A strange substitute teacher decides to read a collection of stories to very young students. What seems innocent enough at first unravels into an anthology of demented and humorous tales that are not safe for children.
A Comedy of Horrors, Vol. 1 is a laugh-out-loud anthology. This anthology comes from the twisted minds of Ken Arnold (The Night Watchmen, Naked Radio), Dan De Luca (The Night Watchmen, Crazy Eights), Jamie Nash (V/H/S 2, Two Front Teeth), Bud George, Nick Tucker, Taylor Hamilton, and Matt Servitto. There is an overarching, wraparound segment of the substitute teacher reading to the class, which is where the other four segments come from. The other segments include murder in a clown town, an evil puppet, a deadly bachelorette party, and an actor who comes face-to-face with a toxic fan. Each story told in the film manages to hit that sweet spot of horror comedies where they are often cheesy and ridiculous, but in a way that is quite self-aware.
“Welcome to Clowntown” tells the story of a small town filled with clowns. When a murderer strikes, it’s up to the clown sheriff to save the day. What makes this segment great is that the actors play the characters completely straight and serious, despite the clown makeup and humorous sound effects. “Fun With Furklee” depicts a child star made famous for being on a TV show with his puppet pal. Unfortunately, the puppet is alive and he is a monster, but he’s the kind of monster horror fans will fall in love with. “Last Maid Standing” shows a disgruntled bridesmaid pitting the other bridesmaids against each other in a fight to the death. Anyone who has ever been involved in a wedding likely will love to live vicariously through this segment. Plus, it has the single line that made me laugh the hardest in the entire anthology. “Good Head” is probably the most topical segment of the anthology. It depicts an actor who plays a superhero and a super fan who will go to great lengths to make sure the movie is what he wants. Then of course there is “The Substitute,” rounding out the anthology and terrifying children. It is a disturbing and clever way to tie everything together.
There is a huge cast making up the different segments of A Comedy of Horrors, Vol. 1, but a few performances definitely stand out. The first memorable performance comes from Jaci Jones (Fishbowl, House of Cards) as Daisy in “Fun With Furklee.” Daisy is a huge fan of the children’s show the puppet Furklee starred in. Jones does a great job of playing with the audience and making it unsure if she is just a regular fan or a full-fledge stalker. Probably the performance most viewers will remember most is Matt Servitto (Enchanted, The Sopranos) as Cooper in “Good Head.” It’s fairly clear that Cooper is meant to be a caricature or parody of Robert Downey Jr. He’s a rich, playboy actor with a troubled past who is now playing a metal-armored superhero. Servitto manages to play Cooper in a way that makes it clear who his character is modeled after, without feeling like a cheap imitation. Other acting shout outs go to Dan Franko (Veep, The Night Watchmen), Melanie Mahanna (The Equalizer, Neverland), and Henry Zebrowski (After Midnight, Dirty Grandpa).
This film relies on practical effects to bring each segment to life. While there is a little something to love in each segment of A Comedy of Horrors, Vol. 1, two segments are very clear standouts when it comes to the practical effects. The first is “Fun With Furklee.” There was no way they could include a short film about an evil yet adorable puppet without my falling in love with it. There is a sizable contingent of horror fans that want to hug different monsters, and they will definitely want to hug Furklee. He looks like Elmo, but acts like Chucky, and the puppeteer behind this character did a great job. The other, and likely more obvious, practical effects highlight is “Good Head.” The super fan character makes human molds and practical effects, so much of this segment takes place in his workshop. It not only showcases room after room and great practical effects and props, but it allows for some pretty hilarious uses of those props.
A Comedy of Horrors, Vol. 1 is a goofy and self-aware horror comedy anthology that is sure to bring the laughs. It’s the kind of film best enjoyed if you go in knowing it is entirely meant to be fun, if not a bit on the cheesy side. Think along the same lines of Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Velocipastor. The entire filmmaking team each brought something different to A Comedy of Horrors, Vol. 1, making it a well-rounded anthology and humorous tales that focus on different subgenres of horror. With some memorable performances and delightful practical effects, A Comedy of Horrors, Vol. 1 is definitely entertaining. One thing is for sure, I enjoyed this anthology enough that I look forward to seeing a volume 2.
OVERALL RATING: 7/10