So Remy and I got to discussing the upcoming blockbuster zombie flick World War Z, mainly about how it’s going to be one of the biggest duds we’ll probably ever witness, but the topic then sparked a debate over some of our favorite lesser-known zombie films. Everyone talks about your Night of the Living dead type classics, and new films like Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead remake created more recent hubbub around the genre, but fantastic zombie movies are still being produced year after year – without anyone really noticing.
So what makes a good zombie movie? That all depends on your mood, but if a director can create a zombie flick that’s brutal, attention grabbing, somewhat different, and incredibly enjoyable to watch, you’ve typically got a winner on your hands. Whether they choose to create an enjoyable watch by delivering over-the-top special effects, scripting twists, or by taking the popular dark comedy route that inserts humor into their film, that’s all up them, but if it works, then you look like a genius. You don’t need 200 million dollars and Brad Pitt to make a successful zombie movie (on the contrary, all the negative rumors are suggest the complete opposite). All you need is a great idea, a camera, and an audience.
With that said, read on to see which underrated zombie movies Remy and I think you should watch that you might not have heard of yet. Or if you have seen these, we think you should go watch them again. Like right now. They’re that good.Next
Remy – Dance of the Dead
Outside of the classics (Night, Day, Dawn) and the neo-classics (28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead), it takes quite a bit for me to love a zombie movie. There has to be gore and there has to be some humor. On top of that, the zombie scenario has to feel genuine and exciting to me, and that is what I think Dance of the Dead achieves. It plays off some of the old Romero zombie tropes (head shots, shambling), but it plays around with those tropes and has some fun with them. The other thing it does extremely well is casting. The main teen in this film is actually (shock) likable and you find yourself rooting for him, which doesn’t happen with teenagers too much in modern horror. Plus, the idea of zombies converging on a high school prom is kind of awesome. Cave in some brains, get some blood on the tux, and end the night getting laid. Though as the ending to this movie proves, it is never that easy.
Nato – Dead & Breakfast
OK, I’m going to admit right off the bat Dead & Breakfast is a “so bad it’s good” movie, so if you aren’t into crappy B-Movie quality and campy horror jokes, then you’re going to absolutely loath Matthew Leutwyler’s zombie-comedy-musical. Wait, did I just say musical? Yes, instead of a narrator, we’re presented with a band who sings about the scenes which play out in this sleepy little country town, but then the lead singer turns into a hip-hop cowboy when bitten by a zombie, and we eventually get a full-blown zombie line-dance during one of the more climactic scenes in the film.
Dead & Breakfast is an independent zombie flick every step of the way, complete with incredibly obvious practical effects and atrocious dialogue, but that’s where most of the charm is built as well. I’m obviously not going to compare it to Evil Dead in terms of quality, but the same type of atmosphere is built through scenes of schlocky gore and bits of horror which are more enjoyable than they should be. In that same respect, the humor is very dark, for obvious reasons, and will undoubtedly make your eyes roll, but again, that’s half the reason you’d watch a film like this. It’s no Night Of The Living Dead, but it’s the kind of movie you gather a bunch of friends for and sit around laughing your ass off at. Beers are also HIGHLY encouraged to accompany your watch.
Oh yeah, see how many faces you can recognize, there will definitely be a few surprises if you can pick them out.Previous Next
Remy – Fido
Another zom-com makes my list. Why? Because this formula works REALLY well with zombie films. The very concept of a zombie is kind of funny (former human turned monster who eats humans without remorse), and Fido knew that and ran with it. Fido also got one other thing JUST RIGHT by taking place in the fifties, when all the world had those weird Happy Days morals and everything seemed so squeaky clean, but obviously wasn’t. Fido, as the name implies, is the movie about young boy and his pet zombie, and the casting of Billy Connolly as the titular zombie in this film is just why the movie works. Is it stupid? Yes, but in the best possible way. When zombie films take themselves too seriously (here’s looking at you, World War Z), they fail, and Fido goes in the opposite direction of that, which is just why it works. Plus, what a wonderfully original take on the genre – bravo!
Nato – Juan of the Dead
I’ve done a pretty decent job expressing my love for Alejandro Brugués’ zom-com in my full review, in my Top 10 Horror Films Of 2012 article, as one of my picks for WGTC’s Top 100 Horror Movies feature, and of course earning a nomination for our horror equivalent to the Oscars, but hell, any time I’ve got a chance to promote Juan of the Dead, I’m grabbing that opportunity by the undead balls.
Juan of the Dead didn’t just attempt to be Cuba’s answer to Shaun of the Dead, it absolutely delivered. There’s a colorful cast of characters to follow, and brilliantly satirical script which lampoons the poverty-stricken nation while addressing the apocalypse, PLENTY of grotesque death scenes which feature creative ways of killing zombies (rowing oars, decapitations, random weapons), and hilariously dark humor which properly balances subject matter like a proper horror comedy should. Sure, I only gave it a 3.5/5, which is still a good rating in my book, because of pacing and a few other little nit-picky things, but after replaying this film a few times, I’ve only fell in love with it more.
There’s nothing better than a zombie flick with replay value – a testament to the loads of fun you’ll have with Juan of the Dead.Previous Next
Remy – Return of the Living Dead Part II
Everyone loves Part 1, and with good reason as it redefined zombie films by introducing the campiness that the genre was seriously lacking, but I LOVED Part 2 for one reason and one reason only. The protagonist in this movie is a small boy, maybe 12 years old. I saw the fucking movie when I was 12. Do you even know the impact that had? Suddenly, I was being represented in a zombie movie, and on top of that, I ended up being the hero. That blew my young mind. I also LOVED how they used the bully, at first making him human, and then having him hunting down the kid as a zombie. I thought that added a real cool layer to the bully idea, made even cooler in the actual film. Also, there is a cameo from a zombie dressed up like Michael Jackson from Thriller at one point in this movie, and that pretty much kicks all ass, ever.
Nato – Dead Snow
I mean, it’s a movie about Nazi zombies, how do you not love Dead Snow? Actually, it apparently wasn’t that hard to dislike, as a few reputable horror sites I frequent had harsh words for Tommy Wirkola’s frozen splatter-fest. Despite these reviews I still marched forward towards the bloody battlefield of undead carnage, and I had an absolute blast doing so. I’ll ask again, uhh, Nazi zombies? It also might have helped that I saw this flick during my Call of Duty playing heyday….
While it’s true Wirkola didn’t present anything new concerning the zombie genre, Dead Snow utilizes typical norms to their full potential. The gore is incredibly graphic, painting the pristine white snow with squirts upon squirts of zombie and human blood, adding an incredibly artistic touch. I’m not saying killing people is artistic in real life, but for a horror movie, it adds a level of detail other zombie movies don’t have, which presents material that may not be new, but is definitely unique. Not to mention this is also another horror flick which is tons of fun, following characters who keep quoting American movies while fighting zombies brandishing swastikas, sporting that same eradicating attitude. Cursed gold, Snowmobiles with machine guns, self amputations – what the hell is going on?
Ein! Zwei! Die!
Undead: An Aussie zombie flick with a real cool four-barrel shotgun.
The Horde: French extreme zombie horror at its finest.
Tokyo Zombie: Japanese zombie flick about two slackers who must use jujitsu to save Tokyo from zombies.
OK zombie fans, what did we miss? What are some of your favorite underrated zombie flicks?
*A special thanks to Remy for stepping in to guest write! Feel free to follow either of us on Twitter for even more insanity and updates:
Matt Donato Follow @DoNatoBomb
Remy Carreiro Follow @RemyCarreiro
Like what you read? Check out last week’s article where Remy and I honor Mother’s Day by discussing films our own mothers would disown us for watching.Previous