What is a goremody? Well certain horror films – Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein, Evil Dead 2, Scream, Braindead and scores of others use humour as much as gore in their movies – thus they are goremodies, splatstick movies.
Horror fans seem to like a few laughs with their chills, but there
are those that insist humour has no place in a true horror movie. That’s
what makes the Exorcist such a relentless experience – there is
absolutely no light relief in the entire movie. And today the original
Evil Dead, the most serious of the franchise, outsells its sequels year
on year and has done for the best part of a decade. So is humour an
important part of the genre or does it detract from the effect of the
think the really hardcore horror fans only want Evil Dead 1. As I’ve
come across more and more horror fans, that seems to be a consensus.
They want the horror, the want the unrelenting grueling horror, and they
don’t want the filmmaker to tell them when to laugh. If something’s too
gruesome, they want to decide to laugh on their own. They don’t need a
joke there.” Rob Tabert, producer of the Evil Dead films.
I like my horror films to be peppered with humour – nothing too silly,
mind. I mean I’m no fan of out and out horror comedies, but a little
black humour often helps. Take the Exorcist for instance – the film,
although acknowledged as a classic, is too brutal and uncompromising for
my tastes. It’s not something I would choose for repeat viewing. The
horror movies I watch more than most are the Universal classics and
these films for the most part were strictly serious, with the odd dash
of gallows humour. But I do agree that the best horror movies use humour
sparingly and are all the more effective for it – take the original
Nightmare on Elm Street which does contain some light relief but for the
most part is nail-biting tension. None of the sequels or remakes have
ever touched upon the brilliance of the first. It’s the same with the
Halloween franchise. And many more I could mention – in fact if I tried
to list them all, this post would go on and on and on and….
and comedy are certainly linked – this is why the image of a circus
clown, the ultimate comedian, can appear terrifying. Stephen King
realised this and the creation of Pennywise from IT represents pure
distilled terror. Killer Klowns from Outer Space, tough may have diluted
However it remains an interesting question – do horror movies need
humour? I suppose it depends on the film and when done well, the humour
does not detract from the horror but instead enhances it. Think American
Werewolf in London, or From Dusk to Dawn – both movies benefit greatly
from the black humour. And then there’s that scene in The Shining (The
Kubrick original, of course) in which Mad Jack is busting through the
door with an axe, his terrified family cowering on the other side of the
door – “Heeerrrreee’s Johhhhnnny!”, he yells manically in what is a
terrific scene, made all the more chilling by the manic humour. Then
again there are countless horror movies, sequels mostly, where the
film’s been ruined by outright comedy.
You pays your money, you take your choice.