Halloween is a time for Horror! Movie-wise, it’s a time to hunker down with friends and loved ones, and watch the most terrifying films ever made. A time to scream, jump, shake, and generally have the Beetlejuice scared out of you. Some people, however, like a little more treat, and a little less terrifying trick, in their Halloween fare.
In honor of the holiday we have compiled a list of some of the most ridiculously, hilariously fun Halloween and horror films in creation. A few of our selections do have some elements of traditional horror, and genuine scares in the mix. For the most part, however, these films offer laughs, deliciously cheesy moments, and occasionally – music.
We love all of the movies on this list so much, that after number one and two (which are the poster children for this kind of list) it is almost impossible to order. So please feel free to give your feedback on order, and add any additional favorite hilarious horror movies of your own.
Welcome, to the late night, double feature, picture show…
10. Young Frankenstein
“For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius.”
This 1974 Mel Brooks classic stars Gene Wilder, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn, and Gene Hackman. It is full of characteristic Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder satire (they co-wrote the script) and is a fabulous parody of the 1930s Frankenstein monster films it is based on.
This film is a bit older, but a great one to revisit for Brooks fans; or to introduce to a younger generation who is willing to stick with some of the dated qualities and see the classic nature of the humor. Take a look at the scene from the film below; you can feel the fun energy that Gene Wilder brings to the role, and the old-school one liner still absolutely works.
I love this movie and encourage all comedy lovers to check it out. It helps if you have a sense of the films he is riffing on, but the movie is enjoyable whether you’ve seen the 1930s Frankenstein adaptations or not. It would have been cheating to include it, as this was an Internet-based property and not a theatrical release, but we would like to include an honorable mention for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-ALong-Blog.
9. Little Shop Of Horrors
“The guy sure looks like plant food to me.”
We return to the realm of the musical for number 9 on our list. There are two versions of Little Shop Of Horrors, the original, low-budget 1960 version, which features a young Jack Nicholson as the pain-loving dental patient Wilbur Force; and the 1986 musical version of the film, which was adapted from the Broadway play. The Jack Nicholson character was revised by Bill Murray in the 1986 version, though his characters name was Arthur Denton.
Here is a look at Jack Nicholson in the original role:
Either version of the the film is a wonderful pick for a lighthearted Halloween flick. I enjoy the 1986, all-star musical comedy myself. Frank Oz directed, and the film stars Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, and the voice of Levi Stubbs as the plant; as well as appearances by James Belushi, John Candy and Christopher Guest.
Here is the synopsis for those not familiar:
A nerdish florist finds his chance for success and romance with the help of a giant man-eating plant who demands to be fed.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, then Alan Menken’s fabulous soundtrack may. The film is full of great musical numbers that will no doubt linger in your head for days. Here is one of my favorites; it is perhaps not the most beautifully sung, but it is definitely fun (and possibly accurate). Take a look at the Steve Martin’s rendition of the (sadistic) “Dentist Song”:
8. Shaun Of The Dead
“A Romantic Comedy. With Zombies.”
The tag line alone is enough to get this 2004 Edgar Wright hit on our list. For those of you who don’t recall, here is the synopsis for the film:
A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living.
For a far more detailed look at the merits of the film, please see our previous Shaun Of The Dead, horror plus comedy feature. Shaun Of Dead dances the line between parody and homage beautifully; and includes some very creative zombie singing, and dance-kill scenes. It could be argued that this film helped the current zombie revival along, or that it simply benefited from it. Either way, it is uproariously funny and exceedingly well done. Take a look at the trailer to remind yourself of all the fun there is to be had with Shaun, and his band of merry zombie-impersonators.
“With Mogwai, comes much responsibility.”
Gremlins is a decidedly dark comedy that works both as a Halloween, and a somewhat sinister, Christmas film. Here is the synopsis:
A boy inadvertently breaks 3 important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
Gremlins is one of the staples of camp comedy-horror, and an absolute must see if you are a fan of the genre. It really is genuinely touching at moments, as well as full of subtle, and not so subtle greater life lessons and messages. It also has a great cast of characters in the form of the Gremlins themselves. Stripe manages to be one of the great monster antagonists, without ever saying a word. In fact, that is one of the true triumphs of Gremlins; the film really demonstrates how much humor, emotion and story can be conveyed, without the use of language. Watch for the tendency in the film, and see how well the creators pull this off. Gremlins features one of the most adorable puppets ever to grace the silver screen, voiced by comedian Howie Mandel:
As well as one of the most comically tragic Christmas tales ever told:
Here is a little known fact about the film: The MPAA revised its rating system two months after the release of Gremlins due to complaints over some of the more violent portions of the picture. The more you know.
“Barb, honey… we’re dead. I don’t think we have very much to worry about anymore.”
If you have not yet seen Tim Burton’s fantasy masterpiece, well, you have lived in a state of unknown, but very real, cinematic destitution; alas, there is hope for you yet. To get you up to speed, here is the quick synopsis:
A couple of recently deceased ghosts contract the services of a “bio-exorcist” in order to remove the obnoxious new owners of their house.
The bio-exorcist in question is none other than Michael Keaton, in one of the greatest roles of his career, Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice and Keaton were one of those magical marriages of actor and character. He embodied the devilish charm of some mix between Loki, and a used car salesman. The portrayal was comedic perfection, and remains forever one of my favorite fantasy characters and stories. The cast is rounded out with Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, and Jeffrey Jones. Beetlejuice is full of stunning visuals and landscapes, richly drawn characters, wit, whimsy, occasionally creepy moments and heart-warming relationships. It is classically Burtonesque in that, the characters in the story who are seemingly “strange and unusual” (i.e. dead) are often so much more sane, together, and grounded than the supposedly “normal” members of society.
Take a look at a flavor of the fun you can expect from Beetlejuice:
“Best thing about Z land – no Facebook status updates.”
Zombieland is for anyone who loves zombies, an insane Woody Harrelson, and a classic boy-meets-girl, and together they kill masses of rabid un-dead, coming-of-age love story. In addition, as mentioned above, the film has one of the best cameos and ensuing death-scenes ever conceived.
The death scene is not only ideally suited to its recipient, Bill Murray, in that it is surprising, dry, quick and witty, but it completely pays off an earlier moment in the film. One of the things that bothered me in the first half of the movie, was that neither of the ruthless zombie killers, Columbus or Tallahassee, killed the allegedly zombie bitten Little Rock on the spot. The Bill Murray cameo, and kill scene, simultaneously pokes fun at the genre and makes up for the potential inconsistency in the Little Rock/ Wichita introduction scene.
If you haven’t seen Zombieland yet, do consider checking it out tonight as a flesh-eating Halloween treat.
Check out the trailer below to whet your appetite:
Okay, seriously, “who ARE you gonna call?”
We assume nearly everyone has seen director Ivan Reitman’s 1984 classic Ghostbusters, at lest once, but as a quick refresher:
Three unemployed parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service.
This film so thoroughly stands the test of time that you will find yourself laughing out loud while watching the very dated original trailer below:
Ghostbusters was so immensely popular that it inspired an entire multi-media franchise that includes: video games, action figures, a television series, comic-books, novelizations, theme park attractions and more; die-hard fans sit on pins and needles anxiously anticipating any and every bit of news on…
This is perhaps the most purely comedic film on our list. Ghostbusters is side-splittingly funny, sweet, and unique. Who can forget the giant Stay Puff Marshmallow Man? Though it is in some ways a quintessentially 1980s film, its story and humor remains timeless. The film is almost universally beloved, and is consistently referred to in various forms of pop-culture, including other movies, perhaps the most notable, recent reference to Ghostbusters in another film takes place in item #5 on our list.
3. Fright Night
“I am Peter Vincent, vampire killer!”
Fright Night is one of the absolute best vamp-camp movies. It is the movie so good, they’re doing it twice. The remake of Fright Night, starring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, David Tennant , Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Toni Collette and Imogen Poots is in post-production now.
Fright Night tells the story of a teenage boy, Charlie Brewster, who makes the terrifying discovery that his handsome next door neighbor, Jerry Dandridge, is in fact, a blood sucking creature of the night. As an obsessive horror enthusiast, he finds it difficult to find anyone in a legitimate position of authority to believe him. So he must turn to his rather odd best friend, “Evil” Ed, and Peter Vincent, the host of his favorite late night show Fright Night. Soon, Charlie is engaged in a battle for his life, and the lives of his loved ones, against Jerry, the evil vampire, and seducer of young women. To complicate matters, vampire Jerry, has a particular interest in Charlies comely girlfriend, Amy.
Fright Night is one of the films on this list that is actually a bit – frightening. It manages to be fun, scary and strangely romantic all at once. The original lead, Chris Sarandon, exuded all of the qualities (we used to) think of as vampiric. He was dark, mysterious, sexy, sensual, hypnotic, droll and suddenly deadly.
Take a look at Sarandon and actress Amanda Bearse in the films infamous seduction scene below (1980s fabulous and NSFW due to risque content):
As much as I love the original, I do have hopes for the remake. I believe it can benefit from updated technology and contemporization, and if done properly, will maintain all of the elements that made the original so entertaining. However, I will say this: The actors with the biggest shoes to fill are Colin Farrell and Christopher Mintz-Plass. For Chris Sarandon and Stephen Geoffreys as the original ‘Evil’ Ed Thompson and Jerry Dandrige, respectively, were well near perfect in their roles.
If you have not yet seen the original, please do take the time prior to the release of the remake, I promise you, will not regret it.
2. Army Of Darkness
“Well Hellllloooo Mr. Fancy Pants.”
Here is the most frightening part of this article: I, a committed lover of camp and horror (emphasis on camp), a woman who has seen horror movies that most people would never dream of (Slumber Party Massacre and all ensuing ideations of the “driller killer” included) have just recently been introduced to the the genius of Army Of Darkness. Horror, tragedy, total geek-fail, I know. Let us all take a moment of silence.
OKAY! Thankfully our own fearless leader Vic Holtreman, rectified years of deprivation when he insisted I watch the film before writing this post. Thank you Vic, you have introduced me to what is now one of my favorite camp masterpieces of all time. How I have, up until this point, experienced such a glaring lack in my camp education will remain one of life’s great mysteries; like the loch-ness monster or why President Obama was asked to “weigh in” on The Jersey Shore on The View (add to that, why he was on The View).
For those who have been similarly Army Of Darkness-deprived, the film is the third and final instalment in master horror director Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy. Also known as: Evil Dead 3 , Bruce Campell vs. Army Of Darkness, or, my favorite, The Medieval Dead, the film picks up where Evil Dead 2 left off. In it, our hero Ash is transported back to 1300 A.D., where he must fight the army of the dead for the magical book the Necronomicon, so he can save the village, mack on the girl, and be sent home. The film unequivocally solidified Bruce Campbell’s status as a cult icon, and hero to the horror fan masses.
The seamless blend of horror and slapstick, exceptional use of site gags, high-speed zoom-ins, and hilarious POV shots, make this film stand out as the work of a master craftsman. The “spike POV” shot, and jump into the chainsaw arm, in the hell-pit at the open of the film, are particular favorites of mine. It is also important to highlight the fun way this film illustrates the idea of a man in a battle against himself, and the, not so subtle, cultural references — such as a twisted Gulliver’s Travels.
Camp is one of the most underrated, and difficult to achieve styles, of filmmaking. When it is done well, there is simply nothing better, and this movie is a tremendous achievement in the world of camp.
There are too many golden moments in Army of Darkness to be counted. Thankfully, one faithful fan has compiled a video of some of the films choicest one-liners. Now, I am not one to pick favorites amongst the children, but “this is my boom stick” and I have a very special bond.
Check out the compilation video below (Please note, this is NSFW, due to language, and well, general content):
1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
“A different set of Jaws.”
If you have never attended a midnight showing of the 1975 camp classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I may go so far as to say – you have not yet lived. Thirty-five years later, the movie remains a fan favorite for lifelong devotees and new initiates alike. This gem still screens at special midnight showings in theaters all over the world; so, it’s not too late to join the party. Just remember to bring snacks to toss at the screen, and don’t wear anything you are terribly attached to. The in-theater, sing-a-long experience is tremendous, but the film can still be thoroughly enjoyed at home.
Rocky Horror, for those who haven’t seen it, is a musical-horror-sci-fi-comedy hybrid; starring Tim Curry (Dr. Frank-N-Furter), Susan Sarandon (Janet Weiss), Barry Bostwick (Brad Majors) – and wait for it – Meatloaf (as Eddie).
Here is the brief synopsis:
A newly engaged couple have a breakdown in an isolated area and must pay a call to bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
The musical maintains its cult-classic status, and finds its way more and more into mainstream media as a pop-culture reference. The television series Glee just did their Halloween special Rocky Horror Picture Show episode, which featured guest star/cameo appearances by both Barry Bostwick and Meatloaf. In addition, Glee’s Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison performed the roles of Brad and Janet at the Wiltern theater in Los Angeles, this past Thursday, along with an all star cast that included: Jack Nicholson, George Lopez and Danny DeVito. The performance was in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the film.
Take a look at the original 30 second trailer for Rocky Horror below, and take special notice of the tag line. Genius? Yes.
As an added bonus, here is the original title sequence to the film, set to the title song “The Rocky Horror Picture Show/Science Fiction Double-Feature.” Please do, once again, note the character descriptions below the character names, a personal favorite is “MAGENTA (A Domestic).”
Thus concludes our tribute to hilarious Halloween howlers. Pick one up to enjoy tonight; and let us know what some of your favorite campy, fun, ridiculous and frighteningly funny horror films are. Happy Halloween to one and all!