Horror and humor make strange bedfellows, but, like sweet and savory food combinations, they’re irresistible when served in the proper proportions. A well-placed joke can alleviate the tension in a horror film, while including supernatural elements in a comedy can add stakes to the plot (pun intended).
This is especially true of vampire movies and shows. As scary as they can be, vampires are also absurd creatures. Their fashion is often flamboyantly out-of-season, their interpersonal skills can be stilted and clunky, and their decadent lifestyle makes them easy to mock and ridicule.
As evidence of this, we’ve put together a list of five great vampire comedies to sink your teeth into. From current shows still on the air to classic ‘90s comedies, these titles will have you laughing all the way to the (blood) bank. Best of all, they’re all available right now on Sling.
What We Do in the Shadows
Available On Demand via FX
First off, if you haven’t seen the mockumentary that the FX adaptation of What We Do in the Shadows is based on, you're the real monster here. Shame on you, go watch it right this instant.
If you’re still with us, you know the movie is hilarious; incredibly, the FX show might be even better. Turning the focus from New Zealand to Staten Island, New York — the New Zealand of NYC's five boroughs — the show features a new cast of vampires but retains the film’s best elements: a bone-dry sense of humor, a clever riff on the mockumentary format, and jokes mined from a clash of cultures. The show also introduces Colin Robinson, an “Energy Vampire” who gains power by sucking your energy dry with boring anecdotes, meandering conversations, and know-it-all observations. He’s so insufferable, you might actually prefer having the blood drained from your body over his water cooler talk.
Vampire in Brooklyn
Available on Starz
Most horror-comedies emphasize the second part of their name over the first, but not Vampire in Brooklyn. Directed by Wes Craven — perhaps the most acclaimed horror filmmaker of all time — and starring Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett, the movie doesn’t fully commit to any of its disparate elements. Still, as the scene above attests, there are some hilarious moments (Eddie would achieve even greater success buried under prosthetics and using funny voices in his next movie, The Nutty Professor) and Craven’s chops as a horror director would pay off in the movie’s creepy climax. Although it was a notorious flop when it came out in 1995 (Eddie might have been right when he blamed his wig), it has subsequently achieved cult classic status, with Gizmodo calling it “one of the most underrated horror movies of all time.” It’s certainly an outlier in both Murphy and Craven’s careers, and for that reason alone, Vampire in Brooklyn is well worth a watch.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Available to rent
Who would have predicted that a low-budget movie about a spoiled, vampire-killing cheerleader would profoundly alter the course of Hollywood history? Buffy the Vampire Slayer not only launched the career of its writer Joss Whedon — who within 20 years would serve as one of the principal architects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but it helped make stars of Sarah Michelle Gellar, David Boreanaz, Seth Green, and Alyson Hannigan, who starred in its TV adaptation (another area where it was ahead of the curve).
Despite decades of pleas from my nerdy brethren, I’ve never seen the show, but the movie is pure fun. As we learned in the surprisingly funny Avengers, Whedon is a master at witty banter, Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) playing a vampire henchman is an inspired bit of stunt casting, and Kristy Swanson strikes a perfect balance of beauty and bad-assery. Long before a mix of humor and horror became its own subgenre, Buffy had the blood and guts to go there first.
Available on Epix
Inside of the world of horror-comedy, there’s a micro-genre of movies centered on young men meeting the woman of their dreams, and that woman turning out to be a vampire. Examples include Once Bitten — starring Jim Carrey in his first leading role — and Vampire’s Kiss, which features a batsh*t Nicholas Cage performance, even by Nicholas Cage standards. There’s also Bitten, a dark 2008 comedy starring Jason Mewes, aka Jay of Jay and Silent Bob fame. We can’t sit here and claim that Bitten is a great movie (Mewes is fine in small doses but there’s a reason why you rarely see him outside of Kevin Smith’s movies), but we can say that it’s a good example of this particular subgenre. And like Jay’s heterosexual lifemate, we really don’t have anything else to say.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Available on Starz
Finally, we have to highlight Only Lovers Left Alive from indie auteur Jim Jarmusch. Starring a perfectly cast Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, the film is an artful, episodic riff on creativity, depression, and the downside of immortality. Except it’s often bleakly hilarious. For instance, Hiddleston’s character is a reclusive musician who only makes music using antiquated equipment, which in turn makes him a darling to those with a certain type of hipster sensibility. There’s also some inspired stuff about the way that vampires have silently guided the hand that writes human history. Still, it’s hard to classify Only Lovers Left Alive strictly as a comedy. Instead, it’s an example of how working within the parameters of a specific genre can actually unlock a number of doors outside of it; there’s a good reason why The Hollywood Reporter named it one of the five best films of the last decade.