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The Ten Best Horror Comedies of the Decade

By Dustin Rowles | Guides | May 29, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Guides | May 29, 2009 |

Perhaps one of the hardest genres to pull off, aside from a successful vehicle for Britney Spears that isn’t a snuff film, is that of the combination comedy-horror. It’s no wonder some of today’s top marquee directors feature one on their curriculum vitae: Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi, Edgar Wright, and unintentionally Mike Myers. It’s a fine line between making your audience howl with laughter and squirm with uncomfortable terror. Usually, they keep the violence cartoonish and hyper gory in order to keep the rift more manageable. Rarely do you see something that manages to be genuinely frightening but still keep the laughs broad. Looking back over the past decade, we can positively identify only ten of those films. And here they order in order of greatness. — Brian Prisco

severance.jpg10. Severance: In Severance, Christopher Smith (Creep) brings new life to the slasher flick, not necessarily by ramping up the violence quotient, but by injecting actual humor into the story and personality into the victims. So, instead of characters with elephantine breasts and pea brains that we can’t wait to see fall on a Jackyl chainsaw, Severance offers up victims we care about before snuffing out their lives in a reasonably gruesome, darkly comic manner. And, of course, Severance also proves the old adage that there is nothing sexier than a smart blonde wielding a shotgun. Or a machete. Or even a rock. — Dustin Rowles

zombiestrippers.JPG9. Zombie Strippers: Rarely does one encounter a movie that lives up to its title as thoroughly as Zombie Strippers does. I mean, there are strippers … and they become zombies … and they continue to strip. It’s about as straightforward as you can get. There is something to be said for that. However, what surprised me is that Zombie Strippers actually has loftier aspirations than to simply be a movie about naked dancing reanimated corpses (as if that weren’t enough of an accomplishment). In addition to that, it’s also a decent socio-political satire, and most surprisingly, homage to existentialist Theatre of the Absurd. Yes, you read that correctly. Indeed, Zombie Strippers wants you to believe that it has a message. A message, people. In a movie called Zombie Strippers. It’s either the most clever, subversive concept ever or so mind-numbingly stupid I that I want to pour boiling water into my brain — quite possibly both. It’s also a fucking blast. — TK

teeth6.jpg8. Teeth: There’s a certain pornographic air about Teeth, the debut feature from writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein, and it’s only partly due to the film’s graphic sexual nature. No, the real suspense comes in the waiting, in sitting there during the exposition and plot twists and just wondering when the film’s central theme — the vagina dentata — will rear its fanged head. As films go, Lichtenstein’s is all over the map, veering from arch drama to black comedy to quasi-cautionary tale to Cold War monster movie, but the feeling of anticipatory dread that runs below the surface is never less than perfect. And yet it’s also hard to come out and call the film good, since Teeth is clearly more concerned at being great at its premise and less so in its execution. It could be the best B-movie ever made, but it’s also tough to appreciate even ironically because it won’t stop winking at itself and the audience. — Daniel Carlson

bubba hotep.jpg7. Bubba Ho-Tep: The premise is ridiculous: Elvis and JFK do battle to save their nursing home from a reincarnated mummy who sucks the souls of his victims out of their buttholes. Particularly when Elvis is played by Bruce Campbell and JFK is Ossie Davis, who insists that the conspirators dyed him black to throw people off. While too campy to be considered true horror — technically Scooby Doo is mystery — what makes this film so surprising is the heart. It’s a genuinely touching and hilarious film about holding on to the glory days. While you fight a bunghole-sucking mummy. — BP

snakesonaplane.jpg6. Snakes on a Plane: I shit you not, folks, Snakes on a Plane is every bit of god-awful fantastic that the hype portended back in 2007. And I say this not as a movie critic, but as an enthusiast of so-bad-it’s-good. I consider the Final Destination series one of my favorite trilogies of all time; The Skulls is a minor classic, and nary anything can compare to the joy that was Cool as Ice. But Snakes on a Plane beats them all, hands down, fists balled, and middle finger to the sky. It absolutely kills. The only way I could’ve found it more entertaining is if the snake venom turned the passengers into zombies, but I suppose you gotta leave something for the sequel(s). In fact, the only analogy that could possibly do SoaP justice is one of those ear-mangling Journey ballads that you know is shittacular and yet you can’t help but crank it to an unheard-of decibel level and belt your lungs out (“Don’t stop believin’”). — DR

blacksheep.gif5. Black Sheep: It’s a beautiful sight, amidst the flood of gorn-no in the multiplex marketplace, to witness torn flesh in the manner it’s meant to be viewed — with irreverence, impeccable comic timing, and a sense of tongue-in-cheek awe . Black Sheep is a throwback, not to the exploitation flicks that Planet Terror (below) was meant to mimic, but to the era in horror flicks that came after it: Squeal porn. Movies meant to elicit half-laughs, half-squeals in shock-and-awe succession. It’s Attack of the Killer Tomatoes with sheep, or Sheep on a Farm!. Black Sheep carries with it an actual, real-life sense of humor. It’s jump-scare deadpan horror, an appropriate companion to Severance, and it is ridiculously fun. — DR

slither.jpg4. Slither: I could start off by getting all academic on you and talking about the conscious role of the metaphor of sexual violation in horror films, or I could get all polysyllabic on you and use words like “polysyllabic,” and while I can’t promise I won’t commit those sins later on in this review, dear reader, I will say at the start that Slither is one hell of an entertaining ride. It’s a comedy filled with acid-spitting zombies and a horror film full of laughs and one-liners, and the fact that the film manages to gleefully straddle the divide between such diverse genres is just one of the many things that makes it so much fun. Writer-director James Gunn uses humor to ground the outlandish situations in reality, to keep us giggling past the graveyard while telepathic slugs from outer space infect townsfolk and eat stray dogs. An avowed Stephen King fan and Troma associate, Gunn infuses Slither with the love of a true fanboy, creating a detailed backstory and inhabitable world just to watch giant worms try to eat it. Kind of like Eli Roth, only without the homophobia and with a sense of humor. — DC

000t883s.jpg3. Planet Terror: Fast cars, motorcycles, gratuitous close-up shots of cleavage, liquefied faces, grainy scratched-up film, oozing blood, caked-on blood, splattered blood, explosions of blood, goopy gore, zombies, melting genitalia, and Tom motherfucking Savini. I felt like I was 12 years old again, drinking milk, eating cookies, and trying to hold my head up at 3:00 in the morning just long enough to see the climactic torrent of blood that would eventually fill an entire screen with the apocalyptic decimation of the undead. And here I thought I’d gotten it all out of my system, that my adolescent weakness for crimson kablooey had dried up, but Robert Rodriguez brought it all back in a bleeding meat-shank of nostalgia, recalling Dawn, Day, Night, and Return of the Living Dead, Zombi 2, and Blood Feast and reigniting my own flicker of fanboyitis for an exhilarating, blood-drenched 90 minutes. Planet Terror is for everyone who spent his or her teenage years thumbing through Fangoria and loitering in the aisle of the local video store, which always had the film you most wanted to see. Because no one else did. — DR

drag-me-to-hell_l.jpg1 (tie). Drag Me to Hell: Drag Me to Hell is as rapid-paced a film as I’ve seen in years. Raimi goes elephantine balls to the wall, completely for broke, attacking the material with a feverish insanity of a pimple-popping teenager fucking his pillow. It’s frantic — gonzo even — but completely controlled. There’s no subtext to the story; Raimi isn’t trying to tell you anything. There’s no big metaphor; there’s no connection to real-world events; and there’s no cultural commentary. It’s just campy, over-the-top, off-the-hook, over-the-backboard, and through the net with a gloriously bloody squish. Take an adult diaper, folks, because when DMTH isn’t making you piss yourself with laughter, it’ll be scaring the shit out of you, which makes for an awfully messy movie-going experience. But it’s worth a few Depends undergarments and half a pack of wet wipes. And only a director as talented as Raimi could force a series of X-Rated exclamations out of you while you’re watching a PG-13 movie. — DR

Shaun_of_the_Dead.gif1.(tie) Shaun of the Dead: Shaun of the Dead is to the flesh-eating Dead movies (Night, Dawn, and Day) what the Evil Dead franchise was to the horror films that preceded it — a genre satire that doesn’t stray from the genre formula, brilliantly lampooning while also paying homage. And like the Evil Dead franchise, Shaun of the Dead is the sort of future cult classic that will someday inspire drinking games, the kind that our children will watch at midnight screenings years from now, no doubt half-baked, decked out in zombie attire, and sporting broken records around their “bloody” craniums. It is too smart and too entertaining to miss — a conventional zombie film that recklessly abandons convention and makes you laugh for the right reason: because it’s funny. — DR

Pajiba Love 05/29/09 | Drag Me to Hell Review

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.