One of the best things about horror is how self-referential it often is. Whether referring to classic horror, or to the tropes inherent in horror novels, the following books and movies break through the fourth wall as only horror can.
Midnight Movie by Tobe Hooper is written by the same Tobe Hooper who directed the classic “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” It also stars Tobe Hooper as the main character, as he is invited to a screening of his first movie, which he doesn’t really remember making. What follows is classic Tobe Hooper.
The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones asks the question, In a high school where everyone knows horror movie formulas and could be a final girl, who will survive?
Misery by Stephen King is not quite as meta as some of the others on this list, but King has done some pretty meta things. Quite a few of his books feature writers as main characters, like this one does, and he even made himself a character in his Dark Tower series. This particular story was inspired by some of his more extreme fans, and there’s also the amazing romance novel cover for Misery that has Stephen King in place of the hunky hero.
Scream (1996) was one of the first meta horror movies I ever saw, and I absolutely loved how it both made fun of the formulaic movies that Wes Craven directed, but also contained genuine scares. Wes Craven has done a few films like this before, like “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” (1994), which starred the actors from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” as themselves.
The Cabin in the Woods (2011) starts out just like every other teen scream horror movie you’ve ever seen: five teens head to an isolated cabin for a weekend of partying, only to find themselves attacked. Only the attacks are orchestrated by a mysterious group that seems to be responsible for every other horror movie.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) is a mockumentary wherein all those horror movie killers exist, and Leslie Vernon is just trying to live up to their standards. It’s amusing but still has creepy moments.
What’s your favorite horror story that makes fun of the horror genre?