By Sam Allen
Editor’s Note: Each week in October, Netflix Guru will showcase a series of films that focus on a specific theme or subgenre of horror. Within eah theme there will be a variety of well-known and obscure flicks to round out the subgenre. After all, what is Netflix for but to give you options for alternative film?
Horror and comedy are two odd genres to merge together. If done correctly, it can create something truly unique and magnificent. In the tradition of many horror-comedy classics, like Army of Darkness or Shaun of the Dead, the following films have an element of gore or terror that kill it in more than one way. So, for this week’s Netflix Guru we’ll explore a few off-the-wall horror-comedy films that are just as spooky as they are humorous.
John Dies at the End (2012)
John Dies at the End is my favorite horror-comedy novel of all time. So you can imagine my excitement when the book was adapted into a film a few years later. I did suffer my fair share of book-to-film adaption woes, as per usual, but there are still a ton of things to love about this film. The context that got lost from novel to film ended up making this movie a hilarious “what the hell did I just watch?” comedy. Its ridiculousness is a huge part of the pleasure.
The film centers around Dave (Chase Williams) and John (Rob Mayes) who gain the ability to see dangerous creatures that leak into our world from other dimensions after taking a drug called soy sauce. Things escalate quickly just 10 minutes into the film, when an attractive girl erupts into hundreds of snakes. Dave and John have a hard time escaping as the doorknob to their only exit turns into a flaccid penis. Meanwhile a literal meat monster, who puts Lady Gaga to shame, threatens to destroy them. This film doesn’t try to be taken seriously, which is part of its charm.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Generally, when I tell others about my favorite horror-comedy on Netflix, the first words out of my mouth are “Go into it blind, this film is perfect when you have no idea what’s going on.” However, since I’m dying to tell as many people as possible about this film, I’ll allow myself to give a little away.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil follows Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), two best friends who are mistaken for crazed serial killers. All they want is to renovate their “fixer-upper” vacation home, when a group of teenagers ruin their weekend by accusing them of kidnapping their friend. Tucker and Dale spend the better half of the film trying to return said friend, but end up getting themselves into trouble as a result of a few maddening misunderstandings.
This film is simultaneously hilarious and aggravating. The viewer sees both sides of the story and watches as each and every misstep on the part of Tucker and Dale turns into a nightmare. Tucker and Dale are two truly loveable characters and it’s saddening for the viewer to see them undergo such strife. This film, however, is immensely satisfying and wildly entertaining. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is dark humor at its finest. As much as you may feel dismayed about the struggles of the protagonists, you will find yourself laughing hysterically at the teenagers and their preposterous antics.
The final film on our off-the-wall horror comedy list is about a serial killer named Robert who obliterates anyone and anything with his mind. Robert isn’t your average serial killer … Robert is a tire. Rubber is absurdist horror comedy like you’ve never seen it before. The film is odd in every way; it begins with Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella) who emerges from the trunk of a car to tell the viewer directly why things happen in film. “No reason.” He uses this phrase as a metaphor for life in general and of course, as a helpful guide for viewers. The best way to enjoy this film, as implied by Lieutenant Chad, is to not think about it too hard.
The camera pans out on a tourist group who has gathered in the California desert to “watch a film.” Or in other words, they watch a homicidal tire make people explode from afar with their trusty binoculars. The tourist group gives context for what we are viewing as well as pointing out cinephile pretensions, by providing commentary on the tire’s actions throughout the “film” within a film. This existential satire is a gore fest of absurd and hilarious proportions. If you’re willing to accept the pointlessness of it all, Rubber really is an amazing time.
Be sure to pick up next week’s issue to read the Netflix Guru’s recommendations on the legendary werewolf vs. vampire matchups.
Sam Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.