Jim Jarmusch is adding his name to the zombie horror-comedy genre with the movie The Dead Don't Die, joining a group of movies that have their fair share of beloved cult classics. People often forget that zombie movies weren't originally about the walking dead, but were Haitian voodoo stories until George Romero reinvented the genre in 1968.
Just one decade after George Romero created the modern day zombie in Night of the Living Dead, spoofs arrived, and those spoofs eventually turned into zombie movies that were bitingly funny but maintained the socio-economical undertones of Romero's classic masterpieces. With some fantastic films in the genre, here are 10 zombie movies that will make you die laughing.
10 SHAUN OF THE DEAD
Edgar Wright is one of the most talented filmmakers working today even if his output is less than more prolific Hollywood directors. After his breakout, co-creating the British television sitcom Spaced with Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson, he directed his feature film Shaun of the Dead.
The movie, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, was the first part of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, labeled a romantic comedy with zombies. Shaun of the Dead is considered one of the upper tier of zombie movies -- comedy or not -- and even had a fan in George Romero, who invited Wright and Pegg to cameo in Land of the Dead one year later.
Released in 2009. Zombieland was a surprise hit with a great cast, some huge surprises, and a great story. Ruben Fleischer made his directorial debut with this movie, starring Jesse Eisenberg as a self-obsessed college student who joins up with a violent drifter portrayed by Woody Harrelson to attempt to survive the zombie apocalypse.
Along the way, they meet two sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin), and while the four can never seem to get along, they end up leaning on each other to survive. Bill Murray also cameos in the movie, a delightful moment in a film full of great moments. A sequel is coming a decade later, with Fleischer once again in the director's chair.
While Fido is a lesser known zombie comedy, it is one of the best in the genre. A Canadian production, Fido was an indie comedy that took place after the zombie apocalypse ended and the humans won. The world is a utopian society where everyone lives a perfect, happy existence, with zombies as their servants.
A company created collars to keep zombies under control, and they work as gardeners, butlers, and nannies for the new world. After a mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) buys a zombie named Fido (Billy Connolly) for her son Timmy (K'Sun Ray), the collar malfunctions and people end up dead. The movie is a smart satire that takes the zombie genre into a fresh and unique direction.
7 WARM BODIES
Much like Shaun of the Dead, the 2013 movie Warm Bodies is a zombie romantic comedy but one geared more toward the young adult audience. The movie, based on the novel by Isaac Marion, takes the unique approach of telling the story from the point of view of the zombie.
R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie who still has his brains working, even though he can't speak or express his feelings. His thoughts are used as voice over in the movie as he goes about his new life of lumbering around and doing nothing. He meets a survivor named Julie (Teresa Palmer), and the two develop a relationship through the movie, as they find themselves trapped in the middle of a war between the zombies and survivors.
6 LIFE AFTER BETH
Released in 2014, Life After Beth stars Aubrey Plaza as Beth, a girl who dies and then returns as a zombie. However, she does not immediately become a blood-hungry monster, and her parents keep her hidden in their house to protect her -- while also not letting her know that she died.
There is still enough of her mind left in the start to convince her boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHann) to try to help her. However, as she starts to become more aggressive and violent, Zach tries to break things off. This rejection leads to her becoming obsessive and finally turning into a full-fledged zombie.
Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator is one of horror cinema's cult classics and for a good reason. While not a full-fledged zombie movie, it is a movie about re-animating dead bodies and then starts to go off the rails as expected. Jeffrey Combs stars as Herbert West in this loose adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft serial novelette.
West is a scientist who finds a way to bring the dead back to life, starting with a cat. To try to prove that his reagent works, he breaks into a morgue and brings a corpse back to life -- but it returns as a violent zombie. West slowly goes mad himself, and when a colleague tries to steal his reagent, a battle breaks out over the control of the newly reanimated zombies.
Before he directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson got his start in New Zealand with splatstick comedies, many of which ended up on the banned movie's lists of the '80s. The most popular of these was Braindead, which was renamed Dead Alive when it arrived in the United States.
In this movie, the zombie infection started due to plague initially spread by a rat-monkey hybrid. The reluctant hero is Lionel, a man constantly berated by his dominating mother. When the rat-monkey bites his mother, she turns into a ravenous zombie, and soon the plague spreads. The movie includes a gory lawnmower kill from the point-of-view of the zombie.
3 BOY EATS GIRL
Released in 2005, Boy Eats Girl is an indie zombie horror-comedy made in Dublin, released theatrically in Ireland and then on DVD in the United States in 2008. Nathan is a teenager who likes a girl named Jessica but doesn't know how to ask her out. When she arrives late for a scheduled date, he goes home depressed.
Nathan decides to take his own life by hanging but changes his mind. Despite this, his mother walks in at that moment, knocks over the chair he is standing on, and he dies anyway. His mom uses a book she found at the church and performs a ritual that brings Nathan back. However, he is cursed to give in to his hunger, and soon, the plague spreads through high school.
2 CEMETERY MAN
Released in 1994, Cemetery Man is one of the crown jewels of the horror-comedy genre. Released in Italy under its original name of Dellamorte Dellamore, Rupert Everett stars as Francesco Dellamorte, a cemetery caretaker who has his hands gull when people randomly rise from the dead, and it is up to Dellamorte to stop them before they escape the cemetery.
When a woman that he has fallen for dies, he waits for her to rise and then shoots her in the head to make sure she stays dead. When she rises again, he believes she was not actually dead the first time, and that he accidentally killed her. This possible error sends him into a depression that might or might not include delusions.
1 THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD
The zombie comedy that started it all was a direct satire/spoof of Night of the Living Dead. The movie franchise started due to a dispute between George Romero and Night of the Living Dead co-screenwriter John Russo. A settlement saw Romero continuing the Dead franchise and Russo gaining the rights to the Living Dead name.
Russo teamed with genre legend Dan O'Bannon to write Return of the Living Dead, where a more comedic take on zombies rose to the forefront. A total of five movies arrived in the franchise with the first as the masterpiece. This zombie outbreak spread due to toxic chemicals, and when a zombie took the police CB and said, "send more cops," it was clear the direction this movie headed.