Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Seven Epic Horror-Comedy Flicks I Sunk my Teeth into this Halloween

I've been a big fan of horror since I was 12 or so when I watched The Exorcist with my dad. In retrospect, probably not the best parenting, but who cares, I was just happy to be hanging at home with my popsHe fell asleep on the couch for most of it and I subsequently had to sleep with my bedroom light on for months (so soothing), but a seed was planted that night. The imagery, the mood, the score, the pace, the uncertainty, the tension. I loved the genre and how it made me feel from beginning to end.

But horror can be so serious, with its end-of your-life and at times end-of-the-world stakes, it's refreshing to watch a horror flick injected with a healthy dose of comic relief. Below I've listed seven of my favourite horror-comedies I watched recently in anticipation of this Halloween season.

The Lost Boys (1987)

A little time after I first saw The Exorcist, I was flicking through late night television and came across The Lost Boys. I had sense enough to shove a VHS tape into the player and to press record (those were the days). Little did I know that tape would be in high rotation within my VHS movie collection (and later my DVDs), housing to this day, one of my favourite films of the genre.

The film centers around a family (divorced mum with two sons Michael and Sam and their dog Nanook) who move to the fictional town of Santa Carla in California, which is overrun by vampires.

Nanook unimpressed by his new home

It's angsty teen flick to the max, with model like actors seductively posing against a banging 80's soundtrack, hairstyles and wardrobe.

It's about family, coping with change and ultimately finding your place in the world. Who can forget the all-star cast of the time (Dianne Weist, Keifer Sutherland, Jason Patric and of course the two Coreys)?

Corey Haim & Corey Feldman - 80's icons

And last but not least there's the sexy sax player Tim Cappello radiating raw sexual energy as he pelvic thrusts onstage towards the fire.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Is there anything better than a British comedy accompanied by a well made cup of tea, or a cold pint?

Shaun is a 30-something year old electronics store clerk, living a dull and predictable existence in the outskirts of London with his unemployed friend Ed. When the world gets overrun by zombies, and Shaun actually notices, Shaun devises a plan to protect his mother, get his girlfriend back and prove to both of them once and for all that he really is a grown man capable of stepping up when needed.

The boys attempt to take down some zombies with vinyl records...but only the records they can bear to part with. One of the most memorable scenes from the film.

Shaun and Ed selecting vinyl to throw at the zombies in self-defence

Fright Night (2011)

Welcome to Fright Night, for real. 

Menacing vampire-next-door Jerry played by Colin Farrell, had me reaching for my beta-blockers (to minimize heart palpitations) through the film.

We get thrown straight into suburban Las Vegas in a housing development in the middle of the Nevada desert. Couple the desolate landscape with the sinister music score theme, Jerry’s leering glances and the certainty with which he takes his strides, that all had me amusingly terrified, even with the impending inevitability of the following act.

The vampires in this movie have scary monster faces when in full attack mode, which I think adds some comedic relief, although probably not intended that way. But my highlight is Peter Vincent, vampire hunter.

Peter, an avid occult expert and Las Vegas showman, teams up with Jerry's teenage neighbour Charlie (superfluously played by Anton Yelchin – a talent lost too soon, RIP guy, wherever you are) to take down the blood sucker.

For those of you that may not know, this is a remake of the 1985 original, done well and well worth watching.

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Consisting of gorgeously addictive, dark, hipster goth imagery (check out this Sony Pictures Classics gallery), Only Lovers Left Alive is my favourite recently released vampire flick. Hiddleston, Swinton, Yelchin and Wasikowska - the casting, is also a big part of why I love this film.

The story centers around a vampire couple living parallel lives, Eve in Tangiers, and Adam, a musician in Detroit. We discover they have been around a while, bearing witness throughout the centuries to humanity’s intent on destroying itself. Adam, described by one of the couple's friends as a “suicidically romantic scoundrel” is fed up with humanity, the “zombies and the fear of their own imaginations”. Eve on the other hand is the yin to Adam’s yang. She’s light and joy against Adam’s darkness and melancholy. She savours and soaks up the beauty around her.

Music aficionados will of course appreciate the music and Adam’s killer collection of guitars.

Visually captivating with lingering shots, the slow pace of the film perfectly distills the vampire condition. Listening, waiting and observing the endless expanse of eternity unfolding before them. With love and friendship being the only constant to make life worth living. Really, a reflection of what's also important in our simple mere mortal lives.

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)

The best way I can briefly describe this locally made Australian gem is: The Walking Dead x Mad Max x X-Men Origins.

I rewatched this movie only today and I must admit I remember it being a lot funnier than what it actually is. Not that the comedy in it isn’t funny (think first aid box full of long neck beers; and the nuances of Australian English and mannerisms), but there’s substantial moments of deep contemplation and vulnerability portrayed by the characters, rendering it, well, dramatic.

More than that, it's gritty, well shot, well acted and well written, particularly taking into account the limited movie budget. The zombie apocalypse rules are rewritten in this film, portraying ingenuity and resulting in some interesting plot twists. It's one armored zombie-fueled crazy car ride you need to go on. And I can't wait for the next installment (Wyrmwood II, unsure of the actual due date or if production has even started).

What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

Another gem made close to home in New Zealand, What We Do In The Shadows is a horror comedy mockumentary about vampire housemates trying to navigate the modern landscape. It's fun, quirky and I found it thoroughly entertaining. I don't really need to say more than that - watch the promo clip below to get a taste. 

Zombieland (2009)

I rewatched Zombieland on holidays recently when I wanted to chill and enjoy something fun. Woody Harrelson is my personal highlight playing the gun toting Twinkie-obsessed hick Tallahassee. After all when there's nothing else to lose, or live for, why not get some tasty treats down your gob?

The film opens on (some of) the rules for surviving Zombieland. The ragtag team of survivors try to employ these rules for their personal survival but they soon discover that rules were made to be broken, particularly for the people and things that matter most in life.

{All images in this post are courtesy of Google Image Search and the parties/companies that own the copyright}