A scare and a laugh go hand in hand; nervous laughter is one of the body's hardwired responses to fear, along with cold sweat and pants-peeing.
That's why the theoretically odd pairing of humor and horror works out so well in cinema - just look at Mel Brook's classic Young Frankenstein, or Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series. Even the Scary Movie series, as banal as it was, had its memorable moments.
Asia had its own horror comedy boom, lasting somewhere from the early eighties to the early noughties. Filmed mainly in Hong Kong, Asian horror comedy had its own unique flair, often blending the casual athleticism of martial arts movies and Peking opera, with slapstick physical humor, before dumping a whole truckload of oriental mysticism into the mix. With such a diverse selection of Asian myths and legends to draw upon, it seemed like the Asian horror comedy genre was unstoppable, especially its jiangshi subgenre.
But a weary audience, the influx of low quality productions and the advent of video piracy quickly caused the industry, as well as the genre, to fizzle out. So while ornately dressed kangaroo-esque zombies and monobrowed Taoist priests may seem quite queer to the world at large, many of us in Asia have fond memories of their antics and wish that they were still around.
Here's our list of top ten classic Asian horror comedies - that you can watch online! Good luck getting anything done today.
Mr. Vampire (1985)
The most well-known jiangshi series to international audiences, the movie also made its unlikely "star" famous. Lam Ching Ying became permanently associated with the character of the Taoist priest they nicknamed "monobrow priest". Almost every character he ever played afterwards was a variation of that role, just in different times and settings.
The series features the titular Asian vampire (the Chinese title literally translates into Mr. Zombie), undead ghouls that hop around killing to satiate their lust for blood, but remain dormant and docile once yellow talismans are stuck on their foreheads. Oh, and they can't see you if you hold your breath.
Encounters of the spooky kind (1980)
Sammo Hung, known to Western audiences as overweight Asian Stereotype Cop Martial Law, is affectionately called "biggest big brother" by his contemporaries, and not just ironically. He almost singlehandedly invented the Asian comedy horror genre, and developed it further with his stable of frequent collaborators.
Encounters of the Spooky Kind being the first of its kind, was a sort of proof of concept which allowed Hung to make more jiangshi movies. Much of the film's success can be attributed to Hung's terrific physicality - there's little more entertaining than watching a fat guy do acrobatics (case in point - Kung Fu Panda).