When we talk about low-budget movies, we often think of horror. Buckets of blood, inexperienced teen actors, rubber masks, or CGI monsters are the shortest route to cheap cinema. But if you think about it, making low-budget comedies makes a lot more sense. Aside from paying decent writers, you can make a solid comedy with minimal sets, cast, and unless you need a car chase—without a lot of special effects.
We thought it would be fun to look at some of those magical low-budget comedies that went on to really resonate with fans. Some of these films became surprise classics, others launched impressive careers, and some fill us with a bit of wistful sadness that we don’t see movies like that anymore. For the purposes of this list, we’re talking about comedies that were made for less than $10 million. That may sound like a lot, but particularly in the days before digital copies, just getting your movie into theaters was an expensive ordeal.
Here are 15 Wildly Popular Low Budget Comedies.
Honorable Mention: Kung Fury
This isn’t a feature length film, but it deserves a mention just for badassery. With a running time of about half an hour, and a budget just over $600,000, one might expect this short to look cheap and ridiculous. That expectation would be more than met. But that’s not the point of Kung Fury. This feature is at once a loving homage and a blistering takedown of action movies, martial arts classics, ’80s swag, and the Germans’ fascination with David Hasselhoff. We could warn you about the spate of Hitler jokes, but you still would Nazi them coming. Yeah, we went there.
Kung Fury has over 28 million views on the YouTubes, which means that either a handful of fans have done little else since its release—or that Kung Fury has legions of fans the world over. It’s probably the second one, since most of the people you encounter in life know about Red Ninja, the Hackerbot, Triceracop, and the lady Viking who may or may not have a name. Haven’t seen this one yet? You can, for FREE.
15. Pink Flamingos
The films of John Waters aren’t for everyone. If you’re sexually repressed, homophobic, or just don’t like Divine, you might want to avoid his work altogether (except for Serial Mom). But if you aren’t getting enough transsexual cinema in your regular life, Waters is the filmmaker for you. Pink Flamingos is an unexpected black comedy with a crime story wedged in-between the celebration of perversion and hedonism. Sounds fun, right? It, like most of Waters’s work, has garnered consistently strong reviews and a healthy cultish fan following.
Highlights of this delightful film include a black market baby ring, a fierce competition to be ‘the filthiest person in the world,’ the murder and cannibalization of some local police, and one of the cleverest and most unnerving purse snatching scams anyone has ever heard of. Leads include the great Divine, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, and John Waters himself as the narrator. Unless you have an especially open family, we don’t recommend watching this one with parents or kids.