Friday, May 10, 2013

Horror-Humor Done Right

I love Ghostbusters, and this blog is going to be biased. There you go. The warning is out. These movies, cartoons, and games have helped shape me into the person I am today. These movies mix great humor with scary things to make an awesome combination that makes me happy to be part of the human race.

What really pulls me into these movies is that they aren’t all-out spoof or gags. They have a chewy core of terror. Yes, the comedy covers up those elements, but they are incorporated to get people to watch horror without even realizing it. I have to say because of this movie and American Werewolf in London, I was terrified of dogs for a very long time. I was also afraid I would be mauled by a monster in front of a large crowd while people ignored my agony.

I must mention the current video game. It’s gotten mixed reviews, but I loved it. It frightened me in ways only the best horror games have gotten to me. It submerged me in a world of occult artifacts and creepiness, which was of course mixed with humor, but still managed to spook me. There was a part where the protagonist is forced to walk down a hall of mirrors created in another dimension, and he gets trapped while looking for a ghost. I’m not sure if my game glitched or if the game was meant to do this, but I walked up and down that hallway for half an hour while mirrors shifted, images distorted, and my own sense of rationalization was muddled. Finally, I found the ghost and progressed, but to this day, I’m unsure what happened to solve the puzzle other than I had been stuck looking at myself and contemplating my shortcomings long enough. Again, there’s a lot of comedy in Ghostbusters, but there’s a touch of darkness, too.

The hint of horror in these stories pops up several times in the first film. It jumps out at the beginning when the librarian shows her true form, it shows up when the containment unit explodes, and it turns its ugly face when Vinz mauls Louis in public. The atmosphere of the story contains the essence of horror--it’s in the architecture, the surreal, radiating colors, and the design of the ghosts. I love the comedy in Ghostbusters, but the stories win my heart because of the touch of spookiness they offer.


  1. I love Ghostbusters, too. I like how you point out that beneath the comedy there is horror. It didn't seem to me to be the case at first, especially after the list of movies and books we all just devoured. But then when Dana was in her apartment right before she gets taken by the refrigerator monster, I was actually anxious about the window behind her. I haven't seen it in so long I couldn't remember if anything pops up, but I was like, wow, they actually did the old window in the background trick.

  2. You are absolutely right about getting non-horror views to watch horror through the use of humor. I can see why my parents didn't let us watch this when we were younger. Completely about the scary parts of the story. I seriously think the scariest part is when she's in the chair and is taken by the monster. That would scare the crap out of me.

  3. You know, I've been meaning to play the Ghostbusters game for a while. When I was in Physical Therapy, my therapist told me to check it out. I got a copy of it but I haven't had time to check it out.

    I don't completely agree with you that comedy is used to make people watch horror if they don't watch horror already. If that were true, The horror elements would have to be the primary elements and the humor backs it up. Movies like the original Evil dead trilogy, Black Sheep, Cabin in the Woods are like that. I think this was simply more a comedy that used horror motif their own way, but there is proof that they did their homework before just doing it to understand the supernatural elements of the story.