I love dark comedies. They’re my favorite genre of film. I love to laugh at things that aren’t supposed to be funny. It’s the American way, after all.
I love witty dialogue and scenes that make me uncomfortable. I love satire and the humorous portrayal of taboo subjects.
Most of us have seen the mainstream movies, “American Beauty,” “Fight Club” and “Fargo,” which are great examples of com?die noire.
But if you’re looking for something a little less mainstream to darken those bright summer days, here are some films you may not have seen.
“After Hours” (1985) — It’s Martin Scorsese. It’s relatively unknown. It’s surreal in an “Alice in Wonderland” sort of way. Paul (Griffin Dunne) has the strangest night of his life, beginning with a casual date involving burn cream and bagel-and-cream-cheese paperweights. From there things take a bizarre turn as he encounters a host of wacky characters and situations that include a suicide, a psychotic waitress stuck in a bygone era, a condescending bouncer, a flirtatious sculptor, an angry cabbie, a couple of bumbling cat burglars and a vigilante mob led by an ice cream truck. “After Hours” is black comedy at its finest.
‘Delicatessen” (1992) — This French film, set in post-apocalyptic Paris, tells the story of quirky residents of an apartment building atop a butcher shop. Paris is stricken with famine, but somehow the butcher shop always has plenty of fresh meat. Hmmm. Where are they getting all that fresh meat? A clown, who takes a job in the butcher shop, discovers the truth that the not-so-famished tenants already know.
“Eating Raoul” (1982) — When conservative Paul Bland accidentally kills the swinger from upstairs with a frying pan for manhandling his wife, he discovers a wallet full of money on the dead man. To realize their dream of opening a restaurant, the Blands keep the money, dispose of the body and decide to solicit other swingers to kill and rob. Unfortunately, they don’t count on burglar Raoul breaking in and wanting a piece of the action.
“Heathers” (1989) — Remember the popular kids who tormented you in high school? Remember how you thought you’d like to see them dead so your school could be a peaceful place once again? Well, too bad you didn’t have the likes of Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) and Jason Dean (Christian Slater) to help you rid your school of such vermin. Murders veiled as suicides are the focus of this intensely sarcastic film. The dialogue is so quotable it will remain in your head for days, weeks, even years.
“Parents” (1989) — “What are we eating?” “Leftovers.” “What were they before they were leftovers?” “Leftovers-to-be.” Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt are the perfect suburban parents of the 1950s. But their young son wonders why they eat leftovers every night and begins to suspect something unthinkable.
“The War of the Roses” (1989) — Looking for a way to torment your significant other? This is the movie for you. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner play the Roses, a rich couple in the middle of a vicious divorce who can’t agree on how to divide their property. In a series of increasingly cruel, dangerous and unbelievable stunts, the two try to outdo each other to win the spoils of their shattered marriage.
So, when you’re tired of all the sun and fun summer has to offer, grab a bottle of scotch and kill a few hours secretly laughing at the taboo.