5 Great Comedies About Death and Murder That Aren’t ‘American Psycho’
Since the inception of cinema, comedy has been used as an escape from the horrors of the world: the senseless violence, the endless wars, the rapidly depleting ozone layer. But black comedies get a kick out of these darker subjects, and employ gallows humor to deal with such taboo topics. One of the most popular taboos to be hammed up for comedic effect? Murder.
While it can’t be overstated that murder is no laughing matter, for these five films it actually is…
April Fool’s Day
A slasher-comedy set around April Fool’s Day sounds far-fetched until you remember that just about every holiday has a similar movie in the same vein. The 1986 film chronicles a group of horny college students as they take to an island estate during April Fool’s Day weekend just to be plucked off one by one. The fun comes courtesy of a very polarizing ending that you have to see to believe.
Inspired by the board game of the same name, the 1980s cult classic brought six colorfully named guests to an isolated mansion for a dinner that quickly devolves into a murder mystery with a heaping side of blackmail. While everyone clearly has a deliriously good time in their roles, nobody holds a candlestick in the billiard room to Tim Curry’s delightfully nefarious portrayal of Wadsworth the Butler.
Happy Death Day
Existing somewhere between Groundhog Day and Scream, Christopher Landon’s slasher-comedy may not have reinvented the time-loop-film wheel, but he and writer Scott Lobdell did take a stab at it — and boy was there a lot of stabbing. The film follows a college student who is murdered on her birthday and winds up trapped in the aforementioned time-loop until she can unmask the killer and stop her death. Thanks to a committed performance from final girl Jessica Rothe, the film’s success spawned a sequel in 2019 with a third installment in active development.
Moms do a lot for us — they pack our school lunches, they teach us valuable life lessons and they fight ruthlessly to defend our honor. But sometimes moms are so passionate about protecting us that they accidentally murder someone and, in turn, develop an insatiable bloodlust. That’s at least the case in John Waters’ black comedy about the lengths a mother will go to for her teenage sons.
What’s funnier than one murder to the Coen Brothers? Two, of course. And what’s even funnier than two murders? You betcha: Triple homicide. When an attempted kidnapping goes fatally awry, the real fun begins in Fargo. Though the brothers’ film, which was loosely based on cobbled together half-truths, would have likely succeeded off the strength of the script alone, it’s elevated to new heights thanks to excellent performances from William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi and Frances McDormand, who won an Oscar for playing the very pregnant police chief who is determined to crack the case.