I’ve never been a scary movie person. For the most part, I try to avoid horror movies, especially ones with lots of gore and copious amounts of murder. That’s nothing personal to people who love these movies — I’m just a really anxious person in general and I’m not a big fan of anything with lots of jump scares.
I’m also not necessarily a diehard fan of zombie movies, mostly because they are incredibly depressing if you think too much about it. Could you pull a bullet in the head of your walking dead loved ones? I don’t know if I could. Plus, the gore thing. And I have a real fear against needles and any penetration of my skin, so zombie bites scare the hell out of me in themselves. I like my insides to remain on the inside, thank you very much.
However, there’s a duo of zombie movies that get my wholehearted approval: Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. The Zombie Comedies.
When I’m talking about Zombie Comedies, I mean movies that are distinctly different from zombie parodies (which are mostly comedies) and tongue-in-cheek zombie movies (which are still 90% zombie-focused). Zombie comedies are probably 60% comedies and 40% zombie movies — still pretty scary and gory, but with a definite focus on the comedy. The best parts of the horror and comedy aspects should be woven together, keeping the movie authentic to both genres.
Shaun of the Dead clearly defined the Zombie Comedy with its tagline: “A romantic comedy. With zombies.” And unlike the zombie parodies, we do really care about the characters when we lose someone from the group. There are some heartbreaking moments in the film that aren’t always achieved by regular zombie movies. There’s also some parodying of the zombie genre, but a light touch on the goofy. What comes out more is Edgar Wright‘s unique and meticulous directing style, which I love.
Zombieland did what neither Shaun of the Dead nor most zombie movies do, which is showing us what happens after the initial apocalypse, what day-to-day life is like for the last few real people in the world. If Shaun was a romantic comedy with zombies, Zombieland was a road trip movie … with zombies. The four main characters’ growth feels natural within the underlying tension of a sinister malevolent force always at their heels. There’s a real sense of community between the quartet by the end of the film, while keeping the scary elements and the comedy.
So, what do I look for in a zombie movie? Well written protagonists, a thoughtfulness when it comes to gore and a good amount of humor to balance the horrific nature of the setting. That’s not to say classic zombie movies can’t be made well, but they’re just not my cup of tea. More zombie comedies, please!