Movies to Watch After Zombieland Double Tap

There are more zombie movies than there were zombies in the original Night of the Living Dead.

Is that true? Feels like it. It’s a genre so over-saturated that its longevity resembles its slobbering, brain-hungry baddies. There’s a palpable relentlessness to it, as though the genre itself pushes back whenever anyone announces its demise.

Then there’s Zombieland, the 2009 film that decided to have fun both with the natural superiority of human beings over former human beings and our half-century-old familiarity with how it all works. It’s essentially an American version of Shaun of the Dead where, instead of heading for the pub, loners team up for a road trip, worship an unkillable junk food snack, and end up in an amusement park. There’s just so, so, so much America in this thing.

Including America’s mascot: Bill Murray.

Ten years later, we have a sequel. Finally. With every instance where a film follows a decade after, the question is whether it will have its own spark and freshness or if the same formula can still feel exciting. Unfortunately, Zombieland: Double Tap is up against a steeper curve because it comes after a massive wave of zombie movies that it helped cause. Fortunately, everyone involved is really good at making funny films with exceptional kills of the week.

Get ready for some cardio with these six movies you should double-feature with Zombieland: Double Tap.

Dawn of the Dead (1985)

Less than a month after zombies started emerging from the grave to eat people, American society has already essentially collapsed. Four people escape the city in a helicopter and take refuge in a shopping mall that they seal as best they can with trucks and a blocked stairwell.

Ten years after the original (hey, look at that!), George Romero returned with the living dead to craft the second best film of the franchise. Obviously, Zombieland owes a lot to the entire series, but it’s especially rooted in echoing the small group of people attempting to survive in a nightmare celebration of American commercialism. Rooted deeply in every fictional fantasy of finding yourself alone at the end of the world, several moments from the original Zombieland are straight homages to the shopping mall crew’s delightful hedonism once they make the building safe*.

Both movies have different styles of humor. Yet they both ask how fun it might be if everyone disappeared.

*It is not that safe.

Little Monsters (2019)

As proof that Double Tap has to deal with a decade of innovation in the genre, 2019 already has Lupita Nyong’o leading a group of school children through a zombie attack while singing “If You’re Happy And You Know It.”

And she has a ukulele.

Little Monsters (sorry, Fred Savage fans) is already on Hulu.

The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)

It’s a zombie movie hidden inside an evil robot movie hidden inside an alien invasion film. It’s a Zombotducken.

Getting back to the classics, The Earth Dies Screaming is pure genre. Directed by Hammer’s Terence Fisher, it’s deeper than the dated effects and whopper of a title suggest. That’s mostly due to the stark portrayal of the emptiness of a dying world.

Night of the Creeps (1986)

The good news is that Fred Dekker’s cult classic mashes together tons of genres. There are the zombies, of course, created by alien slugs that incubate in your body. There are also notes of teen sex comedies, slasher films, and sci-fi schlock, all done with clear love for all of it.

It takes itself as seriously as it should. Meaning that almost all the characters are named after famous horror directors and Tom Atkins majestically chomps scenery as a grizzled detective.

Warm Bodies (2013)

Already a matched pair with Zombieland in terms of blithe comedy and subversion of the tropes we’ve come to love and loathe, this undead romantic comedy gave us the perspective of a zombie (Nicholas Hoult) in an existential crisis who feels his heart waking up when he sees a young woman (Teresa Palmer) shooting bullets into his friends.

It’s sweet. And weird. And underrated. It also wouldn’t have been nearly as good without Hoult’s unmatched performance as a walking corpse trying not to be creepy.

Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Like Night of the CreepsReturn of the Living Dead came long enough after Night of the Living Dead that filmmakers were already beginning to emerge from copying into innovating. It’s also the most fun you can have with a zombie movie, and some of it makes sense.

If Zombieland was as punk rock as you can get with zombies while staying safely mainstream, Return of the Living Dead is punk without the safety rails. It’s only a few feet away from parody, which gives it an incredible freedom to mock everything while still being its own thing.

The Mix

Let’s be honest. It’s zombies. You already have your list of movies you want to check out or revisit.

But I think the movies on this list, out of a sea of thousands, capture some of the different elements of Zombieland: Double Tap, including the energy, the comedy of relaxed people in a catastrophic situation, and a kernel of human truth underneath all the Twinkie filling. They also frame Zombieland‘s place in our long-running obsession with once-living meat coming to kill us.

When it came out, a lot of critics said we were in the middle of a resurgence. A new love affair with zombies. But the secret is that we’ve never fallen out of love with them. Every decade since Romero, our appetite has only grown.

What are you watching with Zombieland: Double Tap?

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