‘R’ of ‘Warm Bodies’ isn’t the first zombie romantic lead

Feb. 01, 2013 | 12:36 p.m.

Teresa Palmer and John Malkovich star in "Warm Bodies." (Jonathan Wenk / Summit Entertainment)

Nicholas Hoult, left, Rob Corddry and Teresa Palmer in "Warm Bodies," which led the weekend box office. (Jonathan Wenk / Summit Entertainment)

Can a zombie be a convincing romantic lead? The filmmakers behind “Warm Bodies” are banking on it. The film, opening in theaters today, tells the unlikely tale of a brain-eating zombie named “R,” who falls in love with a real, live girl.

Vampires, with their pale good looks, are inherently sexy, and werewolves have a certain animal magnetism. But there wouldn’t seem to be much to love about a brain-dead, decaying corpse that snacks on human flesh. Still, it turns out there is a cinematic precedent for zombie films with a romantic twist.

“It has happened before, but it is almost always in comedies,” said Kyle Bishop, a professor at Southern Utah University and  author of  “American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture.”

Top 10 zombie movies at the box office

“It only works as a comedy,” Bishop said in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, “because then you are making fun of the idea of zombies, and you can make it a Romeo and Juliet type thing.”

It would seem this comic zombie movie has a decent shot of box-office success. There have been positive reviews. Los Angeles Times film critic Betsy Sharkey said writer-director Jonathan Levine “certainly has a good grip on what to do with those cold souls in “Warm Bodies,” a surprisingly sentimental mash-up starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer and John Malkovich.” And IMDB’s Keith Simanton predicted a box-office win this weekend to the tune of $17.4 million.

Stay tuned to Hero Complex to find out how the zom-rom-com does.

Here are four zombie films with romantic story lines.  If we missed any of your favorites, let us know in the comments.

1. “Return of the Living Dead III” (1993): After a fight with his father, Curt and his girlfriend Julie get in a motorcycle accident that kills Julie. Luckily, Curt’s dad works with a team of scientists who are working on bringing the dead back to life.

2. “My Boyfriend’s Back” (1993): Classic zom-rom-com. Johnny loves Missy. Missy doesn’t care. Johnny dies, but comes back to life. Unfortunately, his body is decaying now.

3. “Zombie Honeymoon” (2004): A more serious take on the zombie romance. This film explores what happens when one half of a madly in love couple slowly falls into a zombie existence.

4. “Shaun of the Dead” (2004): Even a case of a zombie-itis is not enough to break up the best of friends. The British comedy may not be a zombie romance, but Bishop describes it as a zombie bromance. Close enough!

–Deborah Netburn

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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Comments


One Response to ‘R’ of ‘Warm Bodies’ isn’t the first zombie romantic lead

  1. deco2gogo says:

    I enjoyed reading this article, especially since I've been searching for other movies that fit into the narrow but steadily growing genre of romantic comedy zombie films. After I read the description for this list, I immediately had to compare your favorite "Zom-Rom-Com" movies with mine. Since they didn't make the list, I thought I'd recommend these two films as a post-script:
    "The Signal" (2008) has the best of all 3 worlds – love, laughs and plenty of gore. But more importantly, its gripping yet poignant storyline keeps us rooting for the cheating wife and her devoted lover to make it out in one piece, together.
    "The Revenant" (2009) is a dark comedy, emphasis on dark, yet funny and bizarre enough to keep it from going over the edge into twisted horror. Since you included the "Zom-Bromance" movie "Shaun of the Dead" in your list, I thought I'd offer this as another good example of male bonding in a zombie flick. "The Revenant" does have a female love interest, but the male buddies' relationship is more relevant to the story.
    I think we can look forward to seeing more genre-bending movies like these, since they solve the ever-present problem of the date-night movie decision. The "Zom-Rom-Com" has enough action, horror, comedy, romance and of course zombies for anyone. Just don't tell Hollywood.

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