Teenage monster movies really became prominent in the 1950s with movies like I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein. They weren’t necessarily comedies, at least not always intentionally, but some of those films were still very interesting.
Those ‘50s classics are obviously very dated. But during the 1980s, there was an attempt to recapture many of the themes, subjects and styles of ‘50s horror. We saw remakes like The Fly, The Thing, The Blob and Invaders from Mars. The Cold War resurgence brought back the fear of the bomb that had driven the horror genre during that era. It was the one thing in the ‘50s that everyone was unquestionably afraid of.
Nuclear war was and still remains a looming possible threat. But films like the teenage monster flicks discussed below decided to have fun reveling in teenage problems rather than the atomic age creature features that were taking over the time. There were undertones of deeper fears, of course, but B-Movies of this kind were really just made with the intent of entertaining their audience.
You can see these same fears in the 1980s, which sparked a resurgence of teen horror comedies that continues to this day. Return of the Living Dead is a great example of a funny comedy that’s set against a dour, end-of-the-world backdrop. This always makes for an interesting juxtaposition.
Sometimes these features are really just meant to highlight the problems that come with being a teenager. I think most of the entries on this list do that, for both boys and girls. They’re about alienation, anxiety, feeling like you’re powerless and at the same time, trying to keep control and overcome new changes and challenges. Almost all of them are a metaphor for physical and mental changes brought about by puberty. But they’re also really, really funny. These are some of my favorite kinds of horror comedies—hopefully you’ll agree.
My Best Friend is a Vampire
If you’ve never seen me write about this one, rest assured, I think it’s awesome. This is not the most well-known movie, but that’s why I love recommending it so much. Sure, it’s got flaws, but it’s a really warm-hearted, often genuinely funny flick. I even prefer it to a certain other ‘80s vampire comedy…
I like My Best Friend is a Vampire a little bit better, but that’s not to say that Once Bitten is without merit. First and foremost, you’ve got Jim Carrey in his first big role. And honestly, I still think even now that this is one of his most sincere performances. He wasn’t famous, he was just jumping in with both feet and giving this role his all.
My Boyfriend’s Back
I love this movie. I have so many nostalgic memories of watching this one as a kid. It’s about a guy who dies as he asks the girl he really likes to a dance and comes back as a zombie determined to take her out. Somehow I always really identified with this one. It features surprising early performances by Matthew Fox and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Of the teen monster resurgence of the ‘80s, this is clearly the most famous. There’s not much to say about Teen Wolf that hasn’t already been said. It’s hip, it’s funny, Michael J. Fox is great in it. But he still looks more like a monkey than a wolf, I’ll admit.
I might get some heat for this. I don’t care. Karyn Kusama is a great director and Jennifer’s Body is a great film. It’s Mean Girls meets Evil Dead with a healthy dose of Heathers thrown in. That’s a combination that really caters to my personal tastes. The whole cast does a great job and Megan Fox nails her performance as the titular cheerleader turned cannibal.
This is another one that is really close to my heart. I still think that if it hadn’t had the rotten luck of coming out just before Columbine, it could have been a major hit. It’s well made, the cast is excellent and it’s really, really funny. It’s a high school horror comedy for the kids who never actually show up to school, and I love that about it.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It might not touch on the genuine, deep emotional relevancy of the TV show that followed, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an awesome 90s horror-comedy. It’s fixated on being funny, first and foremost, but there are some genuine moments of emotion that actually work—mostly because Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry both completely get the kind of movie they’re in and the characters they’re playing.
Night of the Creeps
Sure, they’re in college, but our main group of characters are definitely still teenagers—aside from Tom Atkins, of course. It’s got everything you want from a genuine teen comedy and it also features zombies, aliens and spectacular FX. It’s a total love letter to the ‘50s while simultaneously embracing everything that was great about ‘80s horror.