A few decades ago George A Romero made an indie horror film on a shoestring budget and changed horror movies forever. If you look at indie horror movies no, you’re going to see quite a few zombie and post-apocalyptic movies among them.
There are plenty of reasons why the post-apocalypse is appealing to film makers without much in the way of cash. Your cast doesn’t have to be that large, on account of most of the people on the planet being dead. Sets aren’t much of a problem either - any construction site, quarry, disused warehouse or high street early enough on a Sunday morning can be made to look like the aftermath of civilisation without a lot of effort. Likewise, when it comes to special effects, you can get your zombie horde with just an economy tub of fake blood.
We’ve looked at horror shorts before, such as Contact, Zombies and Cigarettes and that Lynx advert, and sooner or later we’re going to be taking a look at my acting debut in Alexander Gordon Smith’s zombie short, Sola Gratia.
But here’s a grab bag of some other post-apocalyptic shorts, all on youtube, and all under 15 minutes in length. With careful application of headphones you should be able to watch these from your desk at work, and still have time to go buy and sandwich and use the loo before your lunch break is over.
Romero Zombie Movies
One of the things I secretly love about zombie movies, particularly ones that follow the Romero rules, is the idea that all these stories could be happening at pretty much the same time. There’s strong, geeky appeal in the idea that a bunch of stories take place in the same universe, whether it’s the Star Wars expanded universe, Star Trek, Stephen King’s version of Maine or the theory that pretty much all of TV is a dream in a snow globe being stared at by the autistic kid in St. Elsewhere. So yes, while Night of the Living Dead takes place in the 60s, Dawn of the Dead is overwhelmingly 70s and Shaun of the Dead has people running around with mobile phones, I still like the idea that while Shaun and his buddies are holed up in The Winchester Barbra, Ben and co are trying to fortify their isolated farmhouse.
Zombie shorts are great for this, as they tell smaller, isolated stories about the apocalypse, usually shortly before their characters all die horribly.
I Am Lonely
This short, whose title is probably an homage to I Am Legend, is a great example of how a zero budget production can make use of the zombie apocalypse. The majority of the film takes place with one guy sitting on a sofa, talking to his dead flatmate. It’s a small, sitcommy piece, which is appropriate, since sitcoms and zombie movies are both built around the set up of a bunch of people thrown together, who hate each other.
I Love Sarah Jane
Not a Doctor Who spin-off. This film only features the one zombie, chained up in a back garden. Mainly it’s a story about a kid’s first crush, but it also returns to the recurrent zombie theme that when you have a bunch of people you can horribly, violently murder without legal or moral consequences, it doesn’t bring about the best in us.
Videogame Fan Films
Videogames loves themselves some apocalypse, as we’ve covered before and no doubt will again. The stories in these games are usually told through graffiti, carefully arranged tableaus that players run screaming past or try to shoot, and diaries that have been written and then inexplicably spread over hundreds of square miles. This leaves quite a few gaps for budding film makers to fill in, and rich background histories for them to exploit, and the weird thing is that these films often have great production values, despite the fact that the film makers can’t make any money off their creations without getting themselves sued.
Beyond Black Mesa
When you’re playing the Half Life games you can’t help but feel that there’s a huge back story that’s been written down somewhere, but which no-one has actually got around to telling you. This short continues in that tradition, without much dialogue aside from the voice-over, given by a character from the original Half-Life’s first add-on pack, Opposing Force (Kids- add-on packs are what we used to call DLC). What the short lacks in detailed plot and character, it makes up for with some truly kick-ass fight sequences and amazing special effects. It’s also a good demonstration of how the crowbar is the most badass weapon across the entire Half-Life franchise.
Fallout: Nuka Break
Okay, there aren’t really any zombies here, only ghouls that, while dead and gorified, are also sentient and non-brain-eating. Instead, it’s the story of post-apocalyptic wasteland survivors bickering, shooting people and hunting for soft drinks. They’ve got Fallout’s dark sense of humour down nicely, and have actually gone on to build a whole web series around their characters. It’s worth watching the lot (although this may take several lunch breaks), particularly if you want a Firefly-esque mix of banter, shady dealings and gunfights.
And One Film That Doesn’t Actually Have Any Zombies In It At All
Okay, this film doesn’t have anything even a bit like zombies in, but as its one of the bleakest apocalypse stories I’ve seen so I want to include it anyway:
Seriously, this film makes The Road look like a heart warming tale of optimism and fluffy bunnies. Not content with mere zombies or nuclear fallout, this film is set in a world where the very air has become toxic. Featuring zero dialogue, it’s short, brutal, and adequately shows what complete shits we can be when our own survival is at stake.
Now I'm not normally one to demand people fill in the comments on here- But if you know of any good post-apocalyptic shorts I've missed, please do let me know below.