Now, we can't talk about horror comedies without talking about Gallows Humour, which is essentially a situation that is funny in the face of a hopeless situation. The term and theory was created by Freud of all people in his 1927 essay Humour (Der Humor) in which he states: "The ego refuses to be distressed by the provocations of reality, to let itself be compelled to suffer. It insists that it cannot be affected by the traumas of the external world; it shows, in fact, that such traumas are no more than occasions for it to gain pleasure." Essentially Gallows Humour aims to deflate the power of the aggressor and give power back to the victim. It is commonly thought of as originating in Europe and took root in North America after World War II. It is a coping mechanism that is dealt out by those who must face uncertainty or probable death and what better place to employ that feeling than in a horror movie? If you can make an audience cower in fear and laugh out loud you're doing more than a little right.
We can trace Horror Comdies back to the 1920s but probably the most famous example from the black and white days is Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. While it involves a ridiculously complex plot it is a great example of subverting the genre by attempting to make two normalized, pre-established characters and mashing them up. As you can see in the tag-line below "It's a grand new idea for FUN" the emphasis is clearly on mocking what the terror is and circumventing its traditional role.
|In An American Werewolf in Paris he wears a barrett|
Well, we're almost at the end of the Horror Genre series. To check out the original and subsequent posts click here.