The 20 Best Comedy Zombie Movies - A Countdown
The zombie genre has a broad tonal spectrum. Their stories can be a heartbreaking family drama, a kick-ass action movie or a real horror film that could also be narrated with explicit gore, jump scares or a true lugubrious atmosphere.
Of course, it can also be a comedy. In fact, in the last four decades, thousands of movies have decided to exploit undead fiction to develop humorous elements.
I want to counter purists and criticism again. I use the term zombie for anything that is a classic zombie; infected, an undead demon and similar interpretations.
And that's what this ranking is all about: Zombies and comedy.
Here, we present the 20 zombie comedy movies that, in our opinion, have found that sweet spot between disgust, horror, and laughter.
20) Hard Rock Zombies (1985)
Zombies and Rock N 'Roll according to The Cannon Group. That had to be on this list.
Yes, Hard Rock Zombies seems edited by a no-talented film student. But their imagery and deranged situations, which among other things includes Nazi dwarves, monsters that self-cannibalize themselves with mustard and ketchup and a heavy metal band that for some crazy reason becomes goth when they become zombies, is just impossible to ignore.
If it had lasted 40 minutes less it would be an absolute and indisputable classic. We're not kidding.
19) Zombie Ass: Toilet Of The Dead (2011)
Hear me out. Personally, I have always hated eschatological humor. Is cheap, easy and stupid in the worst way. And still, I just can't ignore the amazing craziness of this film.
The title should tell you everything you should expect, but that's not the case. This 2011 Japanese oddity directed by Noboru Iguchi is one of the best examples of full creative freedom. Zombie Ass: Toilet Of The Dead offers bullying, suicide, horny high-school students and of course a lot of diarrhea and shit zombies. It's a compendium of jaw-dropping moments one after another, and the easiness and impunity with which the movie shows its disgusting, awkward and memorable comedy is simply a thing of beauty.
If you have an open mind to experience really bizarre moments (like bend-over zombies that walk backward, or hellish intestinal worms), Zombie Ass: Toilet Of The Dead will make you laugh and cringe at the same time.
Zombie Ass is possibly the worst possible option for a first date movie, but for a fifth date? It’s a perfect choice.
18) Life After Beth (2014)
This little indie horror comedy directed by Jeff Baena is a fantastic example of what can be done within the genre when you have a clear message, an intelligent director and a talented cast.
Life After Beth is about overcoming emotional breakthroughs and that message is delivered in small doses of quite powerful dark humor.
With the typical quirky style of Aubrey Plaza, this comedy alternates really sentimental moments with cannibalism, putrefaction and almost cartoonish characters. It's a good mix.
This is a small film that far from abusing your time and energy, it offers a refreshing experience.
17) Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead (2006)
If The Cannon Group has a movie on this list, it was impossible to exclude Troma Entertainment.
To define Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead is an almost impossible task. To begin with, let's say that this movie is at the very opposite end of what should be considered cinematic art.
Both extremes of that spectrum, of course, have absolute creative freedom. The mission of Poultrygeist is to take its absurd story about zombie chickens who decide to take revenge on human consumers and explore and exploit the most grotesque, gross and crude jokes, no matter who or what is offended in the process.
And boy the Poultrygeist attacks are relentless. Nobody is safe. Left, right, rich, poor, Christians, Muslims, heterosexuals, homosexuals, all are victims of some joke with impunity. Troma doesn't care about a backlash, it feeds on it.
This is a resistance exercise rewarded by guilty and liberating laughter.
Oh, and this is also a musical.
16) My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)
At the time of its release, My Boyfriend's Back didn't get much recognition. But leave it to father time to change the face of this weird little movie.
This romantic high school horror comedy a-la-Eerie Indiana (director Bob Balaban directed both projects) has a great direction, the score of Harry Manfredini (the quintessential composer of the entire saga of Friday the 13th) and physical performances and wonderful over-the-top talents like Edward Herrmann, Mary Beth Hurt, and Jay O. Sanders.
If that somehow doesn't convince you, know that a very young Matthew Fox (Lost) and the great Philip Seymour Hoffman (You know who he is) play the typical antagonists douchebags jocks. Oh, and even Matthew McConaughey makes the more McConaughey cameo possible.
15) Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
After five movies, and fearing that the franchise began to run out, the producers of the Friday the 13th decided that the character of Jason Voorhees had to jump the necessary shark. So, logically, Jason turned into a super-powerful zombie that rose from his grave thanks to a lightning strike.
With this new Jason, the entire franchise would be (pun intended) revived. And to a large extent, Friday the 13th became the series we remember, full of meta-comedy, creative, violent and hilarious deaths and even breakings of the fourth wall.
Jason Lives is, by far, the funniest entry in the series. Jason is just unfairly unstoppable and every murder just made us laugh out loud.
Also, remember that glorious intro. Jason in full-blown James Bond mode. Just fantastic.
14) [REC] 3: Genesis (2012)
The third part of the Spanish horror franchise moves from the seriousness of its found footage genre and enters a more surreal and over-the-top cartoonish terrain.
In this self-parody, director Paco Plaza channels his best Alex De La Iglesia and performs a great dark comedy that not only refreshed the franchise by mocking itself but also creates a wonderfully funny tale about the institution of marriage.
Ultra-violent and full of visually iconic moments, [REC] 3 doesn't look anything like its two successful predecessors, and that works perfectly.
13) Beyond Re-Animator (2003)
Perhaps it was blasphemous to have ignored the two movies that came before this one, especially considering that Re-Animator (1985) is an absolute classic, but it is all part of a plan.
For newcomers, this movie will force them to check the earlier ones. For those who already know the work of Brian Yuzna and the iconic Jeffrey Combs, this entry, hopefully, will make them revalue this overlooked third chapter.
Because yes, Beyond Re-Animator will perhaps be the artistically less gifted entry, but it's by far the most fun and deranged of the trilogy. This is the perfect balance between the nice craftsmanship of Re-Animator and the total insanity of Bride of the Re-Animator.
12) Cemetery Man (1994)
Cemetery Man is undoubtedly a strange movie. Directed by Michele Soavi (a disciple and frequent collaborator of legends such as Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento), this is perhaps the last great film of that amazing Italian horror wave that went through the Giallo, the slasher and the supernatural in the 70's and the 80's.
However, far from being serious and solemn as all of its sub-genre, Cemetery Man is decidedly an absurd comedy and at times even cartoonish, with a Rupert Everett greatly channeling a kind of anti-Evil Dead's Ash.
But Soavi is anything but predictable. The Italian directs this odd absurd comedy with the aesthetics and the wonderful atmosphere of the cinematic school it represents.
The resulting combination is bizarre and brilliantly unique.
11) The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)
This is the most colorful and odd movie of the great, insane Japanese director Takashi Miike. And considering his crazy and wonderful filmography, that is reason enough to watch this beauty.
The Happiness of the Katakuris is cultural shock taken to the extreme. Partly horror, part dark comedy, part musical, and even Claymation, this story shows zombies like no other movie.
This is a movie where a pedophile sumo fighter zombie dancing and volcanoes erupting somehow cohabit with a motif that combines Japanese existentialism and the definition of family loyalty.
It’s a hell of a ride.
10) Dead Snow: Red Vs Dead (2014)
The sequel to Dead Snow (2009) understands from the beginning its brazen, absurd and gloriously idiotic, implausible and violent tone. And yes, those were SIX adjectives. The movie deserved those.
That freedom translates into a more entertaining and vertiginous pace. Zombie versions of Nazi German soldiers fighting against zombie versions of Soviet Red Army members manage to be as fun as it sounds. Include in the center a group of somewhat idiotic American characters led by Silicon Valley's Martin Starr and the result is a great midnight movie.
If anything, Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead will make you laugh at things as condemnable as a tank cannon exploding babies in a stroller. Any film that achieves that deserves a place on hell... and on this list.
9) Fido (2006)
Fido is an unusual delight. Directed and set perfectly as an old 50's Disney movie (Or some Lassie or Douglas Sirk film), this story mixes the most disturbing aspects of the white-fences conservative American culture with a zombie outbreak controlled and manipulated by an evil corporation.
Contrast. The best thing about Fido is the disturbing contrast between its clean-cut atmosphere, general-audiences-friendly and the grotesque and bloody elements that comes with dealing with a zombie epidemic in a dark comedy mood.
In addition, it has a luxury casting. Dylan Baker, Billy Connolly, and a wonderful Carrie Anne-Moss lead this odd story of the suburbs, full of emotions repressed by society and a blazing, cynical criticism of consumerism.
8) Planet Terror (2007)
Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino doing their exploitation film version about zombies. Enough said.
Yes, Planet Terror aims to fully exploit all the possible clichés of the genre, and that absolute frankness, under two talented and experimental directors, is completely refreshing. Planet Terror is disgusting, explosive, fun and painful.
And if everything else fails (it won't), Planet Terror has already a place in history like the movie in which Rose McGowan and Robert Rodriguez battled against that monster named Harvey Weinstein (Weinstein tried to ban McGowan) behind and in front of the cameras too, if we consider the subtext of McGowan's character destroying predatory men. A must-watch.
7) Juan Of The Dead (2010)
If Edgar Wright had been born in Fidel's communist Cuba, he probably would have directed something very similar to this.
But no, it was director Alejandro Brugués who ended up directing this tropical answer to Shaun Of The Dead, without having any kind of fear of portraying the political and social contradictions of the controversial Caribbean island.
Juan Of The Dead has the enormous merit of being deeply political without ever abandoning its funny tone. The roster of characters (which includes transcultured men and transsexual prostitutes) is a colorful piece of the island. They represent different aspects of Cuban society while also being great comic book characters.
Juan Of The Dead is one of the best ways to know the complexity of Cuba. And that, in a funny comedy about zombies with a frenetic pace, is a gigantic merit.
6) The Return of The Living Dead (1985)
If you had to choose only one of the zombie comedies whose success is largely based on being an 80's time capsule, The Return of the Living Dead should be your pick, by far.
Legendary writer Dan O'Bannon (Alien) decided to make a zombie movie that escaped the large shadow cast by the great George A. Romero. In the process, O'Bannon ended up practically creating the horror comedy, which in those days was a rarity. That contribution is just incalculable.
The Return of the Living Dead not only boosted the horror comedy in general but introduced the iconic popular image of the zombie who walks slowly with his hands in front while verbally asking for "braaaains".
And yes, of course, its imagery is a blast. Lowkey Nazis, amputee dwarf zombies, and stereotypical punks are some of its politically incorrect ingredients.
5) Braindead (1992)
After the enormous cultural impact of The Lord Of The Rings, Peter Jackson's career seemed to have reached a "one-hit-wonder" situation.
Nothing further from reality. Before he turned to adapt Tolkien, Peter Jackson already had a respectable career as director of absurdly bloody, wonderful horror movies. And from that phase, Braindead is by far his best achievement.
Describing Braindead with words becomes difficult. This is a fast and deranged festival of blood, decapitations and disgusting creatures, framed in New Zealand's conservative culture and a twisted message about the dependence of the mother presence in men's lives. All that, with a wonderful sense of humor.
Obviously inspired by Evil Dead 2, Braindead has enough personality to not feel like plagiarism. The huge amount of fake blood used is just outrageous (and a record at the time), and it shows.
4) Demons 2 (1986)
Demons (1985), especially in its last act, is undoubtedly a spectacle that deserves to be in this ranking.
However, this Lamberto Bava sequel feels much more rounded and entertaining. Demons 2 is a wonderful mockery about the demonization of the TV. It's also set in the growing yuppie culture of the high-rise apartment complex, which generates a fantastic and effective time capsule impossible to escape.
In this aesthetic beauty of what ended up being the last wave of Italian horror, the zombies have a more "demonic" origin. And with that, the options for showing carnage grew.
Demons 2 has a wide catalog of memorable moments to choose from. In here you have overacted children demons, murderous demon dogs, an adorable child Asia Argento, a group of bodybuilders fighting in a parking lot and my personal favorite: rappel-sliding demons. This movie is just a blast.
3) Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Edgar Wright is a master of dynamic editing. His talent for cutting and selecting shots and camera movements for the sake of humor is just immeasurable.
Shaun of the Dead is one of the best demonstrations of his talent as a director. In addition, this film marks the best moment in his artistic collaboration with actors and comedians Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, whose friendship is the absolute heart of the story.
Simply put, Shaun of the Dead revitalized and completely reconstructed the genre, showing that it was possible to make comedies with zombies without the violent exploitation or the so-bad-its-good feeling so common in the '80s.
What Is The Best Zombie Comedy Movie?
2) Zombieland (2009)
This 2009 hit is the highest grossing zombie comedy of all time. And justly so.
Director Ruben Fleischer took the $26 million he was granted and made a blockbuster that looked like $100 million. The visual effects, inserts, and photography offer absolute entertainment. Quite simply, the visual motif (remember the poster?) Of associating a zombie movie with an amusement park was completely accomplished.
However, the greatest success of Zombieland is its solid cast. Not only Harrelson, Breslin, Stone and Eisenberg have wonderful and unrepeatable chemistry, but when you least expect it, Bill Murray appears and level up the entire production.
1) Evil Dead 2 (1987)
Sam Raimi's masterpiece is the pinnacle of what every horror comedy should aspire to be.
With Evil Dead 2, Raimi mixed the slapstick and ridiculous physics of his favorite cartoons with body horror and practical effects, creating a whole new sub-genre in the process. The Splatstick is the legacy of this film, and its impact on culture is something that directors dream a lifetime to achieve.
Bruce Campbell, the other fundamental piece of this puzzle, offers a physical interpretation with an incomparable charisma. Ash Williams, his chainsaw arm, his shotgun and his one-liners will always have a place in the history of not only the genre but pop culture.
This article was written before I watched certain movies like One Cut of the Dead which would definitely deserve a top place on any comedy zombie movies list.
© 2019 Sam Shepards