The almost-impossible to find Shanks stars the world's most famous mime, Marcel Marceau, playing a childlike puppeteer who's good pals with a mad scientist. Our puppeteer hero becomes a zombie master after his family and friends die and he reanimates them. He has a 13-year-old girlfriend, too, because apparently in the '70s, pedophilia was no big deal. The whole thing is presented with a decidedly whimsical tone, right up to the point that a biker gang randomly appears to rape and murder the hero's lolita girlfriend, then are murdered in turn by his zombies. As a bonus, for absolutely no extra charge, you get a scene where someone is pecked to death by a zombie chicken! Also, it was nominated for an Oscar -- for the score, which is actually pretty mediocre. The weirdest part of all is somehow Tim Burton hasn't snapped up the rights to a remake.
9) Attack Girls Swim Team Vs. the Undead
The name is unwieldy, the premise is ludicrous and the results are utterly fucked up. The plot of Girls Swim Team is skimpy, almost incidental really, but it concerns an orphan who runs away from her kidnapper, who's keeping her as a sex slave while training her to be an assassin. Her kidnapper is a mad scientist in a bizarre orange suit who plays a mind-controlling flute and turns her schoolmates into zombies to catch her. There's lots of gore, lots of nudity, a lesbian schoolgirl subplot, a teacher who becomes a homicidal zombie juggler, another who goes nuts with scissors and a chainsaw (while simultaneously murdering the English language). It's stupid, sleazy and absurd, and those are its good points.
8) Otto, or Up with Dead People
Otto mixes a liberal dose of gory grindhouse elements into a really weird art film about a gay zombie who may or may not actually be a member of the living dead. It's slow, full of subtext and kind of pretentious, but also funny from time to time and totally insane throughout. Some of that is due to the arty elements -- like the odd film within a film -- but more of it is from the gay porn. Yeah, there are a couple of explicit, but not really hardcore, gay sex scenes (think Skinemax, only gayer), including a brilliant and revolting wound-fucking scene. There's nothing quite like Otto, and most people would argue that's for the best.
In Stacy, there's a mysterious plague that turns teen girls into zombies, called Stacys. Then their families or boyfriends have to kill them, or call a special squad of zombie killers (called the Romero Repeat Kill Corps) out to do the job for them. The soon-to-be-undead teen girls giggle and sparkle incessantly, there's a mad scientist who spends a lot of time experimenting on the teen-girl zombies and there's lots and lots of cheap, shitty gore and rubber body parts. Still not wacky enough? How about the television commercials that advertise the "Blues Campbell" brand chainsaw for dismembering the zombies? In case you hadn't guessed, this movie is Japanese. You're shocked, right?
6) Dead Heat
Even if it weren't the only buddy-cop action-comedy zombie movie in existence, Dead Heat might have earned a spot on this list. It stars Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo at basically the height of both their careers (and yes, it is entirely possible the downfall of said careers began here) in a goofy tale of a crime spree committed by zombies. In the course of investigating, Williams's character (named "Roger Mortis") is killed and reanimated, giving him just a short time to solve the crime before he dies again, this time for real. In the film's best/most fucked up scene, an entire butcher's shop worth of meat is reanimated. You ever try to fight zombie bacon? It isn't pretty.
5) Cemetery Man
Here we have another of the rare insane yet genuinely good zombie movies. It's about a gravedigger, Francesco Dellamorte, working in a graveyard where the dead are prone to coming back as zombies. He and his weird childlike servant Gnaghi stay busy putting them down for good, or trying to. There's a weird love story between Dellamorte and a gorgeous, mysterious woman he meets in the cemetery, who keeps dying and returning. This love story leads to plenty of nudity, because it's an Italian zombie movie, so of course it does. Some of the highlights include a zombie on a motorcycle, a love affair between a severed head and Gnaghi, several nuns getting shot in the head, and a whole busload of dead Boy Scouts. That's just a sampling of its many splendors.
4) The Necro Files
This is another nearly impossible to find film, but if you can track it down it will help destroy whatever faith in humanity you may have had left. It's the story of a serial murderer/rapist who's killed by police, only to be brought back by Satanists as a zombie serial murderer/rapist. By way of thanks, the zombie kills his benefactors. The two that escape summon a demon -- a white, flying demon-baby, no less -- to get rid of the zombie. Lots of people get murdered, raped and eaten by the zombie, who has a giant zombie wang. A murderous druggie cop, a baby in a paper grocery bag and a Satanist in a Smashing Pumpkins T-shirt are just a few of this film's charms. The cherry on top is the tender moment between a blow-up doll and the zombie that is interrupted when the demon baby pops the doll.
3) Nightmare City
This is, bar none, the dumbest movie ever to feature smart zombies. These zombies shoot guns, fly planes, cut telephone cables and stab the living shit out of anyone and everyone they come across in their insatiable lust for blood. They also all look like regular people with some black, tarry shit smeared haphazardly on their faces. But when they overrun a television station in the midst of taping an aerobics show, or a hospital operating room mid-surgery, or crack open an elevator to get to the delicious people inside, it is a beautiful thing. Well, it's more of a crazy, nonsensical thing, but it's awesome all the same. Also, watch for the "twist" ending that is easily the stupidest thing ever committed to film.
2) Wild Zero
The bad news is Wild Zero is barely more than long, jokey music video. The good news is it's super strange and fairly entertaining. It's about the Japanese band Guitar Wolf and one of their super-fans, who goes by the name of Ace. A meteor brings the dead back to life as flesh-hungry zombies, the band is chased by a sketchy club manager, there's a hottie arms dealer and a transvestite who wins the heart of Ace. It's a little heavy on the rock-and-roll fantasy posturing and self-conscious wackiness, kind of like the old Beatles movies. On the plus side, it does sing the praises of gender noncomformity in love and rock, so it's got that going for it at least.
1) Burial Grounds: Nights of Terror
Burial Ground takes a bare-bones plot -- three couples and one creepy-ass "kid" visit the estate of an old guy who happens to have accidentally released a shitload of zombies -- and uses it as an excuse for senseless gore, gratuitous nudity and total insanity. This movie dispenses with any semblance of sense right away, by casting a 26-year-old dwarf in a bad hairpiece as a 13-year-old boy, and it never looks back. For example, take the scene where a couple is fleeing the zombies and the woman steps into a bear trap that just happens to be lying on the path. Why? Because bears roam the Italian countryside, apparently? No, because why the fuck not, obviously. One kill features a maid getting stuck to the wall by a spike thrown by a zombie before being decapitated by a second zombie. It also features the creepiest zombie incest/murder scene you're ever likely to see. At least, you'll pray you never see a creepier one, anyway...