I’ve been wanting to write a book for a very long time. I do have some drafts ready, but I never seem to find the motivation to do the necessary editing and rewrites to finish them. I like writing, but everything else is boring.
While I’ve been planning on writing fiction and books on games, for a few years now I’ve been thinking about writing a book on movies. The problem is that I lack the academic background to write the kind of book I would like to write. So, I decided to instead use this existing blog to write a series on a specific topic instead: horror comedies.
Why horror comedies? I have enjoyed them for a very long time, but as I was looking for books on the subject, but Oxford Bibliography on Horror-Comedy Cinema and Media Studies couldn’t really provide me with any. The closest to this is Laughing Screaming: Modern Hollywood Horror and Comedy by William Paul, but it’s more about the similarities of certain horror and comedy genres, namely gross-out, and it’s from 1994, which leaves out some of the most important films of the genre, such as Shaun of the Dead, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (which I decided to base my own title on) and Krampus.
So, as far as I know, there are no books specifically on this subject. Of course, it’s possible that such books do exist, but Oxford just hasn’t seen them important enough to list on their bibliography. And it’s understandable. It’s not a genre with a wide appeal. Which means that it’s a good enough space for me to carve my own little niche in.
What am I going to write about exactly? Based on the aforelinked bibliography, horror comedy is seen more as a sub-genre of horror than comedy. This makes this somewhat problematic, as comedy is much easier to define than horror. In both cases the easiest way to define them would be to just say “you’ll know it when you see it”, but that’s not very helpful. Comedies are based on humour, while you might think horror is based on… you know… horror, but I don’t think it’s quite that simple. I think the key is that the key characters in the movie need to feel fear. While we, as the audience, will often sympathize, it’s not necessary.
Still, it is hard to draw the line. Is A Nightmare on Elm Street a horror comedy? It’s a horror film, which does contain comedy elements, but it’s not usually seen as such, as the weird puns are just part of Freddy’s personality. It doesn’t slide enough to the side of comedy to be a horror comedy. On the other hand, is Scary Movie a horror comedy? I’ve never seen it, but as far as I understand, it’s generally just seen as a comedy, but based on clips I’ve seen, at least osme of the characters are afraid.
Based on these examples, these films need to strike a balance between the two genres, which is quite difficult for moviemakers. If you want to scare the audience relieving the tension through jokes isn’t going to help. In the end, I’ll go with my gut on this one. If it feels like a horror comedy, I can do it.
What am I going to do with these? My goal is to find menaing from these movies. I’m going to try to be open with my personal philosophy and politics. I’m not going to claim that my take on these movies is the “correct” one, as there just isn’t one exact reading of any movie, as there is always going to be subjective components to any interpretation.
I don’t know exactly how many movies I’m going to take on or which movies I’m going to cover or when or in what order, but here’s a preliminary list:
- Shaun of the Dead
- Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
- Nina Forever
- House (Hausu)
- Bad Biology
- Evil Dead II
- Cemetery Man (Dellamorte Dellamore)
- Murder Party
- Trick ‘r Treat
- Jennifer’s Body
- Warm Bodies
- The Final Girls
- He Never Died
- The Greasy Strangler
- The Love Witch
- Better Watch Out
- Mom and Dad
- Anna and the Apocalypse
- The Babysitter
- One Cut of the Dead (Kamera wo tomeruna!)
- Assassinatin Nation
- Happy Death Day
- Ready or Not
- Come to Daddy
I will be writing only about films I’ve liked. They don’t have to be my personal favorites, but something I will have something positive to say about. I didn’t do a very exhaustive search for these movies, so I might have forgotten about something very important here, but we’ll see. As it happens to be Christmas time and there are several on the list which are Christmas-related, I will probably start with those.