Although Halloween is generally regarded as the spookiest holiday in the entire galaxy, it doesn’t mean you can’t find time to chuckle, chortle, or what have you. There are plenty of movies out there that mix aspects of the horror/fantasy genre with that of comedy. Here’s a look at nine such films that will tickle or terrify your funny bone.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Nijimy, this horror-fantasy-comedy Disney movie tells the story of a trio of witches from 1693 Salem who enter a vortex and are sent to 1993 where they try to put an end to Halloween. Although critics generally agreed that the casting was well-done, the plot was all over the place and the film wasn’t particularly successful when it came out in theaters. However, it has achieved cult status through the years and is now a Halloween staple, annually airing on ABC and The Disney Channel as the holiday arrives.
The Addams Family (1991)
This dark comedy flick, based on short lived mid-1960s TV series \ includes an all-star cast with the late Raul Julia as Gomez, Anjelica Huston as Moricia (for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe), Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester, and Christina Ricci in one of her first movie roles as Wednesday. The movie was said to be a nightmare to make, causing a lot of stress, leading to production delays and ultimately going $5 million over budget. But, hey, problems with your health is a small price to pay for quality entertainment, am I right? The movie was well-received, which naturally meant it had to be followed up with a terrible sequel with an equally lousy MC Hammer rap.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
This romantic fantasy was just the first of many collaborations between director Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. It also featured a soundtrack by Danny Elfman, who is required by law to score every Burton movie. Depp plays Edward Scissorhands, an artificial android who has a difficult time fitting into society, in spite of his gentle nature. He falls in love with Kim Boggs (Winona Ryder), although the relationship wasn’t meant to be given that he’s not human. Fun fact: Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Gary Oldman all turned down the role of Scissorhands before it was given to Captain Jack Sparrow himself.
Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Another Tim Burton/Danny Elfman collaboration, this stop-motion animated classic is so versatile that you can watch it on Halloween and Christmas without feeling weird about it. It’s the story of Jack Skellington (with Chris Sarandon in the speaking role and Elfman when he’s singing) who grows bored of the monotonous Halloween routine, and then stumbles across a door that takes him to Christmas Town. He tries to explain the concept of Christmas to the villagers, who cannot make sense of anything outside the context of Halloween. It also features Santa Claus being kidnapped, something I whole-heartedly endorse. Although it was a huge success, they have yet to make a sequel, although it’s something that’s been discussed off and on over the past couple of decades.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
This comedy-mockumentary follows four vampires —Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr — who share an apartment together in New Zealand. Throughout the movie, references are made to other Vampire movies, including Blade, The Lost Boys, Twilight, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The film was featured at the Sundance Film Festival and ultimately earned $7 million on a $1.6 million budget. By and large, critics had positive things to say about the dark comedy, with several proclaiming it the funniest movie of the year.
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Directed by the legendary Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder as the titular character, this comedy that parodies the classic Mary Shelly novel and is regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time regardless of the genre. The film was shot in black and white — which was not particularly common by the 1970s — and incorporated 1930s style movie credits. It was nominated for a pair of Oscars as well as a couple of Golden Globes.
The House with a Clock in its Walls (2018)
Based on a 1973 novel of the same name, this dark fantasy comedy features the warlock Jonathan Barnavelt (Jack Black) and witch Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett) who must battle evil counterparts Isaac (Kyle MacLachlan) and his wife Selena. Although it contains horror elements, it is nonetheless family-friendly and full of humorous moments. The movie was a box office success, taking in $131.5 million on a $42 million budget. There have been discussions about making a sequel. This probably should not come as a surprise given that the novel was the first of a 12-book series.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
A zombie apocalypse has made its way to London, and Shaun (Simon Pegg), Liz (Kate Ashfield) and Ed (Nick Frost) need to escape to safety. This one came out during the zombie genre revival period of the early 2000s. But what makes it stand out is the way it parodies zombie films, a rarity considering how popular the genre is. Shaun of the Dead isn’t merely enjoyed “for fun,” academics have studied it to analyze the way in which it utilizes comedy within the context of being an apocalyptic zombie flick. The movie was both a box office and critical success.
One of Tim Burton’s first hugely successful movies, this horror-comedy is about married couple Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) who are living in an idyllic New England country home when one day they discover that they’ve been killed in a car drowning accident. Trapped in the house that they are now haunting, they encounter Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton) and all sorts of zaniness ensues. The movie made $74.3 million on a $15 million budget and was universally acclaimed by critics.