Zombies. They really are so hot right now… Well, they’re most likely cold and clammy, but you know what I mean. They grace our films (World War Z, The Horde, Warm Bodies), our games (Left 4 Dead, Dead Island and the incredibly fun and inventive Dead Rising series), our bookshelves (Day by Day Armageddon, Plague of the Dead and World War Z – I thought the book was worth mentioning in this section as the film version is looking slightly dicey) and even shamble into our lives on the small screen in AMC’s The Walking Dead each and every week.
I think most of us have a soft spot in our hearts for these undead maggot feasts that we just can’t deny. Personally, I think it might be because out of all the horrors that go bump in the night, they’re the ones we think we’d find most easy to handle. You already know how to stop them, a swift blow to the head… which always confuses and infuriates me in zombie films when people waste lots of ammo before realising you have to aim for the head. How is it that no-one in a zombie movie has ever heard of a zombie before?
Sorry, I digress. You probably even have a certain plan in your head already and think, when this happens, I’m set. I know I do – even though in reality I’d probably get killed doing something stupid before I even got to take down my first zombie.
Despite this happening, I still think throwing petrol bombs from the top of a skyscraper was a sound plan.
Whatever the reason, they’re not a subject matter that you’d immediately think would be a perfect fit for comedy and yet, they somehow are. With Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies being released next month – the film stars Nicholas Hoult as a Zombie who’s not only looking for brains but also love in a zombie infested wasteland – I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on some of the best zombie comedies out there.
Shaun Of The Dead
Nerd God Simon Pegg + Zombies. It seems like such a good idea I’m surprised no-one thought of it sooner. Pegg and director Edgar Wright were inspired by the iconic scene in their TV show, Spaced – you know, were Tim plays too much Resident Evil and imagines himself having to fight off zombified versions of the cast… with a quip on his lips for each kill obviously – and took that to its logical conclusion by creating the Rom-Zom-Com Shaun of the Dead.
The films is the ultimate wish fulfilment in that Shaun is a deadbeat slacker who manages to rise to the occasion when a zombie outbreak occurs and manages to fight off hordes of the undead whilst still having time to win back his girlfriend. The film delivered some great – and sometimes pretty bloody – horror moments with actual laugh out loud comedy. A rare feat and one that has gained it critical and commercial acclaim all round.
‘The plan’ montage. Shaun and his best mate, Ed, plan their next move after learning zombies have risen from the grave. Each one having the recurring elements of killing Shaun’s step-dad (Sorry Phil) and having a nice cup of tea.
Zombieland was originally written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick as a pilot for a TV series (Boooo TV Execs) before it was changed – with the help of director Ruben Fleischer – into the kick ass zombie flick that graced our cinemas (and most likely, your DVD collection) a few years back.
The story follows Jesse Eisenburg’s loner, Columbus, as he tries to get back to his home town to see if his parents have survived the attack. This film takes the idea that we all think we’re ready for a zombie apocalypse and runs with it. Running gags include certain rules you must follow to survive. These include “1. Cardio” (Goes without saying, the lardos go first), “8. Get a kickass partner” (the more badass the better) and “31: Check the back seat” (you don’t know who could be waiting in there for you).
Along his travels he runs into Woody Harrelson’s Twinkie hunting Tallahassee (who steals most of the scenes he’s in because he is just so Goddamn cool), and Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, a pair of sisters who use their grifting skills to keep one step ahead of both the zombies and other human survivors.
By now I’ll assume I’m not spoiling it for people by pointing out that Bill Murray makes one of the greatest cameos ever in this film. Playing himself, we see that the star has adapted to the zombification of the USA quite easily and more importantly, stills plays with his Ghostbusters proton pack. Plus, he gets one of the most darkly hilarious death scenes around.
Braindead/Dead Alive (USA)
When looking back at Peter Jackson’s earlier movie, it’s hard to see how he progressed from this to being allowed to take a stab at adapting a literary classic such as Lord of the Rings. Personally, I think it’s because the ending alone proved he could handle large scale action set pieces.
An under-rated gem that really should be seen by everyone. Brain dead is in my opinion the first Rom Zom Com as it follows mild mannered Lionel in his attempts to woo the lovely Paquita (Diana Peñalver). The only problem is that his mum gets bitten by a Sumatran Rat-Monkey and turns into a zombie… who then infects more people… who then infects more people until the only solution is for Lionel to pull up his sleeves, get the lawnmower out and get down to business. And yes, if you’ve never seen it, the scene you’re most likely imagining in your head right doesn’t come close to the splatter-fest that is the finale of this movie.
In a movie featuring zombie loving, zombie babies and ‘that’ lawnmower scene it could have been quite hard to pick a best bit. However, in the end it’s was always going to go to Father Jon McGruder. A priest who kicks arse for the Lord… in his slippers and nightgown.Tags: evil dead, shaun of the dead, zombieland, zombies