Brad Pitt’s troubled zombie flick World War Z finally hits theaters today (June 21).
Director Marc Forster’s big-budget popcorn movie finds Pitt trotting across the globe in hopes of stopping a zombie pandemic. Despite worries from fans and horror fanatics that the adaptation wouldn’t be worth the price of admission, the film is actually receiving quite a few positive reviews.
Of course, World War Z isn’t the only zombie movie currently available to those looking for a night of blood-soaked entertainment. Since World War Z sports a PG-13 rating, chances aren’t you’re going to get the world of gut-munching violence in the vein of The Walking Dead.
If you check out Pitt’s latest movie and you’re left wanting more, then you’re in luck. Below you’ll find 10 R-rated alternatives to Forster’s teen-friendly summer time waster.
Since everyone and on the planet is familiar with Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and the like at this point, the movies in this list are a little off the beaten path. Chances are you might not agree with some of these selections. If you think I’ve left anything out, be sure to let me know in the comments. I haven’t seen them all by a longshot, so you might give me something new to watch over the weekend.
Here they are, in no particular order.
Dead Alive (Peter Jackson, 1992)
Before he directed Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, Peter Jackson was making some of the craziest low-budget horror movies on the planet. After cutting his teeth on Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles, the award-winning filmmaker delivered his 1992 masterpiece Dead Alive (aka Braindead). The film tells the story of a man who attempts to control a zombie outbreak that begins when his mother is bitten by a Samarian rat monkey. Jackson balances horror, gore, and comedy perfectly; the kung fu-fighting priest is one of my favorite scenes, though it’s honestly hard to chose just one. If you’re at all squeamish, avoid this one like the plague. Once upon a time, it was considered the goriest movie ever made.
Black Sheep (Jonathan King, 2006)
If you’re in the mood for something a lot sillier than Brad Pitt’s World War Z, then you can always spend some time with director Jonathan King’s Black Sheep. Instead of a zombie apocalypse centered around flesh-eating humans, this New Zealand horror-comedy introduces undead sheep into the mix. The premise may sound exceptionally silly — and it often is — but the flick offers up some truly inventive special effects. All of the zombies and creatures in the film were created by Peter Jackson’s WETA Workshop. They also did work on Lord of the Rings, which means the quality is top-notch. Black Sheep might not be for everyone, but it’s definitely a wonderful alternative to this weekend’s offering.
Fido (Andrew Currie, 2006)
If World War Z’s plot is a bit too serious for you to deal with this weekend, then here’s another light-hearted comedy with more than a little bite. Director Andrew Currie’s underrated zombie flick Fido takes a wholly unique approach to the same old story. The film is set in a sitcom-inspired version of 1950s surburbia, a world where zombies are controlled and used as servants. When a kid develops a kinship with one of the undead slaves, the whole neighborhood is turned upside down. Fido is definite a lot a more light-hearted than most undead movies, though it still treats the zombies as threats instead of punchlines. Currie’s effort might be labeled as a comedy by some, but it’s a horror movie at heart.
Dead Snow (Tommy Wirkola, 2009)
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters director Tommy Wirkola caught the attention of Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay with this clever Norwegian gorefest. A group of irritating kids venture into the woods and soon encounter a squadron of zombie Nazi soldiers. It might sound extremely silly on paper, but Dead Snow is a surprisingly entertaining and menacing affair. The film is best viewed in its original language, so be sure you’re ready to read subtitles before checking it out. However, those who enjoy foreign horror flicks will find plenty of love about Dead Snow. It’s definitely one of my all-times favorites.
Dance of the Dead (Gregg Bishop, 2008)
There aren’t a lot of teenagers running around in World War Z. If that’s a deal breaker for you, then Gregg Bishop’s Dance of the Dead is a fine alternative to Marc Forster’s offering. The movie chronicles a zombie apocalypse that takes place during a high school prom, a scenario which sets the stage for some truly gruesome set pieces. Despite the film’s low budget, Dance of the Dead sports some strong performances and even stronger effects work. If George Romero and John Hughes collaborated on a movie during they heyday, it might have looked something like this. Those who don’t want a lot of depth with their zombie movies should consider giving this one a shot.
[Rec] (Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, 2007)
Forget for a moment that you watch the 2008 horror flick Quarantine. Remove this memory from your mind. That movie was a remake of Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza’s intensely frightening zombie outbreak flick [Rec]. It’s one of the few “found footage” movies since The Blair Witch Project that managed to get under my skin. Even on repeat viewing, the flick gives me the willies. The sequels are simply okay, but they destroy some of the mystery created in the original movie. Again, watch this one in its original language with the subtitles on. If you’re looking for something scary, this is the one you need.
The Video Dead (Robert Scott, 1987)
Do you like your zombie movies stupid, nonsensical, and from the 80s? Robert Scott’s The Video Dead is the perfect antidote to World War Z’s seriousness. The premise is pretty bizarre: A suburban family’s new television set is actually used by zombies from another dimension to infiltrate our world. Nothing really makes sense in this odd little relic from the 80s, but this doesn’t take away from its ability to entertain. Those who love cheesy zombie flicks will find plenty to love about The Video Dead. However, film fanatics who can’t stand B-movies will want to steer clear. This one is currently available on Netflix streaming should you want to give it a try. If you’re not immediately hooked, turn it off.
Planet Terror (Robert Rodriguez, 2007)
This inventive and action-packed gorefest failed to find an audience when it was released as Grindhouse back in 2007. The film was a marketing disaster, and its box office performance suffered as a result. However, Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror is easily one of my favorite action-horror hybrids on the market. It gets everything right, from the over-the-top 80s-style gore to the nods to a host of iconic and influential zombie flicks. The tone is pitch-perfect, though, again, it’s not for the squeamish. If World War Z’s violence was about all you could stand, then you shouldn’t waste a second on Planet Terror. It’s a pretty nasty movie, though it’s tongue is always pressed firmly into its cheek.
Night of the Living Dead (Tom Savini, 1990)
This may sound like sacrilege to some, but I enjoyed Tom Savini’s remake of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead more than the original. The FX guru’s zombies are superb, and I liked the twist Romero put in his updated script. Tony Todd, William Butler, and Tom Towles turn in fine performances, as does former Babylon 5 star Patricia Tallman. Don’t get me wrong — the original is still a fine motion picture, but Tom Savin’s re-imagining isn’t as bad as some make it out to be. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead may have laid the groundwork for films like World War Z and its ilk, but director Tom Savin’s effort turned this writer into a lifelong zombie fan. Don’t let the word “remake” scare you away.
The Return of the Living Dead (Dan O’Bannon, 1985)
Director Dan O’Bannon’s deliriously enjoyable zombie flick takes place in the same universe as George Romero’s movies. However, his approach to the mythology is a little different than Romero’s serious-minded sequels. The film is a fine example of 80s excess: gratuitous nudity and copious amounts of gore abound, but it all adds to the movie’s quirky charms. The premise is definitely goofy — a strange gas is responsible for bringing the dead back to life — but it’s amusing on every level imaginable. Again, having a soft spot for cinematic cheese is required, so keep that in mind before seeking it out. The Return of the Living Dead is tons of fun, and makes for a fantastic party movie.
If World War Z isn’t your thing or you simply crave more zombie-related madness after seeing Brad Pitt’s flick, you now have a host of other movies to check out. Feel free to share your favorite zombie flicks — underrated or otherwise — below. Marc Forster’s endeavor is in theaters right now. Before heading off to purchase your ticket, be sure to check out a review from The Inquisitr critic Niki Cruz.