This has been a tough list to put together. I have selected many films that will be known to you all, but I have also included a couple that are lesser known – they are still brilliant films, and hopefully this list will help to expand your zombie viewing horizons! So onwards, the list:
The reason this is so high on the list is because of the fact that its characters are not undead (my preference in a zombie flick) – they are merely infected with a virus. The plot, which most of us already know: Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
9. Braindead 1992, Peter Jackson – New Zealand
This was Peter Jackson’s fourth film (and is sometimes called Dead Alive) – it is a far cry from the quality directing we have seen in Lord of the Rings, but it is brilliant nevertheless. A young man’s mother is bitten by a “rat monkey.” She gets sick and dies, at which time she comes back to life, killing and eating dogs, nurses, friends, and neighbors. How can this film NOT be on the list – the bitch eats dogs!
Okay – like 28 days later the characters are not undead, but this film has to be included on the list because it is not just about movies – it is about movies and rock’n’roll! What combination could be better?! After a meteor strike aliens attack the earth and begin turning people into zombies. Rockers Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf aswell as their rock and roll blood brother ace and his true love Tobio are caught in the middle of this madness.
7. White Zombie 1932, Victor Halperin – USA
This is the film that created the genre! It relies on atmosphere and expressionistic sets and acting to convey a pretty potent sense of dread. The coolest thing is that it stars Bela Lugosi as Murder Legendre, who can turn people into zombies with the power of his mind!
6. Return of the Living Dead 1985, Dan O’Bannon – USA
When a bumbling pair of employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to re-animate as they go on a rampage through Louisville, Kentucky seeking their favorite food, brains (of course!)
Five friends go up to a cabin in the woods where they find unspeakable evil lurking in the forest. They find the Necronomicon and the taped translation of the text. Once the tape is played, the evil is released. One by one, the teens become deadly zombies. With only one remaining, it is up to him to survive the night and battle the evil dead. A brilliant film by the equally brilliant Sam Raimi.
4. Shaun of the Dead 2004, Edgar Wright – UK
Shaun doesn’t have a very good day, so he decides to turn his life around by getting his ex to take him back, but he times it for right in the middle of what may be a zombie apocalypse… But for him, it’s an opportunity to show everyone he knows how useful he is by saving them all. All he has to do is survive… And get his ex back. This is such a great zombie movie that it ranks as the 245th best movie of all time on IMDB!
3. Dellamorte Dellamore 1994, Michele Soavi – Italy
This movie is actually not so much a zombie film (but believe me, there are zombies galore) as an examination of life, death, love, and the boundaries between. The film is based on the life of a graveyard caretaker who has to kill the various zombies that pop up during the night. This truly is one of the best zombie movies around.
2. Night of the Living Dead 1968, George A. Romero – USA
This is the birth of the modern zombie film. It is also one of the scariest horror films ever made. The film set in concrete Romero’s position as the greatest zombie film maker in history. The radiation from a fallen satellite might have caused the recently deceased to rise from the grave and seek the living to use as food. This is the situation that a group of people penned up in an old farmhouse must deal with.
1. Dawn of the Dead 1978, George A. Romero – USA
Ten years after Night of the Living Dead, Romero gave us another astonishingly brilliant zombie film – Dawn of the Dead. It surpasses its predecessor and definitely deserves top place on this list. Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia SWAT team members, a traffic reporter, and his television-executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.
Bonus: Zombi 2 1979, Lucio Fulci – Italy
This tense and gory postmodern zombie film is included for one reason: the underwater fight between a zombie and a shark! You can watch the trailer here.