Hey kids! Are you ready for the third and final installment of TheMiki’s Horror Movie Picks? I ask, like I could possibly record your answers or something. I’ve saved my favorite category for last, and that is The Funny.
Horror-Comedy is an awesome genre and is frequently under-appreciated because the movie-going public gets confused when we mix anything but formulaic romance with our comedy. If you’re feeling psychologically scarred after viewing Event Horizon or if you’ve given up on life after watching Nick Cage in The Wicker Man, maybe it’s time for some laughs.
Some bloody, gory, twisted fucking laughs. I know there were lots of laughs in the movies in part two, but we can laugh with these movies whereas we were laughing at the other ones. In no particular order we have…
I’m such a sucker for Nathan Fillion. Maybe it’s because he’s awesome, or maybe it’s because I’ll always think of him as Captain Mal, but anything he stars in I will happily watch. This little gem is very Evil Dead-ish in general mood. It’s gory as hell, but absolutely hilarious at the same time. And this one is funny because of jokes. Not because of badly written dialogue and poor career decisions that involve delivering lines in a bear suit. The plot involves slugs from outer space that take over host bodies and make them crave flesh and do incredibly hard to watch mating rituals that you will never be able to un-see. There would be spoilers aplenty if I told you everything I loved about this movie, but I will say I’m partial to the deer scene and the very last shot before the credits roll. Now go rent/buy/illegally download this thing and join my cult of Fillion worship.
This movie doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to blood and guts and scary shit, but it’s British, so you know it’s dry and witty and sorta quirky awesome. The very first scene in this movie involves two hookers stuck in a big hole trying to get out before some killer comes to finish them off, and of course the only way out is to take off all their clothes and try to make a rope that they can catch on a branch or something. That’s not integral to the plot or anything, but opening a movie with increasingly naked women of ill-repute is just good film-making. The rest of the movie focuses on a bunch of sales reps for a big scary weapons manufacturer. They’re going out to the company’s newly acquired luxury cabin in the woods for a team building weekend, but after some bus troubles and some piss-poor navigation they wind up at the wrong cabin. The very very wrong cabin. The scene with the bear trap makes me squirm almost as bad as the hobbling scene is Misery. My favorite thing about this movie is that for the most part the characters make actual good decisions. You root for them because they don’t do idiotic shit like assuming the killer they just shot once in the fucking shoulder is dead and they can just walk away and everything will be fine. I cannot recommend this movie enough.
I love this one a lot because of the male leads, but I almost stopped liking it because I hated the female leads so much. I feel like Hollywood has gotten in the habit of assuming they can make a character as awful of a person as they want and just so long as they have boobies and are hot then we’ll assume that deep down they’re good people. It’s lazy writing, and it pisses me off. Woody Harrelson’s character in this movie is an asshole too, but since he’s a dude they actually give him some depth and humanity. Emma Stone gets nothing but a couple of low cut shirts to redeem herself, and I actually kinda hoped the zombies would get her. There are also some massive inconsistencies with the whole amusement park scene that were hard to ignore, but given all that, this movie still kicks ass. Bill Murray has the best cameo in the history of cameos, and Jesse Eisenberg is a great narrator/protagonist. This is much more comedy than horror.
Dance of the Dead
So the plot of this movie is pretty transparently based on the grandaddy of all zombie movies, Night of the Living Dead. Not ripped off necessarily, but not going out of its way to stray all that far from Romero’s original “Dead people get up, chase living people” formula. The movie is set in small town U.S.A on prom night. While the popular kids are all having fun at the prom there’s an unexpected outbreak of dead people crawling out of their graves and craving human flesh. The only kids out and about to notice this invasion are the losers who couldn’t get dates to the prom, and they band together to try and stop the zombies from eating everyone in their town. From the super-badass Kyle, who seems to rejoice is being a massive dick but who is incredibly useful in a fight against the undead, to the disaffected emo band whose music attracts and distracts the zombies enough to make them primed for the killing, the entire supporting cast is pretty much top notch. Great dialogue and awesome characters and why the fuck did this movie get released with something like zero publicity? There is no justice in the world.
Drag Me to Hell
Here’s all you need to know: This movie was so glorious that upon viewing it I instantly forgave Sam Raimi for Spiderman 3. In case you don’t remember Spiderman 3, here’s a short clip of the sort of cinema we’re dealing with.
Sure, I know he’s a “real” director now and makes huge blockbuster movies and probably sleeps in beds made of pure cash on pillows of cocaine, but Sam Raimi will always be the trashy awesome dude that made Evil Dead AND Xena. He excels when he makes flicks that are silly, gross, and clever, and this one is all three. Allison Lohman, who is in her thirties but still looks fifteen, plays a loan officer who badly wants a promotion to assistant manager at the bank where she works. Trying to prove that she can make tough decisions, she turns down a scary looking gypsy woman for a fourth extension on her home loan. Because gypsies can do magic but not make a mortgage payment on time, the old lady hides in the parking garage and curses our heroine during one of the funniest and most disturbing fight scenes ever to take place in a car. Then the bad shit starts happening, and it’s awesome. Justin Long is her supportive yet skeptical boyfriend, and while his character is dumb and forgettable, his judgmental and snobby parents make for an awesome awkward dinner scene. Remember this, kids: Lamia demons do not want your fucking cat!
Set in a future that looks like the 50’s ala Pleasantville or Leave it to Beaver, Fido is the story of a world in which the zombie outbreak happened, and people now live in safe zones where they own zombies that basically act as slaves thanks to collars that control their behavior. The Robinsons, headed by a fantastic Carrie Anne Moss and Dylan Baker, are the only family on the block without a zombie. A fact that drives Mrs Robinson nuts and makes her feel inferior to her neighbors and friends. Their son Timmy is thrilled when his mom finally gets them an undead servant named Fido and he instantly befriends him. Their bond is very Timmy and Lassie, except Lassie in this case is a lumbering groaning reanimated corpse. All is swell until Fido eats a neighbor lady, and then Timmy has to try and keep his buddy from being found out. And also from eating people. It’s campy and hilarious, but it’s also very wry satire on our paranoia and fears as a nation.
This one is right there on the line of being mentioned in way too many best of lists, but since I still meet horror fans who have never seen it, I think it needs a quick shout-out. Back before he was making legions of nerds splooge their shorts with his epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson was a crass, gory, tasteless movie maker. I have seen a lot of zombie movies in my day, but this one is the grossest by far. There’s an awesome priest who kicks ass for the lord, and an even more awesome scene where he beats the everlasting shit out of a zombie toddler. While the lawnmower scene is often cited as the bloodiest damn thing ever recorded on celluloid, it doesn’t hold a candle to the dry-heave inducing scene where everyone sits around eating custard. I always wind up looking away at that part.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
How many of you are old enough to remember that this was a movie way before it was a cult phenomenon of a TV show? This came out while I was still young enough to think the god-awful one-liners were totally hilarious, and I think it’s extra funny watching it back now and remembering how I used to quote that terrible dialogue. Plus, do you remember who was in this movie??? Sure, you might remember Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry as the leads, but let’s not forget David Arquette as the best friend turned bloodsucker, PeeWee Herman as the right hand man to the big bad, Hilary Swank as the shallow evil cheerleader, and Donald Sutherland as the watcher. The plot is silly, and if you’ve ever seen the TV show you know the basics. Buffy is a popular cheerleader until the day she finds out it’s her destiny to battle unholy forces of Hell. Then she’s still a cheerleader, but somewhat less popular after she starts staking players who have been turned. Joss Whedon was definitely not at the peak of his acerbic with here (I’ll give that honor to FireFly, all hail Nathan Fillion) but his writing style is pretty unmistakable.
While I’m a fan of both movies in this double feature, anyone who saw this in the theater knows damn well that the best part was the fake previews. The first of which, Machete, was made into a pretty damn awesome movie after the fans demanded it. I’m not big on Eli Roth, but his fake movie was by far my favorite (it has boobs so don’t watch it at work):
Aside from this and other gems, like Werewolf Women of the SS, there were actual movies that are both worth watching in their own right. Robert Rodriguez gives us zombie gore, lesbians, lots of explosions, and Rose McGowan with a machine gun for a leg. Quentin Tarantino delivers with a tale of a psychopath who gets his thrills through vehicular homicide, and the crazy bitches he probably shouldn’t have targeted. Everything here is exactly what it sets out to be, which is dreck. Awesomely entertaining dreck.
This movie gets thrown on every single Halloween, and generally several other times throughout the year. It’s hilarious while still dark as hell when it wants to be. Devon Sawa plays Anton, a lazy ass stoner who dreams of one day sitting around getting high and watching TV while some hot chick delivers him food. His dreams are put on hold when his hand is possessed by some Satanic force that murders people while its unwitting host sleeps. Seth Green is in top form here as one of the two friends killed by Anton pretty early in the script, but who come back as zombies because after they died and saw the light they didn’t go to it because, “It was like… Really far.” Jessica Alba reminds us that she could never act, but was always really hot. The priestess trying to stop the demonic hand possessing thingy is the always bad-ass Vivica A Fox, and she has some of the best lines in the movie. Endlessly rewatchable, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t smoke weed and hates being stoned. I imagine that if you were high this movie might make you laugh hard enough to piss yourself.
If you live in New Zealand then I guess the scariest thing ever would be if genetic engineering gone awry were to turn all the sheep into bloodthirsty killing machines. It’d be like growing up in Seattle and waking up to find that all barristas were mercenary ninja zombies. Making things worse, the main character Harry has a sheep phobia based on his father’s tragic (and hilarious) death during his childhood. Much like in 28 Days Later, some hippy breaks into a lab and fucks up the whole world by getting himself infected, only this time the virus turns you into a weresheep-type thing. And holy hell are there a lot of sheep. One of which drives a car, which is dumb, but made me laugh really hard because I was a little drunk and dammit, a were-zombie-sheep was driving a fucking car! The fart jokes are a bit much, but this is about as campy and weird as they come.
Just as a pre-emptive strike here, don’t yell at me for leaving off Shawn of the Dead. It all goes back to avoiding the movies that are on every horror list, and this one gets a nod from pretty much everyone. Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome (not as awesome as the follow-up Hot Fuzz though), but it’s given more spots on horror movie lists than Dead Alive, and I barely could justify including Dead Alive.
Okay kids, this brings our trilogy of terror to a close. Who has more recommendations? Funny horror movies I may have missed? I have to recap the Top Chef Just Desserts finale at some point this weekend, and after that I need to find a new show to recap. In the meantime I think I’ll do some more movie stuff, so if anyone has any requests for cinema-theme articles they’d like to see on the ‘Gasm then I’m all ears.
I enjoy mocking other people because it's the only thing I'm really good at, and I think we should all use the gifts God gave us. My childhood was way more fucked up than yours, and yet I'm a fully productive member of society with no criminal record or bastard children. As such, listening to coked-out hookers whine about their baby-daddies getting arrested and how they live this life cause their mama didn't breastfeed them makes me want to throw furniture at my TV. When I'm not tearing down people on television I like to paint, write, drink coffee, hike, and make pathetic attempts to play the guitar, because chicks dig a lady with an instrument.