Sometimes referred to as black comedy, black comedies are a subgenre of film that brings opposing themes to a film or series. Using comedy on top of a generally serious subject matter gives the audience a chance to laugh at the macabre. While the genre isn’t for everyone, the mix of comedy and darker subject matter often complements each other well enough that most can enjoy the project.
Some films – usually horror – can be tragic and extremely dark, but the addition of comedic aspects gives audiences momentary respite. Whether or not a viewer appreciates dark humor, most black comedies are well-known for their disaster jokes.
ten Shaun Of The Dead Is A Classic Zombie Movie Parody
by Edgar Wright Shaun of the dead is a heartfelt comedy about Shaun and his friends trying to survive a night with zombies. The British comedy is the first film in an anthology titled Trilogy Cornetto with Three Flavors. Dry humor is scattered throughout the film, with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost leading the way.
As the living humans struggle for survival on their journey to the local pub, they crack a few jokes despite having to kill the undead zombies. The ordinary nature of the characters’ personal lives is such a refreshing subject amid the chaotic invasion of the undead.
9 American Psycho subtly pokes fun at 80s culture
Although American psycho is one of the darkest comedies compared to the rest, its subtle humor and its themes are self-explanatory. Christian Bale stars as Patrick Bateman, a narcissistic investment banker by day and a serial killer by night. Despite some of the more brutal scenes that show Bateman’s crimes, there are some strange nods to the state of ’80s consumerism and work culture.
Bateman’s ruthless nature is almost the result of his colleagues’ competitive and conceited attitude. Although the humorous aspects are discreet, they remain one of the best qualities of the film.
8 What We Do in the Shadows mocks vampires in a modern setting
One of Taika Waititi’s first films, What we do in the shadows parodies vampire movies of the past in mockumentary style. The New Zealand film features a group of former vampires living together in a house like ordinary roommates in the present day.
Awkward stares into the camera, ridiculous storylines involving roommates chores and their feud with local werewolves make the film incredibly delightful for fans of dark humor. The hilarious film is praised for its comedy and even spurred on two spin-off series.
seven Army of Darkness never takes itself too seriously
While the first two evil Dead films are generally considered to be more in the realm of horror, the third film, army of darkness, takes the story back to the Middle Ages. The film features Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, once again battling the forces of evil, hoping to return to the present.
Ash helps King Arthur fight against an army of undead led by an evil copy of himself. The chainsaw-and-gun hero never misses the jokes, and the film remains a dark and light fantasy.
6 Cabin in the Woods twists horror tropes
2011 horror comedy, The cabin in the woods doesn’t shy away from openly poking fun at overused horror tropes. As in typical horror movies, the main characters are a group of young students who travel to a mysterious cabin in the woods.
Unlike other horror films, the genre is turned upside down when characters don’t fit expected stereotypical roles. Unbeknownst to the group, an underground facility is organizing “monsters” to come out and attack the friends. The gory comedy is a bit dark for the most part, but the knocks on the horror cliches make the movie refreshing.
5 Fargo is a hilarious inside look at a small town murder investigation
Oscar winner Fargo is arguably one of the greatest black comedies. The film prides itself on the gore factor by focusing on a set of cops in Fargo, Minnesota investigating a series of murders. Many audiences appreciated the dry humor that only Francis McDormand and William H. Macy could provide.
While the film was amazing as a standalone feature, it spawned a spinoff series on FX. The simplistic small-town backdrop complements the comedic nature of how well the cops handle the large-scale investigation.
4 Stalin’s death puts a satirical spin on the story
The Soviet Union under Stalin was one of the darkest times in the history of the last century. Yet the Death of Stalin gives audiences a controversial comic reprieve on top of a somewhat inaccurate history lesson. The film chronicles the historical figures surrounding Stalin and their handling of his death and, later, the country.
The comedy brings a sense of humanity and defect to the otherwise loyal and power-hungry characters taken so seriously. Although the film was banned in two countries, it is a breath of fresh air for audiences interested in a silly take on history.
3 Krampus does not forgive the spirit of Christmas
Krampus highlighted the once lesser known demonic figure of Christmas from Germanic folklore. While the number serves more as a warning to children who misbehave during the holidays, it took on a literal interpretation in the 2015 film. The plot revolves around a Christmas-obsessed boy and his complicated family who become get together for the holidays.
When the boy is angered by his family and tears up his letter to Santa Claus, Krampus makes an appearance in the neighborhood. The demon goes after the family and their helpers, punished for their greed and anger. All the while, the film uses outlandish humor to tone down the dark tale.
2 Ready Or Not pits a bride against her in-laws
Ready or Not details the story of a newlywed who witnesses her in-laws’ family tradition of playing a game on their wedding night. Although it starts out as a seemingly innocent practice, when the bride chooses “Hide and Seek”, she quickly learns that they intend to kill her.
Throughout the film, the bride, Grace, is stalked by her new family due to a satanic deal made by their ancestor. Curiously, dark jokes and practical humor are added to balance the otherwise dark storyline and cold-hearted characters.
1 Death becomes its agreements with love, death and competitive friendships
With Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis in the lead, Death becomes her is a 1992 Robert Zemeckis film about the consequences of vanity. Streep and Hawn have a toxic friendship. After years of a failed career and aging appearance, Madeline receives a rejuvenating potion from an immortal woman, who gave the same to Madeline’s rival and ex-friend, Helen.
After the two kill each other, their potion causes them to continue living, though they must keep their decaying bodies in shape. The film is full of genuine humor and remains a fun watch.
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