5 Movies Like Zombie Fight Club (2014)

Staff & contributors

In Motherwell, you either “get locked up or knocked up,” or so says Gemma, a teenager on the cusp of adulthood growing up in an old Scottish steel town. Gemma runs among a tight-knit group of friends, at the center of which is ordinary mischief, routine, and roughhousing. And beneath that lies a certain kind of everyday violence. 

As Gemma enters young motherhood, she reckons with how to reconcile her own aggressions with the protective tenderness she feels toward her newborn. Beautifully and thoughtfully directed by Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin, Scheme Birds never feels invasive. Rather, their documentary lets Gemma speak for herself—and in doing so, illuminates not just her life, but the complicated lives that intersect hers, too. 

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Ellen Fiske, Ellinor Hallin

Rating: Not Rated

Just like with his mentor and contemporary, Fred Rogers, there are no dark secrets to Ernest Coombs' earnest belief in giving children the space to be gentle and creative. Even with relatively little "drama" throughout the life of the man called Mr. Dressup, it's still profoundly moving to see him put in the work to make the world a kinder place. Director Robert McCallum keeps this documentary exactly as straightforward as it needs to be, moving through Coombs's life with total reverence but plenty of modesty—making sure not to inflate the idea of Mr. Dressup into something Coombs himself would have disagreed with.

In its act of honoring this person with an everyman personality and a trunk full of quaint costumes, the film also serves as a tribute to low budget educational television. Working within a very small studio, with simple puppets and no strict script to follow, Coombs and his friends found any way possible to stick to their original idea of teaching very young kids that being kind and communicating one's feelings clearly were the best things one could achieve. Behind Mr. Dressup's softness is a remarkable work ethic, a deep respect for children, and a commitment to thoughtful, universal values.

Genre: Documentary, Family

Actor: Andrew Phung, Bif Naked, Bruce McCulloch, Catherine Tait, Ed Robertson, Eric McCormack, Ernie Coombs, Fred Rogers, Graham Greene, Jim Creeggan, Jim Parker, Jonathan Torrens, Judith Lawrence, Kevin Hearn, Lynn Coombs, Michael J. Fox, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Peter Mansbridge, Scott Thompson, Terry McManus, Trina McQueen, Tyler Stewart, Yannick Bisson

Director: Robert McCallum

The poetic title of this debut feature from Chilean filmmaker Francisca Alegría does not tell a lie: a cow does indeed sing. More than one, in fact, because the film uses an entire herd — plus a flock of birds and a school of fish — as a kind of Greek chorus to comment on human mistreatment of animals and the wider environment. The Cow Who Sang never approaches sanctimonious territory, gently weaving from these ideas an expansive and evenly empathetic worldview. The magical realism that allows the animals to speak is the same device that brings the long-dead Magdalena (Mia Maestro) back to life — and, as her family’s fraught history is gradually revealed, it’s movingly suggested that the objectification that the cows and the local polluted river are subjected to is part of the same culture of devaluation that marred the lives of Magdalena and her female descendants. If there’s one complaint to be had, it’s that the relatively short runtime limits the film's ability to really expound on its many threads — the bond Magdalena instinctively forges with her trans granddaughter, for example. Ultimately, though, its symbolic storytelling and emotionally articulate cast allow The Cow Who Sang to communicate much of its sweeping philosophy to profound effect.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alfredo Castro, Enzo Ferrada, Fernanda Urrejola, Leonor Varela, Luis Dubó, Marcial Tagle, Mía Maestro

Director: Francisca Alegría

Though it doesn't delve too deeply into any pressing issues in baseball or into its protagonist's Taiwanese roots, Late Life: The Chien-Ming Wang Story still makes for interesting viewing, mostly for its extremely specific discussions on baseball. Part sports documentary and part study on physical therapy, the film rejects any narratives about innate talent and greatness and aims to depict most great players as they really are: athletes who have had to train hard and maintain their progress through sheer force of will. And at the center is Chien-Ming Wang himself, a gentle and humble giant who makes for an unlikely but refreshing sports celebrity.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Billy Connors, Brian Cashman, Chien-Ming Wang, Frank W Chen, Neil Allen

Director: Frank W Chen, Tommy Yu

Rating: N/A

We would never know when we would die, but oftentimes, when faced with a deadline to one’s mortality, most would tie up loose ends, make the most of the time left, and reunite with their loved ones. 24 Hours with Gaspar is centered instead on the revenge of a grizzled, worn-out detective that only has one last regret: letting go of his childhood friend Kirana, not being able to find her. He hopes to enact his revenge by enlisting some friends and disgruntled victims of Wan Ali, who’s the most likely guy behind her disappearance. There are moments when the dialogue does falter, but Gaspar’s adventure is depicted in the most stylish way, complete with slick cinematography and a soundtrack that sets the mood for each turn in the mystery, even in a fairly depressing low tech dystopia. The film’s sci-fi might not be as hopeful as usual, and is mainly limited to Gaspar’s artificial heart, but 24 Hours with Gaspar is such a fun neo-noir mystery mash to watch, as long as you don't expect something akin to John Wick or Blade Runner.

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Ali Fikry, Dewi Irawan, Kristo Immanuel, Laura Basuki, Reza Rahadian, Sal Priadi, Shenina Cinnamon, Shofia Shireen, Whani Darmawan

Director: Yosep Anggi Noen

Rating: R