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The Underrated Horror Comedy You Need To Watch On Amazon Video

It can be argued — like we're about to, right now — that horror and comedy are perhaps the two toughest genres to work in as a filmmaker. They both require a delicate yet firm mastery of tone, and a confidence in your material that will keep your audience from being taken right out of the film when you push against the boundaries of your chosen genre, as pretty much all truly great works must do. They also both require directors with not only a solid visual sense, but the ability to effectively direct actors — because again, when consistency of tone is everything, one bad line reading can have your horror film taking a turn into the unintentionally hilarious, or your comedy taking a turn into the, well, horrifyingly unfunny.

For these reasons, mashing the two genres together to create something that is genuinely both terrifying and guffaw-inducing might just be the most difficult undertaking in all of cinema. Horror-comedies are notoriously difficult to pull off, but one man showed us all how it was done very early in his career: the great Sam Raimi, whose 1981 debut feature, the low-budget masterpiece The Evil Dead, created a blueprint that he refined and perfected with its 1987 remake-slash-sequel, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

Those early pictures also established Raimi's reputation as an extremely strong, assured visual stylist, a reputation he cemented with such non-horror nineties features as DarkmanThe Quick and the Dead, and A Simple Plan. But after spending most of the 2000s helping establish the modern superhero genre with his Spider-Man trilogy, Raimi returned to his horror-comedy roots with one heck of a palate cleanser: the completely bonkers, wildly entertaining, criminally underseen 2009 feature Drag Me to Hell. You can catch it right now on Amazon Prime, and we really can't recommend highly enough that you do so.

Sam Raimi obviously had a blast making Drag Me to Hell

After a cold open in which a young boy is literally dragged to Hell by a demon after stealing a necklace from an old woman, Drag Me to Hell introduces its main character: Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), a young loan officer angling for a promotion. She decides to demonstrate just how tough she can be at precisely the wrong time, refusing to grant a mortgage payment extension to (wait for it) an old woman, who subsequently attacks Christine in the bank's parking garage and places a curse on her — or, more specifically, on one of her coat buttons.

Things start to go seriously pear-shaped for Christine at this point, as she's haunted by disturbing hallucinations and untimely nosebleeds. She consults a fortune teller, who has some bad news: So long as she owns that button, she will be pursued for three days by the demon Lamia, who will make absolutely sure that those three days will be no picnic. At the end of the three days, Christine will be — you guessed it — dragged to Hell, unless she can pawn the button off on someone else. 

Lohman's pitch-perfect performance as the self-centered, surprisingly resourceful Christine anchors the film, which also gets strong supporting turns from the likes of Justin Long (Jay and Silent Bob Reboot), Lorna Raver (The Young and the Restless), Dileep Rao (Inception), and — in a nice little cameo — the great Octavia Spencer, who two years later would win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in The Help

Fans on the r/horror Subreddit have recently rediscovered the flick, and they're liking what they're seeing. 

Redditors are loving Drag Me to Hell

A Reddit user with the awesome username thomastheturtletrain got the ball rolling on the thread. "I know this is an older movie but I finally watched it for the first time yesterday and I liked it a lot," they wrote. "I liked how Raimi took time to set up the character of Christine and her situation, and the blending of comedy and horror were great. He really found the right balance. It's a movie that now having watched it, stands out against other movies that are labeled [horror-comedies]. With this movie the comedy never takes away from the horror."

While a few (presumably older) users took slight issue with the characterization of Drag Me to Hell as an "older" movie, there was much agreement on the film's merits all the way down the thread. "Not just one of my favorite [horror movies], but [it's] actually one of my fav movies all together," wrote user dearjessie. "I know [it's] pretty cliché, you [probably] know how it's gonna end, but all these scary scenes were shot very nicely."

One astute user by the also-awesome name of NeonBroccoli pointed out the flick's underlying subtext, writing, "If you compare all the haunting she's going thru as her struggle with anxiety, body image, and eating disorders the movie takes [on] a whole different meaning." True, indeed — but even that compelling underlying layer of meaning does nothing to reduce Drag Me to Hell's potency as a hardcore delivery system for screams and laughs in equal measure. The original poster wondered if there were more movies like it they should check out, and of course, they got tons of great suggestions: Shawn of the Dead, Zombieland, Ready or Not, and Peter Jackson's Dead Alive all got mentions. As it happens, though, we have a few suggestions of our own.

After you watch Drag Me to Hell, try these great horror-comedies

First and foremost: 2010's Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, in which Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine play the titular pair — scary-looking but well-meaning backwoods boys who try to make sense of why on Earth the city slicker kids who have invaded their town for a weekend of partying keep killing themselves and each other in increasingly bizarre, inventive ways. The flick's extreme-gore-as-slapstick aesthetic is straight from the Raimi playbook, and the deadpan performances of its two leads are nothing short of hysterical.

You may also be into 2011's Cabin in the Woods, a highly self-aware and self-referential riff on slasher movies helmed by Joss Whedon, written by his ex-Buffy The Vampire Slayer cohort Drew Goddard, and starring the likes of Kristin Connolly (House of Cards), Amy Acker (The Gifted), and Chris Hemsworth, who was on the cusp of finding worldwide fame as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Finally, we highly recommend the 2017 Netflix original film The Babysitter, which stars Judah Lewis as Cole, a tween boy who has a great relationship with his fun, pop culture-savvy, breathtakingly pretty babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving) — until it turns out that she and her friends are part of a demonic cult intent on using Cole's blood as part of a ritual meant to grant them immortality. (Hey, we've all been there.) The flick's 2020 sequel, The Babysitter: Killer Queen, is also well worth a watch — but the first flick's ridiculously assured tone, courtesy of screenwriter Brian Duffield and director McG, is downright Raimi-esque.

Fine selections, all — but when it comes to horror-comedy, nobody has ever done it better than Raimi himself, and Drag Me to Hell is perhaps his most unheralded work. Fire it up on Amazon tonight, and get ready for a singularly terrifying, bloody, hilarious experience.