Zombie Romance movies, television shows, and books? Who could ask for anything better? The Zom-Rom has made an appearance as early as Peter Jackson’s ‘Dead Alive‘ (technically a Rom – Zom – Com) and has recently come about in movies like ‘Warm Bodies‘. Something you can (maybe) watch with your girlfriend that mostly hates horror films – or maybe the first zombie movie you put on for family movie night!
Aubrey Plaza’s deadpan, off-kilter, unpredictable manic energy seems perfectly suited for horror in general and the Zombie World in particular. And though Life After Beth had a whole bunch’a problems, Plaza – as usual – never fail to impress.
As one critic put it, “It's an age-old story. Boy loses girl. Boy finds girl. Boy realizes girl is undead.” And that basically sums up the premise. Conceived by writer/director Jeff Baena (Horse Girl,I Heart Huckabees), who also by pure coincidence happens to be married to Aubrey Plaza, the story doesn’t follow any classic zombie rules. Beth herself – killed by a snake bite – remains coherent for a long time, though increasingly hot-tempered and violent, until things get truly out of control in the third act.
Not a big hit, not terribly well-received, it seems to have more in common with “bedroom community” zomromcoms like Fidoor Warm Bodies than it does with Night of the Living Dead. But Plaza carries it well and – for the most part – makes it work. She’s also aided and abetted by an astonishingly strong supporting cast, from Dane DeHaan to John C. Reilliy to Molly Shannon and Cheryl Hines and Paul Reiser and Matthew Gray Gubler and Anna Kendrick – Anna Kendrick! -- as the ‘final girl,’ of a sort.
Some good laughs, some memorable moments (love that refrigerator!) and a ‘must-have’ for the Aubrey Plaza completist, this one’s worth a few drinks and a lounge on some quiet Saturday night.
Even big-time zombie movie fans may have mostly missed Fido. It came and went with barely a whisper back in 2006, maybe because of its Canadian origins and poor distribution; maybe because nobody knew what to make of it. Is it a comedy? A satire? A skewed love story? Tor is it, in fact, a skewed sequel to Romero’s classicNight of the Living Dead (1968)? That’s still a good question, but there’s no doubt this is one of the least expected and most watchable of the “dark comedies” to come out of the genre… and it might be brand new to the zomfan in your life (or unlife).
Comedian and satirist Billy Connolly is virtually unrecognizable as Fido, the domesticated zombie “contracted” to Carrie-Anne Moss‘s family. They’re part of a bizarre alternative America in which radiation brought about the rising of the dead in the early Fifties, it seems, and led to a long-ago, hard-won set of “zombie wars.” Now the world, or at least as much as we see of it, is a weirdly static Perfect 1950’s World, kept that way by the ubiquitous ZomCom Corporation (you have to love that name!) that created electronic collars that allow the calming and control of your classic Romero slow zombies with the touch of a button. And that’s what Fido is – just one of the shuffling, voiceless, undead slaves in this odd world – until the family he’s working for develops an equally odd affection for him. Then the collar malfunctions and Fido kills a neighbor (who deserved it, but still …
From the beginning, Fido is not what you expect, and the entire presentation – from the off-puttingly realistic Fifties Paradise to the performances of Moss, Connolly, Dylan Baker (currently in Hunters) and the rest, are flawless and devoid of any wink-wink nudge-nudge to the audience. It’s a shame Fido’s been nearly forgotten since its appearance fifteen years ago, but that can change with a click… and it should. We’re willing to bet you’ll like this hidden gem.
All Cheerleaders Die: A Darkly Comic, Bloody Revenge Flick with Smart Zombies
Not everybody loves this movie – you can look at the Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic numbers and see that – and part of its appeal is definitely just the name and notion. Come on: zombie cheerleaders? You have to love it. But we tend to agree with the WeGotThisCovered review, who called All Cheerleaders Die“mindless and contrived”, but also admitted it was a “witching, bitching good time.”
One interesting production point: The semi-legendary grim-and-bloody horror auteur Lucky McKee first made this movie in 2001 when he was fresh out of film school, and liked the idea so much he remade it in 2013. The first version was a pretty straightforward (and not terribly interesting) bloodfest; in the newer edition, there’s a whole team of cheerleaders killed by heartless football players who are brought back to life with Wiccan magic, and who work together to avenge their deaths by knocking off the jocks and their minions one by one. And yes, there’s a wide-open “The End??” ending that begs for a sequel that unfortunately has never shown up.
Wedecided to include it here, and give it a solid “Adequate” rating, partly for its sheer Australian exuberance, but mostly just for the idea itself… and if you happen to have a cheerleader-type in the fam, this could be a great little gift.