Quiz: Pick Your Favorite Genre Tropes to Get Your Perfect Horror Comedy Read

Steph Auteri

Senior Contributor

Steph Auteri is a journalist who has written for the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, VICE, and elsewhere. Her more creative work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, under the gum tree, Poets & Writers, and other publications, and she is the Essays Editor for Hippocampus Magazine. Her essay, "The Fear That Lives Next to My Heart," published in Southwest Review, was listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2021. She also writes bookish stuff here and at the Feminist Book Club, is the author of A Dirty Word, and is the founder of Guerrilla Sex Ed. When not working, she enjoys yoga, embroidery, singing, cat snuggling, and staring at the birds in her backyard feeder. You can learn more at stephauteri.com and follow her on Insta/Threads at @stephauteri.

Quirk Books

The Office meets Stephen King in this festive and frightening horror-comedy set during the horror publishing boom of the ’80s, by NYT best-selling satirist Andrew Shaffer. At Blackwood-Patterson’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange, new hire Lussi Meyer receives a demonic-looking object, which she figures is a prank. When her coworkers begin falling victim to horrific accidents akin to a George Romero movie, Lussi suspects that her gift is somehow involved. She must track down her anonymous Secret Santa and figure out the true meaning of the cursed object in her possession before it destroys the publishing house—and her soul.

My favorite genre has always been horror: for its dark themes, for its psychological twistiness, for its face-melting nightmares writ large. I don’t know what draws me to it—though there’s probably something in those theories about fearful people being able to enjoy fearful things in a safe and controlled environment—but when I’m in a reading slump, a good horror novel can always break me out of it.

I fell for the genre early, swiping my dad’s John Sauls and Stephen Kings before eventually moving on to the Nick Cutters and the T. Kingfishers and the Victor LaValles, and I fell for it hard. My love has only grown in the three decades since.

In fact, I spent this past October reading and watching horror and nothing but (though, between you and me, horror is in season all year ’round). I snuggled up in bed with Rory Powers’s Burn Our Bodies Down; Francesca Momplaisir’s My Mother’s House; Emily M. Danforth’s Plain Bad Heroines. My husband and I marathoned Monsterland and Books of Blood and I started to watch The Haunting of Bly Manor on my own.

But sometimes, I like my horror with a dash of comedy mixed in.

It’s why I’ve always enjoyed B-horror movies, that perfect blend of shivers and laughs. The dark comedy of Evil Dead 2. The terrible puns thrown liberally throughout Rumpelstiltskin and Dead Alive. The over-the-top ridiculousness of Terrorvision, and, my god, did you know that there’s a movie called Death Bed: The Bed That Eats? (It’s terrible.)

Something about these low-budget flicks just hits a sort of sweet spot with its mix of well-trod horror tropes and obviously-fake gore and overall campiness. The jump scares get you, but then you can’t help but follow it up with a bundle of belly laughs.

Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to find a good read with the same vibes. A literary horror with a hint of lightness that cuts the tension exactly when I need it, or a slapstick horror novel that’s just pure fun. Which comes in handy if, like me, you tend to find yourself in the middle of a horror novel when your husband is out of town on business, or when you’re staying solo in a hotel room for a writing conference. When you’re all alone with only your fears to keep you company. You get me.

Are you in the mood for some horror comedy? In the following quiz, pick your favorite horror and comedy tropes to get your next perfect read. And then let the belly laughs, mingled with horrified screams, commence!