Zombies (2012)
If Shaun Of The Dead was a quaint British film that just happened to feature walking cadavers, Cockneys Vs Zombies is its East End cousin, the ruder, cruder and decidedly lewder relative that’s more interested in exploding heads than romantic sub-plots.
When the dead start to rise, Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) immediately fear for the safety of Ray (Alan Ford), the grandfather that raised them after their hippie parents unwisely took on police marksmen with assault rifles (long story). They decide to set off on a rescue mission, little realizing that Ray’s safely ensconced inside a retirement home with Richard Briers, Honor Blackman and a cache of assault rifles.
This is The Walking Dead scripted by Ricky Gervais, and your enjoyment will depend upon watching British TV veterans portraying octogenarian zombie killers (with walking frames and AK-47s). Gone are Shaun Of The Dead’s cricket bats and polite humour, and in come decapitations, raucous jokes, plus one-time Bionic Woman Michelle Ryan as a leather-clad, samurai sword-wielding locksmith (why not?). It’s not gentle or genteel, but it is loads of fun.
12. Infestation (2009)
You’ve probably never heard of this giant bug movie, and thanks to The Asylum et al, you’re probably sick of creature features, but Infestation has several things going for it, including better than average monsters.
A combination of practical and digital effects, these suckers can take over a city in a heartbeat, cocooning the inhabitants and storing them for food. Led by Cooper (Christopher Marquette), a slacker in the Chuck mould, a handful of survivors arm themselves and attempt to destroy the bugs’ nest.
A movie that never takes itself too seriously, Infestation asks such important questions as, “Can you use a Taser against a giant bug?” (Yes, but the bugs tend to explode). Packing more fun into its 92 minutes then you’ve seen in a dozen Syfy films, Infestation is one big bug movie you need to check out.
11. Bad Biology (2008)
Born with 7 clitorises, Jennifer (Charlee Danielson) needs orgasms the way a junkie needs a fix, and after each one night stand she gives birth to “an unfinished mutant baby” that ends up in a dumpster. She meets her match in Batz (Anthony Sneed), who began injecting steroids into his heart’s delight as a teenager and now has an XXL member that can tap out Morse code when it needs feeding.
After witnessing a hooker experience an “everlasting orgasm” courtesy of Batz’s gift, Jennifer decides she’s found Mr Right and tries to become his latest conquest, which is when his pride and joy detaches from his body and slithers away in pursuit of underwear models.
Financed and co-written by underground rapper R.A. “The Rugged Man” Thorburn and directed by the legendary Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case, Frankenhooker), Bad Biology was shot at the tail end of Dubya’s presidency, and its remit appears to have been to offend as many Republicans as possible. A film where showering starlets are attacked by a penis monster, Bad Biology is the kind of movie that the characters from Basket Case would’ve paid to see.
10. Big Tits Zombie (2010)
From the director of the immortal classics Killer Pussy and Sumo Vixens comes Big Tits Zombie, but don’t go expecting a stupid one-note travesty along the lines of Strippers Vs Zombies. In Japan, they know how to do this sort of thing with wit and invention.
You’ve got to love a 3D zombie movie that opens with real-life porn star Sola Aoi playing a chainsaw-wielding stripper fighting a seemingly unwinnable battle against the undead, but the best is yet to come. Flashbacks reveal that a fellow stripper found a copy The Book Of The Dead, and you know what that means.
One of the side effects of being transformed into a walking ghoul in this film is being able to spider walk with flames shooting out of your nether regions, something not even Peter Jackson dared put on film in Braindead. There’s also a zombie with a detachable head, a female sumo contest and all the samurai dismemberment you’d expect in a film like this, so what are you waiting for?
9. Fido (2006)
Billy Connolly and Carrie-Anne Moss star in this horror comedy that gives the boy-and-his-dog formula an amusing twist. Instead of an animal, a lonely young boy befriends a domesticated zombie.
You see, the Zombie Wars have been and gone and the remaining living dead have been pacified with “containment collars” that curtail their hunger and allow them to be used for menial tasks. Depending on your needs, they can mow lawns, deliver milk or, if they’re young and fresh enough, be used as concubines.
Set in a Norman Rockwell America, and best described as Leave It To Beaver meets Shaun Of The Dead, Fido is the zombie comedy to end all zombie comedies. Mixed in with the laughs and the expected blood and guts is a satire of 50s attitudes, and don’t miss Tim Blake Nelson’s performance as the creepy neighbour who keeps a zombie for a girlfriend.