The Geek Beat: Celebrate Supernatural Comedies With These 10 Great Scary-Funny Films

The Geek Beat: Celebrate Supernatural Comedies With These 10 Great Scary-Funny Films

Jul 13, 2016

This week brings the new Ghostbusters to theaters, and while director Paul Feig's remake of the 1984 supernatural comedy classic remains a polarizing project heading into its premiere, much of that buzz – for good or bad – comes from the original being such a great example of the genre.

Fortunately, the original Ghostbusters is far from the only movie to find a great balance between scares and laughs (and hopefully, this will hold true for the remake, too). In honor of the grand tradition that Ghostbusters might not have started but certainly carried on proudly, here are a few more fantastic films that scratch that itch and make you laugh... when they're not making you scream, of course.

 

Beetlejuice

Few directors are able to walk the line between creepy and comedy as well as Tim Burton, and few films have done it as well as 1988's Beetlejuice, which cast Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as a recently deceased couple who recruit an eccentric, obnoxious ghost to help them scare away the new inhabitants of their old home. Michael Keaton plays the aforementioned obnoxious specter, and there's a strong argument to be made that it's one of the most memorable performances of his career. Although the film skews a bit more to the comedy side of the genre, it still packs some scares – particularly when it comes to the film's version of the afterlife.

 

Bubba Ho-Tep

This 2002 movie from Phantasm and Beastmaster filmmaker Don Coscarelli cast Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis as a pair of residents at a retirement home who believe themselves to be Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy, respectively. That aspect alone makes the film worth the price of admission, but pit them against a terrifying mummy preying on their fellow residents and the movie becomes something very special indeed. Davis' last project before his death, Bubba Ho-Tep is one of the those rare, lightning-in-a-bottle movies that seems absolutely crazy, but works so well.

 

Evil Dead II

Funnier than its predecessor and a far better showcase of the talents that would make star Bruce Campbell a legend in the world of low-budget horror comedies, director Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II takes both elements of the mash-up genre to the extreme. Much like Evil Dead, it pits Campbell's reluctant demon fighter Ashley J. Williams against an evil entity capable of turning everything around him into a terrifying threat. The film matches its buckets upon buckets of blood and astonishing level of gore with some absolutely hilarious comedic moments – mostly provided by Campbell – that swing the tone of the film back and forth across the horror-comedy spectrum.

 

The Frighteners

Just before he jumped into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien that would dominate his career for nearly two decades, Peter Jackson co-wrote and directed this 1996 horror comedy starring Michael J. Fox. The last leading role for Fox in a live-action feature a successful television run on Spin City and the effects of Parkinson's disease limited his big-screen work, The Frighteners follows a man who can communicate with the dead as he gets caught up in a series of murders that appear to be committed by a dangerous new ghost. The film was one of the first major projects for Jackson's fledgling Weta Digital visual-effects studio, and offers a great taste of what was to come for the studio with some truly scary moments interspersed with some genuine laughs along the way.

 

House

The '80s were a good time for supernatural comedies, and even some of the films that flew under the radar during those days had a lot to offer. Exhibit A: Director Steve Miner's 1986 haunted-house comedy House, featuring Greatest American Hero star William Katt as an acclaimed horror novelist (a la Stephen King) who's forced to confront his own darkest fears when he inherits his aunt's spooky old house. Never too scary or too funny to be pushed into one genre over the other, the movie is a fun call-back to the practical monster effects of that time, and isn't afraid to poke fun at itself and the sort of story it's telling.

 

ParaNorman

One of the first stop-motion animated movies to be shot in 3D, this Oscar-nominated film follows a kid whose ability to see (and talk to) ghosts gets him into trouble when he discovers that his hometown harbors a dark secret from its past. While it isn't likely to scare adults all that much (unless you're the easily frightened type – not that there's nothing wrong with that), the movie strikes a great balance between scary stuff and funny, family-friendly adventure that makes it feel akin to the other films on this list. If you're looking for a good, all-ages entry into the horror-comedy genre, ParaNorman is a great starting point.

 

Young Frankenstein

Who's funnier than Mel Brooks? The only correct answer to that question is “No one.” Okay, so there's actually not much to be scared of in Brooks' 1974 parody of classic horror films, but there's more than enough to laugh at with Gene Wilder portraying the exasperated grandson of infamous mad scientist Victor Frankenstein and the heir to his estate – and more importantly, his laboratory. Widely regarded as one of the funniest films ever made (and considered by Brooks himself to be one of his best films), Young Frankenstein is the sort of movie that just can't be made these days, but fortunately, someone already made it.

 

Question of the Week: What are some of your favorite supernatural comedies?


Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at Movies.com, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends, IFC.com, Newsarama, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV, and his personal blog can be found at MindPollution.org. You can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.

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