With October getting underway, the temperature is dropping, hoodies and flannels are coming out of storage, pumpkin spice lattes are brewing and Spirit Halloween stores are reemerging across the country.
And as everyone prepares their costumes and starts decorating for Halloween, another way to get into spooky season is to stream scary movies like The Exorcist, Friday the 13th, Saw, or Night of the Living Dead.
But if horror isn’t your genre of choice, there are plenty of movies that dial down the fear factor. In fact, the horror comedy movie sub-genre exists for that very reason. Of course, so many options are available that it can be hard to narrow them down. Luckily, we have some suggestions for currently streaming horror comedy movies for individuals who still want to partake in a Halloween movie night without too much fright.
Shaun of the Dead
Stories about zombies aren’t really about the zombies themselves. Instead, they tend to focus on the people left behind and the things they’ll do to survive. Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead follows that formula to a certain degree, but his main character is actually a different kind of zombie. The filmmaker uses the tried and true horror device of a zombie apocalypse to tell the story of a slacker named Shaun who coasts through life without any direction. However, when he finally starts paying attention to the world around him and leaps into action, his outlook on life finally starts to change.
Yes, there are gruesome zombie kills, but that isn’t really the point. Wright masterfully executes the structure of the genre, while making it all as playful as possible. Stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have an endearing and natural chemistry filled with pop culture banter and inside jokes that is instantly recognizable to close friends around the world. Plus, Shaun’s struggles are relatable in an almost coming-of-age way. Despite the scary set dressing, this first film in the Cornetto Trilogy (which also includes Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) from the trio of Wright, Pegg, and Frost is one of the funniest movies of the 2000s and potentially of all time.
Little Shop of Horrors
In 1960, Roger Corman’s The Little Shop of Horrors debuted as a low-budget B-movie in a double feature. The quirky horror comedy featured a florist’s assistant who stumbles upon a plant that requires human blood to grow. After satiating its bloodlust, the plant gets big enough to start eating full-sized people. Eventually, this film would grow a cult following like much of Corman’s work, partially due to the appearance of a young Jack Nicholson.
But the story would become a phenomenon two decades later when the legendary songwriting duo of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman adapted it into an Off-Broadway musical. That musical was then adapted into an iconic 1986 film starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, and Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops as the voice of the extraterrestrial plant Audrey II.
While murder, jealousy, greed, and man-eating plants do sound like the perfect fuel for a horrific tale, Little Shop of Horrors is filled with catchy songs, memorable performances from an incredible cast, and intricate practical effects under the direction of Frank Oz (who is best known for his work with The Muppets). Though a horror musical isn’t unheard of, this one is just too fun to be scared while you are watching.
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Menken and Ashman of Little Shop of Horrors are best known for their work on classic Disney films such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. The next film on our list has a connection to the Mouse House as well since the studio made four movies loosely based on the same children’s book by Mary Rodgers with art by Edward Gorey.
Adding more inspiration from iconic slasher movies to the premise, Freaky takes the tale of Freaky Friday in a much more unexpected direction. Rather than seeing a mother and a daughter switching bodies to understand more about each other, the 2020 movie takes a bullied high school student played by Kathryn Newton and switches her with an urban legend come to life in the form of Vince Vaughn’s Blissfield Butcher to create a delightful mash-up of teen comedies and serial killer horror flicks.
Vaughn and Newton deliver excellent performances by paying extra attention to the nuanced mannerisms of their characters. But the actors are clearly having fun in this gory, yet farcical film, so the audience is more than willing to go along on this murderous ride.
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Probably the most underrated entry on this list, Idle Hands features a number of actors who would go on to make a fairly big splash in Hollywood later in their careers. The movie stars 1990s "It Guy" Devon Sawa as Anton Tobias, a lazy stoner whose hand becomes possessed and goes on a killing spree. Seth Green of Austin Powers, Robot Chicken and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Elden Henson of Daredevil, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, and the Mighty Ducks franchise play Anton’s friends and victims, Mick and Pnub, but they’re brought back to life as zombies by Vivica A. Fox’s druidic high priestess Debi LeCure. The boys and Debi work together to save their classmates at a school dance from Anton’s murderous hand, specifically the beautiful Molly, who is played by Jessica Alba.
While the movie may not have earned high marks from critics when it was first released, like the many B-movies that inhabit the horror genre, Idle Hands is slapstick silly and often gruesome. The premise may not be Oscar-worthy, but it’s certainly fun. Not only does it stand alongside other entertaining horror comedies, but it’s also another classic teen movie that explores the difficulties of high school. Although, not many teenagers have to deal with killer hands dragging their girlfriend’s soul to hell.
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The Final Girls
At this point, meta horror could be considered its own genre. Films like Scream, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and The Cabin In The Woods give a playful wink and nod to the audience while poking fun at or commenting on some of the most beloved elements of horror movies. But one of the best examples of this sort of film in recent history is The Final Girls from director Todd Strauss-Schulson and the writing tandem of M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller.
The story follows a group of high school students as they’re transported into the world of a classic slasher flick from 1986. In order to survive and make it back to their world in one piece, they have to use their knowledge of horror movie tropes (and common sense) to stay a step ahead of the killer.
As great as that idea is on its own, part of what makes this movie so good is the mother-daughter relationship at the center of the film. Taissa Farmiga plays Max Cartwright, who lost her mother and is still dealing with the complex emotions that come with such a devastating loss. However, she finds herself reunited with her mom (played by Malin Akerman), an actress best known as a scream queen. Yes, the cult classic that Max and her friends are stuck in is the same one that starred her late mother. And though Nancy is just a character that her mom played, Max finally has a way to find closure — if she makes it to the end credits alive.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
From a young age, when we’re meeting new people, we’re told not to judge a book by its cover. After all, you could be missing out on some of the best people you could ever come to know. For instance, Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine’s titular characters from Tucker & Dale vs. Evil are sweet boys who dream of having a vacation home in the mountains of West Virginia. But when a group of college students mistake them for murderous hillbillies like the ones who carried out the Memorial Day Massacre, a series of misunderstandings lead to unintentional harm and very preventable death. In other words, hilarity ensues.
The film works so well because everyone in the cast is essentially in a horror movie except the two leads. The good-natured duo flip horror cliches on their head while executing top-notch dark and farcical comedy. This feature debut for filmmaker Eli Craig solidifies a space for Tudyk and Labine’s endearing pair among other great cinematic friendships such as Bill & Ted, Cheech & Chong and Jay & Silent Bob.
There are certain horror comedies that people watch while growing up that open the door to full-fledged horror somewhere down the line. These classics tend to lean more on the creepy and spooky just as much if not more than the laughs and gags. Ghostbusters, Gremlins and Evil Dead II come to mind immediately, but arguably Beetlejuice may be one of the best gateway horror movies out there.
In the movie, a recently deceased couple enlist the services of a "bio-exorcist" to drive out the new inhabitants of their house. However, the demon with a flare for theatrics turns out to be more trouble than he’s worth. Thanks to Michael Keaton delivering the performance of a lifetime as the Ghost With The Most and filmmaker Tim Burton bringing his twisted creations to life with stop-motion animation and practical effects, an entire generation turned out to be themselves strange and unusual in the best possible way.
Ol’ BJ always wanted to be more than an agent of chaos for the Netherworld. Through this landmark film, he became a pop culture icon with an animated series, a wide-ranging line of merchandise, and a renowned stage musical. He’s even a meltable character at the Universal Studios theme parks. But it never hurts to go back to where it all started and jump in the line by revisiting his humble beginnings this Halloween season.
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