I need your Brains!!!
December 13, 2010 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Zombie experts! Please give me your best gift ideas for a zombie-addicted teen.

My 15 yo son has read World War Z, seen the Walking Dead, I Am Legend, Zombieland and 28 Days later, and he still can't get enough zombies! I am looking for a couple more gifts to round out the Christmas list and need some expert advice.

As far as board games go, are Zombies!!! or Last Night on Earth actually fun to play or just very gimmicky? Similarly, I've seen some zombie-themed items on thinkgeek.com and Archie Mcphee, but I'd really like to know which zombie-themed items Mefites actually would endorse.

Any and all zombie-themed gift ideas are appreciated (And yes, we have the Plants vs Zombies games and apps, too)!
posted by misha to Grab Bag (40 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
He's seen Walking Dead, but has he read the graphic novels?
posted by Lucinda at 11:55 AM on December 13, 2010

Response by poster: Sorry, don't mean to hover, but he is getting the graphic novels from a relative for Christmas, yes! I forgot to include that.
posted by misha at 11:56 AM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: Zombie Fluxx!
posted by griphus at 11:57 AM on December 13, 2010 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Last Night on Earth is fun, but if it is definitely more theme heavy, than mechanics heavy.

What I mean by that, is that a power gamer, or experienced strategy board gamer might find it lacking. Also, those not into the zombie theme probably won't enjoy. But if you love zombie movies, it is a great little game. It works best when people are into the roles, pretending they are in a zombie flick and not just playing a board game. High quality pieces, including great minis. I'd definitely get it if he likes board games.
posted by utsutsu at 12:01 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Opps, forgot to add that I didn't like Zombies!!! It is a very shallow game that basically just involves shooting zombies. LNOE has different scenarios with different goals including Escape in the Truck!, Save the Townspeople, Defend the Manor, etc.
posted by utsutsu at 12:02 PM on December 13, 2010

Does he play games? There is an embarrassment of great zombie games. There is the Dead Rising series, Left 4 Dead (if he plays online with other people), and Resident Evil.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 12:04 PM on December 13, 2010

Valve bundles the (very) highly acclaimed computer games Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 together currently for the tidy sum of $29.99. Best enjoyed with friends.
posted by tracert at 12:05 PM on December 13, 2010

Uh, I should note that the $5 price for L4D2 is time sensitive, it expires in roughly 22 hours.
posted by tracert at 12:09 PM on December 13, 2010

What about getting him DVDs of some of the original zombie classics, like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, etc.?
posted by so_gracefully at 12:11 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to second Zombie Fluxx. Just picked it up for my zombie-obsessed friend. Its a great little add on gift.
posted by silverstatue at 12:14 PM on December 13, 2010

Are you in an area that hosts Zombie Walks, where people dress up as zombies and walk around? Because a bottle of fake blood + Goodwill gift certificate + dressing up for a zombie walk = great fun! I've done it a few times.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:18 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

What about going for the classics and getting George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead? It's black and white, but it's amazing and totally groundbreaking.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:19 PM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: If he liked World War Z, I really enjoyed another zombie book Monster Island.
posted by ND¢ at 12:21 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Faith Erin Hicks' Zombies Calling is a great graphic novel and not too expensive -- manga-formatted from SLG.

I had a zombie comic published by SLG a few years ago as well, but it's kind of... different; more of a "West Wing with intelligent undead" concept than a standard BRAIIIINS approach. Not really for somebody into "classic" zombies.

As a board game nut I can say that utsutsu is right on all counts about both LNOE and Zombies!!!. I love, love, love LNOE but it's incredibly luck-driven, which can add a huge element of frustration to "board game" people looking for a game that rewards skill. Give LNOE to people that just like having fun playing games and enjoy zombie stuff, though, and you've found a guaranteed winner.

Zombie Fluxx is interesting, but more a Fluxx game with a zombie overlay than anything else.

If you can find them, the Cheapass Games Zombie Trilogy is awesome: Give Me The Brain is probably my favourite, but The Great Brain Robbery and Lord of the Fries are fresh, funny and surprisingly replayable.

Mall of Horror is really good, but is a politics game, not a zombie-fighting game. It's basically a "vote 'em off the island" mechanic, and probably not as good a fit as LNOE for your son.
posted by Shepherd at 12:22 PM on December 13, 2010

All the swag needed for a really aces zombie costume can become costly but might make fun stocking stuffers:

-Grey, black and white grease paint pots or sticks
-Blue, green, and red pencil for details (veins, bruises, lining eyes, dried blood)
-Loads of transparent powder to set it all
-Fake blood of course
-Set of makeup brushes so he doesn't take all the makeup off by touching it with his own fingers
-A book on how to make wounds, bullet holes, bloating, scars, etc.
-Gift certificate to local thrift shop

Armed with such supplies, he can be a zombie at least a dozen times, and include a bunch of his friends.

(Zombie Fluxx is fun too!)
posted by Mizu at 12:29 PM on December 13, 2010

Cheapass games has a couple zombie-themed card games that are great fun.

Give Me The Brain

Oh, I guess Lord of the Fries is discontinued. Dang.
posted by chazlarson at 12:41 PM on December 13, 2010

There is a hilariously dark zombie romance called "Breathers" with enough gore that a teen boy might enjoy it.
posted by eralclare at 12:47 PM on December 13, 2010

Have you tried the stuff tagged with zombies on Etsy? Bags, custom zombification of your photograph, t-shirts, bowls, full sized corpsed skull replicas ...
posted by paduasoy at 12:50 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?
posted by chazlarson at 12:54 PM on December 13, 2010

Zombies vs Unicorns (YA short stories about what it says on the tin)
posted by sarahnade at 12:56 PM on December 13, 2010

If he loves all things zombie, he might like this REALLY BAD (IMO) movie -- Tokyo Zombie. If for no other reason then to say he saw it. Or, he might even like it. *shrug* That is, if he doesn't mind subtitles.
posted by patheral at 1:02 PM on December 13, 2010

A copy of "Shaun of the Dead"?
posted by lemonwheel at 1:05 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Get him some of the original zombie movies, like And why not cap it off with some really, really gory levity: Dead Alive
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:09 PM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: Feed. Reading it right now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:17 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

If he has seen I Am Legend, then he needs to see the other two. Omega Man, and The Last Man on Earth.
posted by Gungho at 1:20 PM on December 13, 2010

As seen in Mefi Mall: Zombie Survival Gear!
posted by -harlequin- at 1:33 PM on December 13, 2010

Plants versus Zombies..?
posted by dobie at 1:36 PM on December 13, 2010

Surely by the time I post this someone will have mentioned Marvel Zombies!

On the manga front:
Blade of the Immortal (less "flesh-eating" zombie, more "survives repeated graphic dismemberment" zombie. But some flesh eating in later volumes!)
Grand Guignol Orchestra (by Kaori Yuki, so very Gothic and very insane)
Highschool of the Dead (out in January!)
Raiders (manhwa, so it reads left-to-right. Features Zombie Jesus.)
Zombie Loan

John Ajvide Lindqvist - Handling the Undead (Swedish, from the author of Let the Right One In. Gorgeous books.)
Cherie Priest - Boneshaker (Seattle steampunk zombies!)
the Generation Dead series
posted by nicebookrack at 1:40 PM on December 13, 2010

Charlie Brooker's five episode zombie-apocalypse-in-the-Big-Brother-house Dead Set is brilliant, and if he's interested in cinema, I'd recommend Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema as an entertaining and thorough overview of the sub-genre.
posted by hot soup girl at 1:42 PM on December 13, 2010

If he's seen I Am Legend, has he read the (awesome) book?
posted by nicebookrack at 1:44 PM on December 13, 2010

Play Dead is one of the better zombie novels in the recent craze, and probably the best zombie (US) football novel ever written. So if your son likes (US) football, I strongly recommend it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:12 PM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: First, a comment: I Am Legend is not about zombies, they're actually vampires (of a sort).

Second, thoughts on some already mentioned games: Zombies!!! is a decent game, and one with a lot of expansions. Easy learning curve, but it takes some time to play through, and it may be geared more towards fans of zombie movies. On the other hand, Zombie Flux can be fun for anyone, and it can be a quick game, and is more light-hearted.

Third, what kind of games does he like to play? What systems does he have (if he likes to play video games)?

Fourth, what sort of zombies does he like? Classic, modern, voodoo, chemical, gross and gory, or plot-driven? Or anything zombie related? For the classics, Romero's Day of the Dead tetralogy is key. The first movie is in the public domain, so you'll find it everywhere, and of varying qualities.

For the modern, Shaun of the Dead is fun, and more fun if you're in your 30s (ie, remember the 1980s) and know something of zombie classics (especially Romero films). But if you don't know all that, there are plenty of websites, and the commentary track(s?), to help you out. 28 Days Later is a hot topic, as they're not really zombies (they don't die before "turning"), but that's not the point here. Since he's seen that, he'll probably enjoy 28 Weeks Later.

If he likes the drama and suspense around a post-apocalyptic world with the Undead, the Survivors semi-remake is fantastic, but ends on a serious cliffhanger. It's on Netflix, if you have that, so less of a present, and more of an experience. There was an earlier series, but I haven't seen it, so I can't comment on it.

For the gory, there's Zombi 2 and Zombi 3 from the Italian Lucio Fulci. He has other good, gory films, if that's OK with you (and something he'd like). Not torture porn, but graphic gore.

For the Voodoo zombies, you'll get quite a range, many available on the cheap (probably as they're in the public domain) in boxsets of all sorts. At some point, you'll have to read the titles included, but for now, the world (of cheap, old horror movies) is your oyster! Enjoy it! We picked up a box of 50 "horror classics" on the cheap at a local chain store. Lots of camp, including a few Roger Corman gems. In one of those boxsets, you'll find King of the Zombies, featuring the fantastic Mantan Moreland, probably the most intelligent character in the movie.

I'll get home and dig through my wife's collection of zombie movies, and pick her brain for more ideas.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:32 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Okay, Left4Dead 1 and 2 we have. We also have both Dead Rising 1 and 2, though he hasn't played 2 yet. Also, he really isn't into manga at all.

I'm enjoying researching all the movies! Also have put Monster Island and Feed on my list for consideration (they look really good). Not so sure about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (more my taste than his).

We don't have zombie walks here. This makes me sad. Now I'm considering hosting a zombie scavenger hunt or something next year.

Thanks for the great suggestions so far!
posted by misha at 3:15 PM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: Another sub-genre: the ZomComs, zombie comedies. The good: My Boyfriend's Back, Shaun of the Dead, Fido, and Zombieland; the OK: Dead Snow; the bad: Dead and Breakfast.

I'm sure there are more, but these just came to mind. And for good measure, two lists of zombie movies: Zombie-Movies.org, and the Wikipedia category: Zombie films.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:43 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've actually done this exact thing for my 19 year old brother this year for Christmas.

I bought him 2 zombie-themed t-shirts from Threadless.

Some cheesy but uniquely funny zombie movies; Aaah! Zombies!! and Fido.

A working flask with "zombie anti-virus" on it, from Etsy (since he plays "war games" of humans vs. zombies via nerf guns on his college campus).

And a tie, the silk-screened patterns of which are always a hit. Two years ago I got him one with a cuttlefish on it - this year, it's a man obviously prepared for chemical warfare. If you go the tie route, I recommend the patterns AK-47, Crash, and Terminal Illness, among others. Nothing like a bad-ass tie to make your teen boy actually _want_ to dress up......and look uniquely cool doing it.
posted by DisreputableDog at 4:03 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry just came out a few months ago and got really good reviews. Bonus! It's about a 15-year-old boy and his brother.
posted by johnofjack at 4:31 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is not a straight-up gift item, but I'm seriously addicted to die2nite online web based zombie invasion game. You can play for free or pay to upgrade to advanced profession with enhanced abilities. It's basically 40 people stuck in a town trying to work together (or not) to scavenge for items to fortify defenses, secure food and water, work on construction projects using scavenged supplies, and stay alive as long as you can. If you son likes it a lot, you could buy him HERO status. Fun times!!
posted by loquat at 5:28 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

A collection of zombie films from around the world!
Biozombie (China)
SARSWars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis (Thailand)
Wild Zero (Japan)
are some good ones off the top of my head.
posted by TheCoug at 5:49 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the stellar suggestions! Everyone here deserves a best answer. I had never even heard of Fido before, and it looks hilarious! Ordered from Amazon, along with Monster Island and Zombie Flux.

When the undead apocalypse comes, we will be prepared now.
posted by misha at 6:32 AM on December 14, 2010

If it's not too late, how about a zombie portrait? You send a photo - they send you a hand-illustrated zombified portait. I bought one for a friend and it was well received. (warning: link plays sound)
posted by zanni at 2:26 AM on December 15, 2010

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