Seven of the Funniest Death-focused Movies

Written By A.R. Arthur

A.R. Arthur (formerly A.R. Salandy) is a Black Mixed-race poet & writer who has spent most of his life in Kuwait jostling between the UK & America. He is the EIC of Fahmidan Journal/Publishing & Co, Reviews Editor at Full House Literary & Poetry Editor at Chestnut Review. Twitter/Instagram: @ararthurwriter

Hollywood seems to love melding death and comedy to create a viewer experience out of the ordinary. With supernatural classics like Ghostbusters and more contemporary takes on funereal hijinks like Death at a Funeral, there is no shortage of death-focused blockbuster action. Let’s explore seven of the funniest death centric movies for you to enjoy!

Beetlejuice (1988)

A classic for 80s movie enthusiasts, Beetlejuice is an eccentric, blood-curdling comedy that puts a sardonic spin on this macabre narrative. Directed by Tim Burton, Beetlejuice takes us through the lives of a recently deceased couple whose tranquil afterlife is disturbed by the arrival of a new, living, family to their home. In desperation, they enlist the help of a ghost “Beetlejuice.” As the movie progresses, they come to question the utility of their newly found apparition, realizing his antics are not what they seem. If you’re into costume makeup, then Beetlejuice will be right up your alley as it won the Academy Award for Best Makeup!

Death at a Funeral (2007)

In this black comedy, directed by Frank Oz, Daniel, played by Matthw McFayden, decides to take on funeral planning when his father dies. This includes paying for his brother’s flight expenses to writing his father’s eulogy by himself when he wasn’t even supposed to deliver it. A frantic Daniel ends up dealing with a plethora of hiccups that while comedic, affirm how sometimes life, as in death, does not go to plan!

She Never Died (2019)

Directed by Audrey Cummings, She Never Died, centers on a socially-outcast woman, Lacey. She lives on the social fringes of society and saves a woman from being killed by eating a human trafficker. Devouring him is only the start of a lengthy process to deal with the many human trafficking rings that exist within the city. Despite beginning her quest on her own, Lacey begins to gain support for her battle against these traffickers. A satirical flare works well to contrast the melancholic grey of this witty, evocative movie.

Knives Out (2019)

Directed by Rian Johnson, Knives Out takes a modern approach to the murder mystery with wry comedy and sardonic inclusions centered on contemporary issues from immigration to family dynamics. After the death of Harlan Thrombey, his family rely on the criminal expertise of detective Benoit Blanc, played by none other than Daniel Craig (the James Bond of the 2000s). An arduous interrogation process is drawn out by the many contrasting personalities and influences that give this movie a tinge of realism that further complicates Blanc’s process.

Death Becomes Her (1992)

Death Becomes Her takes on the many supernatural ramifications of cheating death. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this dark comedy presents the wide swing between the macabre and comical while making use of robust dark humor. Notable motifs include the nature of aging and beauty. Audiences are treated to the interactions of two vain rivals who discover an otherworldly potion that promises eternal youth. Their vanity and self-obsession ultimately leads them on a journey of dark rivalry and immortality influenced by their shared love interest, Ernest Melville. Death Becomes Her makes use of the idea that beauty isn’t merely about looks, but also what is inside.

In Bruges (2008)

Directed by Martin McDonagh, this dark crime comedy is about two hitmen grappling with a host of existential ruminations, exiled to the city of Bruges in Belgium. This captivating narrative goes beyond the confines of the genre by exploring guilt, the consequences of life and death decisions and morality and its perception. Philosophical and existential undertones give added depth to the story of two men hiding out in an idyllic Belgian city. In Bruges is a great example of how the witty and criminal, the sardonic and lethal can meld together, creating an impactful, nuanced movie.

Ghost Town (2008)

Directed by Davie Koepp, this otherworldly comedy, places the reader at the heart of a supernatural narrative where a reclusive dentist; Bertrum Pincus suffers a near death experience and begins to be able to communicate with the dead around him. Bertrum becomes overwhelmed with lost souls seeking guidance to solve their earthly problems and ascend to the light. This leaves Bertrum seeking any form of distraction as he ultimately begins to help the widow of one spirit. While comedic and death centered, I enjoyed Ghost Town because it reflected on the “what if” nature of the hereafter and the potential for one’s soul to linger amid unfinished business.