I embarked on this journey of articles spotlighting horror comedies for many reasons, all of which stem from one main reason: I love them. One of the reasons, branching off from that main reason, is that it means I get to shine a spotlight on horror comedies that people may have never seen or even heard of, may never have thought of as horror comedies, or may have forgotten.
Wallace & Gromit, the claymation comrades consisting of a kooky, eccentric inventor and cheese enthusiast, and his mute, rational, sometimes sarcastic but always loyal dog, have been on the stop-motion scene since 1989. I’ve loved these British buds since I was very little and first saw the shorts at a family friend’s house.
As of 2021, the duo has starred in three short films and one feature-length film: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005).
For this theatrical outing, they bring their silly sensibilities to the horror genre in a hare-raising (pun intended) adventure that’s delightful and witty from the very first frames to the very end of the credits.
Let’s hop right down the rabbit hole of what makes this Wallace and Gromit outing so fun, you’ll be craving literal and figurative cheese.
Wallace (Peter Sallis) and Gromit have a distinct sense of humor that they bring to all their productions. Wallace is an inventor who constantly strives to solve problems—Every. Single. One. Whether he’s tackling a town-wide rabbit infestation or getting dressed in the morning, Wallace always has the largest, most complex machine of his own invention whose name includes a large number, “o-matic,” “o-tron,” etc., to do the job—or try to.
Wallace’s morning routine rivals Pee-wee Herman’s.
Wallace and Gromit, and everyone else in their world, also love their puns. How do I know this?
These puns and wordplay are slathered across the movie: in dialogue, in visuals, in print, and anywhere else you can pin a pun. Wallace is eccentric and silly, and the world he and Gromit live in is just as eccentric and silly. Gromit’s the voice of reason—but because he doesn’t actually talk, that voice usually isn’t heard. Gromit’s rational reactions, logical thinking, and expressive face communicate the thoughts his mouth can’t bring with a sarcastic streak to the absurdity of the rest of the world and characters in it.
Wallace and Gromit’s world allows for insane physics and so many visual puns and gags, you’d be hard-pressed to catch them all in one viewing. So… with the humor packed into the film like Wallace packs cheese into his stomach, where is there any room for the horror?
Wallace and Gromit have a habit of getting mixed up in other genres, and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is no different.
This time, the genre they’ve stumbled into is horror.
This is where the horror comes from: the town’s walking in the footsteps of a horror movie. Wallace uses lunar power to send an extra charge to his mind manipulation machine. Of course, as Wallace is wont to do, he gets a little too careless in his excitement, and it all goes horribly wrong.
All of a sudden, a mysterious, giant animal starts sneaking around in the invariably foggy night, wreaking havoc, and leaving destruction in its wake, striking fear into the hearts of the town, including Reverend Clement Hedges (Nicholas Smith), the local vicar to whom the town turns for comfort and guidance.
There’s even a debate about whether this marrow-munching monster is a supernatural being or a naturally-occurring variant of British bunny.
So… with these inherently silly characters getting mixed up in a horror plot, what stops them from becoming instant monster meals?
How They Mix
The citizens of Wallace and Gromit’s world take light things extremely seriously and take serious things extremely lightly. A giant vegetable competition is, by the town’s own admission, the most important event of the entire year. When reports of a giant were-rabbit start pouring in, the citizen’s concern isn’t for their own safety or even the massive collateral damage it’s been leaving in its wake—it’s for their prized-to-be vegetables.
Even at the height of the action and drama of climactic chaos, there’s always room for a pun, polite exchange, or other bit of silliness.
That’s really the key: there’s silliness imbued in every aspect of this film. We’ve already covered the characters’ personalities, the dialogue, and the general world, but the music and the rest of the visuals also play a significant role. Wallace and Gromit came into this film with their own jaunty theme tune already established, and the rest of the music follows suit.
The were-animal on the loose being a giant rabbit that has no interest in attacking anything but vegetables is so silly that it’s completely non-threatening. The fact that the townspeople only worry about their vegetables shows that no one’s lives are in danger. This general tone of silliness keeps the entire film light, which allows it to push into territory that would otherwise be considered dark or harsh for a family-friendly film.
Besides the brain alteration, Lord Victor Quartermaine’s (Ralph Fiennes) obsession with hunting, unwavering insistence that shooting and killing rabbits is the only way to get rid of them, and repeated use of his gun, even after he knows more about the were-rabbit, is another prime example of a serious matter made silly. Yes, Victor’s gun goes off many times and actually does do damage: only by the grace of Wallace-and-Gromit-style silliness does that damage avoid living things. He even points his loaded gun at people in church!
Even though the denizens of this town are treating their plight as a matter of life and death—of their vegetables—they’re doing so in remarkably silly ways.
While almost everything in this film is silly and wacky, you do feel Wallace and Gromit’s friendship through their dynamic in every situation, from getting up in the morning, to a standard work outing, to escaping the wrath of trigger-happy Victor. The two are also so good-hearted that you hope they pull through and are rooting for them to save the day—even when we think it’s just for the sake of a few engorged vegetables.
If you’re looking for a film the whole family can enjoy or looking for a film for yourself that has everything from slapstick, to puns, to background gags, to the occasional cheeky innuendo, I highly recommend Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. If you’re a horror fan, you’ll enjoy the absurdity of a silly plot taken so seriously, but still in a silly way. If you’re not a horror fan, it’s a watch that’s nonstop fun.
I only have one warning about Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit…