Horror-comedy is a curious genre. It saw a boom in the 1940s with Abbot and Costello meeting various Universal monsters — the Wolfman, Frankenstein, the mummy. After retreating for several decades (give or take a Young Frankenstein or two), as filmmakers like Hitchcock and Romero brought horror in a more serious direction, it emerged again in groovy gory style with Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series in the 80s. It continued on through the 90s and early oughts, with entries like Scream and expanded on television with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Being Human — though you could argue those are more in the realm of the supernatural or vampire genre. It’s had a steady wave in movie theaters ever since, with the likes of Cabin in the Woods and Shaun of the Dead — but pure horror-comedy has never really found its groove on television. Until now.
Ash vs Evil Dead and Scream Queens are both shows that shouldn’t have worked. The former was attempting to resurrect a franchise twenty years past its heyday — surely fans no longer cared and the story was no longer relevant. The latter looked like teenybopper faire with a questionable cast. Surely that was going to be insufferable, right?
And yet, each had a first season that was far more fun and successful than it had any right to be.
Both shows owe their unlikely success to nailing the horror-comedy tone. Neither took itself too seriously or overstayed its welcome, which proved one thing: Horror comedy has been, and will be, one of our most enduring genres. We will always be scared of the same basic things and laugh at the same basic things, and the tying the two together will always be a wicked delight.
Their first seasons could have been amusing flukes, but this fall, as both shows enter their second seasons, it’s clear they’re onto something. Horror comedy is here to stay on TV, and there’s only one thing to say to that.
Ash vs Evil dead Season 2 premieres October 2 on Starz while Scream Queens Season 2 premieres on September 20 on Fox.