“Happiness is a warm gun.” - John Lennon
A fitting lead-in Remy wanted me to include for this week’s topic, as my typically lovable collaborator has been falling on tough times recently. Everyone hits a rough patch, me included most definitely, so I wanted to help him out this week with an uplifting focus. We’ve done “Worst Of” lists and wrote about terrible horror movies, so this week I suggested we simply write about the horror movies that make us happy. Smiles and positivity are the only way to fight the blues, and horror movies certainly have their own signature ways of cheering up viewers!
But yes, I know, it’s crazy to even think a disgusting horror flick about murderers and psychopaths could cheer someone up, but as you know, the two of us are pretty f#cked up already, so are you that surprised? But seriously, a horror film can be written with a lighthearted mindset, not just focusing on Satanism and atrocities against humanity. Sure, a kill-scene can be gruesome, but as long as the right tone is conveyed, it can also be grindhouse-y and hilarious or over-the-top B-Movie absurdity. To a horror fan, these are like a really good sight gag (comedy fans) or a really good on-screen kiss (romance fans), just with a lot more entrails strewn about the room.
Whatever, the cops haven’t been called on us yet, so we’re going to keep cranking out these lists. Come with us once again as we list some of our favorite films to watch in a certain scenario – this time specifically when either Remy or I need a good cheering up.
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Remy – Tucker and Dale
I know my boy Matt already has shown some love for this brilliant film, and now it’s my turn. Tucker and Dale takes every slasher film from the eighties, and spins the very idea of it on its head.
In the least amount of words, some kids are vacationing in the woods and mistake some backwoods rednecks for backwoods redneck killers. The end result is that they react adversely in some incredibly comical scenarios, and end up killing themselves trying to get AWAY from these two “thugs”, who actually are incredibly sweet, genuine guys. It may seem like a simple premise, but all the best horror does, and it always excels. You may think you have a good idea where this is all going, and you may think it would wear out its concept pretty quickly, but you add some backwoods cops into the mix, and the idea that the rednecks start thinking these kids are a suicide cult, and you can see just why this movie can put me in a good mood no matter how deep I am in the floating shit we call life.
Tucker and Dale transcends horror, too. While die hard horror fans worship Eli Craig’s film because it is such a love letter to the genre, even non-horror fans can appreciate how hilarious and offbeat this movie is.
Nato – Feast
Ah, Feast. No horror film can put a smile on my face quite like you – and I’m not exactly sure why. Be it the extremely random yet perfect cast, John Gulager’s attempt to give horror tropes the middle finger, or the bewilderingly excessive depiction of monster genitalia – Feast just freakin’ rules.
So Judah Friedlander, Jason Mewes, Henry Rollins, and Josh Zuckerman all walk into a bar – and evil, fornicating, replicating, hungry creatures want to break down the walls and snack on everyone inside. Yes, you’ve got the plot right there, but that isn’t even half the fun of Feast. I’m not kidding when I say Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton wrote a script that lampoons literally every horror cliché in the book, but does so while telling their very own story that never, ever travels into spoof land. Feast is its own bar invasion thriller with loads of gore and insanity, but just happens to be filled with surprises galore for first time watchers.
I mean, watch the movie for Friedlander alone, but stay for the hot horror vixen Jenny Wade – you’ll thank me!
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Remy – Fido
Zombies are my jam, and I am not some “new school” zombie lover. I saw the first Dawn of the Dead when I was seven, and that began my fascination with dead humans who come back to life to eat people.
Since I was about eleven (no joke) I have wondered what it would be like to have a zombie as a pet/friend. Fido answers my question, and one-ups said question by adding the setting of 1950′s America, Happy Days style. You then add to all that the fact that Billy Connolly plays the titular zombie in this film, and you can see why Fido has everything perfectly in place to act as a pick-me-up when life gets me a wee bit down, which it so say, like forty times a day. Also, having a pet zombie seems like it would go exactly as I saw it in my head. Good for a little while, then real, real bad. Still, I would have a Fido. I really would.
Nato – Zombieland
I know these picks are supposed to enlighten you and showcase my vast knowledge of all things you don’t know, but when I think of horror films that do nothing but make me happy, Zombieland stands front and center. Sure, it’s a horror/comedy hybrid a little more mainstream than some hardcore fans might be looking for, but this zombie-hunting, Twinkie-searching blast of a movie offers a light-hearted take on the zombie genre with a happy ending – something the horror genre needs every now and then.
Everything Zombieland stands for is positive and up-beat despite the apocalypse, be it Witchita and Little Rock searching for safety and their innocence at an amusement park called Pacific Playland, Tallahassee searching for normalcy and salvation in a box of Twinkies, or Columbus looking for his family but finding love – every character has a sweet side. The film isn’t all dark and gloomy like most zombie films, instead peppered with quirky little romantic moments and some serious comedy. Have no fear though, there’s still plenty of zombie kills and deadly highlights among Ruben Fleischer’s brilliant directorial debut, including the best celebrity cameo I’ve seen in possibly my entire lifetime. Normally I’d spoil the surprise and blame you for not seeing a film that came out 3 years ago, but this cameo is so good I can’t in my right mind let it out for the stragglers still yet to be drawn to Zombieland‘s bright light.
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Remy – Nightbreed
I tend to not often plug older horror, and I often forget why. I love it so much, and it helped pave the way for the horror we have today, so here I am, giving it more love. Truth is, I had a Clive Barker obsession when I was younger, and this Clive Barker film may actually be the most easily accessible. It is, for all intents and purposes, a sort of spin on Alice in Wonderland, only instead of Alice going to Wonderland, we have a young man who goes to stay among a group of wild mutants called Nightbreed who live under a cemetery.
I know, it sounds super nineties, and it was, but my God, it is awesome. A proverbial Where The Wild Things Are, the most feral part of me reacts to these creatures, and the war they eventually have with the humans when they are discovered.
There are characters from this film that I still truly believe are some of the coolest character designs for creatures, ever. All I need to say is Peloquin, and fans of the film know what I am talking about. Also, Nightbreed‘s main villain, Dr. Decker, is played by the BRILLIANT horror director David Cronenberg, who was a huge inspiration to Clive Barker early on in his career. Also, I wrote to Clive Barker when I was younger, and he wrote me back, by hand. I never, ever forget that, and was essential to why I am still writing today.
Nato – Gremlins
I’ll argue with anyone that Gremlins absolutely belongs in the horror genre, even though it dances a dangerously thin line between horror comedy and straight up comedy. Screw it though, I just re-watched Joe Dante’s holiday spectacular this Christmas with some like-minded friends, and I can’t tell you how much I still enjoy every Gizmo filled minute. Alright, alright, everything about Gremlins is pretty awesome, but we all know there’s one stand out character – The Giz.
Whether the cute and cuddly little Mogwai is driving a car like Speed Racer, wearing a Santa hat with perfect Christmas card potential, screaming “BRIGHT LIGHT,” getting scared during movies, or just being a straight G, this adorable creature makes me laugh like a stupid school girl – and I’m not afraid to admit it. Billy should be beaten for the way he treats Gizmo, repeatedly breaking every rule, especially the one that says no bright lights! How many times is Gizmo tortured by Billy being a total idiot and shining something in Gizmo’s eyes?! That’s the true horror, Mogwai abuse!
But seriously, Gremlins is an absolute blast of a classic/cult film, and the bar scene in which a transformed Mogwai army causes total havoc is easily one of my favorite cinematic scenes of all time. You want to keep me in stitches for minutes? Just have goofy puppets do hilarious people things like flash the female character and get absolutely plastered. Game, set, match.
Because he’s so damn cute, here’s a video of the first time we meet Gizmo!
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Remy – Irreversible
Oh wow, lost you on this one, huh? Remy, how can a movie with a nine-minute rape scene cheer you up? That is sick!!
Hear me out and it will make sense.
Irreversible is, by all accounts, one of the hardest movies to watch, ever. For most people, when that movie ends, they want to hang themselves. To say it is nihilistic would be to sell short just how nihilistic it really is. A day in the life of one couple, torn asunder by tragedy after tragedy.
But my feeling is this: The movie ends, and you look around, and realize none of that stuff happened to you. It happened to THEM, in the film, but the whole point of the movie playing in reverse is to show you, in the sweetest of moments (how the film ends), we don’t even consider what kind of unforeseeable tragedies await around the corner. A movie like this reminds us of those true-to-life tragedies, and shows us, in one fleeting second, that we can stop to appreciate the moment we are in, long before, or long after the chaos has come. For that reason alone, Irreversible puts me in a good mood, because it reminds me just how bad life can be, showing me, in that moment, just how good life really is.
Wow, I just gave myself a bloody nose from over thinking.
Nato – Evil Dead II
How does the combination of Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi not immediately put a giant grin on your face? What about the fact that it isn’t just a crappy Spider-Man cameo but instead the wonderfully classic horror film Evil Dead II? Works double for me! You’ve won my attention for 84 minutes.
Like most of my picks today, what ISN’T there to like about Evil Dead II? This sequel/pseudo-remake attacks the horror genre with serious laughs and demented jokes, making Raimi and Campbell look like two sick and twisted geniuses. I mean which scene can I point to which drives this notion home? Let’s see, could it be the infamous hand scene, where Ash’s (Campbell) hand becomes possessed and Bruce is forced to wrestle with himself on camera? Or could it be when Ash goes crazy and enters a laughing fit, along with all the furniture in the living room chiming in as well? What about the iconic scene in the toolshed where he wrestles with Linda’s head and body, separately?
Stop it, Evil Dead II has been ranked on so many Best Of lists it’s not even funny, showing just how special this horror comedy really is. You can’t help but smile when Ash says “Groovey” the first time, or ends up in another dimension when the film ends. And yes, a viewing of Evil Dead II almost always ends with a subsequent viewing of Army of Darkness – I can never help myself!
Alright fans, which horror films cheer you up when you need it most?!
*A special thanks to Remy for stepping in to guest write! Feel free to follow either of us on Twitter for even more insanity and updates:
Matt Donato Follow @DoNatoBomb
Remy Carreiro Follow @RemyCarreiro
Like what you read? Check out last week’s article where we list which directors we’d love to see participate in a VHS 3!Previous