Man with pumpkin for head doing stand-up.
Illustration by Olivia Bermingham, Massachusetts College of Art and Design
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Man with pumpkin for head doing stand-up.
Illustration by Olivia Bermingham, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

These spooky films will leave you in stitches …
Whether they mean to or not

‘Tis the season for creepy pumpkins, haunted houses and monsters lurking around every dark corner. There are plenty of scary movies new and old competing for the attention of viewers this month. New films include Hulu’s contribution to the “Hellraiser” series, “Halloween Ends” of the ever-expanding Michael Myers franchise and a subversion of the classic exorcism trope, “Prey for the Devil.” While it may be time for horror to shine, the addition of comedy enhances the film-watching experience. Here are three genres of Halloween movies that will have you cackling this spooky season.

Halloween Movies Meant To Make You Laugh

Horror and comedy go hand in hand with films like “Scary Movie,” parodying the entire horror genre, but there are plenty of other Halloween movies with great writing and excellent acting that have entertained audiences for decades. Perhaps the best example of a classic Halloween comedy is 1991’s “Ernest Scared Stupid.” The movie features Jim Varney’s pop culture icon, Ernest, who unintentionally releases a demonic troll that has been housed under a creepy tree. While “Ernest Scared Stupid” holds a measly 17% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has solidified itself as a ’90s cult classic. 

Halloween Riddles
Halloween Riddles

One needs only look at the popularity of “Hocus Pocus,” another hilarious Halloween film, to speak on the power of cult classics. Originally given poor reviews and deemed a significant financial loss for Disney, “Hocus Pocus” has remained relevant thanks to ardent fans of the Sanderson Sisters. Just this year, the highly anticipated sequel was released almost three decades since the original flopped. 

While movies like “Ghostbusters” and “Beetlejuice” aren’t specifically about Halloween, they’re classic comedies featuring spooky ghosts who are determined to haunt the living. Ultimately, the ghosts prove more annoying than anything else, and in typical Halloween movie fashion, the protagonists arrive just in time to save the day. Another ’90s Halloween treasure is “The Addams Family,” the reboot of the 1960s live-action TV show that began as a cartoon in the New Yorker. The Addams are the antithesis of the modern American family and have withstood the test of time for nearly a century. 

More modern horror comedies include 2009’s “Zombieland,” a wild ride wherein the main characters navigate a dystopian hellscape while attempting to avoid the zombies that plague the American countryside. Columbus, played by Jesse Eisenberg, narrates his 30 rules to survive in this new reality, including “#3 Beware of Bathrooms: Don’t let them catch you with your pants down” and “#42 Keep Your Hands to Yourself: It’s just polite.” 

If you’re scouring for dark comedies, look no further than “Happy Death Day,” the 2017 film about a murdered college student who repeatedly wakes up on the same day and relives her death, which becomes increasingly ridiculous with each passing day. In the process of trying to solve her own murder, she finds herself and grows as a person. Think “Groundhog Day” with a macabre twist.

Halloween Movies That Make You Laugh in Spite of Themselves

Then there are movies that are so awful they’ll make you laugh. The first that leaps to mind is the “Leprechaun” film franchise. While not intentionally funny and probably regarded as scary at their respective releases, these movies prove that filmmaking technology has rapidly improved in the last few decades. On top of the not-so-scary filmmaking, the writing is so terrible; the cringe factor is palpable. In the same vein, 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project” is so bad it’s good. The movie, originally billed as a documentary, had audiences glued to their seats (or in the bathroom because of the shaky footage), but the critical eye of time has not been kind to the film. There have been several parodies and references poking fun at the low-budget style of filming.

The Cabin in the Woods

There are plenty of scary movies to watch this Halloween that will entertain you with their mixtures of comedy and horror, but the paragon of these movies is “The Cabin in the Woods.” The movie doesn’t even take place in the fall; it’s a summer horror flick, but it still manages to use nearly every horror trope in the book. The beginning of the film subtly hints at its darkly comedic core, but the thematic crux of the film isn’t apparent until at least halfway through. Lewis Wallace’s review of “The Cabin in the Woods” perfectly preserves the magic of the film without spoilers when he describes how it “takes one of Hollywood’s most mundane setups and turns it into a smart sendup of horror movies and mythology.” It’s art that pastiches horror, comedy and sci-fi into a tornado of emotion, leaving new viewers asking themselves what they just watched.

Because it only came out in 2012, it only had one decade to establish itself in the archives of cult classics.Nevertheless, it currently holds a respectable 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. “The Cabin in the Woods” takes one of the most played out tropes in horror: a group of teens heads to the woods for a relaxing weekend that turns into a bloodbath. It subverts its premise by tackling classic horror scenes with unparalleled creativity and uniqueness. Kind of like this article, which purports to be a well-curated list of funny Halloween movies, but is actually just convincing you to watch “The Cabin in the Woods.”

Writer Profile

Megan Miller

Arizona State University
English/History

Megan has lived her whole life in Southern California where she enjoys all the local attractions, especially the beaches. She enjoys reading, writing and cooking. She is obsessed with her dog, Moose.

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