My favorite Horror media are all in the sub-genre of Horror-Comedy. From Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, and Young Frankenstein (which I recommended last week) to things like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Welcome to Night Vale. Popular and classic films within the Horror genre are Horror-Comedy; things like Shawn of the Dead, Scary Movie, and many of Sam Raimi’s non-Spiderman films. Disney Channel and Cartoon Network got in on the act with Gravity Falls and Over the Garden Wall, respectively, which are colorful cartoons for children ages 8-12 that feature Eldritch horrors as the primary antagonists. Mystery Science Theater 3000 has built their franchise on adding comedy to terrible and over the top Horror films like Manos: The Hands of Fate, Hobgoblins, and Reptilicus. And the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise wouldn’t be the same without Freddie’s constant puns and one-liners.
What gives Horror and Comedy common ground is the techniques that they use to achieve their effects: suspense, exaggeration, and transgression. These techniques are not unique to these genres, but they are intrinsic to them, and mesh well together. It allows them to work together in these films and shows. What is horrific and what is funny can often be the same thing, depending on the framing, and that’s what the real difference is between the two genres.