From post-apocalypse to Nazi zombies: 9 of the coolest sci-fi films from Sundance 2014

It’s that time of year: Before long, we’ll be hearing all about the buzzy films landing big distribution deals out of Sundance ... and some of them have a distinctively genre slant.

In addition to all those future award-winning indie think pieces that'll catch most of the attention, there's a healthy helping of sharp genre flicks debuting this week at Sundance Film Festival 2014.

From horror comedies to supernatural thrillers, there’s more than enough going on in Park City to keep us entertained and watching the wires for which of these fine flicks will be coming to a cineplex/art house theater/streaming service near us.

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    Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

    Yes, the Nazi zombies are back. This sequel to 2009’s Dead Snow picks up the wild story of Nazi zombies right where it left off, and early buzz indicates the Norwegian flick is just as bat-crap-crazy as the original. The flick was directed by Tommy Wirkola (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters).

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    I Origins

    This sci-fi mystery flick stars Michael Pitt and Brit Marling and follows a molecular biologist and his lab partner as they uncover evidence that could change society as we know it. The flick has drawn comparisons to indie sci-fi hits like Primer, and its getting rave reviews. I Origins has also netted a distribution deal with Fox Searchlight. The film was directed by Mike Cahill (Another Earth).

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    Life After Beth

    Thanks to Shaun of the Dead, the zombie comedy is a legit genre these days. The latest entry? Life After Beth, starring Dan DeHaan (Chronicle) and Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) as a young couple. But, things take a twist when Plaza’s character dies, then comes back to life as a zombie. Basically, it’s a twisty, zombie love story. The film was directed by Jeff Baena.

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    This horror comedy is set at an elementary school where a virus transforms the young students into cannibalistic mutants, and the teachers try to hatch a wacky escape plan. The film has an all-star comedy cast, including Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Nasim Pedrad and Jack McBrayer. Cooties was directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion.

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    Only Lovers Left Alive

    Fan favorite Marvel alum Tom Hiddleston takes off from Asgard and the Thor films to join seasoned actress Tilda Swinton in this tale of two vampire lovers. Hiddleston plays an immortal rockstar, and Swinton plays his wife. Only Lovers Left Alive is being billed as a dark, supernatural drama. The film was written and directed by Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers).

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    The Babadook

    This supernatural thriller focuses on a single mother who is dealing with a troubled son who asks her if she wants to die. Things get even freakier when she discovers a terrifying children’s book on her son’s shelf, which hints there could be some supernatural terror at work. The film was written and directed by Jennifer Kent (the short film Monster).

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    The Signal

    This twisty, sci-fi action thriller stars Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke and Beau Knapp as three hackers that follow another hacker’s clues into the middle of the desert. The film is getting some under the radar buzz, and is apparently a wild sci-fi trip. The Signal also stars Laurence Fishburne, and was directed by William Eubank.

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    To Be Takei

    Decades removed from his stint on Star Trek: The Original Series, George Takei has never been more famous. This documentary digs into the life of the geek god, his huge social media presence, and his social agenda as an advocate for marriage equality.

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    Young Ones

    This post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick is set on a “lonely, barren” version of Earth. It follows stars Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning as they attempt to navigate and survive a planet almost depleted of resources. The film was directed by Jake Paltrow (Boardwalk Empire). Fun fact: Paltrow is the brother of actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

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