I’m gonna be brief this time around, as this is October 31 and I have a whole slew of fright flicks I plan to watch today. I figured I’d wrap up my month-long series of Halloween-themed blog entries with my picks for the funniest horror comedies of all time. I’m hankering to crank up the ol’ Blu-ray player, so, without further ado…
1. ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)
This never fails to crack me up. So many great moments, such as the phone conversation between Lou Costello’s Wilbur and Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolf Man (“Mr. Talbot, you’ll have to get your dog away from the phone”) and Bud Abbott’s Chick pleading repeatedly to Wilbur to “untie the boat” as they try to escape from the approaching Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange). Bela Lugosi is marvelous in his second (and final) screen appearance as Count Dracula. The main reason why it’s so effective is that as funny as the comedy is, the monsters themselves are never played for laughs.
2. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)
3. GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched this. It’s one of the quintessential movies from my teen years (I saw it for the first time opening weekend with my brother-from-another-mother, Nick G.), and it was one-third of the “holy trinity” of the summer of 1984 (the other two being Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Star Trek III: The Search For Spock). Eminently quotable, even to this day. I don’t think Bill Murray has ever been funnier. And the spooky stuff was pretty darned spooky!
4. FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)
I have Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert to thank for pointing me towards this film. Nick G. and I were watching At The Movies on a Saturday afternoon, Gene and Roger gave it a positive review and showed a clip, and Nick and I were so impressed with it that we looked at each other enthusiastically, got up off the couch, and went straight to the nearest theater. We weren’t disappointed. And believe it or not, the 1988 sequel, which barely got a theatrical release, is actually pretty good.
5. SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
A nice blend of comedy and genuinely gruesome moments, with the zombies—and the threat that they pose—never played for laughs.
6. LOVE AT FIRST BITE (1979)
This is a lot of fun. Very witty, clever, and politically incorrect. You can tell that the cast—including George Hamilton as Dracula(!), Susan St. James as his intended bride, Arte Johnson as Renfield, Richard Benjamin as a deranged, lovesick psychiatrist, and Dick Shawn as a rumpled NYPD lieutenant—had a ball making this film. Too bad the film’s most iconic scene—Hamilton and St. James dancing to Alicia Bridges’s disco classic “I Love the Night Life”—was utterly destroyed in its VHS and DVD versions, as the film company apparently never cleared the rights to the song for video release, so it was replaced with some generic disco song. Big bummer.
7. ZOMBIELAND (2009)
Like Shaun of the Dead, it plays the zombie stuff totally straight, with the laughs coming strictly from the small group of survivors, which includes Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg (a dead ringer for Michael Cera), Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone (soon to be Gwen Stacy in the next Spider-Man movie). And there’s an absolutely HILARIOUS surprise cameo appearance, one I won’t spoil here if you don’t already know about it.
8. EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC (1977)
This was most definitely NOT intended to be a comedy. But it’s so bad on every level (directing, editing, dialogue, acting), that it can’t help but be a laugh riot—and to inspire wicked Mystery Science Theater 3000 style running commentary from the audience. Last time I watched this, I was with my roommate at the time, the ever awesome Steve Bunche, who managed to convince the gal who would eventually become my wife to sit down and watch it with us. It’s important to note that she simply cannot handle any films that have to do with the devil. But not only did she make it all the way through this notorious crapfest, she was laughing out loud along with us.