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This is a comprehensive list of the top 10 comedy-horror movies of the 21st century, based on aggregated opinions of critics, as well as personal preferences.


The 10 Best Horror Comedy Movies of the 21st Century


Title of the Movie
Year / Country / Director / Cast
Movie Description
1 Shaun of the Dead Release Date:
2004

Country:
UK, France

Director:
Edgar Wright

Cast:
Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Matt Jaynes, Nicola Cunningham, Keir Mills, Gavin Ferguson, Horton Jupiter, Peter Serafinowicz, Tim Baggaley, Rafe Spall
Shaun is in something of a rut. At age 29, he’s dissatisfied with his dead-end retail job; his frustrated girlfriend, Liz, is at the end of her tether; and his only ambition in life seems to be spending time on the PlayStation and hanging out with his friends at the local pub.

Liz has had enough and decides to dump Shaun. He tries to win her back, but is thwarted by the rising of the undead. Yes, a zombie apocalypse has taken hold of the UK. Alongside his slacker friend, Ed, Shaun must embark upon an audacious adventure to rescue Liz and his mum from the rapidly increasing number of monsters swarming the streets.

Along the way, Shaun and Ed must make snap decisions that come alongside significant sacrifices. Shaun of the Dead is a thrilling and hilarious story that celebrates the power of friendship, love, and endurance in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Widely heralded as one of the best comedy-horror films ever made, it’s not to be missed!
2 Zombieland Release Date:
2009

Country:
USA

Director:
Ruben Fleischer

Cast:
Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Amber Heard, Abigail Breslin, Derek Graf, Bill Murray
The Mad Cow Disease virus has evolved into one that turns people into zombies. After a period of rife contagion, most of the world’s humans are amongst the undead. Only a few uninfected people survive; amongst them is Columbus, who is trying to travel home to Ohio to find his family and determine whether they are safe.

He meets an uninfected man named Tallahassee, who is en route to Florida. Tallahassee has made it his personal mission to kill as many zombies as he possibly can, and agrees to help Columbus out by dropping him off in Texarkana. Whilst the two are in a grocery store, searching for Tallahassee’s coveted Twinkies, they encounter two young women, Wichita and Little Rock, who are hiding from zombies.

The girls manage to steal Tallahassee’s car, and a chase to Hollywood ensues. Upon infiltrating the home of Bill Murray (who makes a fantastic cameo), the four face off. Instead of adding to the violence, they find common ground. The budding romance between Columbus and Wichita forms a central aspect of the narrative, but it is the surrogate family formed from the four surviving humans that provides a poignancy rarely seen in films of this genre.
3 Bubba Ho Tep Release Date:
2002

Country:
USA

Director:
Don Coscarelli

Cast:
Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce, Heidi Marnhout, Edith Jefferson, Bob Ivy, Daniel Schweiger, Larry Pennell, Daniel Roebuck, Reggie Bannister, Linda Flammer, Cean Okada, Harrison Young, Solange Morand
Imagine if Elvis were still alive. Not performing in sell-out shows or charming women all over the world, but living in an obscure retirement village in Texas. That’s the claim made by a man known as Sebastian Haff; he switched places with an impersonator in the early 1970s to enjoy a life away from the limelight. After the King of Rock and Roll – or at least, his replacement – passed away in 1977, the ‘real’ Elvis knew he could never return to his old life.

Fast forward to retirement, and the King now has just one friend, Jack, who claims to be John F Kennedy. He asserts that after the assassination attempt in 1963, which he claims to have survived, his physical appearance was changed to that of a black man. He was subsequently sent away by Lyndon B Johnson.

An ancient Egyptian mummy, that was stolen from a museum tour, is lost in a freak storm and finds its way into the retirement home, taking on the appearance of a cowboy and feasting on the souls of residents. Elvis names the mummy Bubba Ho Tep and embarks a mission, alongside Jack, to destroy it.

The premise of this movie is certainly creative and somewhat audacious; it’s best to leave any expectations of realism aside. However, there’s plenty of action, humour, and an oddly heart-warming overtone that persists until the very last frame.
4 Tucker & Dale vs. Evil Release Date:
2010

Country:
Canada, USA, India, UK

Director:
Eli Craig

Cast:
Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons, Philip Granger, Christie Laing, Travis Nelson, Brandon Jay McLaren, Alex Arsenault, Joseph Allan Sutherland, Adam Beauchesne, Mitchell Verigin
Tucker and Dale are just a couple of friendly hillbillies getting on with life. They’ve purchased a lakeside cabin and are looking forward to renovating it into a beautiful holiday home. Their lives are relatively normal until they stop at a gas station and encounter a group of friends on their way to a camping trip. Dale is immediately smitten with one of the girls, Allison, but his crippling shyness doesn’t endear him to the group, who leave in bewilderment.

That evening, the friends gather around a campfire to hear the terrifying story of the Memorial Day Massacre, which is said to have been committed by hillbillies. The next day, the group go for a swim in the lake, where Tucker and Dale are fishing. Allison sustains an injury, which prompts Tucker and Dale to assist. Her friends misinterpret the situation and assume that she has been kidnapped. They embark on a plan to rescue her, but soon begin to encounter a deadly (and improbable!) series of accidents.

The plot of this film is very clever, with the perfect mix of gore and laughs. It also provides an unlikely yet pertinent lesson in the power of perspective!
5 Warm Bodies Release Date:
2013

Country:
USA, Canada

Director:
Jonathan Levine

Cast:
Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, Cory Hardrict, Vincent Leclerc, Clifford LeDuc-Vaillancourt, Daniel Rindress-Kay, Chris Cavener, Billie Calmeau
What if the undead could come back to life? That’s the central premise of Warm Bodies. We’re introduced to two young zombies, R and M, who were transformed during an apocalypse that took place eight years prior. R spends his time grunting at M and searching for humans to feast upon. He finds brains to be particularly attractive, as the memories contained within them allow him to feel alive by proxy.

R and M encounter Julie and her boyfriend Perry; two humans who live in a protected enclave, and have briefly entered the zombie’s area to retrieve supplies. After feeling his heart beat again in Julie’s presence, R kills Perry and eats his brain, which creates a stronger attraction to Julie. He protects her when the rest of the zombies realise she is human, and takes her to an abandoned airplane in which he is living. Over the next few days, the two begin to bond. R notices that his heartbeat is becoming more regular, and he appears to be transforming back into a human. However, when Julie finds out that it was R who killed Perry, she is disgusted and attempts to return to the enclave.

Meanwhile, a group of Boneys – zombies that have completely lost their humanity and resemble skeletons – realise that not only is a human amongst them, but that the zombified R is returning to his living state. He must escape and try to reconnect with Julie in order to survive. Warm Bodies has an imaginative and thrilling premise, with a macabre romance at its centre.
6 The Cabin in the Woods Release Date:
2012

Country:
USA

Director:
Drew Goddard

Cast:
Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams, Fran Kranz, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Dan Payne, Amy Acker, Richard Jenkins, Tim DeZarn, Tom Lenk, Dan Shea, Jodelle Ferland
There are few things more relaxing than a weekend in a secluded woodland cabin, right? Not always! Five friends head off to the woods to unwind, free from the trappings of modern life. The area around the woods seems to be completely abandoned, and upon venturing down to the cabin’s basement, the youths soon find that something troubling is afoot. Cryptic artefacts seem to have a rapid effect on their behaviour, and they’re promptly joined by a barrage of supernatural creatures.

Meanwhile, scientists in a mysterious underground facility are working on a secret project. Whilst the details are initially sketchy, we do learn that it’s failed elsewhere in the world, and that the experiment in the United States represents the final attempt at success. Over the course of the story, the link between the cabin and the scientists becomes terrifyingly evident. The Cabin in the Woods is an intricate, chilling story with a humorous edge and plenty of secrets to uncover.
7 Piranha 3D Release Date:
2010

Country:
USA

Director:
Alexandre Aja

Cast:
Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, Elisabeth Shue, Eli Roth, Christopher Lloyd, Jerry O'Connell, Adam Scott, Jessica Szohr, Riley Steele, Steven R. McQueen, Ricardo Chavira, Kelly Brook, Dina Meyer
Spring break; a time to relax, meet new people, and party! That’s precisely what visitors to Michigan’s Lake Victoria are attempting to do in Piranha 3D, but there’s a problem. An earthquake beneath the lake opens up a chasm, releasing hundreds of flesh-eating fish.

Teenager Jake is expecting to have the time of his life. He meets an adult film director, Derrick, who introduces him to several attractive women and asks for Jake’s local knowledge to find the perfect location to film one of his movies. Jake and the film crew head to the lake, where a mutilated body is found. Jake’s mother Julie, a sheriff, begins an investigation. Her partner, Fallon, finds a fish attached to the body, which prompts the police to enlist the help of a marine biologist, Carl.

Carl discovers that the fish is in fact a flesh-eating piranha. The police attempt to close the lake, which is heaving with tourists, but before they can move everyone away, the shoal of piranhas begins to attack.

Piranha 3D is full of hilarious moments and thrilling jump scares; keep watching right until the end for an outrageous twist!
8 What We Do in the Shadows Release Date:
2014

Country:
New Zealand, USA

Directors:
Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi

Cast:
Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Ben Fransham, Jackie van Beek, Stu Rutherford, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Elena Stejko, Karen O'Leary, Jason Hoyte, Mike Minogue, Ian Harcourt
Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr are four vampires living in a flat in modern New Zealand. The youngest member of the team, Deacon, was turned during the Second World War, whilst the oldest, Petyr, is over 8,000 years old. Their housekeeper, Jackie, helps to draw potential victims to the flat; in exchange, she has been promised immortality.

The vampires’ most recent victims are a couple named Nick and Josephine. However, during the sacrifice, Petyr mistakenly turns Nick, who becomes the newest member of their motley crew. Not all of the existing flatmates are happy; however, Nick’s contemporary knowledge helps them to navigate the modern world. Nick also brings one of his friends, the still-human Stu, into the fold. Although the temptation to feed is strong, the group embrace Stu and mutually decide not to kill him.

Nick, however, is proving problematic; revealing his vampire status to just about anyone who will listen. As a result, the group attracts the attention of a vampire hunter; whilst protecting the home, Petyr is inadvertently killed by sunlight. The annual Unholy Masquerade, a night of celebration for the paranormal community, becomes a flashpoint for violence. Can the remaining vampires protect their tribe from a werewolf onslaught?

What We Do in the Shadows is an innovative take on the vampire movie genre. It’s also great to see cinema from New Zealand rising to such prominence. A hidden gem!
9 Cooties Release Date:
2014

Country:
USA

Directors:
Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion

Cast:
Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer, Jorge Garcia, Leigh Whannell, Nasim Pedrad, Ian Brennan, Cooper Roth, Miles Elliot, Sunny May Allison, Morgan Lily, Armani Jackson
You might already believe that elementary schools are a breeding ground for germs, but Cooties takes the concept and runs with it! A fourth-grade student named Shelly inadvertently consumes a virus-laden chicken nugget, which quickly transforms her from an adorable kid into a killer zombie. She begins attacking other children, infecting them in the process. The situation rapidly escalates, until several of the teachers have been murdered by a growing brood of snarling undead grade-schoolers.

The remaining teachers, including the horror-writer-turned-substitute Clint and his old flame Lucy, barricade themselves in the faculty lounge. After an altercation, Clint discovers that he has been bitten by one of the feral youths. However, the virus doesn’t seem to affect adults in the same way that it does children, so he remains with the rest of the teachers.

As the situation deteriorates, school staff reach out to the kids’ parents for help, but this serves only to extend the carnage (all we’re saying on the matter is that you should be vigilant for a zombie baby!). Dealing with the problem presents an ethical problem for the teachers, but in the end, it’s a matter of survival. Cooties is funny, brutal, and bold; the perfect antithesis to sickly and sentimental cinema.
10 Housebound Release Date:
2014

Country:
New Zealand

Director:
Gerard Johnstone

Cast:
Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Ross Harper, Ryan Lampp, Cameron Rhodes, Mick Innes, Wallace Chapman, Bruce Hopkins, Kitty Riddell, Millen Baird, David Van Horn, Ian Mune
After finding herself in legal trouble for the umpteenth time, Kylie is placed under house arrest at the home of her mother and stepfather, Miriam and Graeme. Miriam expresses her opinion that the house is haunted, which Kylie initially brushes off; however, Kylie soon begins to have experiences that suggest the presence of supernatural forces.

Kylie’s court-appointed supervisor, Amos, believes that Miriam and Kylie’s reports of paranormal activity may be true, so he begins an investigation. Kylie’s psychologist, Dennis, is not convinced, and frames their suspicions as delusions.

It soon comes to light that the family home used to be the site of a halfway house, at which a gruesome murder took place. This emboldens the collective opinion that something sinister is afoot. A mysterious next door neighbour provides clues that implicate Dennis, but it is the discovery of a complex network of hidden corridors that truly unnerves the family.

Housebound is an innovative, original story that takes the audience in unexpected directions. And if you’re looking for a (sort-of) happy ending from a comedy-horror, this one will leave you satisfied!






Thrilling Laughs: How to Perfect the Intersection of Comedy and Horror

Comedy-horror is one of the most fascinating movie genres. It’s tricky to strike that perfect balance between the tension and thrill of a great horror and the belly laughs of a decent comedy. Filmmakers must be ambitious, prepared to shock, and daring in their humour. Here’s our guide to seamlessly spanning the genres!

Be bold with the storyline
The more audacious the better! There’s no such thing as a comedy-horror documentary, so feel free to suspend reality in favour of the entirely unexpected. This genre permits boundless creativity and concepts that would otherwise be completely unworkable.

Think about some of the most prolific movies in the genre. Let’s take The Rocky Horror Picture Show as an example. On paper, the story of a cross-dressing alien professor who builds Adonis-like creatures in his sprawling mansion seems a bit far-fetched. And yet, it works.

As a barometer, consider whether an audience would walk away from a film wondering “Did they really just do that?” If so, the narrative is just right!

Surprise the audience
Thrills are essential to a great comedy-horror film. Good old fashioned gore is one viable approach, but placing an emphasis on the shock factor is far more impactful. The audience should not be resting on their laurels; building the suspense gradually, with moments of light relief, creates the conditions for a complex emotional response that makes a movie unforgettable.

Don’t be afraid of satire!
You’ll notice a healthy dose of self-awareness within the comedy-horror genre. Incorporating elements of parody can also set the audience up for an unanticipated thrill. At the close of Piranha 3D, for example, the familiar final scare is embraced in a way that is both shocking and profoundly funny.

Approach (or exceed) the boundaries of otherwise acceptable humour
Gallows humour is an intrinsic part of the comedy-horror genre. Filmmakers should not be afraid to go there. If a scene makes the audience laugh whilst simultaneously questioning whether the source of the joke is acceptable, you’re on the right track. Cooties does this particularly well; the concept of zombified schoolchildren would be horrendous elsewhere, but within the context of the story, it delivers consistently dark humour.