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Osombie and the world of zombie comedies

The weird world of the walking dead has proved to be a thoroughly international preoccupation. Here are some of the world's greatest zom-coms.

Lasse Valdal in Dead Snow.
Lasse Valdal in Dead Snow.

In a year that will bring us the lunar Nazis of Iron Sky and the presidential bloodbath Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, it comes as little surprise that Osama bin Laden is set to rise from the grave in the horror-comedy Osombie. The trailer, which pits Nato forces against the undead Al Qaeda leader and his flesh-eating horde, became an instant hit when it debuted online last month.

Osombie's executive producer, Kynan Griffin, said the script for the gory tale was written before Bin Laden was killed last May, but once that happened, he told ABC News the opportunity was simply "too good to pass up".

But the zombie plague also seems to have infected Bollywood. A pair of zom-coms, tentatively titled Go Goa Gone and Rock the Shaadi, are expected to claw their way into Indian cinemas later this year. Little is known about either movie, but whichever arrives soonest is set to become Hindi film's first foray into the bizarre subgenre.

Although some zombie fiction is acknowledged for its satirical clout - the undead doubling for humanity's perceived herd mentality or its unquenchable thirst for consumption - filmmakers have also found plenty of opportunities for slapstick and over-the-top gore in the shambling, tattered ghouls. The weird world of the walking dead has also proved to be a thoroughly international preoccupation - these are some of the world's greatest zom-coms.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
• Tagline: A romantic comedy. With zombies.

One of the films responsible for spearheading the resurgent zombie craze of recent years, the UK's Shaun of the Dead is the undisputed king of the zom-com - but not for the reasons one might expect. Sure, the story of an underachieving video-game addict forced to save the day amid an outbreak of the undead is funny enough, but the film really succeeds because the writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright infused it with some of the gloom and moral complexity of deadly serious genre classics such as Night of the Living Dead. The film also saw the cricket bat receive its long-overdue recognition as the world's finest zombie-battering device.

Tokyo Zombie (2005)
• Tagline: Two men face a major crisis of mankind!

Japan's entry into the zom-com canon is perhaps the barmiest of all. Tokyo Zombie sees a pair of wrestling-obsessed factory workers forced to go on the run in a Scooby-Doo-style van after accidentally killing their boss with a fire extinguisher. Meanwhile, a toxic mountain of rubbish, dubbed "Black Fuji", has begun turning the city's residents into a flesh-munching horde. Before long, the hapless duo find themselves on separate sides of the living/dead divide - surely no friendship could survive such a thing? Tokyo Zombie professes to be a commentary on modern Japanese society, but you'd be forgiven for thinking it's simply a charmingly bonkers adventure.

Black Sheep (2006)
• Tagline: Get ready for the Violence of the Lambs!

The world's first zombie-livestock movie and almost certainly the last, New Zealand's Black Sheep is so baaaa-ad it's good. The cautionary tale sees a harmless flock transformed into a pack of carnivorous killers after a scientific experiment goes horribly wrong. Although unashamedly silly, the film actually works as an effective horror because of the impressive animatronics used to create the deadly sheep. The Kiwi outfit Weta Workshop was responsible for the technical feat. Although best known as the team behind many of the effects in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, Weta cut its teeth on the director's early output, including the classic New Zealand zom-com Braindead.

Fido (2006)
• Tagline: Good dead are hard to find.

Set in an alternative 1950s suburban US, where every family keeps a zombie as an indentured servant, Fido is as subversive as the zom-com genre allows. Starring the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, things begin to go awry when the titular undead helper eats a next-door neighbour, causing a small zombiism outbreak. Centring on the surprisingly heartwarming relationship between Fido and young family-member Timmy, the film attempts to shine a light (not always successfully) on the uncomfortable truths of 20th-century living. It also asks the ever-pertinent question: can zombies know what it is to love?

Dead Snow (2009)
• Tagline: Ein! Zwei! Die!

The real-life Nazi occupation of Norway has never left the Scandinavian country's national psyche, so what better subject for a home-grown horror than an attack by a battalion of unthawed Nazi zombies? The story sees a group of thrill-seeking 20-somethings spending a weekend away from the city in a remote mountain cabin. After their members begin to disappear, those remaining are shocked to discover that gruesome goose-stepping ghouls are responsible. As well as plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments, the film boasts the kind of head-spinning kinetic action and physical comedy that the much-loved Evil Dead series combined so brilliantly.

artslife@thenational.ae

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