Can TV Comedies be Scarier Than Horror Shows?

If you don't find this terrifying then there is something wrong with you.

I have been a massive fan of horror movies for a long time now. I can't quite say that this has been true since I was born however. When I was a small child I was too easily scared to really enjoy horror movies, even some action movies were too much for me. One of my biggest fears was the relatively tame movie 'Jurassic Park', a movie I now have a childlike fondness for as an adult.

Despite this I have grown into an aficionado of horror movies, with a collection containing some of the best in mainstream horror, classic horror and awful, awful B-movies. As such I have watched a large amount of horror movies, from found footage to supernatural to serial killer thrillers, I've probably watched at least one film from each sub-genre of horror. As such I have developed, like so many other horror fans, a certain level of resistance to being scared. Being scared by a horror movie is now a pretty rare treat for me, and is something that really makes a movie stand out  too.

Having said all of that, I have been scared by TV shows before, a fair few times. Obviously growing up it was really easy to scare me, hell I couldn't even watch a movie with dinosaurs in it without having nightmares for weeks. But even as I got older and was finding it hard to truly be scared by a horror movie there were moments in my life were I would have trouble sleeping because of a TV show I had caught just before bed. The odd thing about them? They were usually comedy shows.

Some of you might think it is totally ridiculous for me to claim that a comedy show actually managed to scare me, but hear me out on this one. The best example I can find is the British comedy show 'Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps'. Say what you want about the shows actual quality (There is an entire debate to be had there about weather the show is good or now, but that's not why were here) but it is quite easy to see that it is a quite silly simple, comedy series.

It tells the story of 5 friends living in Runcorn, a town in the north of England, and their exploits as they usually spend their lives acting stupid and getting drunk together. It's basically a sitcom about 20 something northerners and what they get up to on a daily basis, usually something to do with alcohol, sex and occasionally an abject fear of sheep.

So why did this show scare me? Well they once did a horror special for Halloween. `It was the end of series 6, and just around the point that the show was starting to wind down, with most of it's principle cast members getting prepared to leave the show. The episode tells the story of the cast breaking into their local pub which has been closed down, despite hearing stories that it is cursed, killing anyone who enters with the thing that they love the most.

Obviously there are comedy shows out there which have Halloween themed specials, but this episode was produced during April of 2006, and sort of came out of no where. Obviously there are plenty of silly moments, like Johnny having his head replaced by a giant Jammie Dodger and Kelly being taken over by evil crisp packets being obvious stand-outs. However there are also some genuinely horrible moments, such as Donna being smashed through a glass ceiling and Louise sawing her own legs off until she bleeds out all over the floor.

Some of you out there might be thinking "Oh, but there are much worse scenes out there in horror movies? Why would this stuff be so bad?". Well I think that the answer to that can separated into 2 headings: 1. No Laugh Track, 2. No preparation.

1.No Laugh Track

This heading is pretty obvious to understand. As many other sitcoms tend to, 2 Pints has a laugh track through-out most of the series. Obviously the main purpose of a laugh track is that it makes the audience more likely to laugh, if they hear the studio audience doing the same thing. This is part of what makes the series funny in the first place (although how funny you find it is certainly just as subjective as it is with all comedy), and also what helps to give it a certain identity.

If you've ever watched an episode of Friends, or hell just a few scenes of the show, without a laugh track, you know that it can make the show come across as awkward and stilted.

So as you can now tell it is a weird and jilting experience to have a laugh track suddenly removed when you're used to hearing one. 

2. No Prep

The other reason that this episode freaked me the fuck out was because I just wasn't prepared to be scared by a show about people who drink to much and don't have two brain cells to rub together between them. When I watched the show it was late and night and I was just getting ready to turn in. I was thinking I could catch something silly before I went upstairs to bed. 

I was obviously expecting it to be an episode about something silly like Johnny being shot by a sniper rifle, or Louise whining. Instead I was presented with a story which featured a woman's friends all dying horribly, then raising from the dead to come and murder her as well. Then just as it ends and you think it was all a dream, her boyfriend turns into a Jammie Dodger headed monster and tries to eat her alive. 

I think that this is the main reason that some comedy shows have more power to scare than horror shows do. I remember a lot of stories of kids being completely unsettled by The Simpsons, and some of their more 'out-there' Treehouse of Horrors episodes. Obviously no one has been deeply scared by these shows, but honestly I would find it hard to remember a movie which has had me as freaked out as that episode of '2 Pints of Lager'. 


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