Quick quiz: Guess how many zombie movies are being produced in the US and around the world this year – 15? 20? Guess again.
The answer: At least 40. The undead feature in 33 movies in 2011 according to the Zombie Zone News website. And that doesn't include a bunch of other zombie films being developed or produced in the US and Europe.
They're not all B- or C-grade schlock titles that are destined to go straight to DVD. Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow battles the old foe again in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which opens here in May.
Depp will also play the vampire Barnabas Collins in Warner Bros.' Dark Shadows, the Tim Burton-directed adaptation of the 1960s TV soap opera that featured vampires, monsters, witches, werewolves, ghosts and zombies; Eva Green will co-star.
Jonah Hill is set to make his directorial debut on Sony Pictures' The Kitchen Sink, the saga of an unlikely alliance between a high school-aged vampire, zombie and human as they try to save their town from invading aliens.
Paramount is producing Boy Scouts vs. Zombies, a Goonies-type tale of a Boy Scout troop that rallies to try to save girl scouts from a zombie outbreak on an overnight camping trip.
The same studio is developing Max Brooks' novel World War Z to star Brad Pitt (who'll also serve as a producer) as one of soldiers fighting off invading undead hordes, with Marc Forster set to direct. However, the budget has blown out to $US125 million and Paramount is anxious to spread the risk by bringing in a co-financier before proceeding.
After making a fortune from the Twilight blockbusters, Summit Entertainment is preparing Warm Bodies, based on an Isaac Marion novel about a tormented zombie that falls for one of his victim's girlfriends, starring Nicholas Hoult, directed by Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) and produced by Aussie Bruna Papanadrea.
Lionsgate plans to shoot Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, adapted from the Seth Grahame-Smith novel that injects flesh-eating corpses to Jane Austen's literary classic, with Fright Night's Craig Gillespie in talks to direct.
Why the current outbreak of zombie movies? Well the genre rarely seems to have gone out of fashion ever since Bela Lugosi played a villainous voodoo master in charge of a stable of zombies in Haiti in 1932's White Zombie.
It's gotten a new lease of life in recent years with the Resident Evil franchise and hits such as I Am Legend, 28 Weeks Later, Spain's [Rec] and [Rec] 2 and Zombieland, the highest grossing movie in the genre which amassed US$102 million at cinemas worldwide. Sony wants to make Zombieland 2 in 3D and hopes Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg will reprise their roles.
Among the European-based projects, filming has just started in London on Cockneys vs. Zombies, a 'zom-com' about a gang of bank robbers whose plans go awry when contractors at a building site unwittingly release flesh-eaters from a 350-year-old vault. Matthias Hoene, who made the Hammer horror movie Beyond the Rave, is directing and the cast includes the veteran Honor Blackman, Fish Tank's Harry Treadaway and Alan Ford of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
English director Steve Barker is shooting Outpost: Black Sun, the sequel to his 2008 cult hit Outpost, following two investigators in WWII Europe who team up with a Special Forces unit to combat an army of zombie Nazi storm troopers.
German director Marvin Kren's Rammbock (pictured) focuses on a guy who arrives in Berlin to visit his girlfriend and discovers a virus has turned the entire population into murderers.
Dawn of the Dread: Zombies on film