Horror is such a versatile thing, full of subgenres and genre-mashing blends from grounded psychological thrillers all the way to superhero horror, like last year’s Brightburn and the dark fantasy of Mortal.
But, in my opinion, the greatest horror subgenre is the horror-comedy. There’s something so fulfilling about a movie that’s able to blend such seemingly disparate responses as shrieks of fear and peals of laughter. Any writer, director, or actor who can straddle the line between real scares and vibrant humor always gets my respect. The next director on that list is Christopher Landon, whose Freaky hits theaters this Friday. The horror-comedy twist on Freaky Friday stars Kathryn Newton as Millie, a normal teenager who accidentally swaps bodies with a serial killer, played by Vince Vaughn. Millie has 24 hours to get her body back or else she’ll be trapped in the body of a middle-aged psychopath forever.
To celebrate the perfect balance that is the horror-comedy subgenre and the release of Freaky, here are 11 of the best scenes in horror-comedies ever.
1. Shaun of the Dead – Record-Throwing Scene
The greatest modern horror-comedy may very well be Shaun of the Dead, particularly the record-throwing scene. It perfectly captures the absurd humor and exceptionally nerdy spirit of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy and his collaborations with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It also sets up Wright’s love of dynamic camera work that closely tracks the movement of the characters and embraces whip cuts.
2. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil – Accidental Deaths Scene
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is truly one of those underrated gems of a movie that more people should see. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine play two kindhearted rednecks who become prime murder suspects thanks to a spectacular case of misunderstanding. That’s all mostly thanks to this scene, which, through clever editing and staging, makes it appear as though Tucker and Dale are two bloodthirsty, backwoods serial killers, even though they’re just as terrified of the college students as the college students are of them.
3. Warm Bodies – Opening Monologue
Warm Bodies is a cult classic for a reason, a delightful little zombie-loves-girl romance with a surprising amount of humor. That’s all thanks to Nicholas Hoult’s uncanny ability to nail a bit of deadpan humor, which is established right from the opening scene. The mental monologue Z gives shows that what’s happening on his surface belies the fact his brain still moves at a thousand miles an hour and he’s maintained a sense of ironic humor. It’s all foreshadowing of the incredible comedic capacity Hoult would later unleash in The Favourite and The Great.
4. Jennifer’s Body – ‘Got a tampon?’ Scene
Poor Megan Fox never got the credit she deserved, but that changed with the black comedy-horror Jennifer’s Body. Fox plays a beautiful but insecure high school cheerleader who turns into a succubus after being possessed. The role came with a slew of wickedly funny one-liners, as this scene shows. Even when Jennifer is in the middle of (maybe) dying, she still finds time to deliver a biting quip. Excellent.
5. Idle Hands – ‘Look at me, I’m Leatherface!’ Scene
Everything you need to know about Idle Hands is in this 10-second clip. The cult classic stoner horror-comedy finds Anton (Devon Sawa) accidentally murdering his best friends, Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Elden Henson), with his newly-possessed and evil hand. But his two dead buddies resurrect as zombies and, well…death doesn’t change them a bit. They continue to be the same goofy stoners they were when alive and serve as the hysterically stupid Greek chorus to Anton.
6. Army of Darkness – ‘This is my boomstick’ Scene
Arguably one of the most beloved cult classics of all time, Army of Darkness is the third in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy, which evolved from a straight-up horror in the first movie to a zany horror-comedy by the third movie. This was largely thanks to the humorous swagger of star Bruce Campbell, who has some of the best lines in cult history. That includes the ones in this scene, in which our dashing protagonist, Ash, is at the end of his rope and more than a little fed up by the superstitious nature of medieval bumpkins. “Alright, you primitive screwheads,” he demands, “listen up! THIS…is my BOOMSTICK!” We know it’s actually a shotgun, but, hey. “Boomstick” has a nice ring.
7. This is the End – Celebrity Apocalypse Scene
R.I.P. Michel Cera. That’s all I’ve got.
8. Little Monsters – Breaking Into the Gift Shop Scene
Little Monsters is a fun romp led by an incredibly badass Lupita Nyong’o as a gentle, protective kindergarten teacher who goes full zombie slayer when her class’s field trip is overrun with the undead. But honestly, the scene-stealer is Josh Gad, who plays completely against type here as the alcoholic, foul-mouthed, utterly depraved, and completely cowardly children’s show host Teddy McGiggles. This scene of him screaming over-the-top obscenities during a fight is truly a gift, and he’s like this a good portion of the movie.
9. Cooties – ‘Who is that lady?’ Scene
Cooties, in which a group of teachers arm themselves and fight back when the kids in their school turn into a horde of crazed, tiny zombies, is great. The teachers are both hapless and near-helpless, and truly incompetent most of the time. This scene fully summarizes the running theme of the movie that the adults you expect to have it all figured out when you’re a kid actually have no idea what’s going on half the time. Role models, they ain’t.
10. Zombieland – Prospecting Scene
Jesse Eisenberg’s Columbus may have been Zombieland‘s protagonist and audience surrogate, but Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee was the deuteragonist and the heart of the movie. And everything about him can be summed up in this scene: 1. He’s obsessed with Twinkies, 2. He carries a lot of weaponry on him at all times and 3. He’s a little unhinged. He is not a man to be trifled with. Clearly.
11. Anna and the Apocalypse – ‘Human Voice’ Clip
First off, apologies for the video with captions right in the middle; for whatever reason, I couldn’t get any other video to embed. Second, if you’re looking for a zombie drama-comedy Scottish Christmas musical, Anna and the Apocalypse is the movie for you. Every single song on the soundtrack is an absolute bop, and you’ll find yourself singing them for days after. “Human Voice” is just one of them.
Freaky is in theaters this Friday, November 13th.