Mwah-ha-ha-ha: 6 Movie Monsters Ranked by Sense of Humor

Pennywise from Stephen King’s ‘It’/Image courtesy of ABC
Pennywise from Stephen King’s ‘It’/Image courtesy of ABC

Most movie monsters are so utterly dehumanized that they wouldn't appreciate a good one-liner if they heard it -- let alone be able to deliver one. However, every so often you run across a creature who seems to take perverse pleasure in trying to relate to humans through humor, even if its victims rarely survive long enough to appreciate the gesture. Let's take a look at a few infamously entertaining boogeymen and see which of them is the most likely to get a smile out of us (before ripping it right off our faces).

6. Pennywise, "IT" (1990)

This shape-shifting intergalactic menace may have taken the form of a circus clown, but his material ("Hello, is your refrigerator running?") is groan-worthy even by 1957 standards, not even redeemable by the comedic chops of an actor like Tim Curry. That's actually a good thing for mankind, because laughter proves to be one of the only effective weapons against It. Anyhow, it was clearly an intentional choice on Stephen King's part to create a villain that's a twisted parody of childish humor. The fact that this turns out to be just a mask hiding something unspeakably ancient makes it all the more terrifying.

5. Chucky, "Child's Play" (1988)

One could consider Chucky's sense of humor to be a coping mechanism. After all, if you can't laugh at the fact that your soul has suddenly been transported into the body of an innocuous children's toy, then where are you? Unfortunately he was the "Lakeshore Strangler" in his previous life, not George Carlin, so his snarky zingers aren't terribly amusing to anyone but himself. Over the years, the "Child's Play" franchise began to skew more deliberately into the realm of self-referential comedy -- but while the films were definitely more absurd, you can't exactly say they're any funnier.

4. Count Dracula, "Dracula" (1931)

The Count isn't anyone's idea of a comedian, but you can't deny he has a certain dry wit that's been polished to a brilliant shine by centuries of world-weariness. The cleverness in Bela Lugosi's delivery of "I don't drink ... wine" sails right over poor Jonathan Harker's head, but it never fails to get a smirk out of the viewing audience. This is basically just how one might expect Dorothy Parker to carry on if she were a vampire (except she'd probably find a way to drink the wine). In fact, I can imagine Dracula reciting some of her famous verses with relish, particularly Resume: "Guns aren't lawful; nooses give; gas smells awful; you might as well live."

3. King Kong, "King Kong" (2005)

He may be awfully grouchy, but even the mighty Kong can appreciate a good pratfall. Remember that scene when Naomi Watts dances to entertain him, and then he knocks her to the ground over and over, losing himself in a fit of contagious ape-giggles? At the very least it signifies an appreciation for Buster Keaton-style physical clowning that is remarkably sophisticated for a character who stomps T-Rex skulls for exercise.

2. Freddy Krueger, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984)

Freddy's basically got the same schtick as Chucky -- except he got there first, and his ability to bend the laws of reality within his victims' dreams gives him a much broader canvas to paint on. Hence we have classic moments such as the scene in "Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" when Freddy (disguised as a sexy nurse) gets a teen boy all "tongue-tied," literally tying him to the bedposts with disembodied tongues. Or that time when Freddy appeared on the Dick Cavett show -- with Cavett himself and Zsa Zsa Gabor in cameo appearances -- just so he'd have an excuse to bash his victim's face against a TV screen and shout, "Welcome to prime time!" Say what you will about diminishing returns, the franchise's death scenes were always creatively mined for maximum irony as well as shock value.

1. The Gremlins, "Gremlins" (1984)

It's really no contest here: the Gremlins' two defining characteristics are violence and mischief, and the latter winds up including everything from stairlift hot-wiring to unflattering celebrity impersonations. These ugly little jesters are easily entertained and don't have a snobbish bone in their bodies; if there's not a human around to antagonize, they're perfectly content to howl with laughter as they maim and kill each other instead. Both the original film and the sequel are true horror comedies, in that they don't skimp in either department. Instead of diluting genuinely frightening or disgusting moments with humor, they play with comic timing and kinetic puppet-work as a way to flip back and forth between thrills and chills. However ridiculous it may be to see an army of tiny green monsters watching "Snow White" in a movie theater or singing a chorus of "New York, New York," you can't deny the feeling of relief you feel at the end when all are reduced to piles of green cat-yack. And even then they're still cutting capers -- anyone else fondly recall the one in "Gremlins 2" who dons a pointy black hat and quotes the Wicked Witch of the West as he melts to death? Based on that performance alone I'm willing to embrace this species as highly advanced life forms.

  • john

    Ok I can understand pennywise he is awesome. I can understand Chucky (a little) and even the Gremlins, Count Dracula nope sorry and King Kong nope and Freddie Kruger nope. You might ask why not Freddie? Well here is my answer Freddie did not say a word in the first Night mare but i will agree if you were talking about the others.

    • Smarf

      "You might ask why not Freddie? Well here is my answer Freddie did not say a word in the first Night mare but i will agree if you were talking about the others."


      So who said...
      "This, is God! "
      "I'll kill you slow! "
      " I'm going to split you in two."
      "You think you was gonna get away from me?"
      "Now you die."

      and how could you forget...

      "I'm your boyfriend now, Nancy" (insert tongue phone)

    • Ryan

      Charlie Chaplin didn't say much either, but he was a riot. Humor doesn't have to be conveyed through words.

      That being said, he cuts off his own fingers for fun, runs at Tina like a ghoul down the alley, calls himself God, lets his face fall off so he can laugh at Tina, tries to make out with Nancy via the phone while calling himself her new boyfriend. So yeah... he does talk and he is funny.

      And third of all, the list doesn't claim to be talking about monsters from their first movies... just monsters in general. And Freddy is in 9 movies. And a TV show.

    • Tom Blunt

      Sorry John, but I'm afraid you've misremembered the first Nightmare film:

      Anyhow I'd love to hear your suggestions for monsters I should have picked!

  • DC

    Count Dracula and Pennywise have that aura of believability. But Pennywise is funnier and scarier by far..even if you are crying from fear as you laugh. Then years later a snide comment from Granny about "fun" will give you nightmares until you have to see 'IT" again!

  • ray

    In "nightmare on elm street" when Nancy picks up the phone near the end to call glen Freddy is in the line. He molests her with his tongue and says "I'm your boyfriend now, Nancy"

    So yes, he does speak

  • Jennifer

    You obviously never saw Slither!

  • Nick

    I nominate Baby Oopsie Daisy from demonic toys. While some films in the series were less.... stellar than others, the original Demonic Toys is a classic to me, and I will forever remember the immortal words of Baby Oopsie Daisy. She can walk, she can talk, she can even crap her pants. Can you crap yours?

  • chuck

    like gremlins do ya? you should own ferret's, i am convinced that the creator of gremlins based them off ferret's. if they had thumbs they'd gladly rewire the electronic's for chaos that appeals to their own amusement.

  • Elaine

    Just thinking of a few about Jeepers Creepers Guy, Jigsaw from SAW, girl from The Ring, Jack Nick. from The Shinning and a funny one The Thing, I can just remember this hand that came back to life getting revenge on those that killed him.

    Think Pennywise is the most frightening, the whole book IT was scary but excellent.

  • I don't know if "real" people count as monsters, but I always thought Hannibal Lecter had a great sense of humor for a villain/monster. "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti." and "I do wish we could chat longer, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner. Bye."

  • Cedric Klein

    Bela Lugosi's Dracula did not say "I never drink... wine" to Jonathan Harker. He said it to Mr. Renfield, who the movie put into the Harker role for that segment.

    Btw, while that quote is not from the book, it may have been inspired by Stoker having Dracula explain to Harker why he does not join him for supper... "I have dined already, and do not sup."