Ranking ‘Saturday Night Live’s Funniest Scary Sketches
While Saturday Night Live is known for parodying absolutely everything under the sun, always underrated has been its skill at taking the horror genre and spooky tropes, deconstructing the bejeezus out of them and giving us subversive, sometimes absurd, and often downright hilarious takes on them. From classic monsters to Halloween rides, the show has spoofed plenty of scary scenarios, so let’s dive into our favorites...
SNL first debuted the same year as Jaws, so of course the show would immediately poke fun at the famous shark flick during its first season. With comedians like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner spoofing them some sharks, the sketch grew legs and, naturally, spawned a sequel.
The toothy character himself would become a recurring sight as the show kept bringing Land Shark back. “For many people, it is my claim to fame,” Land Shark creator Ralph Lee said. “When I was making it, I thought it would get used once and shucked.”
The Curse of Frankenstein
Matt Foley: A Scary Story on Halloween
The lesson here, kids, is that one should never egg a house on All Hallows’ Eve, for your dad might just hire a certain motivational speaker to come and tell you the awful story of how such an act will lead to a person living in a van down by the river.
John Mulaney plays Ichabod Crane who finds himself in the haunted woods of Sleepy Hollow, runs into the dreaded Headless Horseman and proceeds to ask him questions about activities involving, uh, head. It soon becomes an unsavory conversation as Pete Davidson and Mikey Day join the dongs discussion because, as Mulaney/Ichabod points out, Sleepy Hollow is a town full of Puritans sexually repressed on a criminal level.
Chad in a Haunted Manor
Ah, Chad, Pete Davidson’s basic bro who has no concept of spooky whatsoever and probably can’t feel any emotions beyond chill. SNL had a couple of sketches that saw Chad thrown into different horror scenarios, only to subvert the tropes thanks to his complete lack of situational processing. Here, Chad stumbles onto a creepy-looking haunted mansion occupied by a ghost who, to no one’s surprise, was murdered by her husband and wants the world to finally know the truth. Only Chad is no hero. Chad won’t be freeing any horny ghosts soon.
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
From Bill Hader’s brilliantly creepy opener and closing to Jude Law’s commitment to Bobby Moynihan as the gremlin on the wing, this Twilight Zone re-enactment is to die for.
A ghost hunters reality show sketch that has everything: A group of ghost chasers with funny accents, creepy dolls in haunted houses and Leslie Jones as the woman who is supposedly the supernatural skeptic but ends up being the most frightened of them all.
A Frightening Tale
It’s the horror story of having to listen to a “22-year-old college grad and aspiring filmmaker” for two and a half hours. It’s the excruciating experience of an insufferable person complaining at length about the state of the film industry while offering no solutions or even an original idea of their own. It’s a dig at every “true story” campfire tale that’s supposed to be horrifying, as well as — no, watch for yourself; the twist is too good to spoil.
Haunted Elevator (Featuring David S. Pumpkins)
Tom Hanks displays why he’s one of the show’s best hosts, making this sketch iconic where others would have failed.
Discover claims that with their customer service, you won’t be talking to a robot but to a relatable person who is much like yourself. “How much?” SNL asked before landing on Jordan Peele’s horror classic Us as the answer.
A Kanye Place
Remember when Kanye West couldn’t stop tweeting absolute gibberish before he started tweeting really bad gibberish? Of course you do, because no one could shut up about it. Donald Glover and the SNL cast did a great parody of A Quiet Place where Kanye’s dumb tweets about supporting Trump ended up getting folks eaten alive by giant aliens because, well, they just couldn’t shut up about it.
Parodying horror movies like Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell and also every story involving some ancient hex and a talisman, “The Curse” is not only the show’s best spooky sketch but also one of the funniest it’s ever done. It pushes its already left-field idea of a curse to the extreme, and it works — for there is no demon or evil spirit that can ruin a man’s life quite like Sergio’s saxophone can.