The horror genre has seen some outstanding and hilarious horror comedies over the decades — from the 1948 Universal classic ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN to 2004’s SHAUN OF THE DEAD, these films have become beloved titles, and in many cases box-office blockbusters. But several other horror comedies flew beneath the mainstream radar — independent films that most audiences don’t even know exist. Sure, most audiences know about YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, SCARY MOVIE and STUDENT BODIES, but there’s a whole other cinematic universe where some lesser-known but still hysterical horror comedies exist.
While these films aren’t quite household names yet, they are required viewing for those of you seeking something new to watch. A lot of blood, sweat and laughter went into making these movies — and for this, they deserve your attention. After all, as the old saying goes, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”
With that said, here are ten lesser-known but still totally enjoyable horror comedies we encourage you to check out pronto!
[Honorable Mentions to THANKSKILLING, DUG UP, MY BOYFRIEND’S BACK, RETURN TO HORROR HIGH, DETENTION, REPOSSESSED, and JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER for almost making it onto this list.]
10. ZOMBEAVERS (2014)
The title alone indicates the absurdity of this film — which is always a good indication that you’re going to have a great time watching it. A group of college kids head to a riverside cabin in the woods for some sexy fun and debauchery, until they are attacked by a pack of zombie beavers. By the end of this movie, you will never look at a beaver the same way… so to speak.
9. DECAMPITATED (1998)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a group of friends head out to woods to stay at a camp for the weekend, until they are stalked by a psychopathic killer. In the hands of writer/director Matt Cunningham and co-screenwriters Ryan Lowery, Carolyn Miller and Brian Walters — and abetted by a great cast — this tired old tune is transposed into a horror comedy classic. Between twisting slasher clichés, breaking the fourth wall, and ridiculous amounts of bloodshed, this film is a lot of fun to watch!
9. LOVE IN THE TIME OF MONSTERS (2014)
I first saw this film at the Cinequest Film Festival back home in San Jose in 2014. The plot focuses on sisters Marla (Gena Shaw) and Carla (Marissa Skell) visiting a local tourist trap called “Uncle Slavko’s All-American Family Lodge,” where they must do battle with horrifying monsters dressed up in Bigfoot costumes while they save their newfound loves. Also starring horror icon Kane Hodder, Danny Vasquez, Doug Jones and Michael McShane, the film is a laugh riot and plays on our nostalgia for rubber monster suits, cheesy one-liners and over-the-top fun.
7. FDR: AMERICAN BADASS! (2012)
This one is for all you history buffs: after contracting polio from a werewolf bite, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, confined to a Albert Einstein-designed wheelchair of death, must end the Great Depression, prohibition and World War II… as well as get his revenge by eradicating an army of Nazi werewolves! ROCKY HORROR veteran Barry Bostwick shines as FDR, and has the best one-liners in the movie. Add genre faves Ray Wise, Lin Shaye, Kevin Sorbo and Bruce McGill to the cast, and you’ve got yourself a cult classic in the making.
6. BLOOD CAR (2007)
I was fortunate to have seen this film’s world premiere at the 2007 Cinequest Film Festival. In the future, gas prices have skyrocketed out of control, and one man named Archie Andrews (Mike Brune) is not having it. He sets out to find an alternative to gasoline — and develops a car that runs on human blood. Thus BLOOD CAR is born! Written and directed by Alex Orr, from a script by Hugh Braselton and Adam Pinney, this very dark comedy has everything you want out in a movie: blood, sex and horror, not too mention social and political commentary on the always-escalating gas prices hurting many Americans’ wallets. The last few seconds of the movie caused a huge roar from the crowd — and it still holds up ten years later.
5. CHILLERAMA (2011)
From the devious minds of filmmakers Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green and Joe Lynch comes the ultimate midnight movie anthology. It’s the closing night of the last drive-in in America, and they’re having an all-night horror movie marathon, featuring four films that have never been screened on American soil before. With titles like WADZILLA (Rifkin), I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR (Sullivan), THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN (Green) and framing story ZOM-B-MOVIE (Lynch), the anthology is a tribute to those bygone drive-in days, and quenches our thirst for bad cinema with a side of horror and laughter.
4. CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL (1996)
The film debut of Trey Parker, who along with Matt Stone created the beloved and controversial television show SOUTH PARK, this movie tells the story of Alferd Packer — the only man in American history tried for cannibalism. In the hands of Parker, the movie is both an homage to horror movies and MGM musicals. As it says in the trailer, “In the tradition of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 and OKLAHOMA!” it contains of the hallmarks of Parker and Stone’s personalities — including sharp wit, social satire, cheesy jokes and toilet humor. It’s fun for the whole family!
3. RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES (1986)
While the 1978 film ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES is considered a wacky cult classic, a lot of folks didn’t know that a sequel was made ten years later. Director John De Bello topped the lunacy that was the original with this smart, zany, clever and funny as hell movie. Starring John Astin, Anthony Starke, Karen Mistal, J. Stephen Peace and future Hollywood superstar George Clooney, the film is one of the best sequels of all time — and really needs to be discovered again!
2. THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE (1991)
Here’s the film that inspired Wes Craven’s 1996 movie SCREAM… and predated it by five years! Seven teens (one looks like he’s in his thirties and going bald) head up to a cabin on the lake for spring break. But Mike has seen every single horror film at his local video store, and starts to see all the clues that point to their impending deaths. His friends dismiss him, until they all realize that there IS something out there… and it wants to eat them. Filmmaker Rolfe Kanefsky was only nineteen years old when he made this movie, which features characters breaking the fourth wall by acknowledging that they’re in a movie, meta-references to other movies and super cheesy B-movie laughs. The film has since become an underground classic and stands as one of the best horror comedies from the 1990s.
1. SATURDAY THE 14TH (1981)
If you were a monster kid growing up in the early ’80s, you definitely know this movie. In fact, you likely made it a point to stay up late so you could watch it on HBO, or maybe you rented it at your local video store. Either way, this was the horror comedy to see… over and over again. Directed by the late Howard R. Cohen and featuring an ensemble cast including Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Jeffrey Tambor, Severn Darden and Rosemary DeCamp, When a family moves into a spooky new house, their youngest son finds a strange book describing a curse tied to the title date; he opens the book (of course) and unleashes a plethora of evil monsters. The family teams up with Van Helsing himself to stop the curse and fight off vampires trying to obtain the book. It’s my favorite horror comedy of all time… and one that you can share with your kids as well!