6. Rec (2007)
A television reporter and her cameraman are covering the night shift at a local fire station in Barcelona for a documentary television series. When the fire station receives a call from an old woman who is trapped in her apartment and screaming, they accompany two of the firefighters to the apartment building. Once there, they quickly become locked inside with something terrifying.
Another zombie film which makes use of a subgenre. This time it is the use of the found footage genre. A genre which is often used in horror films. Yet Rec proves that the use of found footage is still an incredibly effective mechanism for horror, and can provide terrifying scares and chills. The film primarily takes place in the apartment block, and this setting gives Rec a claustrophobic feel which only enhances the horror.
A lot of zombie films use a post-apocalyptic setting or show the undead terrorising cities and towns. Containing the action to the apartment block helps Rec stand out amongst similar films. The use of point of view shots means that the audience are even more intensely involved in the horror unfolding.
Directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza didn’t tell the cast what was going to happen in certain scenes, meaning that the terrified reactions have an element of realism that other horror films lack. The mixture of shaky camera footage, the claustrophobic setting, p.o.v shots and plenty of horrifying jump scares means that Rec feels like an original addition to the zombie genre.
7. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun lives with his best friend Ed in a small flat just outside of London. He works at the local electronics store and lives a dull existence. But when the town becomes inexplicably overrun with zombies, Shaun must rise to the occasion to reconcile with his mother, win back his ex-girlfriend and deal with the hordes of flesh-eating undead.
Shaun of the Dead has consistently been recognised on various lists since its release in 2004. It was named the ninth greatest zombie film of all time by Stylus magazine, the best film of the decade by Now and one of the twenty-five greatest horror films by Time. It has also become the comedy zombie film that other comedy zombie films are measured against.
The very British setting and humour helps Shaun of the Dead stand out amongst similar films – not only is it a great comedy, it is also uses splatter and gore in a way that still classes it very much as an effective zombie film. The successful mix of horror and humour, not to mention its satirical qualities, makes Shaun of the Dead a must watch for fans of the zombie genre. Add in Edgar Wright’s fast paced and fun directorial style, and Shaun of the Dead definitely deserves its place on this list.
8. ParaNorman (2012)
Eleven-year-old Norman Babcock can speak to the dead, and he often prefers their company to that of the living. One-day Norman receives a message from his eccentric Uncle Prenderghast that the town will soon be victim to a centuries old witches curse, and that Norman is the only one who can stop it happening. When zombies start to rise up from their graves, Norman must push his paranormal abilities to their limits in order to save his town and fellow townspeople.
This stop animation from studio Laika, is one of the few films in the zombie genre that is aimed at a younger audience. Widely hailed by many as a “zombie film for kids,” ParaNorman combines the horror aspects of the unruly undead and deadly curses, with the relatable realism of everyday life such as dealing with bullies and trying to fit in. The characters are well rounded and likeable, perhaps even more than their counterpart characters in the genre. For example, the typical jock character is given an upgrade, the loner character is never mopey.
ParaNorman is also unique in that it effectively caters to its target audience, but is also just as enjoyable for adults. Combining that with its engaging visuals and touching life lessons, and ParaNorman is not only an animated film with a difference, it is a clever and fun extension of the zombie genre.
9. Pontypool (2008)
In the small Canadian town of Pontypool, DJ Grant Mazzy arrives at his basement radio station expecting another normal day at work. But then reports start to come in about a possible virus outbreak that is turning people into zombies. Mazzy must work out a way to stay safe inside of the radio station, and warn his listeners about the strange way that the virus seems to be transmitted – the English language.
Pontypool is another primarily one location zombie film – it takes place in a basement radio station and a sound booth. However, that is not the only thing that makes it unique. The mode of virus transmission in zombie films is usually being bitten by someone who is infected. In Pontypool, the mode of transmission is in certain words, phrases and the English language itself.
This is not realised until much later in the film, so there is a slow build-up of intensity as the characters try to work out what is happening on the outside. As strange news is called into the radio station, both the characters and audience do not know the true extent of what is going on. Hearing the panicked voices of the people who call in helps create a heightened sense of fear and entrapment.
This also increases the feeling of claustrophobia. Pontypool is also original in that the infected are never referred to as zombies or the undead, they are merely people who are deemed to have gone insane from means that no one can understand. Pontypool effectively takes all the tropes of virus and infection and gives a thoroughly individual spin on them on.
10. Warm Bodies (2013)
Eight years after a zombie apocalypse has devastated the world, R, a zombie, spends his days wandering around an airport. One day, R sees some of his fellow zombies attacking a young woman named Julie. He intervenes, rescuing her and the pair begin an unusual relationship. As their bond together grows, they set in motion a chain of events that could transform the entire world.
Not only a funny twist on a classic love story, Warm Bodies is also a clever twist on the zombie genre. It can certainly be said that there is not a plethora of romantic comedies in the zombie genre and Warm Bodies is also unique in that it tells the story from the perspective of one of the undead.
The story may be strange and a bit out there, but Warm Bodies is interesting in not only that it is an original take on comedy, horror and romance, but it is also an exploration of human relationships which it manages to parody on a number of levels.
The main two characters R and Julie, played by Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer, have great chemistry together and you will find yourself rooting for them – not a relationship you probably would have ever expected to be championing. Effectively mixing a number of genres and offering a fresh take on the zombie Genre, Warm Bodies is a film which shows that the zombie genre can be more than just horror.
Author Bio: Cara McWilliam-Richardson is a writer with a passion for films and filmmaking. She has written several screenplays, and is currently working on her first novel. Her favourite genre to write is fantasy and science fiction.