Horror films often include a little bit of comic relief to break the tension…usually just before something really scary jumps out at you. The history of comedy characters finding themselves in a horror film situation is uneven at best. Much comedy inserted into horror succeeds less in relieving the tension than heightening the irritation.
The Invisible Man
Claude Rains as the title character of "The Invisible Man" absolutely has to top the ranks of the funniest characters in horror film history. Rains is absolutely magnificently comedic as he chooses to utilize humor as the emotional tone rings the bell of his decreasing sanity. Interestingly enough, "The Invisible Man" also provides one of the most iconic examples of a comedic character who brings relief only when she exits. The innkeeper's wife is supposed to be funny. She's not.
An American Werewolf in London
If Claude Rains as "The Invisible Man" is not the funniest character in a horror film, then surely the title must be awarded to Griffin Dunne. Dunne absolutely steals "An American Werewolf in London" right out from everybody else in the cast. I recently published an article that casts the werewolf as the Captain Bringdown of classic horror movie villains. Why are they all so whiny and tragic? Without Griffin Dunne's ironic sense of his own situation, "An American Werewolf in London" might well be interminable.
Bram Stoker's Dracula
I never said that the funniest character in horror movie history had to be funny on purpose. Keanu Reeves provides almost as many laughs as Rains and Dunne combined in "Bram Stoker's Dracula." So what if he's not actually supposed to be funny? Reeve's amazing disappearing accent and inability to project any recognizable emotion make him far funnier than the innkeeper's wife in "The Invisible Man" and her appearances are intended as comedy. Comedy is what you make of it in horror movie as elsewhere.
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