10 Most Unsettling Dark Comedies of All Time

October 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Lifestyle, Misc

There’s something about modern life that calls for dark humor. It seems appropriate that, in the face of adversities, the best form of defense is to poke fun at those very adversities through the time-honored American tradition of celebrating the macabre, the unsettling and the downright twisted.

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Here we decided to put together a list of the ten black comedies that made us feel the most genuinely uncomfortable; menacingly comic cinematic milestones that managed to be by turns — or at once — both funny and disturbing. So get your cringe muscles tensed, and we’ll begin!

1. Fargo

Ethan and Joel Coen are moviemakers renowned for their discreetly humorous dialogue and excellent use of atmosphere, and their 1996 offering Fargo is arguably the ultimate testament to this. The movie tells the “true” story of a kidnapping gone horribly wrong and several murders out in the sticks of Minnesota and North Dakota. Through all its exciting, gory detail, it still retains a sense of humor so delicate it remains ambiguous. Whether it’s the violent introduction of Steve Buscemi to a woodchipper, or the sing-song accent of the movie’s various regional extras — not to mention the superb Frances McDormand — the atmosphere remains truly thrilling, unbearably tense, and constantly amusing.

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2. The War of the Roses

To some, Michael Douglas may be a washed-up star nowadays, but he’s the only actor to have starred in two films in our top ten list, and he resolutely stole the show in both. The War of The Roses is a great, if underrated, comedy of the darkest kind. The tale begins when two lovers meet (the female protagonist played by the excellent Kathleen Turner), fall in love, get married, improve their careers and become wealthy. Then it all goes horribly wrong. Brilliantly narrated by their divorce lawyer (Danny DeVito), the movie chronicles how the couple’s squabbles eventually escalate into a messy, violent climax, as they inflict despicable levels of vengeance upon each another. If you’ve ever been through a break-up, you’ll squirm throughout this movie, laughing uncontrollably at the same time. Look out for a brief cameo from Dan “Homer Simpson” Castellaneta.

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3. Addams Family Values

Perhaps not the most disturbing of films on this list, Barry Sonnenfeld’s Addams Family Values, which came out in 1993, is nonetheless a movie that conveys a constant and unnerving feeling of uncertainty. Perhaps it’s simply the more Gothic nature of the second Addams installment, the family’s impermeable relationship with death, or the darker and more serious use of the macabre juxtaposed with the normal American world around them. One way or another, it’s a black-as-night comedy with a true air of dis-ease. If you haven’t seen it since the fifth grade, take another look. The performances from Raúl Juliá, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd and Christina Ricci are tantamount to genius!

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4. Delicatessen

Whilst 1991′s Delicatessen is certainly not considered a prequel to Amélie — director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “other” movie — it could well be described as its (very) messed-up older sister. The story revolves around a Parisian apartment building above a shady butcher’s shop in a post-apocalyptic France. The butcher lures waifs in with the promise of a vacancy, and then promptly dispatches them in order to sell their meat to the tenants above. This scheme is only foiled by the arrival of a plucky circus performer who becomes the butcher’s next target, and by a team of vegetarian troglodyte terrorists. What makes the film so creepy is its grimy, dirty aesthetic — one totally removed from the twee croissant-a-thon of Amélie. Macabre comic brilliance.

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