Zombies are everywhere. The mythic monsters really have invaded every facet of our culture. From television’s The Walking Dead to the books of Max Brooks (son of Mel and author of “The Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z”), to a slew of new zombie comic books, ahem, I mean graphic novels, to table-top board games and video games, the undead have literally taken over.
Over the last decade, a creature usually relegated to B-movies and midnight screening horror festivals has exploded like never before. Every cult fan has seen more than their share of the zombie genre, but we’d guess there are some entries you may have overlooked. Although these forgotten zombie flicks are occasionally more worthwhile for their originality than their quality, some do exhibit new directions and influences for the genre while others a just plain fun. Enjoy!
:: Zombie aka Zombi 2, 1979
2 / 5 stars
Its original Italian title is Zombi 2 due to the fact that Dawn of the Dead was released in the country under the title Zombi; otherwise, Lucio Fulci’s movie is in no way related to the Romero 1978 classic. A woman and a small group sail to a Caribbean island in order to find her missing father. Once there, they find it overrun with zombies and take shelter in a small village where a doctor is frantically searching for a way to stop the monsters. Unfortunately, this Italian horror classic is not all its cracked up to be, with the first hour being a snooze-fest. And although the ghoulish gore in the last third of the film is great, you have to get there first.
Most of the movie plays like a dull giallo movie, complete with gratuitous topless nudity. However, it is interesting to see Romero’s influence on Fulci, and Fulci’s influence on the later Romero zombie film Day of the Dead (1985). But the real reason not to overlook this one is because it contains a scene never shot before or since: Through the clear waters of the Caribbean you get to watch an underwater battle between a shark and a zombie. Yes, a shark versus a zombie. The scene isn’t too long or exciting, but it’s there.
:: Night of the Living Dorks, 2004
3 / 5 stars
This German import is a silly teen comedy about three friends — a nerd, a stoner and a generally nice guy loser — who inadvertently get turned into zombies. With their newfound “powers” they each try to fulfill their own school fantasies while searching for a cure. Originally titled Die Nacht der lebenden Loser (Night of the Living Losers), this is actually pretty funny and features wit that’s seldom seen from the country. The drawback is the whole film plays like any American teen comedy you’ve ever seen. Almost every character and situation has been done so many times, some of the film falls flat. I recommend the subtitled version rather than the dubbed option, since the jokes translate better.
It is curious to note that, as American as this film is, there has yet to be an American movie with this plot. Who says the Germans have no sense of humor? They obviously do — it’s just a reflection of our own.