The very notion that zombies could rise up and walk the planet is odd enough, but some films about the undead manage to rise head and shoulders above the others in terms of sheer strangeness. That’s where my list of weird zombie movies comes in. From nudist colonies to fast food restaurants, the following cult classics offer locales and premises that are truly bizarre. They’re all labeled horror films, of course, but many include a liberal dash of humor, whether it’s intentional or not. So the next time you’re perusing the latest DVD releases, be sure to keep an eye out for these offbeat gems.
You can find most of these via online rental services such as Netflix or Blockbuster. In a few cases, however, you may need to head over to eBay and search for a VHS copy to complete your weird zombie film collection.
- Zombies on Broadway (1945) – Abbott and Costello knock-offs Wally Brown and Alan Carney star as Broadway press agents who must bring home a real zombie for the opening of a new nightclub run by a former mobster. In order to get their hands on such a creature, they naturally head to an island in the Caribbean, where they soon run across a beautiful singer played by Anne Jeffreys. She wants off the island, probably because it’s home to the demented Professor Renault (Bela Lugosi), a mad scientist who’s able to create zombies via a serum. Horror and hijinx follow, and highlights include Lugosi playing it entirely straight and a monkey who acts like he’s a zombie.
- Redneck Zombies (1987) – The film poses the question, “What happens when these simple, down-to-earth folks accidentally drink a barrel of nuclear waste?” Answer: They become “tobacco-chewin’, gut-chompin’ creatures of the night.” Filmed in “Entrail-Vision,” this Troma release–one of the first shot entirely on videotape–features hillbillies taking on city slickers in an bloody battle to the finish. A dog wears sunglasses, a zombie reacts to getting kicked in the balls (good info to know), and an obviously gay soldier demonstrates the best way to violate the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. If you want a low-budget film that “makes Dawn of the Dead look like Mary Poppins,” then watch Redneck Zombies immediately.
- Wild Zero (2000) – Combine a zombie outbreak (thanks to an alien invasion) with the coolest rock band in the world, and you get this bizarre Japanese movie from director Tetsuro Takeuchi. Ace (Masashi Endo) is a huge fan of the band Guitar Wolf (who play themselves), and he wants to be a rock ‘n roll legend just like his idols. But first, he’ll need to survive the zombie outbreak, win the love of the transgendered Tobio (Kwancharu Shitichai), and defeat the evil machinations of the Captain (Makoto Inamiya). The Captain, by the way, loves to wear hot pants and later gains the ability to shoot lasers from his eyes. Meanwhile, plenty of zombie heads explode, and fire seemingly shoots out of everything. We even get a few performances from Guitar Wolf when they’re not throwing guitar picks like shuriken or pulling samurai swords from their instruments. It’s a zombie movie. It’s a romance. It’s a helluva lot of fun.
- Fido (2006) – Scottish comic Billy Connolly stars in this weird film that takes place in a setting very similar to 1950’s America, except that they’ve persevered in what would later be known as the “Zombie Wars.” Now the undead are used as part of the labor force, being kept in check by high-tech collars. When housewife Helen Robinson (Carrie-Anne Moss) buys a zombie (Connolly) to help around the house, her young son Timmy (K-Sun Ray) wastes no time in befriending the creature and nicknaming it Fido. But thanks to a collar malfunction, Fido is soon gnawing on local residents. Dylan Baker is the head of the Robinson household with little patience for the undead, and Tim Blake Nelson is a former corporate security chief fired for carrying on a romance with one of the local shambling babes.
- Zombie Strippers (2008) – This film is set in an alternate world where George W. Bush has just been elected to a fourth term, and the United States is involved in nine different wars around the globe. In order to help with the shortage of soldiers, the government begins looking for a way to reanimate the dead to send them back into battle. This goes predictably awry, and soon an infected soldier is wandering into a strip club known as “Rhino,” where he wastes no time in biting the club’s star (Jenna Jameson). As it turns out, the totally uninhibited undead strippers prove even more popular with the customers, although they do have a nasty habit of devouring patrons during private shows. Robert Englund is the slimy owner of the club, and dancing hotties include Roxy Saint, Penny Drake, Jennifer Holland, and Shamron Moore.
- Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom (1999) – Also known by the title Zombie Doom, this gory German flick features every manner of atrocity you could possibly imagine. Set on a remote island ruled by sadists Karl (director Andreas Schnaas) and Karl Sr. (Marc Trinkhaus), the film follows three shipwrecked friends as they struggle to survive being hunted by undead soldiers and assassins. Luckily, they’ll get some assistance from a pair of vengeance-minded ninjas named Son and Giang. The fight scenes are laughably clumsy, but Violent Shit III makes up for that with scene after scene of people having their spines pulled out their asses with meat hooks or being shot in the face at point-blank range with a shotgun. For more graphically gory goodness from director Andreas Schnaas, be sure to catch Karl vs. Axe, Demonium, and Nikos the Impaler.
- Nudist Colony of the Dead (1991) – You don’t see many zombie musicals these days. Even more scarce are zombie movies set to music and taking place in a nudist colony. This film has both. After the Sunny Buttocks Nudist Colony is shut down by the local religious nuts, the nudists show their displeasure by committing mass suicide and threatening revenge from beyond the grave. Sure enough, the naked undead rise up five years later, just in time to menace a busload of teens visiting the old nudist colony (now a religious retreat). Songs include “The Zombie Rap” and “Kill Kill Kill All the Zealots,” and other highlight include helpful inbred locals, a girl whose mascara runs suspiciously like Tammy Faye Bakker, and a guy receiving clues from the severed head of his buddy.
- Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2008) – It’s a bad idea to build your fast food chicken restaurant on the site of an Indian burial ground. If you do, don’t be surprised when the spirits of pissed-off Native Americans and chickens conspire to wreak bloody havoc on the employees and patrons. That’s what happens in this Tromo film that surprisingly holds a 64% freshness rating at Rotten Tomatoes. And in the middle of all the face-peeling and projectile diarrhea (courtesy of a morbidly obese naked man), a young man tries to win back the love of his now-lesbian girlfriend. With characters named Arby, Wendy, and Carl Jr., this is the kind of not-so-subtle humor we’ve all come to know and love from the makers of The Toxic Avenger franchise. Lots of things gets shoves up people’s butts, a big-breasted girl has her implants ripped out, and every dangerous item in a fast food restaurant gets used for maximum gory effect. There’s even an employee named Hummus who wears a burqa and utters the immortal line “The chicken is the great jihad of us all.” An absolute must-see for lovers of weird zombie movies and subversive satire.
- Hood of the Living Dead (2005) – N.W.A.‘s album Straight Outta Compton was a musical masterpiece that spoke volumes about life in the hood, but it sadly lacked any mention of the inner-city zombie issue. That’s where this straight-to-video release from brothers Eduardo and Jose Quiroz (The Dope Game, San Franpsycho) comes in. Set on the tough streets of Oakland, it tells the story of a struggling scientist (Carl Washington) working on a formula intended to regenerate dead cells. When his brother (Brandon Daniels) gets killed in a drive-by (the leading cause of death in inner cities), you can see exactly where this is headed. The formula works, but it also has the unintended side effect of turning the younger brother into a zombie. Soon, both gang bangers and corporate mercenaries are fighting to survive as the undead walk the streets and hone their rap skills (okay, I’m lying about that last part). Luckily, turning your gun sideways (kill shot!) proves just as effective against zombies.
- Dead & Breakfast (2004) – You’ve gotta be doing something right if your zombie movie wins an award in Nuremberg, Germany, right? This bizarre melding of horror and comedy follows a group of six pals as they make their way to Galveston, Texas for the wedding of their friend (Portia de Rossi). They predictably get lost along the way, winding up at a creepy bed and breakfast owned by the equally creepy Mr. Wise (David Carradine). Before long, a local chef (Diedrich Bader) is dead, and Mr. Wise has a fatal heart attack. The kids (including Jeremy Sisto, Ever Carradine, and Gina Philips) are considered the prime suspects at first, but the local sheriff (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) soon turns his attention to a mysterious drifter (Brent David Fraser) who’s blown into town. Then the zombies turn up, created when an evil spirit is unwittingly free from its prison. The blood flows freely from there, and more than one severed head graces the screen. But the most bizarre moment comes when a number of the undead locals stop their assault and begin to line dance while being accompanied by a zombie country band, even throwing in some moves from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. To my knowledge, it’s still the only zombie flick to center around a bed and breakfast.
That wraps up our look at weird zombie movies, but there’s plenty more where that came from. Click on the links below to be taken to even more bizarre cinematic goodness from Odd Films.