Glenn McQuaid’s I Sell the Dead, which opens in limited-release tomorrow, is scary fun. And not just because of Ron Perlman’s terrible Irish brogue, or the old school special effects that favor caked-on gory make-up to clinical CGI. No, I Sell the Dead is great entertainment because McQuaid understands this about zombies: The living dead are hilarious. Their gimpy walks, their twisted smiles, their taste for the flesh; it’s all kind of ridiculous, and always has been.
He’s not the first to figure this out, but his homage to Hammer horror, Charles Dickens, and Monty Python is a great summer distraction. The Charles Burns-inspired comic book panel interludes add to the film’s campy aesthetic as does Dominic Monaghan’s performance, who try as he may, will always be Merry to us. In the spirit of the inevitable zombie apocalypse we are all preparing for, here are five more must-see walking dead pics that find glee amid rotting flesh. Feel free to add your own undead faves.
Return of the Living Dead – The most punk-rock of the zombie genre, this hair-gelled and mohawked ride is just as much an 80s time-capsule as a treasure trove of one-liners. The soundtrack, including T.S.O.L, The Damned, and The Cramps, really adds to the party.
Army of Darkness – Of all the Evil Dead series, this is the one where Raimi and Campbell went whole hog with the absurdist humor that lurked beneath the two previous efforts. While we love them all, Bruce’s drawl of, “Name’s Ash, house-wares,” is still the greatest line in undead cinema history. “Groovy” indeed.
Shaun of the Dead – Think of the British Office‘s brand of everyman humor with hordes of the undead, and you’ve got an absurdist zombie pic that has just as many pop-cultural references as it does flesh devouring maniacs. Good stuff.
Cemetery Man – A little more arty and cerebral than some of the other undead pics on the list, but pretty boy Rupert Everett as the introverted caretaker of a cemetery where the dead just won’t stay buried is enough of a head-scratcher that it sticks with you, whereas most zombie rides live in the moment.
Plague of the Zombies – Since I Sell the Dead lovingly evokes Hammer Films, no list would be complete without a tip of the hat to the mothership. Plague is a film that not only inspired countless additions to the zombie catalog, but its deft handling of political and cultural issues were an obvious influence to the zombie zeitgeist leader, George Romero.