Once Drew Goddard's The Cabin in the Woods (finally) made it to theaters, pretty much everyone who went to see it had a good or great or plain old splendid time with the slyly subversive and cleverly tongue-in-cheek horror movie deconstruction. I even got a few messages from twitter pals around the country (nay, the world!) that said something like "I don't even like horror movies all that much, but I had a ball with Cabin," and speaking as only one hardcore horror fiend, I think that's pretty damn cool.
It'd be easy to say that the "non-horror" crowd responds to The Cabin in the Woods simply because ... it's funny. But it takes a certain sort of lunatic to make a horror film that offers (intentional and effective) laughter while keeping the horror at the forefront. It's not just a question of jamming a few jolts next to a couple of chuckles; it takes smart timing, a respect for the genres you're combining, and the skill / confidence to pull it off in the first place. Basically, the best horror/comedy hybrids work because both flavors complement the final product.
Here are six horror flicks that are actually funny. (Note: "funny" does not necessarily indicate "family-friendly." Just the opposite, in fact.)
An American Werewolf in London -- It looks (and frequently sounds) exactly like a horror movie, and it is: a truly excellent one if you're asking me. But once the stage is set and our young hero falls deeper into his own lycanthropy, writer/director John Landis delivers humor that's odd, silly, and sometimes even poignant. Major kudos to character actor (turned director) Griffin Dunne for selling one of the film's best running gags: an undead pal who keeps popping up in exagerrated stages of decomposition. This film may have a tragic love story and some truly creepy / vicious murders, but it also contains the all-time classic line, "A naked American man stole my balloon!"
Creepshow -- The 1982 anthology piece from George Romero and Stephen King hearkens (and rather gleefully) to the old horror comics that so many of our dads, including the one in the intro, used to toss into the garbage. There's some real tension and some nasty gore here and there, but the tone is consistently off-kilter, so it's hard to take any of it very seriously. Additional fun can be found by playing "spot the face!" game: drink a beer every time you see Ted Danson, Adrienne Barbeau, or Leslie Nielsen! (Note: not for the kids.)
Return of the Living Dead -- Although it bears no relation to the classic George Romero "...of the Dead" series, this mid-'80s cult classic has more wit, weirdness, and energy than just about any zombie knock-off you can imagine. It basically tosses everything an immature horror fan would want into one kooky casserole of gore, giggles, nudity, rock 'n' roll, over-the-top acting, and some unexpectedly excellent creature effects. We can thank the late Dan O'Bannon for this one. (Again, not for the kids.)
Shaun of the Dead -- I debated myself over this one, because I believe it's a full-bore comedy, truth be told. (Plus I like debating myself.) But upon reflection (of about 19 seconds) I realized that everything in the flick that deals with zombies, be it silly, splattery, terrible, or tragic, is done with a real affection and respect for hardcore zombie cinema. The other reason I almost didn't include this movie is that ... everyone already loves it! But that's not a good enough reason. If you haven't seen Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead by now, you should have your head examined. And I hope you don't have medical insurance! (Actually might be OK for the kids, as in it doesn't have any sex or nudity.)
Slither -- Just your typical, run-of-the-mill alien slug invasion movie in which a small town is besieged by creepy crawlies that make people behave in the strangest ways when they're not exploding in barns or terrorizing their wives or jumping out of the way of the nasty slug beasts. Writer/director James Gunn makes it clear from the start that we're dealing with a '50s plot, a '70s tone, and a nice modern dose of crazy monster effects. This fast-paced and well-cast genre combo has a few unique moments of its own, but even when it's just familiar mayhem, there's a lot of fun to be had. (Nope. not for kids. Big time not.)
Tremors -- Not a big hit in theaters, but clearly this flick has sold enough units to warrant three sequels and a TV series. My theory is a simple one. It's a very fun movie: strong chemistry between leads Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon, great monsters, a solid supporting cast, and (best of all) a Saturday matinee attitude that pulls back whenever the violence gets a little too nasty. Some could say that director Ron Underwood simply wanted the PG-13 rating, but I don't think that's the case. There's an obvious sweetness (relatively speaking) and sense of humor that runs through the whole film, which makes it a great "modern" monster movie to enjoy with the whole family. (Say, ten and up, I guess.)
Did I leave Scream out? Am I a MORON for not including, let's say, Eight Legged Freaks or Deep Rising? (Both cool movies.) Please do share your own picks in the comments section below or shout at us on twitter. We want to know which horror movies make you laugh.