Even the most passionate zombie movie fan will have to admit that the genre gets played out from time to time. Sure, we all love a good walking dead/end of the world film. Yet, it’s been a long time since George A. Romero and Night of the Living Dead scared up audiences in 1968. Sure, zombie legend and lore existed before ’68 (The first on record being 1932’s White Zombie). Yet, Romero’s was the film that put the modern day zombie in filmgoers’ minds.
Since then, a slew of films have been produced. Some quality, most not so much. However, it’s not always the quality of a film that makes people come. Some just want to see an undead monster devouring on some human flesh. Films have ranged from classic horror themes to ridiculous plots about loved ones coming back from the dead. Some are even time pieces that may only be relevant within a very short window (Looking at you, SARS Wars). There’s even been an adult film to feature zombies.
This is where the zombie apocalypse has extended to. The limits to zombie creativity extend further than most genres can allow. While many ideas can be hokey to outright awful there are several that make an original attempt. They don’t always succeed at being quality or even popular films.
Yet, when so many are just in it for the easiest profit, these films took an attempt to make something different. The best part of it is that these films contained many key elements to what Romero had created. They may have some more mobility, or eventually evolve, but they are not to be confused. These are zombies through and through. For a fresh look at the genre consider, watching these films.
Dead Snow (2009)
Norway’s Død Snø helped bring fans of Call of Duty World at War‘s favorite extra game to the big screen. When a group of seven medical students escape to a small town for Easter weekend, they did not expect to run into the undead from World War II.
Once they arrive, they witness a trope in tons of horror films: the ominous backstory from a wise elder. Like anyone told of murderous Nazi zombies, the group scoff at the old hiker’s claims and go about their vacation. From there, all sorts of mayhem breaks out including accidental deaths and a quest for gold that only fans of the Leprechaun series could understand.
The movie packs in blood, guts and comedy. Comedic zombie films have been on the rise lately, and Dead Snow comes to mind as one of the more refreshing ones. It may not be the best film in the genre, but it is satisfying watching a band of fast running zombies get mowed down. A sequel was just released in Norway this past February.
Canadian zombie film Fido throws a few curveballs at the usual plot. In this alternate 1950s world, zombies help us for the most part. The radiation from space has settled down and the battle went in the humans’ favor.
Like The Walking Dead, all the dead reanimate unless handled like any other zombie. The town stays completely safe (or so they would think) with perimeters surrounding them. Inside the community, neck collars force zombies to do the tasks and biddings of their owners. They’ve become the newest pet/butler trend for the home. Until things go awry and young Timmy and his mom have to save the day.
What makes Fido even more interesting is the bond shared by the family and their zombie. Unlike most movies where the zombie is the enemy, there is a sympathy and love for Fido from the family. The 50s hysteria creates an interesting backdrop while keeping a good amount of Leave It To Beaver comedic charm.
Dead Alive (1992)
Meddling mothers beware, Peter Jackson‘s horror-comedy will have you reconsidering all your snooping around. You should also be on the lookout for infected Sumatran Rat-Monkies as their bites create zombies.
This, yet another film set in the 1950s, has dedicated son Lionel taking care of his mother well beyond the point of turning into the undead. Unfortunately for Lionel, balancing a new love life and an undead mother leads to bad results for the community. Soon enough, things spiral out of control like any good zombie film will.
The film was panned and bombed at the box office, but has found new life since. The film has gained a cult status due to Jackson’s later work. When putting Dead Alive up with his other work, it becomes clear that Jackson’s brand of creativity and off-humor made this film stand out like it has. Even if it took a little while to catch on.
Night of the Comet (1984)
The early 80s created some interesting origin stories. In this one, two teen sisters are a few of the last on Earth as zombies take over. What makes this zombie story so interesting is that everything came to pass when Earth passed through the tail of a comet. Those that were watching the events became piles of dust. Those that surrounded themselves in a metal structure of some sort were ok. Those with some metal around them became zombies. Got that?
In an interesting twist, the zombies aren’t so much the enemy as the scientists trying to restore humanity are. It’s sort of how 28 Days Later shook out. Between the red hue, soundtrack and several other factors, this is one interesting 80s cult movie to check out on a rainy day.
Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane (2007)
Samuel L. Jackson had it with snakes, and these passengers on the way to Paris had it with zombies on their MFing plane. Riding the wave of Snakes On A Plane, this aerial zombie flick went generally unnoticed as a straight-to-DVD project. The film centers around a genetically engineered virus that would create unstoppable soldiers in combat. How those soldiers would be stopped after combat was never discussed. That lack of foresight is probably what got them in trouble in the first place.
Keeping zombies in a confined space with the survivors created a different landscape than most films allow. Many critics cite its zaniness, which some thought was too much. What they expected from a film with this plot and title is unsure. While the film did receive high marks from most critics, Flight never created much of a buzz. It does have the bad guy from Kindergarten Cop in it. That should make someone reading this interested, right?
Warm Bodies (2013)
A zombie love story isn’t the most original concept in recent years. Yet, Warm Bodies went deeper with a background into the main zombie character, R. The film showed a human element to the zombie that has been explored, but never probed, in other films. While the love story and its effect on the zombies can be too much for some zombie purists, fans ate it up on its way to an impressive box office showing.
Another interesting twist to the genre was the addition of separate zombie factions. The far deteriorated become the bad guys, along with some of the humans. Those left in the middle are the heroes. Clever writing and a cast of solid Hollywood veterans make this zombie love story more endearing than some other out there love concepts. It’s not as if Warm Bodies was a trilogy based around a love triangle involving a teenage girl, a vampire, and a werewolf. That would just be over the top.