Ah, the zombie. Poor, pitiful, flesh-rotting, animated corpse searching for one thing and one thing only: food (preferably of the screaming human kind). Like many horror sub-genres, there’s always been the temptation to combine these marauding munch-aholics with other genres, or take them places you might not expect them to be a part of, like the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016). Zombie Strippers! (2008) is another example, or you could have Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies (2014 – actually, maybe not). But while Zombie Fight Club (2014) or Zombie Hamlet (2012) might sound fun in terms of their crossover appeal, the fact remains that there are plenty of movies that could be reworked to include zombies, and still retain the values that made them the great movies we all know and love. Here then are ten examples of movies that might have benefitted from a more undead approach.
Arsenic and Old Zombies (1944)
Frantic comedy starring Cary Grant as a nephew to two spinster aunts who have been mercy killing their lodgers and burying them in the basement. As he tries to work out what to do about it, and keep it all a secret from his girlfriend, things are made even more complicated when the murdered lodgers rise from the dead and try to take their revenge.
A Zombie in Winter (1968)
King Henry II of England has a dilemma: having been bitten by a zombie he needs to ensure his successor is a) worthy of the crown, and b) not eaten by Henry before it can be arranged. With time running out, Henry must negotiate the treacherous waters of palace intrigue, and avoid questions about the mounting number of servants in his household who are being found partially devoured.
The Dirty Dozen Zombies (1967)
Desperate times call for desperate measures and with the outcome of World War II finely balanced on a knife edge, it’s up to tough Army major Lee Marvin to recruit a suicide squad for a dangerous mission. Going behind enemy lines to steal vital plans, Marvin’s pick of dead soldiers brought back to life with the promise of full restoration, get the job done with a minimum loss of limbs and a maximum amount of gnawing.
Mr. Zombie Goes to Washington (1939)
It’s politics gone mad as a newly appointed senator (James Stewart) bucks the system and endemic corruption when a bill that fosters land graft is bulldozed through the Senate, and the planned development disturbs a cemetery full of zombies. Using a long-unused statute to protect their rights to eternal peace, the senator takes to the floor of the Senate to overturn the decision and expose the corrupt officials behind the bill.
Father of the Zombie (1950)
Spencer Tracy is the unlucky father whose daughter’s impending wedding is thrown into doubt when she comes home with a strange bite on her arm and begins to show signs of cannibalism. Even when she attacks and takes a chunk out of the groom’s mother, Tracy manages to keep the wedding on track (and his daughter from eating the guests).
Snow White and the Seven Zombies (1937)
Early Walt Disney classic sees Snow White fleeing the dastardly intentions of the Queen and finding sanctuary in the forest with seven zombies. When she eats a poisoned apple and falls into a deep sleep they struggle to stop themselves from gorging themselves on her, but find it helps to frequently sing “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off for lunch we go”.
A Connecticut Zombie in King Arthur’s Court (1949)
Danny Kaye is the unfortunate zombie cast back in time to Arthurian England and pressed into helping Arthur defeat Merlin’s plan to take over the kingdom, while trying to hide his condition and the hunger that comes over him at jousting tournaments when he sees the knights who are, to him, food in a can.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Zombie? (1966)
Pain and humiliation are the order of the day as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton play a married zombie couple who’ve lost sight of how much they used to chase down and devour young couples who remind them of their pre-zombie existence. Filled with angst and an existential dread of remaining undead forever, Taylor and Burton are terrific as the couple who’d rather flay each other than their unsuspecting dinner guests.
Zombie on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
It’s high drama in the Deep South as long-held family secrets are brought out into the open, including the love that dare not speak its name: that of a human for a zombie. Paul Newman is excellent as the confused human whose willingness to be a buffet for his “close” zombie friend puts his marriage at risk, his inheritance, and in a scene heavily censored at the time, his chances of having a child.
The Fabulous Zombie Boys (1989)
Two brothers, professional musicians, play small clubs and make enough to get by, but when they take on a singer (Michelle Pfeiffer) and both are subsequently bitten in a zombie attack, their attraction for her leads to jealousy, wounded pride, bitterness, and no small amount of mutual munching. Notable for the scene where Pfeiffer is forced to slide around the top of a piano to avoid the brothers’ attempts to turn her into a mid-show snack.