In the lead-up to Halloween, Techly is spotlighting 25 Freaky Flicks that should be seen by every horror fan worth their salt. Part 4: Comedy horror.
Halloween is nearly upon us, and our little spooky experiment is almost over. In the penultimate entry of our series, we‚Äôve decided to change the pace a bit, drop the potentially traumatising stuff we‚Äôve been bombarding you with for the last few weeks, and showcase the most amicable of spooky subgenres: comedy horror.
Comedy horror is perhaps the most popular subgenre out there. It thrives on ridiculing, parodying or spoofing horror tropes and subverting them for the sake of humour.
There are literally hundreds of outrageously funny examples of the genre out there. The Evil Dead (1981), What we do in the Shadows (2014), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) and Fido (2006) are only a handful of outstanding titles worthy of any ‚Äúbest of‚ÄĚ list.
After revising almost 100 titles of every horror genre for this series, we were surprised to find that comedy horror is the highest-rated horror subgenre among critics and audiences.
Comedy horror films generally score higher than other horror films on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, and at a quick glance, I‚Äôd even venture to say it sees the best results at the box office.
So, ready to dive in? Today we‚Äôre bringing you some Caribbean zombies, Canadian teenage werewolves, American spiders and, of course, Simon Pegg. Be careful with the popcorn, though.
If John Hughes ever did a horror film, it would probably be just like this.
Director John Fawcett (now involved in the TV show Titans) managed to take the werewolf mythos and successfully blend it with an endearing coming-of-age tale of two oddball sisters in Canada.
Teenage siblings Brigitte and Ginger Fitzgerald have a bit of a problem socialising. They retreat from the everyday pressures of school and family into a unique world of their own, a personal universe in which they foster an unusual fascination with death and the bizarre.
The two sisters are ostracised by their schoolmates and have sealed several vendettas with the popular group. At home, things aren‚Äôt very different as they feel greatly misunderstood and seem to clash constantly with their parents.
It all seems like the struggles of an ordinary teenager until one night they find themselves attacked by a strange beast that turns Ginger into a werewolf. The film uses her slow and painful metamorphosis into a lycanthrope as an analogy to the emotional and physical transformation teenagers go through puberty.
Funny, heartfelt, sometimes scary, and with a fair splash of gore, Ginger Snaps is an unusual piece of cinema that crosses many genres and can appeal to a broad range of audiences.
Take a traditional zombie tale like Dawn of the Dead and fuse it with something like Babe and you‚Äôve pretty much described the concept behind this cinematic extravaganza from New Zealand.
Director Jonathan King not only embraces most of the silly stereotypes New Zealanders are mocked for but also takes them to absurd new heights. And yeah, that includes sheep-sex jokes.
This hilarious film tells the story of a genetic experiment that turns the sheep of a family farm into ferocious, carnivorous zombies. Yep. It takes all the tropes of the monster film genre and flips them to produce a gory, highly entertaining comedy that‚Äôs well aware of how ridiculous it is.
As an added attraction, the practical effects are absolutely amazing, courtesy of six-time Academy Award-winning VFX shop Weta.
Since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006, Black Sheep has been revered by critics and arthouse fans, eventually earning its prized status as a cult hit.
Do I even need to say what this film is about?
Yeah, the US military accidentally produces a big-ass, highly aggressive spider that escapes in Los Angeles, causing a disaster of epic proportions.
Campy, cheap and naive, this is a movie that declares its intentions from the get-go. Big Ass Spider! proudly indulges in cheesy dialogue, ridiculously over-the-top events and soap opera acting. It waves the flag of B-grade filmmaking with no shame whatsoever.
To make its point even more evident, Big Ass Spider features a well-placed cameo from none other than Lloyd Kaufman, co-founder of Troma Entertainment film studio, a torchbearer of low-budget independent film production.
It‚Äôs no Citizen Kane, and that‚Äôs exactly the point. The appeal of Big Ass Spider! is precisely its lack of pretension. It‚Äôs a straightforward B-grade movie designed solely to entertain.
No multiple layers of interpretation, no commentary on anything. This is basically 80 minutes of a giant spider eating a bunch of people and two morons trying to kill it.
I mean, what else do you expect in a movie called Big Ass Spider!?
London, Seoul, Tokyo and Jerusalem have all hosted the end of the world. But what about the Caribbean?
Juan of the Dead tells the story of the Juan, an incompetent loafer and his circle of equally useless goofball friends dealing with the zombie apocalypse in La Havana, Cuba.
The film compares the zombies to tourists, mocks the Castro regime for blaming every problem that arises in the island on US intervention, and even takes aim at Cuba itself. The whole zombie invasion in the film is treated as a lighthearted analogy to the spread of American culture in the island.
But although there is plenty of subtext in here for the audience to chew on, the movie succeeds in never straying away from what it is in essence, a straight up monster flick.
Juan of the Dead is weird and funny, although it‚Äôs far from perfect. It has some pacing problems and every main character seems to have too much cynicism in them for us to really connect and care for their fate.
But all in all, the film is a very ingenious and novel exploration of the zombie genre, giving the apocalypse in a context we‚Äôve really never seen before.
What hasn‚Äôt been said already about this absolute classic? One of the most influential films to come out of the UK in the early noughties, this is the project that catapulted the careers of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright.
The success of Shaun of the Dead is due in part to how skillfully the script threads so many different genres into such one cohesive movie. It‚Äôs part romantic comedy, part action film, part horror, and on top of it all, it even has time to throw in a reflection on adulthood just for kicks.
Shaun is an everyman, his days consumed in the routine of an unfulfilling job as a salesman at an electronics shop. Evening gatherings with his girlfriend and friends at a local pub called the Winchester constitute the highlight of his days.
But Shaun‚Äôs girlfriend Liz is tired of years of the same cycle and, fearing her life is on a road to nowhere, decides to break up the relationship.
Unluckily for Shaun, the breakup happens to coincide with the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse.
Director Edgar Wright makes of the flick a showcase of his visual flair and unique knack for rhythm, while Simon Pegg (Shaun), Kate Ashfield (Liz) and lovable botcher Nick Frost (Ed) all knock it out of the park with outstanding performances.
Recipient of dozens of nominations and awards, lauded by personalities of world of cinema like Quentin Tarantino, Stephen King and George Romero, and ranking in various polls as one of the best films made in the 2000s, Shaun of the Dead is one of those films where the stars align and everything just works.