The Top 10 British Comedy Horror Films

By C.M. Saunders

That time of year again, eh? I was going to write about the history of Halloween and how it’s mired in ancient Celtic folklore. But all that stuff is freely available online and not very exciting. I wanted to do something special for you instead. So how about a Top 10 Horror Movie List? Not special enough? OK, how about a Top 10 BRITISH Horror Movie List? Still not good enough? Well, taking it to the next level, you know how us Brits are renowned for our unique, irreverent, occasionally wacky yet sophisticated sense of humour? No? Well, we are. Sometimes it can be as subtle as an autumn breeze. Other times it can be fast, bloody, and brutal. Like a good bout of period sex. So… how about a Top 10 British COMEDY Horror Movie List? Yeah, let’s do that.

 

10: I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990)

vamp motorcycle

Once upon a time, in a faraway land called 1980s Britain, there was a very popular comedy drama TV series. Boon was its name, and it was about a courier service-cum-private detective agency. It was so popular that at its peak that a shrewd production company hired its two main stars, Michael Elphick and Neil Morrissey, to appear in a riotous low-budget horror romp in an attempt to capitalize on its burgeoning success. They only partially failed. In the beginning there are satanic rituals and rival biker gangs, climaxing in a motorcycle getting possessed and then purchased by an unsuspecting Noddy (Morrissey) who, coincidentally, is a courier by trade. And then, people start having terrible ‘accidents’ and it appears the motorcycle is to blame. This is like Boon with the gloves off and the volume turned up, with blood, gore, dismemberments, swearing, lewd behaviour and even a talking turd. I shit you not.

9: Inbred (2011)

inbred

This late-night Horror Channel stalwart sees a group of thuggish inner-city young offenders taken to an isolated Yorkshire town to do some community service. During a run-in with a group of local louts, one of their carers, Jim, falls and cuts open an artery in his leg. In a panic, the young offenders take him to a nearby pub to get help. Unfortunately, the locals (aka, ‘inbreds’) don’t like strangers in them parts. Not at all. They quickly decapitate poor Jim with a meat cleaver and lock the young offenders in the cellar, until they are taken out one by one to provide the village entertainment. Daft, disturbing and deeply offensive, the most puzzling thing about Inbred is just how far the makers managed to stretch a measly £109,000 budget, which is about half the cost of the average house in the UK.

8: Doghouse (2009)

doghouse

It’s got Danny Dyer in it, and it’s about a boy’s night out gone terribly wrong. Therefore, you just know it’s going to be crude, filthy and unashamedly misogynistic. What did you expect? At its core, it’s a parody of lad culture riffing on men’s supposed inherent fear of women. Luckily, it’s funny enough to compensate for all the Cosmopolitan schtick. Dyer, helped out by Noel Clarke, Stephen Graham and a few other less famous faces, head to a fabled town where women allegedly outnumber men 4-1. When they get there, they realize this is by no means a good thing as every female in sight has fallen victim to a biological toxin that turns them all into frenzied, blood-thirsty zombie types. It’s a battle of the sexes for sure.

7: Carry on Screaming (1966)

carry on screaming

Apparently, very few people outside Britain have heard of the legendary Carry On films. Quite frankly, this appals me. The films (all 30-plus of them, including such gems as Carry On Teacher, Carry On Behind and Carry On Doctor) are a British institution. Where else are you going to get fart jokes and edgy one-liners about hard-on’s and knockers on terrestrial telly at Sunday tea times? This particular outing is a parody of the Hammer Horror films, which were peaking in popularity at the time, and tells the story of a series of mysterious disappearances in the English countryside, which ultimately leads police to a mad doctor in a castle and a monster called Oddbod. Admittedly, the plot is a bit thin in this one, but the gags are timeless.

6: Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009)

lesbian vampire

Before James Corden became a late-night TV host (or got his driving license) he starred in films like this. The critics hated it, with some bloke from the Times calling it an, “Instantly forgettable lad mag farce.” But that isn’t really saying too much. This was an era when it was fashionable to lamblast lad mags at every opportunity and besides, the Times don’t like any films. Even today it’s rare to see a film get more than two stars out of five, unless it’s an artsy fartsy French drama you need multiple degrees to understand. Personally, as far as low-brow humour goes, I thought this unofficial companion to Doghouse was a riot. When Jimmy (Mathew Horne) is dumped and Fletch (Corden), is sacked from his job as a clown for punching a kid, the duo decide to escape for the weekend to an idyllic village in Norfolk. A village which, unbeknownst to them, has been cursed, leading to a sizeable percentage of lesbian vampires. And you thought Eastern European immigrants were the problem.

5: Grabbers (2012)

grabbers

This is one of the more slick, big-budget entries on this list. Most of the time you just wouldn’t think it, which I guess is the point, as self-defeating as that is. Grabbers is essentially an alien invasion creature feature, the comedy aspect fueled primarily by the fact that alcohol is found to be toxic to the invaders, which encourages the inhabitants of a small Irish village to lock themselves in the pub and get rat-arsed as a defense mechanism. Think of this one as Father Ted crossed with the Blob and garnished with a liberal sprinkling of Cloverfield. It’s not a feckin’ lobster!

4: Severance (2006)

severance

Severance mixes humour, bravado, and some of the most brutal body horror this side of the Saw franchise to great effect, making it one of the stand-out Brit Horror films of the past two decades. The plot revolves around a group of office staff who are sent to Hungary on a team building exercise. As you would find in any office, the cast is made up of an eclectic and varied group of characters, all living up to certain long-held stereotypes. Danny Dyer pops up again, playing every-man caner Steve, who sees the getaway as the perfect opportunity to get off his tits. He’s munching magic mushrooms and puffing on a spliff in the toilet before the coach even stops (“Have I pissed meself?”). All in all, Severance comes off like a mash-up between Hostel and The Office. Brill.

3: Dog Soldiers (2002)

dog soldiers

There haven’t been many British horror films over the past decade or two more worthy of praise than Dog Soldiers. From the opening scenes, when a couple camping in the Scottish Highlands are ripped apart by a ferocious beast, you’re left in little doubt that this is a werewolf flick. If you like your horror bloody, funny, and gore-tastic, you can do a lot worse than this. You’re probably never going to see another northern bloke holding a flare aloft and singing, “Come and ‘ave a go if you think you’re ‘ard enough!” to a group of rampaging lycanthropes ever again. That man, incidentally, was played by an actor called Chris Robson, and he’s a French teacher in the north of England now. One of the few genuine, undisputed cult classics. Miss it at your peril.

2: An American werewolf in London (1981)

american werewolf

Some films you see during your impressionable formative years make an impression on you. Others scar you for life. For me, An American werewolf in London belongs firmly in the latter category. The subway chase scene gave me nightmares and years later when I first moved to London I remember going out of my way to incorporate Tottenham Court Road station (where the scene was filmed) in my daily commute. It never failed to give me chills, largely because the only thing about the station that has changed in the past 35 years are the fucking posters on the walls. The story goes that when director John Landis first started touting it, he had trouble securing finances with most would-be investors claiming the script was too frightening to be a comedy and too funny to be frightening. Eventually, PolyGram Pictures put up the $10 million, and were glad they did when it went on to become a box office smash and win an Academy Award for its special effects (Rick Baker went on to win six more from eleven nominations. A record). The story? It’s about an American werewolf in London, innit?

1: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

shaun dead

Could any other film really take top spot in this list? Not on your nelly. This, the first instalment of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s so-called Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (the others films being Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) is a bona-fide modern classic. Whilst dealing with feuding housemates, a demanding girlfriend and a shitty job, Shaun (Pegg) wakes up one morning with a hangover to find he’s in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. We’ve all been there. Naturally, the only place to go to wait for the world to restore order is the local pub. Brilliant performances by the cream of noughties British comedic talent and commendable special effects, topped off by a hilariously witty script. The perfect introduction to a positively booming sub-genre.

Honourable Mentions:

Cockneys Vs Zombies (2012), the Cottage (2008), Sightseers (2012), Stitches (2012), Boy Eats Girl (2005), Horror Hospital (1973), Nina Forever (2015) Stag Night of the Dead (2010), The World’s End (2013), Ibiza Undead (2016)

Human Waste: A Short Splatterpunk Story by C.M. Saunders is out now.

human waste

 

 

And don’t forget to pick up a copy of our new anthology, ECHOES & BONES, which is dark, like Halloween, and sometime funny. You can also to enter to win a copy on Amazon. ‘Muricans only, because them’s the rules. Folks from other countries can go to our Facebook page for chances to win book goodies.

 

echoes and bones final kindle

 

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THE EXORCIST SCARRED ME, AND I’M OKAY WITH THAT

By Katrina Monroe

 

When it comes to horror films, my worst fears are many and specific: creepy kids (and now that I have my own, this goes double), sharp objects near or around a person’s neck, demonic possession (I’m a recovering Catholic, so, duh), and jump scares (because I’m gullible as hell). In spite of ALL THAT, when theaters re-released The Exorcist in 2000, at the maddening age of fourteen, I gladly went along with my step-father and my two brothers (aged thirteen and twelve at the time) to see it.

exorcist

Don’t ask me what possessed (har-har) my step-father to bring a trio of barely teenaged kids to an R-rated film guaranteed to scare the pants off us. Maybe he thought it would be funny. He’d only just married my mother a year before (and she subsequently popped out child number six), so the dynamic between my siblings and Raul were in the “testing” stage. We tested him, he stared at us like we’d grown a second head, and we moved on to the next experiment. To my memory, he’d never tested back; Raul was (and still is) the calm-headed type. Experience and retrospect, though, have proved that the calm-headed ones are the craftiest.

So with what I can only assume was a blessing from my mother, I, my brothers, my step-father, and his best friend, Harley, went to the movies.

It was a disaster from the beginning.

I sat on the end next to an aisle with burned-out floor illumination, and the shadows played tricks on my already rattled mind. It didn’t slip my notice that my brothers and I were the only under-eighteens in the theater, though, and it was my first clue that something was amiss.

“So this has devils and stuff?” My brother, Danny, asked.

Harley chuckled. “Yeah. Stuff.”

Raul shushed him as the lights dimmed and the movie started.

By the scene in which Regan was being “treated” by having needles plunged multiple times into her neck, I was dry-heaving in the aisle. The world spun and I dripped coke-soaked ice down the back of my neck to keep from passing out. Once the feeling passed, I figured all would be well. If I could live through that, I could handle anything.

Four words—Let Jesus fuck you—and I was so wrong.

The End couldn’t come quick enough.

My brothers and I ran from the theater and waited by the car for Harley and Raul. We didn’t look at each other. Didn’t talk to each other. But I’m sure we all shared the same thought—it’ll be dark soon.

Danny—either in a show of bravado or stubbornness—slept in his room that night as usual, while my other brother, Buddy, and I slept in the living room.

We spent the night watching Disney movies—our favorite, Hercules, played no less than three times—while battling over who would risk getting off the couch to rewind the VHS (yes, we still had those, and no, there was no remote).

“I did it last time,” Buddy said.

“And you were fine. Obviously, you’ve got some kind of luck on your side.”

“That’s stupid.”

“You’re stupid.”

“I’m telling Mom.”

“Go ahead. Hit the rewind button on your way to her room.”

I have no proof, but I firmly believe Raul sat by the bedroom door and listened to all of this, snickering like Snidely Whiplash.

By the next day, Buddy had gotten over it.

Daniel, however, had gotten worse.

My mother paced the kitchen while on the phone with my grandfather, a devout Catholic. “Can you just come over and, I don’t know, talk to him?”

See, Danny believed that since he and Regan were the same age, it was only a matter of time before HE would become possessed, too. Despite my still lingering fear over the film, I found the notion of Danny spewing pea soup all over his Power Ranger bed sheets funny.

My grandfather spent the next several days quoting scripture and comforting Danny in the fact that, yes, the Devil was real, but no he wouldn’t possess Danny because the Devil had more pressing things to deal with like plagues and the End of Times.

I did mention I am a recovering Catholic, yes?

Anyway, I dealt with my fear the only way I knew how. I made deals.

If I didn’t move all night, The Exorcist (because I had to name my fear and, though it made no sense, I went with the movie title) wouldn’t get me.

[I’m sure there’s a twisted Freudian reason that, in naming my fear, it was a name that associated more with the religion side than the horror side of the experience. I’ll jot it down for my therapist, but we won’t be discussing it here.]

Then a week passed.

If I didn’t move all night, except moving my feet out of the blanket when it got too hot, The Exorcist wouldn’t get me.

Then another week passed.

If I didn’t move all night, except moving my feet and getting up to pee, The Exorcist wouldn’t get me.

This continued for months. Years.

Now, I’m allowed to move all I want, but The Exorcist will probably get me if I go into the bathroom before turning on the hall lights, or get into bed without a running start.

I’m thirty and, if I were to watch the movie again, I’m sure I would find it enlightening, compelling, and revel in the scare-factor. But there’s something about childhood trauma that drives me. Without it, I’d have no stories to tell and you’d be stuck playing Pokemon Go for the fourth hour in a row.

There is a moral to this tale, though.

They don’t give an R rating for fun, guys. Maybe don’t plop your twelve year old in front of Pennywise and expect to get her a clown for her next birthday, yeah? Glad we had this talk.

 

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of our new anthology, ECHOES & BONES, which is dark, like Halloween, and sometime funny.

echoes and bones final kindle

You can also enter to win a copy on Amazon. ‘Muricans only, because them’s the rules. Folks from other countries can go to our Facebook page for chances to win book goodies.

 

Book News!

by Renee Miller

Hello, Dolls! Halloween is approaching and we’ve been busy. Get ready for Deviant Dolls Publications’ first-ever anthology, ECHOES AND BONES, which will be available as e-book and paperback on Wednesday, October 11th. But you can pre-order your copy now!

echoes and bones final kindle

The Florida Keys, a psychic, and a chipped teacup; not very interesting on their own, but together, they weave dark, sometimes twisted tales of secrets, death, mystery and fantastic discovery. Join us as we listen to the echoes and wade through the bones, to unearth the treasures hidden in our deviant minds.

CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSAL – Michael Keyton
Cheating a houngan is bad news. A classroom won’t save you.

THE LAST READING OF MADAME SHAHRAZAD – Steve Wetherell
Stacey James makes a comfortable living pretending to talk to the dead, but a dangerous stranger is about to put her talents to the ultimate test.

THE PAST ENTOMBED – C.M. Saunders
Amanda has a tragic past. She also has a gift. Or maybe it’s a curse. Psychometry. The art of ‘reading’ inanimate objects. It’s something she has struggled with her entire life, but learned to accept. Until one morning, when she stumbles across an object at a market which brings the past and the future crashing together. There will be consequences.

WASHER WOMAN SHOALS – Liam McNalley
Between her part time job mixing drinks at her landlord’s bar and deceiving tourists as Madame Ezora, Belle earns enough money to allow for a simple new life in Key West. A strange object found on the beach, though, turns her world upside down. Now, the only way to avoid certain death is for Belle to actually contact a spirit from the other side.

MISBEGOTTEN – Frank E. Bittinger
Haunted by a memory or haunted by an actual spirit, that is the question. Even in paradise, it seems you cannot outrun the past. Will turning to one who communicates with those who have passed beyond the Veil provide answers or will it only lead to a dead end?

THIS ONE IS MINE – Katrina Monroe
Patty will look into a stranger’s past for a small fee. Now, it’s time to confront her own.

KEEPER – Renee Miller
Ford’s dusty pawn shop in the Florida Keys is full of both trash and treasure. The items he hides in the room behind the store, though, are his most prized possessions, and definitely not for sale. Rare beauty, exquisite gifts; each worth a price only Ford comprehends.

The anthology also includes bonus content like book excerpts and original short fiction by the Dolls.

To celebrate this and the many new things the Dolls have coming this month, we’re writing a series of Halloween/Horror themed blog posts, and we’re going to give away two paperback copies of the anthology, as well as two e-books, as well as other goodies.

To be entered to win, just go to the book’s Amazon page on or after the 11th of October and look for the “enter the giveaway” option. (Sorry, U.S. residents only, because Amazon’s not big on international giveaways, apparently, but there will be more chances for non-U.S. readers to win here and on our personal blogs). Stay tuned to the blog and our Facebook page for more Halloween posts and chances to win cool bookish things.