Certain holidays have genres. Valentine’s Day has romantic movies, Christmas has Christmas movies, and Halloween, generally, has horror movies. Since horror movies aren’t for everyone, the film industry has taken it upon itself to produce some funny Halloween movies.
The same year that Mel Brooks adeptly parodied the Western in Blazing Saddles, he released one of the most acclaimed horror parodies of all time: Young Frankenstein. Taking on the Universal Frankenstein films of the 1930s – specifically Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Son of Frankenstein – the director managed to find humor in the absurdity of the Frankenstein story.
Brooks imagined what would happen if Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t a Shakespearean anti-hero or a misunderstood innocent, but a goofy dingbat. The monster’s desire for a mate is found in both Mary Shelley’s novel and Bride of Frankenstein; this is the only version of the story where the monster finds the woman of his dreams, and it’s both adorable and hilarious. The film is a major treat for movie buffs, as it recreates many of the essential elements of the Universal films, right down to using many of the same sets. Fans will enjoy watching this film again and again to pick up on the references to earlier Frankenstein films.
Clue isn’t exactly a horror parody – it’s essentially a parody of Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries – but it has enough Gothic ambience to be an essential funny Halloween movie. Loosely based on the popular board game, the film is about a handful of strangers who have been invited by a butler named Wadsworth (played by Tim Curry) to an old house for a mysterious dinner party.
Wadsworth reveals that one of the guests, Mr. Boddy (played by Lee Ving), is blackmailing the rest of them; the group plans to hand him over to the police but the lights go out and Boddy is mysteriously murdered before they can bring him to justice. Wadsworth and company attempt to solve Boddy’s murder as the corpses – and laughs – multiply.
Clue is a movie that manages to work on multiple levels. The film works as an intriguing and complex mystery; it’s also just plain hilarious. We get to see character actors like Curry, Madeline Kahn, and Christopher Lloyd ham it up and deliver uproarious dialogue.
The film also came with the added gimmick of three separate endings. Each one works as a conclusion to the film’s central mystery and is funny in its own right. The film also boasts one of the best scores ever written for a comedy. While Clue is far from an iconic 1980s movie, it seems to be garnering more and more appreciation as the years go on.
The appeal of Ghostbusters is very similar to the appeal of Clue – it combines an intriguing story that would work in a serious film with some hilarious jokes and great chemistry between famous comedic actors. While Clue had a great score, Ghostbusters has arguably the most iconic tie-in song in the history of tie-in songs – no disrespect to Celine Dion. The film’s special effects still manage to hold up over 30 years after its release, and the fascinating world that it created kept audiences enthralled over the course of multiple sequels, television series, and video games.
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