20 of the Funniest Scenes in Horror Movies
Featuring bees, a demonic goat and plenty of maniacal laughter
On Oct. 15, Halloween Kills — the second installment in David Gordon Green’s trilogy of Halloween sequels — was released, and while your opinion of it will likely depend on how you feel about retconned plot details and heavy-handed commentary about mob rule, one criticism keeps being echoed: it’s not funny enough.
That may be an odd thing to say about a horror franchise in which a masked killer goes on a murderous rampage, but for all its terrifying gore, the original was peppered with moments with moments of genuine levity. As The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney writes, “Within the context of Carpenter’s laser-focused plotting, Michael’s kills were often subversively playful, suggesting a warped sense of humor beneath his psychosis. Here, he’s just a mayhem machine, going through the motions.”
Even beyond the Halloween franchise, there’s a long history of humor in horror movies, whether it’s an intentionally campy and cartoonish kill scene, a well-timed joke to cut the tension or an unintentionally funny scene that you can’t help but giggle through. The best horror films are the ones that welcome a little laughter in; who wants to watch a bleak, gory slog? We don’t need to counter every single jump-scare with a gag, but a little playfulness can go a long way. With that in mind, since spooky season is upon us, we’re celebrating some of the funniest horror movie scenes — intentional or not — below.
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987): “Garbage day!”
Sometimes a horror movie’s intentionally funny, and other times a particularly over-the-top performance turns it into a meme. The latter is the case with Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, which sees Ricky Caldwell snapping and going on a killing spree of his own after his murderous brother’s rampage in the first movie. In this extremely goofy scene, he terrorizes a neighborhood by shooting at random and — most memorably — yelling “Garbage day!” while killing a man who was taking out his trash.
Deep Blue Sea (1999): Samuel L. Jackson gets eaten
The best horror movie laughs are all about timing. Take, for example, this scene from Deep Blue Sea, in which Samuel L. Jackson’s character tries to rally the troops by giving an inspirational monologue about hope — only to be eaten in the middle of his speech by a massive CGI shark that leaps up out of the water with no warning.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989): Julius tries to box Jason
Hubris can be hilarious; why, when faced with an undead or otherwise superhuman killing machine who has already racked up an obscene body count, do we mere mortals assume we’re the ones who’ll be able to defeat it? Take, for example, poor Julius here, who inexplicably thinks he can defeat Jason with his bare hands. He dares the masked killer to give him his best shot, and Jason literally punches his head off.
Zombeavers (2014): Bill Burr and John Mayer wreak havoc
If you couldn’t figure it out from the title, Zombeavers is a horror-comedy about a group of college kids who get attacked by zombie beavers while staying at a riverside cabin. How did said beavers get zombified? A pair of truckers, played by Bill Burr and John Mayer (yes, that John Mayer), accidentally hit a deer and spill a bunch of toxic chemicals into the river. Then, after inadvertently causing a whole lot of beaver-induced carnage, the pair resurfaces at the end of the movie when (spoiler alert) lone survivor Zoe tries to flag them down for help. They fail to see her, hitting her and killing her. So much for our Final Girl!
Malignant (2021): Police station scene
Sometimes you watch a film and wonder, “Why did the director make that choice?” The joy of Malignant — released this year on HBO Max and from the creative mind of director James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) — is that there isn’t a single moment in the film where you can say, “Oh, that was expected.” We don’t want to spoil anything, though we will say misdirection is everywhere in this film that seems like it’s about a woman’s deadly imaginary friend coming to life (who also knows parkour). The first half? A little slow and seemingly filmed in endless monsoons. The second half? Batshit crazy in such a good way (like, Mandy-level insane good). The police station fight scene alone is kind of like a ‘70s women’s prison film, if the female prisoners faced off against a member of Jabbawockeez and all had to die in the grossest way possible. — Kirk Miller
Halloween H20 (1998): Laurie decapitates Michael
This scene’s not necessarily intended to be funny, but I always found it to be laughably bad. After she manages to pin Michael Myers between a van and a tree, Laurie Strode finds the slasher who has been terrorizing her for 20 years reaching out to her … for help? I guess? Michael wordlessly extends his hand to her — maybe it’s a last-ditch effort to grab her and kill her? — and for a moment, she considers taking it, nearly sharing a tender moment with THE GUY WHO KILLED ALL HER FRIENDS AND HAS BEEN HUNTING HER FOREVER. Eventually, she snaps out and goes for the total opposite reaction, swiftly decapitating him with an axe. (Don’t worry; the subsequent sequels pretend none of this ever happened.)
Stephen King’s IT (1990): The library scene
The Tim Curry version of Stephen King’s IT isn’t nearly as scary as the 2017 adaptation, but what it lacks in spookiness it makes up in comic relief. Take, for example, this scene where Pennywise terrorizes Richie in a library by generally being loud and releasing a bunch of balloons full of blood. The best part, of course, is Curry’s delightfully over-the-top maniacal laugh.
Slaxx (2020): Literally any one of the many scenes in which a pair of jeans kills people
It’s impossible to choose just one scene from Slaxx as the funniest, because they’re all absolutely insane. The movie is about a pair of possessed jeans — yes, you read that correctly — that take on a life of their own and begin slaughtering customers in a clothing store. They strangle, constrict and even cut off limbs with their zipper; it’s all absurd, but there’s a self-awareness here that brings it all together.
Maximum Overdrive (1986): “We made them”
In a 2002 interview, Stephen King admitted he was “coked out of [his] mind all through its production, and [he] really didn’t know what [he] was doing” when he directed this movie about machines becoming sentient and going on a killing spree. The over-acting in this scene — where a waitress incredulous over the trucks coming to kill everyone repeatedly screams, “They can’t. We made them!” — seems to indicate he wasn’t the only one.
Halloween (1978): Lynda’s death
Halloween is a classic, of course, and while it’s not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, there’s definitely some whimsy thanks to scenes like this one. After killing Lynda’s bespectacled boyfriend Bob, Michael Myers dons a sheet and Bob’s glasses and lingers in the doorway of the bedroom where Lynda’s waiting. She assumes he’s Bob playing some sort of weird, wordless prank, and when she tries to call Laurie, Michael strangles her with the telephone cord, leading Laurie to believe the groans she’s hearing are sex noises. It’s a fittingly amusing demise for the movie’s funniest character.
Freaky (2020): Millie reveals to her friends that she’s stuck in the Blissfield Butcher’s body
Freaky is basically a twist on Freaky Friday in which a high-school girl and a serial killer swap bodies. Naturally, all sorts of hijinks ensue, and after Millie finds her self stuck in the body of the Blissfield Butcher (played by Vince Vaughn), she has to convince her friends she is who she says she is, doing the school mascot’s dance routine after fighting them off.
Shaun of the Dead (2004): The record-throwing scene
Shaun of the Dead is perhaps the gold-standard of horror-comedy, and this scene is just one example of why. When fighting off a horde of zombies, Shaun and Ed have to use whatever they have at their disposal; unfortunately that includes his vinyl record collection, and the pair dig through it at a perhaps-too-leisurely pace, debating which records should be spared and which are disposable enough to be tossed at the heads of approaching zombies.
Happy Death Day (2017): “Welcome to the Pleasure Dome”
Happy Death Day and its sequel Happy Death Day 2 U, about a sorority girl who is murdered on the night of her birthday and gets caught in a time loop where she must solve her own murder to escape, are essentially comedies. (Think Groundhog Day meets Scream.) Given that, there are plenty of funny scenes to choose from, but this one — in which our heroine Tree fails to notice a guy being violently murdered behind her because she’s too busy texting — is particularly memorable. Bonus points for the social commentary provided when a drunk frat bro walks in on her being murdered, doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary about a man on top of a screaming, struggling woman and walks out.
Cabin Fever (2002): “Pancakes!”
The less you know about this absurd scene from Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever going into it, the better. But let’s just say there’s a reason that “Do NOT sit next to Dennis” sign is up on that porch.
Troll 2 (1990): “They’re eating her!”
Troll 2 is widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made — one that’s so bad, it’s good — and the acting leaves a lot to be desired. That’s no more evident than in this scene, with its unparalleled delivery of the line “They’re eating her! And then they’re going to eat me! Oh my goddddddd!“
Child’s Play (1988): Chucky escapes
Look, I know he’s possessed by the soul of a serial killer, but there’s no way a grown woman can’t fight off a doll, right? Karen looks absolutely ridiculous thrashing around with Chucky, and when you add the fact that the child’s plaything is calling her a “stupid bitch” as he attacks her, this whole scene is definitely more laughable than it is scary.
Scream (1996): “Look behind you”
There are funnier one-liners (like “my mom and dad are gonna be so mad at me“) in Scream, but no scene embodies its sharp genre satire more perfectly than this one. Randy Meeks, the resident horror expert who loves to point out the all the genre’s most common tropes and use them to draw conclusions about who Ghostface might be, sits on the couch watching Halloween while yelling “Look behind you” at the screen — unaware that Ghostface is lurking behind him and Gale’s cameraman Kenny (who’s watching him via a hidden camera in their news van) is yelling the same thing at him.
Drag Me to Hell (2009): The demon goat
Demonic possession is usually pretty funny, whether intentionally or not, thanks to all the goofy devil voices and speaking in tongues. This seance scene from Drag Me to Hell, however, takes the cake, thanks to a perfect storm of bad CGI, a demon vomiting up a cat and a goat who becomes possessed and yells things like “You bitch” and “You black-hearted whore.”
The Wicker Man (2006): The bees
There are a ton of Nicolas Cage movies we could pull scenes from for this list, but none are quite as iconic as this over-the-top scene in which Cage screams “NOT THE BEES” as he’s tortured by a swarm of … well, bees. Since it was first released in 2006, it’s become one of the internet’s most beloved memes — and perhaps a reminder of why they don’t allow you to have bees in here.
Evil Dead 2 (1987): The laughing scene
Sam Raimi’s 1987 follow-up to his low-budget horror classic is pretty much the exact same film — Bruce Campbell, cabin in the woods, Necronomicon, demonic possession, etc. With two exceptions: He had a bit more money for special effects and he fully leaned in on dark humor. And #dadjokes — how else are you gonna keep the possessed hand you chopped off under control, except by placing a bucket over it and weighing it down with (whomp whomp) a copy of A Farewell to Arms? At one point, our “hero” Ash snaps — possibly due to the unholy amount of blood the house douses him with — and, after a few pratfalls straight out of the Three Stooges, he collapses into hysterical laughter. Joining him? A cackling mounted deer head, a chortling lamp and some giggling books. It’s basically an NC-17 cartoon — and Raimi obviously felt empowered after the film’s cult status success, upping the hilarity in the next sequel (Army of Darkness) and a recent spin-off TV show (Ash vs. Evil Dead). — Kirk Miller
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