Sure, zom-coms have been done to death…but they just keep coming back. And I’ll watch them all, no matter how low budget (thanks, streaming services!). So which one of these four is the best of this batch?
HOW TO KILL A ZOMBIE (2014)
This indie has a cheesy campiness to it, with jokes and gags that range from falling flat to exceptionally funny and clever. That’s just part of its charm, because everyone involved is also super dedicated to making it a silly, fun flick.
A military survivalist and his son—played by Bill Steven McLean and Ben McLean, who I assume are real-life father and son (they also wrote the movie)—are camping in the woods when a zombie outbreak occurs at a nearby lab. After a few zombie encounters on the road, the duo ends up at the lab with the survivors. So basically, this is your standard zombie scenario, with all the different personalities trapped in one building and fighting for their lives.
While How to Kill a Zombie has a low-budget look and feel, the pacing is good, the performances range from good to okay, there’s plenty of zombie fun and gore (including gut munching), and there are some really memorable comic moments throughout—the bubble wrap gag has to be my fave. Well, that and the guy with the big appetite.
NIGHT OF THE DEAD (2012)
This one looks even more low-budget than How to Kill a Zombie. A noticeably queer mad scientist in an old warehouse is experimenting in bringing freshly dead people back to life with a special spray he invented. So he and his bald sidekick (who makes digs about the scientist’s sexual orientation) kidnap a couple from the woods, turn them into zombies, and then chain them up in a room. But the queer scientist needs more test subjects, so he sends out invites for a “party” in the woods.
A group of sorority babes gets the invite and heads on into the woods. Meanwhile, Ron Jeremy runs some sort of strip club, and a few of his girls go looking for their missing friend…the first victim. Everyone ends up at the warehouse, which is a set of about four rooms. One by one, the girls wander into the room with the chained up zombies and get eaten. Seriously, there are only two zombies in the whole movie. There are also boobs, cat fights, and gut munching. And, despite the name, it doesn’t take place at night….
I’ll admit, while Night of the Dead is a basic low-budget exploitation flick meant to attract a straight male audience, some of the chicks are quite funny, my favorite being the dumb bimbo (okay, the dumbest bimbo). Don’t expect to see Ron Jeremy slaying zombies. He has like two scenes of dialogue at his club, eventually goes looking for his girls at the warehouse, and dies immediately.
ATTACK OF THE HERBALS (2011)
If you’re a UK filmmaker making a zombie comedy that will inevitably get compared to Shaun of the Dead, you seriously have to make it funny. Unfortunately, Attack of the Herbals doesn’t pull it off. The cast is quite good, they just don’t have strong enough material to work with, so it ends up feeling like another failed Shaun wannabe (Shaunnabe?).
In a small fishing village, two geeks find a crate full of a mysterious herb washed up on the shore. It tastes really good in hot water, so they sell it as tea to locals. Turns out, this herb makes everyone into zombies. The down side…it takes 50 minutes to get to that point. We are treated to almost an hour of character development that simply isn’t funny enough to entertain—the pacing is pretty bad. Things pick up once the zombie action finally begins, but it’s all very routine, and there isn’t even much in the way of gore or horror.
Really, the spirit is there, but the script isn’t.
AMIGO UNDEAD (2015)
This is definitely the winner in this bunch of zombedies—despite having only one zombie. With a cast and the writing this good, you only need one zombie.
Adorable Randall Park of Fresh Off the Boat is an adopted Asian dude who agrees to hang out with his estranged white loser brother. Turns out the brother lives with some buddies in a tent in the desert. Before the party can even get started, one of the friends, a Mexican dude, chokes to death. But he won’t stay dead. He keeps coming back every time the guys kill him. The humor and gore are nonstop (an intestine scene being a highlight of both) as they try to figure out a way to get rid of him for good, which eventually leads to them asking some local Native Americans for mystical help to break a curse. Definitely a must-see for horror comedy fans.