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Author Topic: What is your view regarding jokes in horror adventure games? Like or dislike? ;)  (Read 2451 times)

KyriakosCH

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I personally am not really that fond of seeing jokes (whether it is sarcasm or something more light-hearted) in actual horror adventure games...
Ok, jokes can make the work easier to go through, and more pleasant. And it often happens that some great works of art (eg books) make good use of including a funnier part, when the rest of the story was really devastatingly miserable. A good example of that would be with Nikolai Gogol's novella, "The overcoat". If it didn't have the funny last chapter it would have been a really cruel tale :)

But i do prefer stories of the "cruel" type, tbh. At least when the work is known to be horror, or "serious".

What is your view?

Some examples of humour in dark adventure games:
Gabriel Knight
Harvester

And cases with notably less humour:
Donna, Avenger of Blood (well, mostly...)
(the original) Downfall

« Last Edit: 16 Aug 2018, 13:14 by KyriakosCH »
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Babar

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That's a horror adventure game?
That's about the dumbest thing I've ever seen. I'd wonder if it is a matter of context, but I can't imagine a context where that wouldn't be dumb.
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KyriakosCH

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Well, i wasn't sure if i should post the more gory parts. But let's just say that Harvester is probably the goriest adventure game of all time & was even banned in the 90s (laugh)
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VampireWombat

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Harvester is the only one you listed I've actually played, and only for a few minutes (never been a fan of FMV games and never got into Sierra games).

But since I'm not a fan of "straight" horror anyway, I'm all for comedy in horror movies and games if it's done right. But I enjoy the horror genre to have fun, not to be scared or creeped out. Medical shows do a much better job of that...

Babar - From what I've played of Harvester and heard about it, a lot of it is really dumb. I'm not even sure it should be called horror. Maybe dark comedy.
« Last Edit: 15 Aug 2018, 22:10 by VampireWombat »

Mandle

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If there is to be comedy in a work of horror I would prefer it to be done through a comic relief character rather than something silly happening like Dracula's pants falling down.

Some movie examples where this is done well:

The Cabin In The Woods (the stoner guy)
The Lost Boys (the Frog brothers)
Get Out (TRS friend)
The Thing (the stoner guy)

The Thing is probably the most interesting example of bare-bones comic relief. Horror works benefit from a laugh, or just a light-hearted moment, now and then because it resets the audience's baseline for being scared. Fright, in fiction, is like staying in a room with a particular smell for too long to the point where you stop noticing it. You need to step outside for just a moment and then you can smell it again.

In The Thing there are only really two laugh-out-loud moments but I think it's just enough to allow that "step outside" effect to happen without taking away from the grim tone of the rest of the film.

At the opposite end of the scale, but still effective, would be The Lost Boys, but this is more of an adventure-comedy-horror movie than a dark and grim one.

There are rarities like Evil Dead 2 and Army Of Darkness where constant comedy works hand-in-hand with horror to create a workable hot mess, but these are the most difficult to pull off, not many examples exist, and are not to everyone's taste.

Another really effective use of comic relief characters in horror I've noticed is killing off the comedic character. The moment this happens the audience thinks "oh shit, no more laughs now!" and understands that from here on in the story can only get darker and darker.

I think I noticed this the most in Scream 2 when the guy who knows all the horror movie rules gets killed. I still miss that guy... sniff...

I know this was about games but I think any genre works as an example.
« Last Edit: 16 Aug 2018, 02:49 by Mandle »

BunnyShoggoth

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I'm all for jokes, but I'm a fan of very specific horrors. I love comedy horrors when you take the horror tropes and make something fun and warm out of it (like A Vampyre Story and the Transylvanian Lovecraft adventure Gibbous), and I also love the opposite, when you take something sweet and cartoony and add really dark/psychological horror subtexts (think Psychonauts, Penny Arcade Adventures, the movie Escape from Tomorrow, and Roald Dahl's stories). For a "serious" horror, I think they wouldn't hurt too though.

Good horror and comedy are very similar in many ways. They are both about set-up and pay-off. You set up the scenario, you lull your audience into a false, sense of security, stringing them along for as long as possible before they lose interest and then hit them with the pay-off.

The only difference is the reaction. You either laugh or scream. As a fan of horror and comedy, my brain is wired to appreciate them both in a similar way. I can't say I'm much of a horror writer but I do write jokes and when I see a particularly well-constructed horror scene, I will often laugh out loud and clap to myself as if I were at a comedy gig.

When you talk about “jokes” in horror you are probably confusing it for “bad writing”. The jokes to which you refer would not be funny even if the game/movie were marketed as a comedy.

Mandle

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When you talk about “jokes” in horror you are probably confusing it for “bad writing”.

I LOL'd!

KyriakosCH

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:D

Interesting replies, all :)

Hm, as an example of a horror work (this time a short story) which has zero humour:

Maurice Level was a 19th century writer, and the paradigmatic author of the so-called "Conte Cruel" subgenre of french literature. The conte cruel (literally means 'cruel story') is a type of story which is centered on presenting cruelty. His most famous stories were also adapted into plays, for the french theatre of the "Grand Guignol", in Paris.
One of his stories is titled "The last kiss". In that you have a woman who was on trial for throwing vitriol (sulfuric acid) on her ex-lover, when he announced to her that he plans to leave her. She would be sent to jail for many many years, if it didn't happen that her victim (now horribly disfigured, as well as blind) didn't come as a witness to her defense!
He pleaded with the judges to grant her freedom, and argued that he was also to blame, etc.
After she was set free, he asked - through her lawyer - to arrange a meeting with her. Her lawyer advised her to accept, so she did.
In the end it is revealed that her ex-lover's plan was to make her come close enough to him so that he would grab her by the arms, and throw vitriol on her as well, so that she too would become a monster and would again be his lover.

Not much humour in such a kind of story := But it does work as horror.
« Last Edit: 16 Aug 2018, 10:58 by KyriakosCH »
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I think the others in this thread has already made some really good points, though I'd like to add that probably one of the biggest pitfalls of not only horror,
but any serious story in general, is to have an otherwise dark and mature atmosphere, but then tacking on silly jokes geared towards kids as an afterthought.

Comedy in horror can work very well if the comedy itself is related to the story and setting, and will often work best with dark humor or gallows humor,
whereas the works that fail usually have goofy jokes that feels like they were lifted straight from a kid's show and doesn't fit with the tone or atmosphere at all.

One of the worst offenders in this regard are the Gargoyles in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (I know it isn't a horror movie, but still a good example of how bad comedy can ruin good storytelling),
for while they serve as fun sidekicks for the protagonist Quasimodo to discuss his motives and intentions with in the beginning of the movie, they very quickly wear out their welcome when the story takes a serious turn,
and at several times the rest of the plot is forced to a grinding halt so that the gargoyles can do some dumb slapstick or pop-culture references.
Probably the low point of the film is when we've just seen the villain tearing up Paris, burning houses with people still locked inside and committing ethnic cleansing
of the romani minority, only for the movie to cut to the Gargoyles joking about grilling a sausage above the flames and having a song number full of pop-culture gags.

In my opinion, if you want to use comedy in horror, you should try to:
- Use dark humor to highlight the grim situation
- Have the characters make a quip about how absurd it all is, being hunted by monsters/stuck in a haunted house/whatever the situation is
- Having somebody be killed in an ironic fashion
- Having the characters joke about each others fears and flaws

But you should avoid:
- Using goofy kid humor, like jokes about polka-dotted underwear, potty humor, silly dancing excetera
- Making pop cultural references to works that aren't horror
- Making jokes during the tense climax and third-act resolution of the main plot
- Adding a comedy relief character who has no story purpose or personality outside being "funny" (this is how you end up with Jar Jar Binks)

Danvzare

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I think it depends on the tone of the horror you're going for.
If you're going for something serious all throughout, then jokes simply won't fly anywhere.
Likewise, if the premise is fundamentally a bit silly, then I think jokes can go a long way towards making your game more entertaining.

For example, imagine The Grudge having the same tone as any Chucky movie, or any Chucky movie having the same tone as The Grudge. It will no doubt be a bit jarring. While I know those are movies, not games, I feel as though it would be the same for a game as well.

KyriakosCH

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Iirc the original movie of the series, Child's Play, didn't have much humour either.
Later Chucky movies were full comedy-horror, obviously :=
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VampireWombat

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The Nightmare on Elm Street movies are a good example of a spectrum of comedy in horror.
The first movie had minimal humor and was mostly horror. What humor in it was pretty much dark humor. The Dream Warriors had a bit more humor, but was still pretty well balanced. But from there things went downhill until Freddy's Dead, where he basically became a serial killer version of Bugs Bunny.
The Dream Warriors is my favorite, by the way because it seems the best balance of everything.

Mandle

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The Dream Warriors is my favorite, by the way because it seems the best balance of everything.

100% agree! Was always my favorite of the series and I will go rent it tomorrow and rewatch!

All this talk of horror films reminds me of something.

Oh yeah. That was it. :P

VampireWombat

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rent it
8-0
Okay, so maybe not everyone watches the Nightmare On Elm Street 1 & 3 almost every October...

And back on topic. The Leprechaun movies are another example of horror movies that increase in jokes as they go. Except it peaked with the 4th movie, Lep in Space. A movie which obviously no one involved in the actual making of took it in any way seriously. Which is what makes it my favorite.

And I haven't actually seen any version of the Grudge, but haven't the last 2 Child's Play movies been more serious than the first was? I know for sure Curse of Chucky was. Of course the first Child's Play shouldn't have been scary to anyone over 8. Or to anyone who didn't own a My Buddy, Kid Sister, or Cabbage Patch Kid...

Danvzare

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Iirc the original movie of the series, Child's Play, didn't have much humour either.
Later Chucky movies were full comedy-horror, obviously :=
I haven't actually seen any version of the Grudge, but haven't the last 2 Child's Play movies been more serious than the first was? I know for sure Curse of Chucky was. Of course the first Child's Play shouldn't have been scary to anyone over 8. Or to anyone who didn't own a My Buddy, Kid Sister, or Cabbage Patch Kid...
While Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky, were both clearly horror comedies, all of the other films do have a few funny moments. Usually due to the way Chucky himself speaks (he's such an asshole). If you watch all of the films, and skip to parts with Chucky in them, you will almost always find a moment worth giggling at. There's a reason why Chucky so casually slid into horror comedy for a while.

VampireWombat also makes a very good point, as Nightmare on Elm Street is another horror film series where the protagonist has a few funny moments in all of the films. Although for him, I think it's got more to do with the fact that all of his horror comes from dreams, and the surrealism is just strange enough to be funny.

And let's not forget the Scream series of course.

Lastly, I think Evil Dead II is a good example. While the first Evil Dead doesn't really have any funny moments, and Army of Darkness is pretty much a comedy, I think Evil Dead II is a good example of a horror with a few jokes thrown in. And these jokes work really well in showing Ash's slowly manifesting insanity.
« Last Edit: 16 Aug 2018, 17:08 by Danvzare »

VampireWombat

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I'm having trouble thinking of anything funny in Curse of Chucky beyond the casting choice of having Brad Dourif terrorizing his own daughter and how silly the refurbished Chucky doll looked. Guess I'll have to re-watch it in October...

To me Evil Dead 2 had too much humor to be considered just throwing a few jokes in. And I've never even considered Army of Darkness to be horror. I've always thought of it more as a fantasy comedy. But that might be in part due to having seen it on tv before I had even heard of Evil Dead 1 & 2.


Danvzare

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I'm having trouble thinking of anything funny in Curse of Chucky
It's been a while since I watched it, but I'm pretty sure he said a funny line after killing someone, and then there's that ending where he gets a shotgun to the face. That's hilarious. And in Cult of Chucky, I think there's a scene where he's walking past a doorway, and someone sees him, so he goes "Shh", and then he just walks on.
In context, these are all funny moments. By the way, don't watch Cult of Chucky. It's the only bad Chucky movie in my opinion.

KyriakosCH

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It seems i am more hardcore in horror tastes than most of you guys :=

I don't really like jokes/funny moments in horror. I like funny memes (and do laugh with them), but horror should be a little serious so as to work a bit (even when remaining serious, it usually doesn't work at all; which is a shame). :)
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Danvzare

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It seems i am more hardcore in horror tastes than most of you guys :=

I don't really like jokes/funny moments in horror. I like funny memes (and do laugh with them), but horror should be a little serious so as to work a bit (even when remaining serious, it usually doesn't work at all; which is a shame). :)
I must admit, I only watch horror to laugh.

But there's a good reason for that. As far as I know (based on a book I read once, please correct me if I'm wrong), laughing is a nervous response to seeing something that defies expectations. It's why you can laugh at someone suddenly hurting themselves (and why there is a German word for exactly that), it's also if you think about it, very similar to horror. Since people are scared of things they don't understand, which of course includes the unexpected, especially people suddenly being stabbed through the chest by someone who appeared out of nowhere.
Have you noticed any similarities here? Someone hurts themselves, and it's either funny or scary, depending on the context. Because the only real difference I can find between something being funny and something being scary, is that for it to be funny, you need to realize at the end that there's no immediate danger. It's like "Oh I'm scar... no I'm not! Ha ha!"

So in my opinion, horror is the perfect partner for comedy. And even a pure serious horror can be hilarious if seen from the correct angle. I remember sniggering at Georgie having his arm ripped off by IT in the newest movie. Or maybe I'm just a psychopath. That's also possible.



Another thing to note. There are some horrors I just can't laugh at because I'm too much of a coward to find it anything but terrifying. (laugh)

KyriakosCH

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^Horror can be tied to a sense of the uncanny; Freud had written an article on that (although imo he tried very hard to explain horror in art in way of psychoanalysis). :) But yes, something "unexpected" is often causing either severe fright or laughter.
De Maupassant was heavily focused on the former case; fear due to fear itself, caused by external stuff of little importance.
If you feel like it, you can read an article of mine exactly on De Maupassant and this issue: on horror and De Maupassant (nod)
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Danvzare

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Ooh, thanks for linking me to that article, I'll read it straight after posting this. :-D

To add to my previous statement and to build onto this topic as a whole.
There are several types of humour, for example laughing at a pun is very different to laughing at someone else's misery. Likewise, there are different types of horror, being scared of a jumpscare and being scared of an impending jumpscare, are quite different too.

So certain types of humour is very similar to certain types of horror, and it's that relationship that I think works. It's why some people react to a scary moment in a horror game by laughing, and some simply just scream.

One way to boil it down, is that often (not always) humour and horror are just two sides of the same coin.

KyriakosCH

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Some people have even (literally) died laughing, too.
Eg a famous ancient greek painter, who couldn't stop laughing after seeing a donkey enjoying eating figs so much.
The historian of philosophy, Diogenes Laertius, comments that "having laughed too hard, he died" :=
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I love them. As someone said before, you have to reset people back to baseline. Even people in reality in real horrific situations stop being scared after a while and just consider it normal. That happens a lot more quickly when it's not real, so you have to do something to reassure them so you can scare them again.

KyriakosCH

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It depends on the overall structure of the work, though :) I mean, in some works (based on jump-scares or survival-related sequences) you would need to reset first, as you said. But that isn't so for works which are based on a substrata of causing a sense that something uncanny is going on. There the sense must be at work throughout, and typically it will gain as the story reaches an end (although it may never be actually validated fully, or resolved in any way).
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Mandle

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It depends on the overall structure of the work, though :) I mean, in some works (based on jump-scares or survival-related sequences) you would need to reset first, as you said. But that isn't so for works which are based on a substrata of causing a sense that something uncanny is going on. There the sense must be at work throughout, and typically it will gain as the story reaches an end (although it may never be actually validated fully, or resolved in any way).

Interesting. I think one of the most "dreadful" books spiralling down into an ending completely devoid of any hope for any characters was Pet Semetary by Stephen King...

There are not a lot of laughs in this book that I recall...

However, there is a moment where the wife is driving back home because her little daughter had had some dreams about "Paxcow", the ghost of one of her husband's brief patients...

Anyway, she passes by a signpost, while getting a bit sleepy, that shows the turnoff to "Salem's Lot" and thinks that she doesn't like the name and even considers "Come and spend the night in Salem's Lot" as an option but this snaps her out of her sleepiness as a really bad idea. I guess she also has a bit of her daughter's intuition going on.

This could be considered a comedic moment for King fan readers but doesn't rob from the tension of the moment and actually provides a real reason for her to snap out of her drowsiness and continue on driving through the night.

(This now makes me want to make a game where she did turn off to stay overnight in Salem's Lot...damnit!!)
« Last Edit: 20 Aug 2018, 16:22 by Mandle »

KyriakosCH

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Curiously i think that english-speaking authors tend to have more jokes/humour in "dark" stories, than (eg) continental euro ones.

Well, ok, it's not likely that germans would have actual humour; but french tend to not have this either, in darker works (laugh)

Of course it ultimately is about the specific author. Lovecraft isn't known for humour either (nod)
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Do you know/remember the giant zombie cat from the "Cat Lady"? I think it served a good comic relief:

=2757
« Last Edit: 20 Aug 2018, 16:21 by Crimson Wizard »

KyriakosCH

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Well, yes. It is part of the reason why i didn't suggest The Cat Lady as horror without humour (laugh)
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