Laugh Until You Lose Your Mind: Top 10 Zombie Comedies
1. Dance of the Dead
This 2008 indie takes the classic teen rom-com set-up of the senior prom and adds some zombie carnage. The heavily improvised horror romp features a group of dateless misfits in small-town Georgia trying to save their classmates after a malfunctioning power plant zaps a nearby graveyard to life. It doesn’t take itself seriously, and never tries to make too much of a point. Which is why it’s so enjoyable.
2. Dead Alive
Known as Braindead outside North America, this masterful New Zealand gore-fest only won its cult classic status after director Peter Jackson became a household name taking on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The surprise ingredient is the movie’s sick, odd-ball sense of humor, starting with the virus’s origin as a bite from a mythical “Sumatran Rat Monkey” turns protagonist Lionel’s (Timothy Balme) overbearing mother (Elizabeth Moody) into an undead flesh-eater Lionel tries to hide in his basement. Also? zombie babies.
3. Dead Snow
In another great premise from a nation not known for its horror chops, Norway’s Dead Snow finds a group of hikers on vacation in a remote mountain cabin, where they uncover a cave guarded by the vengeful corpses of a long-ago-frozen SS death squad. Bad guys don’t get much more disposable than Nazi zombies.
4. Evil Dead II
Sam Raimi’s 1987 cult classic is a rare beast: a parody helmed and conceived by the director of the original movie (1981′s The Evil Dead) it’s meant to spoof. Upping the campy ante on Raimi’s earlier, more straightforward horror flick, Evil Dead II follows a prototypical cabin-in-the-woods premise, as an unlucky couple (Bruce Campbell and Denise Bixler) stumbles upon a cursed grimoire and falls prey to all manner of demonic violence and terrifying, postmortem reanimation.
A classic boy-and-his-dog story with a truly twisted twist: Powerful megacorporation Zomcon makes remote-controlled collars that turn zombies into obedient and helpful servant-pets, allowing young Timmy (K’Sun Ray) to form a special bond with his family’s titular zombie—even after “Fido” becomes a threat. This creative Canadian comedy presents an idyllic, Leave It to Beaver-esque alternate universe in which the living dead are not only taken for granted, but relied on for cheap labor and entertainment.
In a heady but amusing twist on the typical zombie concept, this Canadian gem finds the real-life small town of Pontypool, Ontario, overrun by a mysterious “language virus,” with inhabitants unable to stop obsessively repeating certain words and phrases after being “infected.” The mindless tic turns people violent, and a controversial shock jock (Stephen McHattie) may be the town’s only hope. Any movie where having an almost incoherent conversation in French might save your life gets our vote.
7. Shaun of the Dead
Unceasingly clever and hilarious without sacrificing genuine creep factor, this quintessential zom-com follows British slacker Shaun (Simon Pegg, also the script’s co-writer) as he attempts to protect himself and his loved ones from the undead hordes. Shaun’s inspirational speech remains a classic: “Now, as Mr. Sloan always says, there is no I in TEAM. But there is an I in PIE. And there’s an I in MEAT PIE. It’s, uh…the anagram of MEAT is TEAM.”
8. The Return of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead producer John Russo retained the title rights to that groundbreaking 1968 zombie indie, then lent them to this 1985, punk-influenced zom-com. The Return of the Living Dead is just as funny in the set ups (Linnea Quigley striptease) and action as it is in the calmer moments. Case in point? We also still want to know why all anatomy class skeletons come from India.
9. Warm Bodies
An oddly effective romance starring Nicholas Hoult as a recently-turned zombie named R who falls for still-a-human Julie (Teresa Palmer). Her hard-won affections seem to inch the monster closer and closer back to humanity. The zombie makeup scene set to Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” gets us every time. Hot zombies for the win!
Probably the biggest-budgeted zom-com of all time, Zombieland is packed with laughs, action and surprises. Telling the story of lone survivors banding together in a post-apocalyptic, undead-infested world, it’s also anchored by a dream-team cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin…plus an unforgettable celebrity cameo that’s too good to spoil.
For more zombie action, watch THE RETURNED Season 2, premiering Halloween night at 10/9c on SundanceTV. Or catch up with THE RETURNED Season 1 right now.