Recommend me some fun horror movies!
July 2, 2011 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Could you recommend some fun horror movies that aren't really horror at all?

I have a penchant for horror movies that aren't really meant to scare you. Where it's all about the people beating the monster, not the monster killing the people. Where you care about the characters, and the characters you care about mostly don't get it in the end. (Mostly.)

The ones that come to mind right now are monster movies. The ever-classic Tremors, for example. Or Fright Night 1 and 2. Silver Bullet. Evil Dead 2 & 3. Dead Alive is in there too, why not.

In my mind, they don't really try to do anything that makes horror a distinct genre. They're more action/adventure, with a few death scenes thrown in. But I guess movies have to be shelved somewhere.

Elements I like about them: The character growth aspect, where the main character(s) transform from a gawky kid or general loser or whatever into someone willing and able to fight against great odds to save themselves and others.

The slow revelation/realization of the danger that exists, often coupled with an inability to get anyone else to take it seriously.

The fighting back, and the winning, against the evil/monsters.

What I'm saying is I would like some recs for horror movies that are more like Stand By Me than Saw or Halloween.
posted by jsturgill to Media & Arts (57 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

I also came in here to say Zombieland. And Shaun of the Dead.
posted by pemberkins at 9:21 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

They Live
posted by tomierna at 9:26 AM on July 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Great question. In addition to Zombieland and SotD, I'll recommend The Monster Squad and the absolutely ridiculous The Creeps.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:26 AM on July 2, 2011

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:27 AM on July 2, 2011

On further thought, I'll throw in Eight Legged Freaks, Freaked and Slither, although the last leans a bit more towards the scary, or at least gruesome, side of the spectrum. Basically, it sounds to me like you're looking for horror tropes leavened with some humor and worthwhile protagonists. Am I right?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:32 AM on July 2, 2011

Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Definitely on the silly side, though.
posted by WasabiFlux at 9:42 AM on July 2, 2011

MST3K! Mystery Science Theater 3000 has dozens of notscary monster funness movies and hilarious commentary. Especially seasons 2-5.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:42 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Frighteners. My Left Eye Sees Ghosts (lots of personal growth). Both have sweet love stories in them, some fun slapstick, and one or two scares.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:47 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

An American Werewolf in London.
posted by zanni at 10:05 AM on July 2, 2011

Response by poster: As Dead Alive should indicate in my question, gore/gruesome is not a problem! Nor, really, is scary.

You have the right idea, FoB, but I'll ramble on some more if you like. It's a matter of focus. Most horror movies focus on killing the characters off, one by one (slasher movies, Descent, modern-day torture porn, whatever else), or creating an intense feeling of dread or suspense in the audience: Rosemary's Baby, Cronenberg's stuff, etc. Some movies do both things, and of course this is a huge simplification so don't quote me on it later.

I like those movies a lot, but I'm not looking for that right now. I'm looking for movies that really do neither. They about dealing with the scary evil, and they demonstrate at least some of the attributes I listed in my OP.

Zombieland is a great example of what I'm looking for. SotD, They Live, and let's see... Lost Boys for sure. There are a lot more I'm probably not remembering right now. Goonies totally counts, but it counts for everything. (What, Goonies wasn't a horror movie??) Oh, and if I hadn't seen Big Trouble in Little China already, I'd be totally stoked if someone recommended it. (Yeah, that one isn't usually shelved in horror either, but it's totally awesome.)

Other kinds of horror :: What I'm talking about:

human frailty and weakness :: main character(s) empowerment/transformation/coming of age
focus on killing people :: focus on killing the monster
pervading sense of dread :: joy of watching the protags tackle the problem
no way out, every path blocked :: "Can you fly you sucker?!"
rooting for that prick to die already :: caring strongly about one or two characters

Lots of times these movies are labeled horror, but they're not. I suppose many are also labeled Scifi (alien monster rather than supernatural), fantasy, and action-adventure. The presence of horror tropes is necessary to scratch the itch I want scratched: a monster, probably some secondary character deaths, that undefinable horror je ne sais quoi, some gore here and there is good, a desire to showcase the monster effects (even when they're terrible due to budget constraints), that wonderful horror sense of humor, etc. I'm flexible. I'd rather people post more suggestions that maybe are good than get scared off from posting anything by too many requirements from me.

Maybe I should have left off the "horror" appellation, but 90% of the examples I can think of have a traditional horror movie monster (vampire, werewolf, alien) and/or are shelved in the horror section of most rapidly dying video stores.
posted by jsturgill at 10:20 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

AAWinL I would call a real horror movie, although it does also have comedic elements, its truly scary in places and quite gory (I love the subway scene!)
posted by supermedusa at 10:20 AM on July 2, 2011

nevermind then! nthing AAWinL, its a fantastic movie
posted by supermedusa at 10:21 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Jaws fits your description, I think.
posted by alligatorman at 10:22 AM on July 2, 2011

Probably too obvious, but more Stephen King? I think It, The Stand or Salem's Lot might fit. Maybe not quite fun enough, though.
posted by at 10:28 AM on July 2, 2011

Super 8 was kind of like this- it was very jumpy but there isn't much death. I just saw it last night and thought it was really good.
posted by yb2006shasta at 10:32 AM on July 2, 2011

Near Dark might be what you're looking for. Craziod white trash Vampires running wild in the contemporary west. Very dark humour and a surprisingly well done love story too. Still my favourite film by Kathryn Bigelow and criminally under rated and unknown. Watch for the redneck bar scene.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:38 AM on July 2, 2011

Check out this clip from the Japanese movie Hausu (House). The whole movie is surreal, hilarious at times, and always interesting. It also meets most of your criteria in your follow up post.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:38 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

THe Lost Boys.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 10:43 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was originally a movie, before it became a TV series that ran for 7 seasons and produced a spin-off, Angel, that ran for 5 seasons. The movie is a bit silly, but I still enjoy it. It includes a very nice performance by Donald Sutherland as the watcher. And even though you are asking for movies rather than TV series, I would very strongly recommend the Buffy/Angel series (if you haven't seen them already). As far as I can see, they are exactly what you are looking for.
posted by grizzled at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2011

I'm not sure if this would work, but I can't help but recommend The Happiness of the Katakuris, which is a Japanese musical zombie farce and is entirely awesome.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:56 AM on July 2, 2011

The Gremlins movies, right?
posted by furiousthought at 10:58 AM on July 2, 2011

The very entertaining Korean film, The Host (aka Gwoemul). Both dubbed and subtitled versions exist -- please avoid the former.
posted by (alice) at 10:58 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by gudrun at 11:00 AM on July 2, 2011

Not sure if this is what you're going for, but the 1999 version of The Mummy was sort of horror-only-not-really. Not so much deep character growth or anything, but funny!
posted by SymphonyNumberNine at 11:18 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wait Until Dark may not be up to your wants or needs but it is a great scary flic.
posted by bjgeiger at 11:25 AM on July 2, 2011

Stigmata might fit the bill.
posted by smirkette at 11:46 AM on July 2, 2011

Monster Squad is definitely the perfect movie for you. Also Gremlins & Zombieland.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:56 AM on July 2, 2011

The original Night of the Demons is a lot of fun, and there are parts of it that are mildly creepy.
posted by houndsoflove at 12:36 PM on July 2, 2011

You might want to track down a copy of the Clive Barker movie Nightbreed. It's framed as a horror movie, but it plays a game of invert-the-trope quite well, doesn't have the spatter factor of the first Hellraiser movie, and also has David Cronenberg acting (as a psychiatrist, no less!).
posted by mephron at 12:39 PM on July 2, 2011

posted by hot_monster at 1:00 PM on July 2, 2011

posted by yoyo_nyc at 1:14 PM on July 2, 2011

Also probably The Craft.
posted by furiousthought at 1:26 PM on July 2, 2011

Response by poster: Suggestions that I've seen already that totally fit and are good suggestions:

Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, They Live, Gremlins, Buffy, Near Dark, Jaws, The Craft, Night of the Creeps, Jaws, American Werewolf in London (tho most of the movies I'm looking for will have a... slightly different kind of ending), Frighteners, IT.

Recap of stuff I've already mentioned that totally fits:

Tremors, Fright Night, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, Silver Bullet

A few more I just thought of:

Warlock, Waxwork

There are some suggestions that aren't quite right, but I don't want to be negative! Also, I can't comment on the ones I haven't seen yet.

More suggestions would be great. I have a whole Netflix queue waiting to be filled here.
posted by jsturgill at 2:09 PM on July 2, 2011

Ink might do it--although the narrative is a little nonlinear and there's not much humor. There's an excellent sense of dread and a good arc of character development and not your standard picking off completely undefined characters one at a time.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:29 PM on July 2, 2011

Tucker & Dale vs Evil
posted by troll at 2:38 PM on July 2, 2011

posted by Boogiechild at 2:47 PM on July 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Sorry, forgot Hellboy.
posted by chrisulonic at 4:15 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tucker & Dale vs Evil has some gore, but really funny.
posted by lundman at 4:32 PM on July 2, 2011

posted by mkultra at 4:38 PM on July 2, 2011

The Witches of Eastwick
posted by fancyoats at 4:41 PM on July 2, 2011

Oh, Cronenberg's movies might work, too. Videodrome or eXistenZ in particular.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:07 PM on July 2, 2011

An American Werewolf in London has one of my all-time funniest crazy credits:
"All characters and events in this film are fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living, dead, or undead, is purely coincidental."
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:25 PM on July 2, 2011

Heavily seconding Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetary Man).

Fido, featuring Billy Connolly.
posted by porpoise at 7:38 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

What, no love for Alien yet?

Jonesy. Now there's a character.
posted by flabdablet at 8:31 PM on July 2, 2011

I think you would like some of the Masters of Horror series. Family, and Deer Woman, directed by John Landis, and Sick Girl, by Lucky McKee all have the tone you are looking for. Probably some other good ones in there.

Also, no one has recommended Murder Party. and that is crazy, because Murder Party is the movie you are looking for.

Go watch Murder Party.
posted by St. Sorryass at 9:12 PM on July 2, 2011

Let the Right One In --loved the character development in this movie.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 9:23 PM on July 2, 2011

Oh, back when I was a teenager I liked "My Boyfriend's Back." It's a zomcom.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:20 PM on July 2, 2011

Can't speak to the grown-up appeal... but when I was 12, I thought "Ernest Scared Stupid" was hilarious. Not sure if that fits.
posted by queens86 at 7:38 AM on July 3, 2011

House doesn't involve triumph per se, but it sure is goofy fun. It gets described as Scooby Doo for 20somethings.
posted by ifjuly at 12:04 PM on July 3, 2011


a) Big balls of fur with teeth
b) Camp as all hell 80s acting
c) Jennifer Anniston's first (ish) role if that's your kind of thing

It's gory and a little bit scary at times, but it's mostly popcorn awesome.
posted by litleozy at 5:35 AM on July 4, 2011

Not sure if it fits your criteria, but Ginger Snaps. It's definitely got the dorky kid growth character thing going on.
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 7:24 AM on July 4, 2011

The Hidden

From Wikipedia: "The creature likes to commit violent crimes, such as armed robbery and carjacking, and is willing to kill anyone that gets in its way, including children and law enforcement officers. It also seems to enjoy driving Ferrari cars at reckless speeds and listens to loud heavy metal music..."
posted by L. Ron McKenzie at 1:32 PM on July 5, 2011

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