When we think of zombies, the ever familiar image of rotting, cannibalistic corpses comes to mind. Rabid hoards of bloodthirsty undead have become humdrum as we find less and less surprising. But in an endless sea of horror stereotypes and fake blood, these movies stand out as refreshingly original, particularly strange and delightfully unexpected.
Set in remote French Canada, Pontypool features a group of radio hosts trapped in their studio by an unprecedented snow storm. But there’s something weird going on…the group overhears increasing news reports of people suffering from a strange illness that disorients the victims before turning them into mindless, bloodthirsty monsters. But with no physical contagions, what is causing this mayhem? The only outside information they receive is from French-Canadian military forces that have quarantined the town and urge citizens to “NOT talk” to one another. The small group struggles to find answers from inside their studio as both the snowstorm and mysterious plague worsen. What you’ll find most unexpected about this movie is the manner in which the virus is ‘transmitted’, resulting in horrifyingly inhuman behavior and increasingly paralyzing paranoia. Without spoiling the plot, suffice it to say Pontypool offers a creative take on the overrated zombie epidemic.
Dead Girl (2008)
This horror flick is so much different than the average zombie movie that you might just mistake it for a psychological thriller or drama. But don’t be fooled by the relatively slow start, Dead Girl is a seriously disturbing zombie feature hidden behind a sinister plot and disguised as a high school drama. When two young delinquents break into an abandoned building, they find a young, semi-catatonic woman lying bound and naked on a table. What are two hormonal teenage boys to do? Untie the poor speechless woman and let her free? Or leave her tied up and have a little fun…of course they choose the ladder. But why was she tied up in the first place? What did she do? Before they find answers, word gets out about the mysterious bound girl, and soon the boys are taking money to let random weirdos play with their prostrate sex slave as she lays there staring blankly. But there’s definitely something weird about this girl…and in the end we discover the horrifying reason she was found tied up and alone. They should have just let sleeping zombies lie…
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Undoubtedly the pioneer of a new sub-genre of zombie movies, Shaun of the Dead mixes two of horror fans’ favorite things: zombies and comedy. It’s a zomedy! This dark British comedy shows us there can be a humorous side to a zombie apocalypse, and Shaun of the Dead boldly treads the line between zombie horror and humor. The movie follows two lovable but lazy oafs that half-drunkenly stumble into a zombie outbreak. Their main concern is finding their friends and family and holing up in the local pub where they can “have a pint and wait for all this to blow over”. *Cue misguided shenanigans and zombie tomfoolery. Shaun of the Dead brings some much needed levity to a seriously scary concept and reminds us that it’s ok to laugh at the undead.
This independent film is a twisted genre all its own. Not for the faint-hearted, Contracted tells the terrifying story of a young woman who starts to experience some very disturbing physiological side effects after a one-night stand with a closet necrophiliac. This movie puts a face to every horror story we’ve ever heard about dating and is perhaps most scary because it could happen to anyone! If you’re even remotely uncomfortable with the idea of date rape, V.D. or rotting genitalia, then stay far away from this movie. Because what you’ll see you can never unsee. And Contracted is definitely not afraid to go ‘there’, leaving you downright disturbed and crawling in your own skin. Serving as a zombie movie, cautionary tale and social commentary on the prevalence of unsafe sex, Contracted will make you think twice before going on a blind date-or even leaving your house- ever again.
Zombie Honeymoon (2004)
Although obscure and low-budget, Zombie Honeymoon gets major points for a strange yet original story-line, twisted humor and great soundtrack. The plot follows two young newlyweds on a perfect beach honeymoon whose marital bliss is cut short when the groom is attacked by one blood-spewing undead tourist. After being revived at the hospital, the hubby finds himself feeling…out of sorts…and it’s not long before his new wife walks in on him gnawing on a human arm. But they can make this work! Til’ death do us part, right? The couple’s resolve is tested as the two try to carry on with their romantic honeymoon, but it gets harder and harder to ignore the telling signs: the rotting flesh…the insatiable appetite for brains…the fact that he just ate the travel agent…Zombie Honeymoon is the perfect blend of romance, eternal love, dark comedy and, of course, zombies.
The Signal (2007)
While not a conventional zombie movie by any means, The Signal captures the essence of the zombie apocalypse and the resulting decay of civilized society. After leaving her lover late at night, a young woman comes home to find her husband acting increasingly strange and out of character. What ensues is a violent bloodbath fueled by irrational paranoia and a highly infectious audio transmission that ‘brainwashes’ its victims, turning them into raging, homicidal psychopaths. Will our heroine escape this strange signal that turns families and friends into brutal enemies and will she reunite with her lover? This independent flick is sure to make your list of favorites with its subtle comedy, social parody and terrifying display of inhumanity.