Each year when “The Walking Dead” returns, many fans contemplate whether or not they’re going to continue. While some folks tire of the undead after a movie or two, the rest of us know being devoured alive by a mindless horde is one of the most hideous deaths imaginable. But with each new season of “The Walking Dead,” fans have to mourn those we lost the previous season. And with a wealth of new images and footage recently released for season 6, plus an October 11 premiere date, we should be gearing up for days of depression. If you haven’t read ahead in the comics and have no idea what’s coming, some of those sudden acts of cannibalism and grotesquery can really mess with your mind.
So what’s a fan to do? Give up zombies? Stop watching because the grief-porn just gets to be too much? Or sit idly by, watching the zombie-fueled terror unfold? Even if you skip right to “Fear the Walking Dead,” where token minority characters drop like flies, the good news is that not all zombie media is as gut-wrenchingly depressing as “The Walking Dead.” There are plenty of upbeat zombie movies out there that let you get your fix of undead carnage without wanting to drink brain bleach when you’re done.
“Shaun of the Dead” is this generation’s go-to movie for zombie-themed comedy and fancy British wit. A stunning cast and writing so clever you might not even notice the brilliance until your second time through. No matter what kind of mood you’re in, “Shaun of the Dead” will make you smile. See the rest of the Cornetto Trilogy too while you’re at it!
If you don’t know who Bob Clark is, you should. In addition to this early 70’s cult classic, he also directed the bawdy teen-romp “Porky’s,” as well as the annual classic “A Christmas Story.” “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things” contains some surprisingly impactful practical special effects—that alone might make it a better watch than some episodes of “The Walking Dead.” Still, Alan is no Rick Grimes.
A joint effort between Cuba and Spain, this is an effective and uplifting zombie flick that doesn’t pull any punches. It’s violent, bloody, and full of carnage, but it’s also a strong story about a man trying to pull his life together for the sake of his daughter, who is tired of his crap. Like “Shaun of the Dead,” this film has some really funny moments to take the edge off the chomping and killing.
That’s right, even a movie where the Americans come to the rescue of people who survived “28 Days Later” is less depressing than “The Walking Dead.” “28 Weeks Later” has an unexpected cast: Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Idris Elba, Catherine McCormack and more populate another undead landscape as people try to get back to normal life. Spoiler alert: They don’t. But there’s always hope.
In all fairness, “Creepshow” is more like serialized horror vignettes that feature zombies, rather than a proper zombie film. But since two of the six stories (counting the wraparound with itty bitty Joe Hill) are zombie-focused, we’re going with it. After all, “Creepshow” is a classic full of scares, jumps, laughs, and groans. Did you know that crazy ashtray can be found in every story, and that Stephen King can’t act at all? Watch “Creepshow” again and you will.
Imagine if you will, a post zombie-apocalypse world where zombies still exist. Got it? Now imagine that zombies are carefully employed in manual labor and other simple jobs to the point where being afraid of them makes you kind of…weird. That’s the Canadian zomb-com “Fido.” With a confounding cast that includes Dylan Baker married to Carrie-Anne Moss, and a lovably undead Billy Connolly, “Fido” is a movie every zombie fan should watch at least once. And don’t worry, they do get bitey.
If you haven’t read the book that this modern zombie movie is based on, don’t worry. Aside from the title, the two have virtually nothing to do with each other. This movie takes itself pretty seriously. It shouldn’t. It’s a silly romp suitable for families, because it’s about a family braving the zombie apocalypse and the people who make it more difficult for other humans. WWZ is ridiculous right down to the ending, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
Ever wonder why people think zombies only eat brains or that they can talk? That’s largely the fault of this movie. Directed by Dan O’Bannon (yes, the guy who wrote “Alien”) and written by two of the guys who made “Night of the Living Dead” so goddamn amazing—”Return of the Living Dead” may feature the best soundtrack of any zombie movie ever. There are naked ladies dancing, split-dog, and grown men completely losing their sh*t.
Are there fans of “The Walking Dead” who haven’t seen “Zombieland”? Probably not. It’s still worth mentioning that this is a hilarious and well-crafted zombie picture. There’s an amusement park, an ongoing and increasingly infuriating search for Twinkies, and an appearance by an unexpected movie star. Plus, Woody Harrelson is amazing in everything.
Plenty of zombie fans were surprised to see Abigail Breslin in another zombie movie. After the success of “Zombieland,” many suspected she’d be done with the genre. But “Maggie” is a zombie film like no other—as emotionally turbulent as “The Walking Dead” without all the romantic nonsense. By changing one element of existing zombie lore (the time frame between infection and turning), “Maggie” offers an entirely fresh look at how humans respond to the undead. It may also be the best performance by Arnold Schwarzenegger you’ve ever seen.