Since it wouldn't be fair to compare straight horror against comedic horror, I decided to create a separate list for the latter. I have a special fondness for horror-comedies, and a few of these are pretty underrated or unknown - even more reasons why they needed their own list. The following may not all be great horror films, but I value them for their humor. Here we go...
15) Machine Girl (2008, Noboru Iguchi)
The title says it all - a schoolgirl gets her arm hacked off and replaces it with a machine gun (and various other instruments of death) to seek her revenge. If excessive gore is your thing, look no further. You will remember the name Yoshihiro Nishimura after seeing his special/makeup FX in action. Sure, the plot is not great and the movie is just ridiculous, but that's why we love these crazy Japanese films, isn't it? You'll cringe, you'll roll your eyes, but above all, you'll laugh.
14) Versus (2000, Ryûhei Kitamura)
Much like #15, this flick may be lacking in quality exposition, but it makes up for that with the absurd levels of violence and gore we've come to expect from Japanese B-cinema. In fact, this has even less plot than Machine Girl since I can't even remember what it's about off the top of my head, and I've watched Versus more times. It has something to do with a portal to Hell and the undead. Think Evil Dead meets Highlander. There is mutilation, decapitation, and more senseless violence toward zombies. And the hilariously eccentric villain is like an Asian cross between Johnny Depp and Gary Oldman. 'Nuff said.
13) The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001, Takashi Miike)
Takashi Miike is no stranger to horror, but it might surprise you to know this film is actually a musical comedy. Yes, you read that correctly. This one is about a family who turns their house into a bed-and-breakfast, but their guests keep dying, so they bury the bodies to save their business. Needless to say, the bodies start piling up and the Katakuris do what they have to. Here is the odd part - most of the story is told through song and dance. And the music is pretty catchy! Truthfully, the movie is more akin to a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film than Miike's usual fare, but any flick with a zombie musical number belongs on this list.
12) Evil Aliens (2005, Jake West)
Before Doghouse, Jake West made this low-budget gore-fest about a British television crew versus bloodthirsty aliens. With poor production value, bad actors, and unforgivable CGI, this looks like a cheap made-for-SyFy-movie. However, I saw potential in this flick that I cannot deny. It is definitely not for anyone with a weak heart or stomach, between the vulgar humor, gross-out gore, and gratuitous inter-species sex. Once you get over the horrendous computer graphics, there are a couple great, unique gore scenes. Dare I say, the movie has a Peter Jacksonesque vibe to it. I'd like to see West remake this with a higher budget someday.
11) Severance (2006, Christopher Smith)
This one is akin to backwoods thrillers like Deliverance - only funnier, and with archetypes right out of "The Office." In this British horror-comedy, the sales division of a major weapons manufacturer goes on a company retreat in the Hungarian mountains. Their problems get increasingly worse - from internal squabbling to bear traps to revenge-crazed killers. The plot is far-fetched, but the characters are funny and the gore is abundant.
10) Zombieland (2009, Ruben Fleischer)
Admittedly more comedy than horror, Zombieland is still a fun entry among the masses of zom-coms being made these days (see below). Unlike most other zom-coms on this list, this movie does not take place during a zombie outbreak, but rather during the post-apocalyptic world that remains. Zombies are still a threat, but the human survivors have become accustomed for the most part. Another unique quality I like about this movie are the survival facts scattered throughout. Furthermore, Woody Harrelson is hilarious, as is the epic cameo who shall remain unnamed here for those who have yet to see it.
9) Hatchet (2006, Adam Green)
The story is simple - tourists at Mardi Gras are terrorized by a mutant hillbilly. But Adam Green's horror debut is a nice throwback to 80s slasher films, complete with over-the-top gore (see above), gratuitous nudity, horror legend cameos, and cheesy humor. It is one of the funniest flicks on this list, and definitely has some of the best gore. Update: I moved this up my list after re-watching it in February 2010.
8) Fido (2006, Andrew Currie)
Here is another zom-com set in a fictional world where zombies co-exist, although they are much friendlier here than in Zombieland. Or I should say, they are more controlled here. In this alternate 1950s America, zombies have been domesticated as pets. When young Timmy's pet zombie Fido eats a neighbor, he will go to any length to keep his best friend around. So basically it's an old-fashioned boy-and-his-dog tale. Just add zombies, hilarity, and Billy Connelly.
7) Feast (2005, John Gulager)
Like Hatchet, this movie holds a special place in my horror-loving heart because I got to see it - in all its gory glory - in a mainstream cineplex. Feast, which was an offspring of Project Greenlight, is about carnivorous monsters terrorizing a bar full of patrons. It has some familiar faces such as Henry Rollins, Jason Mewes, and Clu Gulager. Some of the film disappointed me in its attempts to be gross-out, but generally I loved the humor and the splatter. It is unique, bold, and above all, fun. I wish I could say the same for its sequels, which took only the worst aspects of the original and expanded upon them. Ugh.
6) Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006, Scott Glosserman)
I first saw this film at Horrorfind Weekend with absolutely no expectations. What I assumed was run-of-the-mill slasher fare turned out to be a clever mockumentary about horror movie killers. Leslie Vernon (played to perfection by Nathan Baesel) fancies himself the next big horror legend. He allows a journalist and camera crew along to document how he stalks and kills his prey. The film blends narrative storytelling with the documentary style quite well. Characters who considered themselves privy to the secrets of a serial killer soon find themselves to be the victims in Vernon's own little horror film. Behind the Mask not only addresses human beings' voyeuristic tendencies, but also satirizes the slasher genre with hilarious accuracy.
5) Dead Snow aka Død snø (2009, Tommy Wirkola)
Yet another recent zom-com, this time from Norway. Dead Snow manages to not disappear among the masses because it has a fresh snowy location, Nazi zombies, and of course, tons of gore and black humor. Oh, and the soundtrack (largely dominated by Norwegian metal) freaking rocks! In this flick, a group of friends on a ski trip accidentally rouse some long-buried undead Nazis. The characters are likable, the makeup FX are fantastic (one of the best split-head scenes ever), and it is just damn funny. I also must mention the cameo by Norwegian thesp Bjørn Sundquist, who almost steals the movie with his one brilliant scene.
4) Murder Party (2007, Jeremy Saulnier)
Probably the most under-appreciated film on this list, in my opinion. I happened upon this movie by complete accident and am so thankful I did. As one of the most original and hilarious films I've seen in recent memory, it secured its place on my top 5 horror-comedies. A lonely loser accepts a mysterious invitation to a "murder party" on Halloween, and winds up captive by art school students who plan to kill him for their masterpiece. Most of the film takes place in one room with a lot of dialogue. What makes the film great are the characters, who are all varied and hilarious. There is not much gore (save one fantastic prosthetic burn piece) and no real scares, but the humor is dark and plentiful. And besides my #1, this is easily the next most quotable film on the list.
3) Bubba Ho-Tep (2002, Don Coscarelli)
One common denominator among most of these movies is a generic or over-done plot line. Bubba Ho-Tep is the exception - you will never find another film about a geriatric Elvis battling an evil mummy. And who better to play the King than eternal badass Bruce Campbell? Directed by Don Coscarelli (Phantasm) and also starring Ossie Davis as JFK (yes, that JFK), this movie is a must-see for horror fans, Bruce fans, Elvis fans, and anybody who generally enjoys laughing.
2) Slither (2006, James Gunn)
Slither is Troma-child James Gunn's feature directorial debut about alien worms who invade human bodies and control them like zombies. It is a nice throwback to monster movies ranging from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Night of the Creeps. There is even a bit of Cronenberg influence, most obviously from Shivers but also from the abundant body horror. Fantastic creature FX and Gunn's dark sense of humor make the film a winner, as does its stellar cast (Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry, to name a few).
1) Shaun of the Dead (2004, Edgar Wright)
Was there any doubt? Not only the best horror-comedy of the decade (and a close contender for best ever), but Shaun of the Dead is simply of the best films ever. As if you don't know, it is about a lovable loser who must become a leader and save the people he loves when a zombie outbreak occurs. As always, Wright delivers layered wit, a unique look, and perfectly constructed characters. It is endlessly clever, hilarious, and even scary when it wants to be. Wright clearly knows his source material, too, and treats it with the utmost respect and fidelity. Pegg and the rest of the cast are perfection. There is not a single flaw to be found anywhere in this movie.