Are we really saying ZILF now? I keep hearing it, but it sounds a little crude. Whether you call them Living Dead, Walkers, Infected, or just plain old Zombies, Rule 34 still applies. Hey, I ain’t judgin’. If you don’t think your friend-with benefits needs to be alive, that’s none of my business. As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s time to look at all your favorite um…ZILFs.
1. R: Warm Bodies. Warm Bodies works as a romance movie far more than it does as a zombie movie. Still, it’s not without its charm. Nicholas Hoult is surprisingly adorable as a dead guy with a crush that becomes even more intense after eating the brains of his love interest’s love interest. Convoluted? Perhaps, but some would say Warm Bodies does for zombies what True Blood did for Maenads.
2. Trash: Return of the Living Dead. Linnea Quigley has been a beloved scream queen for as long as most of the people reading this have been alive. Trash tosses clothes and modesty to the wind in her iconic scene in Return of the Living Dead. Fans all agreed that Trash was way hot and always ready for the giggity. ** spoiler alert ** Poor Trash is set upon by a bunch of old zombie men before turning into a ghoulish half-naked hottie. Ms. Quigley is still hot as ever and is occasionally spotted around the convention circuit.
3. Bub: Day of the Dead. A zombie who knows how to use a phone? That puts him ahead of a lot of boys out there. Bub is a nice guy who dresses neatly and aims to please. Tell him everything you like and don’t like; Bub is highly trainable and serious about improving himself. Bub longs to work handy household tools like mops, dishwashers, or handguns. Bub is okay with the ol’ ball and chain—or let me go, and he’ll follow you anywhere.
4. Kat: Zombie Strippers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess that a chick like Jenna Jameson is gonna make for a good-looking zombie. Zombie Strippers is unique in the genre as it’s the only zombie flick I know of that’s based on theatre of the absurd—an experimental live theatre genre from the 60’s. You’d think it would take real chops to bring this sociopolitical feeding frenzy to life. And you’d be wrong. Still, undead Jenna Jameson became an instant and lasting fan favorite.
5. Johnny: Night of the Living Dead. Johnny was kind of a jerk when he was alive. He’s mean to his sister, eats all the candy, and skips out on church. As a zombie though, Johnny is finally willing to give her sister the quality time she deserves. Russ Streiner’s Johnny was snide, dashing, and handsome. The driving gloves? The sneer? Maybe it’s that classic line, They’re coming to get you, Barbra. Or maybe it’s that when Bill Hinzman’s iconic first zombie shambles toward his sister, Johnny does not hesitate to (try to) kick its ass. It’s a safe bet that a good brother is also a good boyfriend, just not for the same girl.
6. Julie: Return of the Living Dead 3. Let’s be honest, Return of the Living Dead 3 would not have worked with an ugly Julie. The whole plot hinged on everyone caring a whole lot about what happened to her—so she had to be smokin’ hot. Living Julie was a cute and spunky girlfriend. Undead Julie was loud, had great fashion sense, and knew just when to rage against the machine. Mindy Clark as Julie walked a fine line between the sexy and the grotesque. Fans still thank her for it.
7. Andy: Dawn of the Dead remake. The Andy Tapes is easily the best special feature on any zombie DVD ever. By the time we hear his voice in the movie ** spoiler alert ** poor Andy is doomed. Shame that, because Andy was handsome and funny in life, and bloody awesome in undeath. In The Andy Tapes, we watch him slowly go mad (while still playing some pretty good chess) with hunger, and want nothing more than to invite Andy over for a home cooked meal. Fish, maybe.
8. She: Dellamorte Dellamore. Whether she’s living, dead, undead, or someone else entirely, She has it all. Well, She doesn’t have a name, or a husband, and She’s not particularly good at expressing herself. Maybe that’s why She never notices that Rupert Everett is the unluckiest man in all of Italy. She is a beautiful woman who is down for crazy cemetery sex. She’s remarkably cool about being murdered multiple times, and She continues to show up where you least expect her. She’s not for everyone, but She’ll make the right man very happy.
9. Merle Dixon: The Walking Dead. Sure, Merle might be the most racist and least sexy of the Dixon brothers—but as southern zombies go, he ain’t so bad. Let’s look on the bright side. Merle has saved the lives of some people we enjoy (and Andrea too), and he double crossed the evil Governor. On the other hand, Merle made Daryl cry.
10. Tammy: Fido. Fido is one of the more original concept zombie movies in recent years. It’s not surprising that such a unique films would actually have a measured opinion on necrophilia. Wait, is it still necrophilia if they’re Undead? Mr. Theopolis didn’t think so, and maybe you shouldn’t either. Sonja Bennett is delightful as the cute little zombie girl that—well, I don’t want to spoil it. Tammy is still the most popular zombie pin-up girl, and with good reason.
11. Ed: Shaun of the Dead. Aside from the obvious advantages of dating a pot dealer, Zombie Ed probably has the most in common with a typical living boyfriend. He plays videogames pretty much constantly, hates to argue, and never remembers your birthday. That aside there are some good reasons to make the romance with undead Ed. You’ll always know where he is, you’ll never catch him texting another girl, and orangutan impressions are hilarious.
12. 406: Zombieland. Lovely neighbor in 406 is the sort of zombie you can only have early on in a film—the kind of person that serves as a setup for the particulars of the milieu. Poor Columbus thinks he’s hit the apocalypse jackpot when the attractive 406 comes calling in the form of a damsel in distress. Before anyone can come up with a set of applicable rules, undead 406 is totally trying to eat the kid who made Facebook. Yikes! Thank goodness for heavy porcelain, else we’d have been doomed to a world where I wasn’t constantly reminded of my family’s political leanings.
13. Machete: Land of the Dead. If there’s a way to make Tom Savini unsexy, this’ll be the first I’ve heard of it. Maybe that’s because he’s a goddamn genius. Maybe it’s because he’s the 2nd most influential man in all of zombie culture. Maybe it’s all that leather, or the way he has cameos in approximately ¼ of all zombie movies. The undeniable truth is that when the Machete zombie showed up on screen, during Land of the Dead mad cheering erupted. Years later, fans still scream for Savini.
Whether your heart’s desire is living, dead, or undead, Valentine’s Day is not to be avoided. If you’re like me, your best bet is a romantic night at home with some takeout food and Netflix streaming of your favorite undead sweetheart. Or skip it altogether and celebrate February 15th instead. You can call it half-priced candy day. Did I forget your favorite ZILF? Tell me all about it in the comments. It’s the only way I’ll learn.