A good black comedy makes horrible things seem funny, and these 10 best black comedy movies exemplify that quality. Life is terrible; it will steal your wallet, kill all your pets, and make your iPhone obsolete within a matter of months after purchasing it. If you can laugh at all that, though, then you may be able to avoid jumping off the nearest bridge. And that is why we need Hollywood.
- “Dr. Strangelove.” War is hell, and hell is often pretty funny. After all, comedy is just tragedy with a punchline. Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” is the best of the best when it comes to darkly comic films about the absurdity of war.
- “Heathers.” Nothing in life is more awful than high school. Kids are at their cruelest at that age, and the social pressures combined with the angst of impending adulthood makes the whole experience about as pleasant as being forced to listen to a Wham! album on repeat for four years straight. “Heathers” managed to perfectly encapsulate that experience and push it to the extreme, making it one of the best black comedies ever.
- “Fargo.” Kidnapping? Check. Murder? Check. North Dakota? Check. “Fargo” had many elements that make for an effective black comedy, not the least of which was the directing talent of the Coen brothers, who have made a name for themselves with some of the best black comedies of all time.
- “Shaun of the Dead.” You don’t get much bleaker than a zombie apocalypse. This comedic homage to the zombie horror genre from director Edgar Wright made zombies fun again while sticking to convention (in other words, there were no running zombies or catch phrase-dropping Woody Harrelsons). It’s both hilarious and horrifying, and those are hallmarks of a great black comedy movie.
- “American Psycho.” Black comedies don’t get much more straight-faced than this, the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s controversial novel “American Psycho.” The humor was subtle but the violence was not, and it was a pitch-perfect satire of 1980s decadence. What wasn’t funny: the absolutely terrible straight-to-video sequel.
- “Harold and Maude.” What could be funnier than a young guy banging an elderly woman? Throw in some existential angst and—spoiler alert—the death of one of the main characters and you’ve got yourself one of the all-time classic black comedy movies.
- “Fight Club.” Much like “American Psycho,” “Fight Club” was an anomaly in that it was a book-to-film adaptation that actually worked. It captured the nihilism and black humor of the source material perfectly and become perhaps the cult favorite guy movie of the late ‘90s.
- “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” This adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson book was slightly different than the previously mentioned book-to-film adaptations in that much of the humor came from the over-the-top acting of Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro and the crazy, frenetic directing of former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam. There was humor to be found in the original, but the movie amplified it to a level of sublime absurdity.
- “Cable Guy.” We’re going out on a limb with this one because there wasn’t much love for this Jim Carrey vehicle when it was released back in the ‘90s. People who were expecting Carrey to make poop jokes and talk out his ass were left disappointed by this rather bleak movie from director Ben Stiller. Dashed expectations aside, though, this was actually a very funny send-up of America’s obsession with television.
- “Withnail and I.” Lest people should think that slacker comedies were invented in the ‘90s, we have included the wonderfully dark “Withnail and I” on our list of the ten best black comedy movies. A British film released in the ‘80s, “Withnail and I” followed the exploits of two unemployed actors as they as they do next to nothing, with hilarious results.
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