Think back to the last time you watched a really scary, extremely graphic horror movie with a bunch of friends, or in a crowded movie theater. And recall the audience’s reaction when the big fright moment happened, whether it was a perfectly timed jump-scare or a clearly shown dismemberment or murder—most of them laughed, right? Not the kind of chuckles that come from Judd Apatow films, though, but, rather, a certain defensive, if-I-don’t-laugh-at-this-I-might-have-a-heart-attack response.

That’s only natural. Human nature teaches us to fend off possible traumas by laughing, the easiest way to show others, and ourselves, that everything’s all good, even when it’s not. The horror movies tap into that truth better than any other form of entertainment, because, really, what’s the experience of buying a ticket to see a slasher flick if not an excuse to raise one’s adrenaline?

Oftentimes, genre filmmakers erase this blurred line of frightening-versus-funny altogether and make what’s simply known as the horror-comedy, stylistic mash-ups that afford viewers the opportunities to both shriek and howl in equal measure. Two new examples of this subgenre are set to hit theaters tomorrow: The Cabin in the Woods, the bigger and better of the two, co-written by Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard, and music video director Joseph Kahn’s hyperactive, kitchen sink romp Detention, about 1990s-obsessed high school students dealing with a masked killer named Cinderhella, time travel, and peer pressure.

Only one of this week’s new entries makes it onto our definitive list of The 15 Best Horror-Comedies Of All Time. It’s a ballsy move, for sure, putting a movie that hasn’t even opened yet amidst a “greatest ever” countdown, but, trust us, the flick in question is really that good.

Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)

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