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Horror Movie Tropes That Make Us LOL Instead of Shriek with Fear

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If you're a true horror fan, then you undoubtedly love the (somewhat) unintentional comedy that goes hand in hand with horror flicks. During the 1980s, which many consider to be "The Golden Age of Horror Movies", there was somewhat of a race to be the most extreme, the most gory, the most terrifying, and that resulted in what we now hold near and dear as campy, over-the-top horror movie classics.

These movies made "being extra" into an a true art form, to the point where there are now films that intentionally strive to be so over the top it's absurd. Often called "B Horror Flicks", they invented a genre all their own "Comedy Horror" - in which a horror movie is so extreme, the effects are so over the top, there is just SO. MUCH. BLOOD. that it simply cannot be seen as anything but hilarious. Basically, things come full circle from horrific to funny.

Horror Comedies are one of the most entertaining sub-genres of horror, and they just wouldn't be the same without these iconic tropes:

  1. There's Simply No Such Thing as Too Much Blood - Watching someone get slaughtered on screen is terrifying, right? Well, it would have been, had that person not spewed out blood like an oil well struck by Jed Clampett.

    A staple of over the top Horror Comedies is there simply being more blood than humanly possible, usually being spit out in strange ways, for example, a fire hose spray of blood coming out of someone's neck when their head is cut off, or out of their shoulder when their arm is cut off.

    Another sub-cliche of this is the blatantly unrealistic looking blood. Nowadays, there are all sorts of prop and make up companies that can supply you with realistic looking blood for your horror flick - even if you're a small indie production! But apparently that wasn't the case back in the 1980s, when the bloody overkill was a bright, almost neon red color. This ridiculousness just adds to the effect, and turns the grotesque into hilarity.

  2. Monsters So Ridiculous, You Can't Help But Laugh (Bonus Points for Holding Out for a "Big Reveal" at the End of the Film) - Some monsters were just not born to scare, unfortunately. Or, if you love horror comedies, maybe fortunately, but many of these poor, laughable monsters were not supposed to be the butt of a joke, but were instead designed to instill fear in our hearts.

    A great example of a ridiculous "monster" would be the title character in the Leprechaun series. But, that said, Leprechaun has owned its own absurdity, and they're okay with it - nay - they're proud of it, which is why there are not only Saint Patty's Day Leprechaun reruns each year, but new Leprechaun movies being realeased regularly (even if they are "made for tv").

    There are countless examples of horror flicks where "the villain(s)" are anything by scary, and this is amplified tenfold when you have to wait the entire movie to see just what is terrifying everyone for so long. Movies like Cloverfield come to mind - it would have been a heck of a lot scarier had they just not shown the creepy bugs.

    Although more sci-fi than horror, I'm going to have to give honorable mention to the fairly recent Godzilla movie (2014), which tried to be scary by using the old, "iconic" Godzilla look, rather than going for an over-the-top CGI look. While I do give them credit for trying, Godzilla looked more like an angry piece of kale that was cranky after being awoken from its deep sea slumber, rather than a terrifying sea monster that should be feared (other than the whole crushing cities thing).

  3. Poorly Aging and/or Low Budget Special Effects - Some special effects methods simply don't age well - especially in the digital age, where new advances are being made every day. While there are few exceptions to the general rule of "most special effects age fairly poorly" (Steven Spielburg's Jurassic Park comes to mind), when it comes to horror movies, special effects that either (a) didn't age gracefully, (b) were poorly executed to begin with, or (c) were so low budget that despite everyone's best efforts, are just bad, are celebrated.

    Sure, there will always be new horror movies made, but how can you not enjoy the comically bad slimy green ooze in Troll 2, or the ridiculous face melting sequence in Dead Alive, or the ridiculous "deadly dead lady" looks of Meryl Street & Goldie Hawn in Death Becomes Her?

    In fact, these ridiculous "special effects are why these movies are seen as Horror Comedy Classics. It's because of their cheesy, dated, or just plain bad special effects that these movies have held up for so long. If they weren't so silly and over the top, frankly, we probably wouldn't care about them as much as we do, because the cheesy special effects are what makes the movies themselves special.

  4. Sequels, Prequels, and Ongoing Series Can Be Just as Good as (if Not Better Than) The Original - So, this one is less of a trope, and more of a basic truth of horror movies that somehow, is even more true for Horror Comedies.

    Usually, once a horror movie does well, there's a sequel (there's a lot of reasons for this, but the main one being...well, money), and since many of the films that fall into the "Horror Comedy" Sub-Genre are actually "So Bad, They're Good" Funny, well, things can get really ridiculous really quickly in Horror Sequels, which can often lead to even funnier movies.

    Just because a movie was absolutely panned by critics, doesn't mean they're not going to make a sequel, and this is especially true for Horror Movies that are unintentionally hilarious (ok, and sometimes intentionally hilarious). With "hate watching" becoming more of a thing with streaming services having a robust selection of B Films, it's no wonder these sequels get green lit.

    Don't believe me? Check out some of these horror comedy sequel classics: Evil Dead II, Troll 2, Return of the Living Dead: Part II, and, if we're counting parodies, let's throw in Scary Movie 2-5 for good measure (yes, there really are that many films in the Scary Movie franchise, although to be honest, the last couple of installments were definitely...a choice).

  5. If You Can Be Afraid of It, You Can Laugh at It. - This is the basic principal of all horror comedy - intentional or not, and it's absolutely true. Whether it's spiders, aliens, clowns, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, axe murderers, or some other sort of evil villain, if it can make you scream, it can make you laugh.

    How, you might be wondering. Well, there's a variety of ways that would-be nightmare fuel creations can go awry:

    • Overdone/Overthought Special Effects - Sometimes, less is more. No, really. Making your monster too ridiculous, too extreme, and too over the top can turn your terror-filled flick into a laughable evening of amusement.

    • Low Budget Special Effects - Godzilla has a zipper on his back? What? The antithesis of Overdone SFX, going too low budget with your monster, but still giving him screen time, can really turn a nail biter into a giggle-fest. If you really don't have the money or skill to pull off showing the monster, maybe it's best to just leave it to the viewer's imaginations. No, really.

    • Comical Killings - If your villain goes about killing people a la Monty Python & the Holy Grail's Black Night, well, then it's going to be funny. If there's too much blood, too much carnage, it becomes unbelievable, rendering your bad guy ineffective.

    • Blowing the Big Reveal - If you've been stressing movie watchers out the entire length of the film, keeping them on the edge of their seats, only to reveal the spider/alien/monster/demon/ghost/villain-equivalent of a puppy dog with a bow on its neck in terms of terror, well, we're not gonna be scared. In fact, the fact that the production team saw the monster, and no one thought to speak up when it was cute not scary, makes the whole thing even more laughable.

    • Some Monsters Will Be Laughable No Matter What - Ok, so this one is more a psychological thing. Sure, people go to horror movies to be scared, but they also go to get a break from their everyday lives. It's a lot easier to laugh something off as implausible and silly than to think about the real darkness and evil that exists in the world, which is why horror comedies are alive and well today.

With Horror Comedy movies of yesterday being lauded as "classics", and new Horror Comedies (both intentionally, and, even better - unintentionally) being released each year, it's no wonder these tropes continue to persist in Horror Flicks today.

What's Your Favorite Horror Comedy Movie, or Horror Comedy Trope?
Let Us Know in the Comments Below!



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