When September rolls around many of us start to think about the arrival of fall, caramel apples, and pumpkin-flavored everything. But it also means heading back to school and hitting the books for many boils and ghouls. Luckily, we have a list of teen horror comedies worth staying up late to watch on a school night. So put away the notepads and bust out the popcorn – we’re going to join some terrified teens in their spooky shenanigans and take a brain break from the books!
10. Student Bodies (1981)
When classes are already stressing you out and you need a dose of silly satire to keep your sanity, Student Bodies is the film for you. Fans of films like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Prom Night, and Carrie will find plenty to laugh about in this spoof on slashers and horror of the ’70s. Our psycho in Student Bodies, The Breather, lurks in the shadows and is ready to punish students from Lamab High School for having sex. The administration at the school is just as zany as the students in a film that attempts to do for the horror genre what Airplane! did for disaster films. It’s frivolous fun that will keep you guessing until the final twist.
9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
When we first meet high school senior Buffy Summers (Kristy Swanson) she appears to be your stereotypical cheerleading Valley Girl of the ’90s. But her days of shopping with her popular friends are quickly swapped for training with a Watcher when she learns she’s actually a Slayer of vampires! As Buffy comes to grips with the fact that she can’t escape her fate, vampires begin to infiltrate her school and town. If you’ve never seen the film that predates the wickedly popular television show, keep in mind that they are different creatures, with the movie being more comical and zany. Co-starting Donald Sutherland (Don’t Look Now), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Paul Reubens (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure), and Luke Perry (Riverdale), Buffy will help slay your back-to-school blues.
8. House (1977)
House, aka Hausu, can be difficult to describe, but I like to think of it along the lines of The Evil Dead if it were directed by John Hughes. We start by meeting a cheerful and vibrant group of teen girls in Japan that are preparing to leave school for summer vacation. Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) invites her friends to visit her Aunt Karei and her cat Blanche in the countryside, but later discover something is not quite right about the house. What ensues is a kaleidoscopic frenzy of humor and horror that is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Director Nobuhiko Obayashi was inspired by his tween daughter Chigumi’s fears and used many of them when writing the script, stating that “children can come up with things that can’t be explained.” This surreal film is a must-see mix of teenaged terror and gross guffaws.
7. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
If you’re looking for gory goodness while you’re hitting the books, then look no further than The Slumber Party Massacre. Originally penned by feminist writer and activist Rita Mae Brown as a horror parody, the dark comedy is played a bit straighter under the direction of Amy Holden Jones (The Relic). Still, there is a lot to laugh about while viewing this slasher satire, including creative kills, a ludicrous lunatic, and a teen girl who really loves her pizza. When high school senior Trish Deveraux (Michele Michaels) invites her friends over for a slumber party while her parents are away, she has no idea there is an escaped killer stalking neighborhood. With Roger Corman as an uncredited producer, you can bet there’s a bit of exploitation mixed in for good measure.
6. Cabin in the Woods (2011)
If you’re already itching for a long weekend away from classes to hang out with friends, maybe don’t go to that quaint, but creepy old cabin in the woods. We have seen this scenario play out several times now, but no one twists it up quite like Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have, trust us. Five college-aged friends, Dana (Kristen Connolly, House of Cards), Curt (Chris Hemsworth, Thor), Jules (Anna Hutchison, Spartacus), Marty (Fran Kranz, You Might Be the Killer), and Holden (Jesse Williams, Gray’s Anatomy) decide to trek to a secluded cabin in the mountains owned by Curt’s cousin. While you probably think they get possessed one by one or catch a flesh-eating plague, you’d be wrong. Hilarious, horrific, and hard to predict, Cabin in the Woods is the perfect weekend staycation flick in lieu of actually leaving your couch and meeting your doom with your pals in the forest.
5. Idle Hands (1999)
Devon Sawa (Final Destination) is Anton, a high school stoner who doesn’t seem to notice right away that his parents are missing and there’s a killer loose in his town. His friends Mick (Seth Green, Robot Chicken) and Pnub (Elden Henson, Daredevil) fill him in on the situation only to discover Anton’s hand has been possessed and is on a killing spree. Set at Halloween, Idle Hands is a festive and frivolous flick that co-stars Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill) as a druidic priestess and Jessica Alba (Sin City) as the poetic punk chick next door. With a fair amount of blood and fun practical effects, Idle Hands will keep you amused while getting you excited for the spooky season.
4. My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)
If you’re in need of something a bit more tame but still off-beat and odd, My Boyfriend’s Back may have the serving of sweetness and supernatural you’re looking for. Andrew Lowery, (who you may also spot in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), is love-lorn high school student Johnny. Though Johnny has been in love with Missy (Traci Lind, Fright Night 2) since the first grade, he has only just plucked up the courage to ask her to prom. However, tragedy strikes as he’s popping the question, and the last thing Johnny hears is Missy telling him that she would go with him. Johnny is so determined to see the dance through that he returns from the grave in gray-skinned zombie fashion in order to fulfill his promise to Missy. If this all sounds a bit sappy, there’s also the consumption of human flesh, crazed parents behaving badly, and enough endearing humor to make it the perfect break for your brrrrraaaaaaaaaiiiiiinnnnnsss.
3. The Monster Squad (1987)
A cult classic that spawned the documentary Wolfman’s Got Nards, (as well as the “Steven King Rules” t-shirt), The Monster Squad is an enduring teen horror comedy with, well… nards! Akin to The Goonies, only featuring classic movie monsters instead of pirates and crooks, our story follows monster-obsessed best friends Sean (Andre Gower) and Patrick (Robby Kiger). The two get together with friends Horace, Eugene, and Rudy to talk creature features and horror of all sorts (while simultaneously trying to keep Sean’s little sister Phoebe out of the group as much as possible). However, all hell breaks loose when Dracula summons fellow fiends Frankenstein, The Gill Man, Mummy, and Wolf Man to search for an all-powerful amulet. The Squad has to enlist help from their creepy German neighbor and even kid sister Phoebe if they’re going to save the town. This film is not only incredibly fun but has fantastic practical effects and one of the fiercest versions of The Gill Man you’ll ever lay eyes on.
2. Paranorman (2012)
Set in the Salem-like town of Blithe Hollow, MA, Paranorman is a breathtaking stop-motion animated film from Laika Studios, known for bringing Coraline to life. Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Let Me In) is your typical middle school tween; he enjoys scary movies, fights with his older sister, Courtney (Anna Kendrick, Life After Beth), and can see and speak to dead people. It would seem this gift is about to become very useful to the town and it’s inhabitants that typically ostracize Norman for being strange. When zombies start paying him visits in addition to the normal ghosts, Norman realizes maybe that curse over the town is actually true. Co-starring Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fright Night 2011), Alex Borstein (Family Guy), and John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane), the film has a lot of talented actors, is beautiful to watch, and also has a lot of heart. Come for the horror, stay for the humor, and dig that awesome soundtrack!
1. Fright Night (1985)
What better excuse is there for ditching your homework than saying a vampire moved in next door and ate several people? Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale, Herman’s Head) just wanted to watch Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall, Planet of the Apes) on Fright Night and maybe make out with his girlfriend Amy Peterson (Amanda Bearse, Married with Children). But when Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon, The Princess Bride) moved in next door, Charley couldn’t help but notice the coffins, late night excursions, and the fact that Mr. Dandrige only came out at night. When Charley tries to convince Amy and his best friend, Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys, 976-Evil) that his neighbor is a vampire, they think he’s losing his mind. But what happens when Jerry turns his sights on Charley and his friends?
Fright Night is comical, well-acted, and full of great scares that were created with the magic of practical effects. There are lines from this film that were embedded in my eight-year-old brain that will always trickle out in every day conversation (“Mmmmm-mmmm! His dinner’s in the oven!”) and it remains one of my favorite vampire flicks of all time.
While there will be no written exam, we do encourage you to study up and enjoy each of these films as much as possible. What do you think, fiends? Which of these creepy comedies will you be watching first? Are there any others you wish made the list? Tell us on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!