15 Best Horror Parodies, Ranked

15 Best Horror Parodies, Ranked

There are all sorts of reasons to love movies, but there’s nothing quite like the experience of getting scared with a group of people. The horror genre is deeply subjective and it’s fascinating to see how trends can change across decades and what routinely gets under the audience’s skin.

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Movie audiences have become increasingly savvy to genre conventions and tropes, which has given self-aware projects and ambitious parodies new life. The horror genre is such a natural fit for heightened parodies that properly accentuate both terror and humor. A lot of these genre-bending projects find success, but there are some that go above and beyond to become evergreen classics.

Updated January 22, 2023 by Daniel Kurland: Horror remains one of the most versatile storytelling genres and it lends itself especially well to tonal hybrids that push scares to unexpected places. There’s a symbiotic relationship between horror and comedy where both provide visceral reactions, whether it’s laughter or terror. There’s a growing trend towards self-aware and meta horror stories and it makes sense that a genre so full of rules would be ripe for parody. These genre experiments can be colossal failures where neither the horror of the humor properly lands, but they’re unlike anything else when they’re done right.

15 The Comedy Of Terrors

A Farcical Motivation Drives Silly Serial Slayings

The title Comedy of Terrors alone gives audiences a pretty good idea that this horror film is going to be heavily steeped in parody. The 1960s film is written by Richard Matheson and features an all-star cast that includes Vincent Price and Peter Lorre.

Price’s Waldo Trumbull is a vicious undertaker, but his murderous ways stem from the need to be able to afford his drinking habit. The Comedy of Terrors gets into grim territory, but it’s consistently undercut with a comedic slant. The central target, for instance, needs to be executed on multiple occasions.

14 Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein

A Classic Movie Monster Meets His Comedic Match

Crossovers have become increasingly common over the past decade and horror is a genre that loves to play around in this territory. But a very early gem pairs together the famous comedy duo Abbott and Costello with Universal’s horror icon, Frankenstein’s Monster.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is actually one of the team’s better movies. Their bumbling comedy blends surprisingly well with the grandiose tropes and visual language of horror movies. It’s a fun film that’s able to both laugh at and frighten itself.

13 Freaky

The Horror Genre Gets Its Own Freaky Friday

Christopher Landon initially cut his teeth in the Paranormal Activity franchise, but he’s since comfortably found his niche in horror comedies that show an unabashed love and respect for the horror genre and its many tropes. Freaky is Landon’s follow-up to the Happy Death Day franchise, and it could easily have been subtitled “Freaky Friday the 13th.”

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A masked slasher behemoth swaps bodies with a bullied girl in high school and this terrifying experience somehow turns into an opportunity for her to figure out who she truly is. Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton elevate Freaky to something special through their nuanced performances, but there are also excessive kills on display.

12 Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon

An Amateur Killer Attempts To Forge His Own Legacy

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a fascinating slasher mockumentary that taps into humanity’s need to self-mythologize. The movie examines a modern serial killer, Leslie Vernon, who hires a film crew to document his legacy as the next Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees.

Behind the Mask finds a clever construct to justify its lo-fi angle and the idea of a murderer who idolizes horror movie slashers and models his patterns after them is unfortunately quite believable. Behind the Mask presents horror staples as a security blanket to Leslie Vernon, but they’re ironically what become his undoing, too.

11 Piranha 3D

An Aquatic Creature Feature Turns Up The Blood & Guts To Stay Afloat

The original Piranha from 1978 is an entertaining footnote from the decade notable for featuring early directorial efforts from Joe Dante. The remake’s director Alexandre Aja has proven himself to be one of the most extreme and subversive horror filmmakers of this generation and he perfectly understands the mission with Piranha 3D.

Piranha 3D finds the perfect balance between heightened humor and genuine carnage. The movie’s 3D effects gleefully take advantage of its bloody premise and its surprise ending is still memorable. Its sequel, Piranha 3DD skews a little too far towards the comedy and loses the thread, but Piranha 3D is far better than it has any right to be.

10 Scary Movie

A Decade’s Worth Of Slasher Staples Get Lampooned

Wes Craven’s Scream rejuvenated the slasher genre through its brilliant and satirical deconstruction of horror, but its priorities are to terrify the audience more than they are to make them laugh. Scream was originally written under the working title Scary Movie, which makes it even more fitting that the full-on parody of this series would co-opt the self-aware title.

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There are five entries in the Scary Movie parody series. The films are able to tackle a decade’s worth of horror tropes between Scream, The Exorcist, Signs, and more. There are diminishing returns across the Scary Movie films, but they’re an iconic piece of pop culture and the first two movies still have a lot of charm.

9 Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

A Clever Parody With Heart & Horror To Spare

Some of the most successful horror movies to come out of the past few decades are the ones that seamlessly blend horror, comedy, and the genres’ evolving reputations. The “hillbilly horror” trope has been around for decades and it’s still being used in modern horror movies.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil works so well because its main characters are two rough-around-the-edges people who the horror genre has conditioned audiences to fear. Clueless college students vilify Tucker and Dale as they get worked up into a bloody misunderstanding. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a clever parody of this subgenre of horror, but it makes sure that the titular characters are people who the audience genuinely cares about.

8 Bride Of Chucky And Seed Of Chucky

The Iconic Murderous Doll Adds Comedy To His Kill

The Child’s Play killer doll horror series has churned out seven films, a reboot, and a connected television series, and it’s still going strong. There was a lengthy break between 1991’s Child’s Play 3 and 1998’s Bride Of Chucky, but the quirky series has returned in full force.

Bride Of Chucky softly rebooted the movies to be more comedic in nature. The following Chucky movies are still filled with death and gore, but Bride Of Chucky and its follow-up, SeedOf Chucky, firmly land in parody territory. This tonal pivot turned out to be the right approach for the Child’s Play series, which has found new life.

7 The Return Of The Living Dead

A Punk Rock Zombie Party That’s Endured The Test Of Time

George A. Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead films are absolutely essential pieces of zombie cinema. The Return Of The Living Dead branches off into its own odd series of undead movies, which are considerably sillier than Romero’s original movies.

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There are some excellent prosthetics and gore effects in Return Of The Living Dead. More than anything else, though, it feels reflective of its 1980s setting with the rise of punk rock zombies. There are some terrifying visuals in this movie, but the punk rock angle is enough to push the film into the comedy genre.

6 Shaun Of The Dead

An Effortless Rom-Zom-Com For The Ages

Edgar Wright has emerged as one of this generation’s most fascinating and ambitious filmmakers through bold genre experiments like Hot Fuzz, World’s End, Baby Driver, and Last Night In Soho. However, Wright’s feature film directorial debut, Shaun Of The Dead, is a pitch-perfect parody of the zombie invasion.

Wright crafts a moving coming-of-age narrative where Simon Pegg’s slacker protagonist is so upset over a recent breakup that he’s oblivious to the early signs of an undead apocalypse. Wright touches on the major zombie tropes, but Shaun Of The Dead is also a fun and delirious burst of action, comedy, and even romance.

5 Cabin In The Woods

A Gleeful Mindbender For The Hardcore Horror Fans

Cabin In The Woods is a brave, unrelenting love letter to the horror genre. It never compromises its vision, which culminates into one of the most surreal final acts that a horror film has ever seen. Cabin In The Woods begins in very familiar territory as a group of teenagers escapes to an isolated cabin for the weekend.

The group begins to suspect sinister activity is afoot, but the genre soon folds in on itself after it’s revealed that a government agency pulls the strings on these – and perhaps all – stereotypical horror attacks. This meta take on horror manages to be equally funny and scary at the same time.

4 What We Do In The Shadows

The Vampire Mockumentary The World Woefully Needed

The silly mockumentary subgenre has become increasingly popular throughout the 2000s and it’s an effective lens to explore supernatural material. What We Do In The Shadows is structured as a documentary on the lives of a group of Staten Island vampires.

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The dry film style and innocuous dialogue make for a playful juxtaposition against all the classic horror tropes. What We Do In The Shadows is a hilarious and brilliant piece of mockumentary filmmaking, but it’s extended this silliness into one of the most popular shows on television, which is still going strong after four seasons.

3 Young Frankenstein

Mel Brooks’ Love Letter To Old Universal Horror Movies

Mel Brooks is one of the funniest minds of all time and many of his movies are deeply stylized genre parodies. Brooks has lampooned Westerns, science fiction, silent films, and even the filmography of Alfred Hitchcock. However, many consider his ode to Universal’s monster movies Young Frankenstein to be his best work.

Young Frankenstein reinterprets Mary Shelley’s myth of Frankenstein’s Monster, right down to its impressionistic black-and-white cinematography. Young Frankenstein embraces serious visuals and undercuts them with broad nonsense. If the success of the movie wasn’t enough, Brooks’ parody masterpiece has also been turned into a popular Broadway musical.

2 Scream

Clever Killers Gain Inspiration From Slasher Movies

With five entries out and a sixth on the way, Scream has become one of the biggest modern slasher series, but also one of the most consistent. The Scream movies essentially operate like modern whodunits, albeit ones that are driven by an obsession with the predictable rules of the horror genre.

Scream effortlessly pokes fun at horror’s language while it also gleefully indulges in these grievances, but actually makes them scary. It’s a rare case where scares and laughs are naturally mixed together. Scream has only gotten stronger as it’s progressively deconstructed modern horror and its commentary on topics like social media fame and toxic fandom remains incredibly relevant.

1 Gremlins 2

The Perfect Sequel Is Also The Height Of Parody

There is no shortage of talented filmmakers who know how to properly balance horror and comedy. However, it’s hard to compete with Joe Dante, especially during the 1980s and ‘90s. Gremlins is a formative piece of cinema that combines a cautionary monster outbreak with Christmas.

Gremlins 2 is ostensibly a wilder and weirder remake of the original, but the thoroughly odd experience somehow surpasses the first Gremlins at every turn. There are more Gremlins, bigger setpieces, and self-aware humor is at its finest. The Gremlins even get so out of control that they briefly “break” the movie.

NEXT: 10 Horror Tropes We Still Love


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