Zombie comedies ("zom coms" or "zomedies") have really exploded in the 21st century, mining the abject fear inherent in the concept of hordes of living dead trying to eat you alive for nervous laughs. However, the zom com has been around longer than you might think. Here's a look at some of the notable entries.
© Cinema Libre/Lee Lee Films
This faux documentary
takes place in a world in which zombies -- who can talk, think and otherwise act "normal," apart from the whole eating humans thing -- coexist with the living, but as second-class citizens striving to find their place. It delivers not only dry humor but biting social commentary not usually found in your average zom com.
© Tokyo Shock
Fairly entertaining Hong Kong flick about a couple of big-mouthed, small-minded mall workers who accidentally unleash a chemical weapon that turns people in the mall into zombies -- like a low-rent Dawn of the Dead
Good gore and production values mark this otherwise not terribly funny Irish (yes, Irish!) zom com featuring singer/actress Samantha Mumba as the girlfriend of a teenage boy who dies and is brought back from the dead by his mother's voodoo. However, dating a zombie proves to be difficult, as "necking" takes on a whole new meaning.
In this Czechoslovakian pic, a group of people gather on a retreat in an isolated cabin to discuss the meaning of life. They end up truly understanding how much life is worth when they're surrounded by an army of zombie woodsmen. What's a woodsman? I dunno, but apparently they wear funny hats and like the taste of human flesh. The film is talky and full of silly slapsticky action, with zombies dancing and doing kung fu.
In this smartly written, gay-themed spoof full of strong performances, a group of friends gather for a birthday party that's interrupted by zombies --- gay zombies! It seems they've been spawned from the "West End Virus" spread at a local rest stop frequented by, um, happy folk.
© Anchor Bay
A group of friends on their way to a wedding stop off at a bed and breakfast and, as punk kids are apt to do, accidentally unleash evil spirits that turn the town's population into zombies. Although the film features a strong cast -- including Portia de Rossi and Jeremy Sisto -- its humor (which includes ongoing musical narration) is too self-consciously clever to fully work.
© Lions Gate
One of the best zombie comedies to date, this "rom zom com" (romantic zombie comedy) finds a high school loser on a mission to win back his girlfriend while simultaneously saving the school from a zombie invasion, courtesy of the nearby nuclear power plant.
Zany humor -- including a zombie baby and kung fu priest -- and over-the-top gore make this classic early effort from New Zealand's Peter Jackson, later of Lord of the Rings
© Anchor Bay
This '80s guilty pleasure
features a mad scientist creating zombies to commit robberies in Los Angeles. When an LAPD officer is killed trying to arrest the crooks, he returns as a zombie to track down the suspects -- hopefully before he decomposes or before Joe Piscopo has time to deliver another one-liner.
Woefully cheap and unfunny story about rental car agents who lead a group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse; otherwise, they run around doing nothing much. Its only claim to fame is its climactic "world's largest zombie scene". (Incidentally, there's no moon in the movie, as inexplicably, no scenes take place at night.)