Have you ever watched a horror movie, seen all the blood and guts strewn across the screen and felt nothing? Every connoisseur of morbid films has been there. The issue with most horror movies is that they only provide scares. If you don’t get scared, why would you watch a horror movie in the first place?
Now, there has been an increasing number of horror films that offer more depth than your usual blood-soaked film. Look at anything Jordan Peele has directed in recent memory. But, for most people, what makes a horror movie is not having to think.
Luckily, during the horror boom of the ‘80s, a new genre of horror film appeared. This period was positively saturated with horror films; Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street were pumping out films almost yearly. By the end of the decade, audiences were worn out.
Enter director Sam Raimi, now most widely known for directing the original Spiderman trilogy. Among cinephiles, however, he will forever be known for his work on the Evil Dead franchise.
In 1989, Sam Raimi directed Evil Dead 2, a loose sequel/reboot of The Evil Dead. While the original Evil Dead was known for being a cult-horror film directed on a shoestring budget, Evil Dead 2 became something different.
Inspired by The Three Stooges, Raimi added slapstick elements (physical comedy such as a man getting kicked in the nuts) to the film. What this resulted in was a film that was dripping with blood and strung with intestines to a jocular degree.
If audiences had been introduced to this style off the bat, they would’ve been terrified. Never been introduced to this genre of butchery and debauchery? Here are six splatstick films to get you started:
Evil Dead 2 (HBO Max)
If you want to watch the pinnacle of splatstick filmmaking, then you’ve got it right here.
Bruce Campbell fulfills the role of Ash Williams so successfully that you can’t think of any other roles he was in. His facial expressions reach almost cartoonish proportions and the franchise wouldn’t be as good without him.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (Amazon Prime)
Ever thought that the redneck/inbred horror genre was a little demeaning to our rural population? I have, and I've seen enough Wrong Turn movies to know it’s not going away anytime soon.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil turns this genre on its head by providing insight into the redneck side of the equation. Rather than going out and murdering college-aged teens, Tucker and Dale are wondering why these ivy league co-eds are throwing themselves into the woodchipper.
A great time, especially with beer. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is one of the most underrated splatstick comedies out there.
Shaun of the Dead (Hulu)
This is a tongue-and-cheek spoof of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead films. Shaun of the Dead follows a British man navigating the zombie apocalypse, armed with a cricket back and searching for his family and ex-girlfriend. As British as it gets.
Shaun of the Dead is directed by Edgar Wright. This movie is the first in his “cornetto trilogy” named after the ice cream treat that appears in each film. If you’re into British humor, watch this.
Army of Darkness (HBO Max)
The third film in the Evil Dead Trilogy, Army of Darkness stands apart due to its unique setting. Instead of taking place in an abandoned Shack, Army of Darkness has Ash Williams being transported into the medieval age equipped with a chainsaw arm, a sawed off shotgun and a busted Oldsmobile. He must then fight off the titular Army of Darkness, which he summoned by not being able to read.
The gore in Army of Darkness is dialed back compared to its predecessors, but the uniqueness of its scenarios makes it its own thing. You’ll see Ash Williams fighting a miniature version of himself. This is a good film to watch if someone in your group is squeamish but still wants to see the Splatstick genre.
From Dusk Till Dawn (Pluto)
The forgotten Quenten Tarantino film, because it was directed by Robert Rodriguez. However, the screenplay was written and led by Tarantino, alongside George Clooney.
The plot is campy involving two hitmen who kidnap a family for cover while they’re on the run from the CIA. Halfway through, they stop at a strip club where they’re supposed to be paid by their contact. Surprise, the strip club is run by Aztec vampires.
Re-Animator is an underrated horror film from 1985. It involves a psychotic medical student doing experiments to bring the dead back to life, to varying degrees of effectiveness.
This movie is primarily known for its special effects, which are so intense, the movie had to be edited down from an X-rating to be shown in theaters. While nowadays the gore is nothing special considering the CGI edits people have been exposed to, the practical effects are impressive for the time. Watch this if you love old-school special effects.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated the wrong director for the film Shaun of the Dead. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.