Gores Truly is femme-driven but certainly not man-hating. Occasionally, we want to give our readers a chance to contribute to the horror-fest that we all adore – including those wielding the Y-Chromosome. The following article has been Murder-Her approved. Watch out! It’s an Invasion of the Y-Chromosome!
Horror Comedy (For the Faint of Heart)
Written by Spencer Blohm
One of the wildest new TV series of the fall season, FOX’s Scream Queens, is said to be the first horror-comedy TV show to hit mainstream audiences. Teens and adults alike flock to the tension and creepiness of stalked sorority girls but can still laugh at the wacky horror tropes turned on their heads. Though Scream Queens may be new for at-home viewing, horror and comedy have worked hand-in-hand for the past few decades in classic films that keep us laughing, grossed out, and totally entertained.
Horror comedy came onto the scene with a bang in the 1980’s. While studios were putting big bucks into expensive horror films, up and coming filmmakers were gathering up their friends, heading to a remote location, and letting all hell break loose. In the late 70’s, college student Sam Raimi got childhood friends Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss to star in his short film Within the Woods, which eventually garnered a larger budget remake becoming The Evil Dead (1981). Many horror fans agree that The Evil Dead (now on Hulu) is one of the goriest horror films ever made, with buckets of fake blood, pus, and wounds, but not only is it shocking, it’s hilarious. The actors genuinely seem to have fun hanging out with one another and Raimi doesn’t shy away from ridiculous one-liners and humorous elements in the plot of the film and its sequels.
In the early 90’s, horror-comedy took an even gorier turn with Braindead, titled Dead Alive in the US and Canada. This gonzo film featured faces ripped apart, skin sliding from bone, and an infamous scene involving a lawnmower used as a battering ram against a horde of zombies. Though the horror-comedy became a cult classic for its sheer craziness, it gained attention about ten years later when its then little-known director, Peter Jackson, went on to direct the acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy. This shows how much fun a horror-comedy can be to create – it isn’t just for college kids, it’s for serious directors looking to have some fun with their craft.
In the 90’s and 2000’s, horror-comedy’s biggest strength was in its self-awareness. Kids were no longer entertained by the same cheap scares and formulaic thrills. They wanted something newer and smarter. Wes Craven’s Scream (streaming info here) was so successful with younger audiences because it featured characters who knew all about horror and tried to outwit the people wanting to kill them by taunting and teasing their tormentors. This is also true for Shaun of the Dead (2004), which took all the goofy tropes from zombie films and allowed its fumbling main characters to poke fun of their situation.
The epitome of a horror comedy feature is currently Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods, which deftly blends self-awareness and fantastical gore from all the most-loved horror comedies that came before it. These films are made for the true horror fan – the fan who has seen it all and now wants to have some fun with it.
While Scream Queens may be the most popular blend of violence and jokes at the moment, there are still plenty more where that came from, and better things to come. Cooties is another comedic take on a rampaging zombie virus and horror superstar Rob Zombie is teaming with Mila Kunis for Trapped, another horror-comedy TV show about a violent home invasion. As long as filmmakers can keep this genre fresh, horror comedies around the world will continue to satisfy viewers.
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