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Funny 80s Horror Movies

Updated on March 18, 2015

The Light Side

On the light side of the comedic horror spectrum, we have films which are more comedic than scary. Yet, they fit here in my article because the subject matter would normally be scary if the film was not played for laughs.

  • Ghostbusters
  • Ghostbusters 2
  • Beetlejuice
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • The Witches of Eastwick
  • Eating Raoul
  • Haunted Honeymoon
  • Transylvania 6-5000
  • High Spirits

The first on my list is a favorite of mine, Ghostbusters (1984), which has a 1989 sequel. Both films focus on a group of parapsychologists (paranormal experts) who discover there is an unusually high amount of ghosts in New York City, and start a business where they remove the ghosts for a fee. Since the films star Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, there's no doubt that it's a comedy. This is the biggest, most popular, laugh out loud comedy in this article. It was in the top 5 films of 1984.

So, what horror conventions are present here? The supernatural. They face ghosts in multiple scenes. There are also demonic possessions that occur in the film. Not to mention that Alien star, Sigourney Weaver, plays a big role. She is the romantic lead, and the character with the haunted apartment.

If we only had these elements, and recast the main guys, this could be a pure horror film. In 1984, though, audiences were a little tired of horror because there were so many made in the early 80s. So, Ghostbusters' popularity showed that horror elements could be used to make a lighter, fun, comedic film. The other films on the list followed in that spirit, bringing their own humor, and more fun for audiences.

Ghostbusters

Spoofing Horror

Spoofs of horror movies didn't start with Scary Movie, as some young people may believe. It didn't even start in the 80s. There are a handful from this decade, and unfortunately they can be pretty hard to find today. If you really love 80s horror, try to find at least one of them.

  • Student Bodies
  • Full Moon High
  • Pandemonium
  • Saturday the 14th
  • National Lampoon's Class Reunion
  • Bloodbath at the House of Death
  • Hysterical

They each spoof different kinds of horror. Student bodies is the teen slasher. Full Moon High is werewolves. Pandemonium is camp horror, and has characters that are parodies of horror characters, like Carrie. Saturday the 14th has a family in a haunted house, but mixes in other parodies too. National Lampoon's Class Reunion is a college slasher. Bloodbath at the House of Death is a demonic cult spoof. And lastly, Hysterical is a zombie spoof (which I have yet to see).

Your Inner Child

If you were a child in the 80s (and/or early 90s), you know there were a lot of kid friendly scares to be had. These movies had everything. They were scary, exciting, hilarious, and a lot of fun. We learned that being scared was nothing to be afraid of.

  • Gremlins
  • Critters
  • Critters 2
  • The Monster Squad
  • Frankenweenie
  • Daffy Duck's Quackbusters
  • Ghoulies
  • Ghoulies 2
  • Terrorvision

You may say these movies don't scare you today, but you know that you remember being scared by some of their scenes. Now if you have kids, you can share the movies with them, and relive the funny and the scary moments.

Gremlins is at the top of the list because it was in the top 5 movies of 1984 along with Ghostbusters. The main character in Gremlins was a teenager, actually, but with Corey Feldman and little Gizmo, the film appealed to younger audiences. In fact, the story itself appeals to kids, really. Billy receives Gizmo, the Mogwai, as a Christmas gift, and by his friend's (Feldman) clumsiness, the Mogwai spawns the evil Gremlins. It's a scary and exciting idea that your Christmas present could turn evil and wreak havoc on your town. This film is also funny, though. The Gremlins exhibit a lot of goofy behavior when they're on the loose.

Gremlins

Those Teenage Terrors

As the teenage film genre officially came of age in the 80s, it's only right that there would be teenage films to fit into the horror/comedy mix. Although they are funny, they are a lot scarier than the kids movies we were just looking at. These movies have blood and gore just like the regular teen horror movies. No more cute critters like the kids movies.

  • The Lost Boys
  • Fright Night
  • Class of Nuke 'em High
  • The Toxic Avenger
  • Night of the Creeps
  • Return of the Living Dead
  • Slumber Party Massacre
  • My Best Friend is a Vampire
  • Waxworks
  • Night of the Comet
  • Once Bitten
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space

A lot of these movies have gained cult status, like The Toxic Avenger, and others are only remembered as cheesy teen movies, such as My Best Friend is a Vampire. The Lost Boys and Fright Night are most remembered of the bunch, since they have had a sequel and a remake recently. There were a few similar films created in the 90s, but for the most part you can only find really good teenage horror comedy films coming from the 80s. This makes them unique gems. Something you can point to, and say they don't make 'em like that anymore. So, I highly recommend checking them out!

The Lost Boys

The Dark Side

By that, I mean the really gory, bloody, and sometimes surreal horror movies. They weren't all completely serious. Real horror fans can see the comedy amid all of the onscreen chaos and graphic gore. Because when you've seen enough horror movies to really sensitize yourself to them, then recognizing humor, from subtle and satirical to zany and goofy, is a much more enjoyable experience. Not to say that the casual horror viewer won't enjoy these movies, though, of course they will.

  • Evil Dead 2
  • Re-animator
  • Basket Case
  • An American Werewolf in London
  • Motel Hell
  • Parents
  • House
  • House II: The Second Story
  • Bad Taste
  • The Dead Next Door
  • Bloodsuckers from Outer Space
  • Video Violence

If you watch the Evil Dead 2 trailer below, you will see that it doesn't overtly create a comedic feel. This could be a normal, very gory, horror film. It's a movie that surprised the Evil Dead fans with its humor. I don't want to spoil the film series, so I won't be giving too much information on this one. It follows directly from the ending of the first film, and slowly adds in more and more humorous elements.

Most of these films are like that. You wouldn't expect them to be funny at first unless someone (like me) told you they were funny. In some cases, a viewer may not find the humor in the films, but that's okay. Even if you don't think the movie has any humor, you get to see a great story with lots of blood and gore, and sometimes monsters too.

Evil Dead 2

More?

If you can think of more movies that should have been on any of my lists in this article, please tell me in the comments section. Or conversely, if you think that a movie I mentioned should not be in this article, tell me that too. Let your voice be heard!

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