What to Watch: Zombies

Less than a decade ago, vampires had their time in the sun, ready to sparkle for as long as possible. We had Twilight, Underworld, Peeps, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood it just goes on forever. However, vampires’ time in the supernatural spotlight is up, and what has replaced them?

Zombies. Unlike vampires, zombies do not have a rich literary history regarding their mysterious and sexual nature. Zombies started simply, the dead are alive again. So much has changed since the origin of the undead, and I am absolutely zombie crazed.

Here’s my complete list of worthwhile zombie books, movies, TV shows, and even a video game to check out if you’re new to the subject.

  1. Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead is by far one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are a force like no other, and they broke me of my special effects squeamishness. Other than comedy, Shaun of the Dead brings a lot to the zombie universe. Not only to do we witness the beginning of the breakout, but we also see the final solution to it. Very rarely do zombie apocalypse narratives answer big questions, so in that way, this movie is really satisfying. Also, who wouldn’t love to see average people take on the end of the world? Like Shaun, I’d want to hole up somewhere familiar and safe, wouldn’t you?

[Photo Credit: IMDB]

  1. Zombieland

Zombieland was one of the first zombie films I ever saw. It has similar notes of comedy, and average Joe versus the end of the world, but I found it even more relatable as a millennial. The cast has excellent chemistry, and the appearance of Bill Murray made the movie a million times better. One of my favorite sequences in Zombieland is the final carnival battle. It’s fun to see how zombie worlds can turn even the most mundane into a dangerous zombie trap. The movie took the luxuries we take for granted, a fun day at the carnival, twinkies, and falling in love, and put them through a gauntlet. It also showed us that no matter what sort of stress we’re under, that smashing a bunch of glass will get us through the day. Just make sure the world has ended first.

[Photo Credit: IMDB]

  1. The Walking Dead

Of course, The Walking Dead made its way onto this list. I made the brave decision to start watching while season two was airing. Yes, the slowest season in the show’s history. Many people have dropped off watching The Walking Dead, and I’m sure their reasons are valid, but the show brings so much depth to the zombie genre. We get the unique story of Rick, who wakes up in the middle of the apocalypse. The ensemble cast around Rick makes the story rich and captivating. The creative team behind this show is cruel, they make it hard to quit the show. I have loved and lost so many to The Walking Dead. I love that everyone in this universe is infected, and that come season three, you’re happy that the scary thing around the corner is “just a zombie.” Also, the special effects on this show are wild, and it’s worth checking out just for that. The franchise is enormous as well, including the original comics, a spin-off, and a few video games. This gives you the opportunity to completely saturate your life with walkers.

[Photo Credit: IMDB]

  1. iZombie

iZombie is the show I never knew I needed. I even attended a panel with the cast at San Diego Comic Con before watching a single episode. Just get three episodes in and you will be hooked on zombie brains. First, I love that it features a female protagonist. Sure, the others on my list have women in them, and in The Walking Dead some of them qualify as lead characters, but none of them match up to iZombie. Rose McIver is hysterical, and the supporting cast is equally funny and genuine. I love when a show requires the audience to accept the premise, and just go with it. iZombie asks that of its audience, but everything else about the show comes together so cleanly. Even the music is fantastic, thanks Rob Thomas! This CW show balances the functioning supernatural being trope so well. It’s also one of the only pieces within the genre that is actively looking for a cure. So many movies and shows throw that aside, which runs a risk of creating content that might go on forever if it still makes the network money. iZombie is relatively new, and definitely worth checking out.

[Photo Credit: CW]

  1. Warm Bodies

Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies takes a similar perspective as iZombie but it has a nice romantic twist: Warm Bodies is an adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet.” The book and movie, which are different but both worth checking out, center on R and Julie, a zombie who does not want to be a zombie, and a girl trying to make her way back home. It’s a sweet, new take on the end of the world, and the fact that the whole thing has a solution provides a fun commentary on how people live their lives now.

[Photo Credit: Jonathan Wenk]

  1. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Maybe you hated it, maybe you didn’t see it, but oh boy was it good. I love anything that takes something currently popular and flips it on its head. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies doesn’t have a hint of humor in it, but that makes it so much funnier. It’s the perfect crossover of British drama and science fiction adventure. I especially liked the risks this movie took to create its own world, where zombies were like severe plague victims who could still talk and manipulate you. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies took a lot of risks, and for what it was it stands as a fun zombie movie.

[Photo Credit: Jay Maidment]

  1. Dead Rising (excerpt by Johnna-Mari Terrell)

In late 2006, Capcom ventured into the world of zombies with the first installment of the Dead Rising franchise.  The game follows photojournalist Frank West as he battles his way through a mall to save civilians, solve a mystery, and get back out with the story of a lifetime.  The mysterious origin of the mall zombies and concerning presence of Special Forces who seem less interested in zombie extermination than eradication of witnesses lends itself to a tense, creepy gaming atmosphere in an otherwise goofy setting.  The player can raid shops for items and outfits for Frank ranging from professional suits to children’s clothes and goblin masks.  The root of the zombie outbreak is original, a smart take on a classic tale that leaves the player excited for the next installment.  Zombie video games often feel like a dime a dozen, but Dead Rising is an early example of how rewarding they can be when done right!

8. Santa Clarita Diet

Last, but certainly not least, Santa Clarita Diet. Netflix took a leap of faith with this quirky California zombie show. Who better to portray realtor turned cannibal than well known vegetarian, Drew Barrymore? Her acting as Sheila makes this show hysterical. If you had lukewarm feelings towards her previous work, like me, Santa Clarita Diet will set you right.  Timothy Olyphant is excellent as her husband, Joel, who killed me with his honest yet anxious reaction to this new version of his wife. Together they’re an unstoppable comedic team. This Netflix original gets credit for the most unique, and funniest zombie transition I’ve ever seen. It also has a nice cliffhanger at the end of its first season, in which I was left saying, “What? That’s it?” I cannot wait to see the antics Sheila and Joel get up to next season. If you haven’t binged this show yet, get on it!

[Photo credit: Netflix]

Thanks for reading my list, I hope I’ve intrigued at least some interest in what seems the sea of zombie content. Let me know if you would add anything to the list, or take something off of my list! Explain yourselves!

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