Horror films have always provided fertile ground for comedy. The combination of tension, creeping dread, and the presence of murderous creatures can break an audience, leaving it desperate for some alleviation from all the blood, guts and multiplying body counts. This comic relief has most commonly arrived in the form of mockery of the genre's routinely cheap esthetics, whether it be woeful effects, formulaic or nonsensical plot developments, or amateurish acting. To catalog the multitudinous instances of this phenomena would require a Herculean effort, so let's focus on the alternative: the rare delight that is an entirely intentional and effective horror-comedy. Film makers have been especially productive in this odd sub-genre over the past twenty years, creating some truly twisted and gut-busting entries in the horror canon.
"Dead Alive/Braindead", 1992
Before achieving the feat of successfully adapting the sprawling "Lord of the Rings" trilogy to film, Peter Jackson made a name for himself with his gleefully depraved and gruesome cult projects, culminating in the schlock masterpiece, "Braindead" ("Dead Alive" in the U.S.). Tongues are firmly wedged in cheek as the film follows the hapless protagonist's efforts to conceal his overbearing mother's rapid zombification from nosy friends and family. While the flesh-eating yucks fly fast and often, the movie doesn't truly kick into high gear until the appearance of Father McGruder. A seemingly genial man of the cloth, the padre doesn't hesitate to throw down with some estimable kung fu when coming face to face with a marauding creature of the undead, uttering the immortal line, "I kick ass for the lord!"
"Army of Darkness", 1993
The closing chapter in the "Evil Dead" trilogy, Army of Darkness dials back the claustrophobic dread of the first two entries. The illustrious Bruce Campbell stars as Ash, a simple S-Mart employee whipped backward through time to the Middle Ages. By this point in the series, Ash is not so much afraid of the threat of the undead as exasperated with it. Sneering at both friend and foe as he battles an army of stop-motion skeletons, Ash dispenses some of the finest one-liners ever recorded to celluloid.
"Wild Zero", 2000
You would be forgiven if you had never heard the name Guitar Wolf, so let's just cover the most pertinent information: Guitar Wolf is a Japanese punk band known for their break-neck riffs, raucous live shows and fire-spewing microphones. Apparently deeming the rock 'n' roll milieu as too stifling, they opted to star in a film where they battle a zombie invasion. Oh, and the DVD comes with an official Wild Zero drinking game rule set.
"Bubba Ho-Tep", 2002
Bruce Campbell lands on this list again for his turn as an elderly man living out the twilight of his life in a rundown nursing home. Hilarious so far, right? Did we mention that he claims to be Elvis? Or that he teams up with Ossie Davis(who believes he's JFK), to battle a mummy that's been terrorizing the patients?
"Shaun of the Dead", 2004
The film that put the prince of nerddom on the map, "Shaun of the Dead" is Simon Pegg's tale of a sadsack who blunders his way through a zombie outbreak. Dry, British humor that would probably just fly right over your head ensues.
Even if for some reason people weren't intrigued by the premise of Woody Harrelson, Jessie Eisenberg, and Emma Stone wading through a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland, they would be fools to miss out on what is far and away the greatest cameo in cinema history. Even without that cameo, the movie is still a pretty solid piece of business, and well worth checking out.
A sentient, homicidal tire rolls around the American Southwest exploding people's heads with telekinesis. Yes, this is a real movie. And it is every bit as good as it sounds. As ridiculous as every other movie on this list is, this flick may be the weirdest of them all.