For going on 90 years, the zombie genre has been a fixture in the world of cinema. Zombie films have changed over time but generally fall in the realm of horror. It has had no problems crossing into science fiction, thriller, romance, or even comedy as the genre evolved. You might cringe at the idea of slapstick humor when it comes to a zombie flick, but there have been many exceptions to the idea that those two wouldn’t mix. There are others that could be seen as a complete abomination. Let’s take a trip down zombie memory lane and analyze the recent resurgence of zombie comedies.
The zombie genre came onto the scene with Victor Hugo Halperin’s 1932 film White Zombie. It was different from what we call a typical zombie film because it dealt with voodooism, not cannibalism. Nonetheless, it made an impact. The first appearance of the zombie comedy genre would come in the form of Jean Yarbrough’s King of the Zombies and again in Gordon Douglas’s Zombies on Broadway. Later on, George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead would change the game by introducing the idea of cannibalism that made comedy take a backseat.
Side note: Night of the Living Dead has made such a huge impression on me that I have a tattoo of Karen Cooper on my forearm.
We would see zombie comedies like CHUD II: Bud the CHUD, Dead Alive (BrainDead), Redneck Zombies, and Night of the Creeps pop up here and there over time. It wasn’t until Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead that gave the genre a fresh take and gave it the reanimation it was clawing to have.
Certain films take the zombie comedy genre in an interesting direction that stands out. In Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland, the characters are well aware of the severity of the situation and decide to have fun with the freedom they are given. They live out their PG-13 fantasy of not having to face any repercussions for stealing anything they want. They even attend a deserted amusement park.
Other prime examples that add an interesting nuance to the genre are the stories that are told in Fido and Life After Beth. These films are set in a zombie filled world but deal with the idea of isolation, loneliness, and loss opening up the stories to showcase coping in a way that gives a refreshing personal touch.
If you want to go for a quick cash grab as a director in these films, you go on to make movies like Jordan Rubin’s Zombeavers, Jay Lee’s Zombie Strippers, and the barely serviceable Black Sheep. These types of novelty films quickly burn out within the first thirty minutes.
The titles of these movies leave little to the imagination, and you feel like you have pretty much seen the entire movie in your head before it even starts. But if that it is your kind of thing, have at it; just make sure you make a drinking game out of it so the level of entertainment can rise a point or two.
Should the zombie comedy genre keep going? Yes. A lot of these films can be hit or miss. You have to be ready to go through a lot of stinkers to find the good ones, but they are out there. Just beware, if you marathon this type of film and come across too many of the bad ones, you might wise that you were brain-dead like the walking dead.