Hand in hand with the human fascination with death comes the desire to defang it – to make it bearable and understandable. And yet, horror comedies are perilously difficult to pull off with much success, often veering toward one or the other or coming off with a unpleasantly leering tone (looking at you, Thankskilling). In a world where we’ve all shrugged our shoulders and said, “sure, saying we’re all watching Sharknado ironically is good enough,” I thought it might be nice to take a look at some films that melded comedy and horror with love, effort, and actual worthwhile effect.
In the tunnels below and the singular monolithic tower looming above an icy, postapocalyptic wasteland, the policies of Hartlife huddle close together and listen to recorded histories of the company’s glorious history. Such is the stage for Our Fair City, a serialized podcast created by veterans of the Chicago theatre scene and spanning, thus far, six completed seasons.
Dr. Herbert West’s longevity is something of a marvel. Lovecraft nerds love to turn up their noses at the Herbert West – Reanimator” stories, declaring them the weakest point in the author’s body of work. Lovecraft himself didn’t even think much of them – by which I mean he loathed them utterly, and mostly used them to bring in a paycheck from Weird Tales and take pot shots at that upstart lady writer’s new hit Frankenstein. At the same time, those six serial shorts went on to birth the single most successful Lovecraft adaptation and the most memorable, longlasting character not sleeping in R’lyeh or bound in human flesh. Dr. West’s quest to defeat death has made quite the hallmark on western culture (and beyond). And, well, I haven’t seen anyone else try to catalogue that impressive body of work yet. So let’s take a look at the Re-Animator through popular culture.
A note: while I’ve been mulling over this sort of post for some time as an outlet for my obsessive researching tendencies, it still seems only right that I tip my hat to Lindsay Ellis’ excellent Loose Canon series, which takes a similar investigative tack.