How to Make a Good Horror-Comedy (Because Most People Can't Get It Right)

Don't go overboard with horror movie references.

Lesson learned from: Hysterical (1983)

If the objective is to make a straight-up spoof, then, sure, go crazy with the visual winks, familiar soundtrack cues, and on-the-nose references to every popular horror movie imaginable. Of course, your movie will immediately warrant mentions alongside those increasingly awful Scary Movie sequels and cinematic dung like Stan Helsing and Meet the Spartans, but at least every viewer will know that you, like them, watch a ton of movies.

Horror fans who appreciate subtlety and filmmakers who respect their intelligence, however, will most likely hate your film. Or just laugh it off as disposable art. When's the last time you heard anyone cite the '80s comedy team/siblings the Hudson Brothers' 1983 horror-comedy Hysterical? Never, and one reason for its residence in noiseless obscurity is that Hysterical is little more than a string of referential gags that a 13-year-old could've conceived.

Amongst other follies in Hysterical, there's an overt riff on Jack Nicholson's "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" bit from The Shining (see the picture above) and a nutty doomsayer who rides around on his bicycle as if he's pedaled in directly from the original Friday the 13th (1980). Even the Wayans Brothers would watch the bicyclist's scenes and say, "How lame." And speaking of which...

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