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Halloween Treats: Spoofs of Horror Movies
Making Light of the Dark Side

On Halloween, people watching their favorite horror movies can be heard shrieking — with laughter...

Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein
1940's: Abbot & Costello first popularized
the horror movie parody with Abbot &
Costello Meet Frankenstein.

What's the attraction of horror movies?

Americans love a good scare, but a belly laugh during Halloween can be just as fun. This is evident in the parodies or spoofs of horror flicks, said Wes Gehring, a film professor at Ball State University.

"Sometimes people only see a movie one way, such as just being a horror or comedy movie," he said. "But, movie genres together can work on multiple levels."

The first popular parody of horror movies occurred shortly after World War II when Universal Studios combined two of its best-loved franchises of the 1930s and '40s - monsters and Abbott and Costello - to create 1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

In the 1950's, horror films served mainly as nuclear-age parable, as "alien" radiation infected humans (and insects), wreaking unexpected havoc. Today, of course, they're considered some of the funniest films ever made.

Young Frankenstein
Mel Brooks reinvented the genre in the 1970's
with Young Frankenstein, maybe one of the
funniest film comedies of all time.

Gehring says horror movies are continuously changing to meet the demands of the audience or to find new ones. In the 1970s, films such as Carrie were about grossing out the audience.

At the time, it was famous funnyman and director Mel Brooks who answered the call with Young Frankenstein, (1974) still considered the pinnacle of send-ups of 1940's horror flicks. and maybe one of the funniest comedies of all time.

Since then, parodies have taken center stage as serious and lucrative horror flicks just seemed to be begging to be declawed.

"It seems that horror is the genre of choice for the younger generation," he says. "As a genre gets old and worn out, parodies come to center stage," he said. "Each time the horror movie genre changes, the parodies change."

Sure enough, with the dawn of a new century the release of Scary Movie in 2000 spun together practically every horror film parody up to that time, and became a wildly popular pop hit that enjoys a cult following to this day.

Four years later, Shaun of the Dead sent up the zombie movie genre as audiences followed the antihero's quest to get to the local pub -- but not before doing battle with a rampaging mob of the undead.

So bad, it's good: Sharknado

So what lies ahead in horror movie parodies?

The Syfy Channel has recently taken up the cause with a so-bad-it's-good approach with the "Mockbuster" -- reinventing the genre with such campy productions as Megapiranha (2010) followed by giant pythons battling mutant gators in the Florida Everglades in Megapython vs. Gatoroid (2011).

More recently, Sharknado (2013) featured the same bad production values and terrible (human) acting set amid a swirling mass of killer sharks descending on Los Angeles after a freak tornado!

As usual, laughter ensues.

Top Ten Horror Spoofs

1. Scary Movie, 2000
2. Young Frankenstein, 1974
3. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, 1948
4. Love at First Bite, 1979
5. Shaun of the Dead, 2004
6. Pandemonium, 1982
7. Repossessed, 1990
8. An American Werewolf in London, 1981
9. Beetlejuice, 1988
10. Tremors, 1991

also see -> Monsters & Demons: A Short History of the Horror Film

More about horror film spoofs around the Web:

The Best Horror Movie Spoofs & Satires

Best Horror Comedies


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