Fortunately, you don't have to suffer through all the crap- we already have!
Here is our list of the 25 best zombie movies, selected for their influence on the genre, their creativity, and just all around blood-soaked zombie-ridden awesomeness.
25 - Zombieland
I think there are plenty of more deserving films out there- zombie films that are more creative, more influential, more boundary pushing- and most early drafts of this list didn't even have Zombieland in consideration.
But it occurred to me, though, that Zombieland is, more then anything else, the announcement of Zombies as a majour player in pop culture. Zombies are no longer underground, no longer some weird cult thing- sure, both 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead were massively successful, but 28 Days later was primarily a horror flick, and Shaun of the Dead was viewed by most as a curious oddity..
Zombieland was a mainstream Hollywood movie in every sense of the word, and it's smashing success trumpets a new future for the zombie flick- out of the backroom and into the boardroom.
Whether that's a good thing or bad, remains to be seen.
24 - Fido
Home Alone would have gone very differently in this world.
Featuring an unusually strong cast and script (for a zombie movie), Fido is an immensely entertaining look at would what have happened in a world where a zombie outbreak, instead of destroying the world, created a cheap supply of pets and slaves that were then carelessly used and abused by the coming generations who forgot all too quickly the peril of the monsters they have under their thumbs.
Firmly rooted in 1950's styles, from the Leave It To Beaver attitude of the characters to the faux public service announcements, Fido is part satire, part blood soaker comedy. It's not extremely gory, certainly not by horror standards, but it's got enough of an edge to keep gore hounds interested.
Where Fido really succeeds, however, is in taking the Zombie genre in a new direction. Bargain bins and thrift stores are home to countless zombie movies that are all variations on the plot laid down by Night of the Living Dead- Fido instead strives to both tell a story- about growing up, about family, about acceptance- and uses zombies not as a cheap draw, but as a tool to further its aims.
Casting Billy Connolly as the titular Fido doesn't hurt, either.
23 - Colin
Colin made a splash when it came out, more so for it's production methods then the actual film itself.
It was filmed super cheap and super independently- by all accounts it was made on a budget of 70$ USD, shot over 18 months, and was casted and crewed by people British director Marc Price could gather together on facebook.
What's most notable about Colin, however, is it'story, which is told from a zombies perspective. Yep, Colin, the main character, gets bitten and changes in the first part of the film, and then we follow his exploits.
Of course, there's more to it then that- other survivors, love interests, tales and stories tangentially told through what Colin glimpses but doesn't, in his zombiefied state, understand, but even that simple twist makes this one of the most creative zombie films to come out in at least the last decade, if not longer.
A blogosphere darling, Colin has received heaps of praise- and though some of that is undoubtedly due to it's DIY ethos, and some of it to its creative twist, I managed to catch a showing of this film a while ago, and I think it's easily worth its place on this list. I haven't been so impressed with a new zombie film in some time.
22 - Day of the Dead
"I've only got one question..."
Day of the Dead gets a lot of unfair hate- until the release of the much more maligned Land of the Dead, it was considered Romero's worst and weakest movie by far. It had its legions of fans, for sure, but it had for more detractors, both amongst the ranks of the critics, and the general public.
Lately it's been getting it's long overdue respect, however, as people are turning back to it without all the expectations they had after the phenomenal Dawn of the Dead, and discovering it's a pretty good movie in its own right.
Like Romero's other films, it's thinly veiled social commentary- this time about the interplay between the military, scientists, and the influence of power on group dynamics. Yes, it's acted so hammily that much of that is lost- but the idea remains, and it raises some very interesting points.
Beyond that, however, Day of the Dead is full of iconic scenes and visuals- who can forget the horde of zombies breaking through the wall in the dream sequence, or Bub the trained zombie, or some of the beautifully violent deaths towards the end?
Day of the Dead definitely has issues- Romero had a lot of problems raising funds for this film, and it shows in the way parts of the story seem to have to have been sacrificed. But taken on its own merits, it's actually very interesting and enthralling. Sometimes failed genius is just as satisfying.
21 - 28 Weeks Later
He could not get away from the pie-eating contest fast enough.
Why 28 Weeks Later, you say?
I'll agree that most of this movie was pretty disappointing, though I did like it slightly better the second time I saw it.
But, like Zombieland, 28 Weeks has an extenuating factor- namely, an intro so tense and brutal it puts probably 90% of every other zombie movies to shame.
There is more gut-busting terror in those first brief minutes then many of it's peers fit into entire 90-minute running times, and more of a rollercoaster of emotion then even many of the goods ones are able to provide.
The rest of the film is merely decent- more enjoyable now when I rewatch it with no expectations- but the beginning remains stunningly brilliant.
20 - Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies
Tetherball in Japan is serious business.
Asian Zombie movies don't always inspire much confidence- while they are usually utterly insane, they somehow manage to also be really boring at the same time.
Stacy : Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies (or Saikyô heiki joshikôsei: Rika - zonbi hantâ vs saikyô zonbi Gurorian, as it's known in its home country of Japan) very carefully walks that line, and is one of the best of the maybe the handful or so good Asian zombie movies I have ever seen.
The action starts nearly instantly- literally. The credits have hardly even faded when the first attack begins. Though individually the fighting scenes aren't mind blowing, the gore is great, the atmosphere is intriguing, and the concept- that young girls are mysteriously dying, and come back as 'Stacys', or zombies, is executed quite well.
Though it never comes out and says it, I wonder if it's perhaps a metaphor for the wave of teenage suicides that was sweeping Japan at the time it came out.
19 - Versus
Burying people in the dirt is only really fun on the beach.
Versus is Awesome. Asian zombie movies rarely are- as mentioned above- but this movie is one of my favorite ones of all time, even if it's more of a heavily stylized grudge match with zombies thrown in then a zombie movie per se.
The plot? Mostly dispensable, some stuff about resurrection and portals to hell and two karmic opposites fated to fight to the death. But that's not what this film is about- it's about unrelentingly brilliant action, arterial sprays of blood, bizarre special effects, and slapstick comedy that puts even Raimi to shame.
Seriously, Versus has it all- blood, laughs, zombies, action, and plenty of WTF the moments. Easily one of the most entertaining zombie movies ever made.
18 - Dawn of the Dead (remake)
The Zombie apocalypse has a mostly black and white dress code.
The remake of Dawn of the Dead cut off all the exposition and plot and satire of the former, for sheer violence and gore and badassery.
Though not that deep a film, by any means, Dawn of the Dead makes up for it by being unrelentingly violent and exciting. Loads of great set-pieces and moments abound, from the surprise attack of the obese zombie, to the pure crowd-pleasing carnage of a chainsaw on a bus.
Most Romero lovers write this film off- and rightly so. Its probably only got the combined brainpower of a few festering corpses on its own- but to compare it to the film which it, unfortunately, is a 'remake' of, is to write off one of the highest octane and most brutal zombie films ever.
Now, to be honest, sheer action is hardly my thing- I'll take a well-made and creative film over a flashy one any day- but Dawn of the Dead is actually a lot of fun. As anyone who gets really into cult movies and low-budget horror fare nows, you have to endure a lot of waiting, and a lot of boredom, to find those moments of genius. Dawn of the Dead doesn't care- it beats that shit outta the way with a Mack Truck.
Taken for what it is- and this is the only way it should be taken- it's an adrenaline fueled thrill-ride that paved the way for the releasing-slightly-later Shaun of the Dead and helped show people that zombie movies didn't have to be 90 minutes of tedium for 9 minutes of terror.
17 - Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
He's probably just a chiropractor.
This film goes by several titles, but regardless of what name it's under, it's one of the first, and most well done, of the zombie-massacre blood fests that started coming out of the late 70's and the 80's.
Like most Italian horror flicks from this time, it's curiously paced- a slow beginning, barely passable acting, dialog that's as frequently unintentionally hilarious as it is intentionally funny.
But if I sound a bit dismissive I really don't mean to be- this film is pretty awesome. The characters are much more developed then usual, the zombies are creepy and full of character, and the gore, in typical Italian fashion, is stomach churning.
It's not as big or important or ground-breaking as many of the other films on this list, but it's one of the most solid and well-made films of the genre, and is easily one of the films that helped lay the foundation for the hundreds upon hundreds of flicks that have been made since.
16 - Dance of the Dead
I would kill for this prom background.
I popped in Dance of the Dead expecting some stupid derivative teen comedy, and instead got one of the better zombie flicks of the last decade.
It's got action, and gore, compelling characters, and sends up just enough high-school cliches to score points as both a social satire, a genre-spoof, and an awesome zombie movie in it's own right.
If it flounders a bit towards the end- as these films often do- but the getting there is full of hilarious moments, snarky twists, and jokes and set-ups that are always more cunning then you think they'll be.
15 - Biozombie
This isn't even from the movie- it's just a shot from when the bars let out in Tokyo.
Biozombie has a lot of faults- one of the first among them is a script which spends an inordinate amount of time building up the main characters. It feels silly to be fault a zombie film for too much character development- as usually they're far too light- but it's a sad fact that as silly and fun (in the japanese way) as biozombie is, it's simply too much.
It makes up for it, though, as it goes along. Though fairly conventional in set-up (outbreak occurs, people band together, get picked off, blah blah blah) it's very noteable for how it takes the tropes and slyly tweaks them.
Here zombies are just a little more then meat-hungry meat-puppets- they retain a shed of what they were as a person, and it makes the battles and conflicts more interesting. It doesn't hurt that the zombies themselves are drawn from a wide pool- there's zombie footballers, cops, mall rats.
Easily the best Asian zombie film (besides Versus, though that is more of an awesome film with zombies in it) Biozombie also has the distinction of being of very few zombie films that ends well. This genre is plagued by poor climaxes- Biozombie hits all the right notes. Though it starts a little rough, it picks up steam as it goes along and ends beautifully.
14 - Deadgirl
She's probably just tanning.
Deadgirl is the most original zombie movie in decades.
We all know the formula so well know that it feels like we've already seen most zombie movies even as we sit down to watch them. A suffering main character is introduced, an unknown and unheeded infection or problem comes about, zombies emerge, the heroes wall off, and then in the end there is a huge battle.
Deadgirl bucks all of that.
Instead, it's a movie about growing up and adolescence, wrapped in a sickeningly perverse tale of two teens who discover a naked dead woman in an abandoned facility...only, she's not actually dead. And boys being boys...well, you can guess what happens.
It starts a little roughly, but soon reveals itself to be almost complete deserving of the massive praises it's garnered. It's a sick and twisted journey through the already hard to navigate world of growing up, and for combining heart, soul, necrophilia, gore, and blacker-then-black humour, Deadgirl makes up for it's lack of age with what is sure to be a lasting effect on the genre.
You can read our full review here.
13 - Night of the Creeps
Actual movie tagline : "Your date's here! Unfortunately, he's dead."
Night of the Creeps isn't really about zombies- alien slugs posses people, turning them into mostly mindless cannibal freaks- but they're zombies by any other name.
A frequently hilarious, campy, blood-soaked 80's flick, Night of the Creeps walks that thin line between being a good B-movie, and being a good spoof of B movies, which is harder to do then it looks. You have to balance just the right degree of self-aware smugness, whilst still delivering a film that is more then in jokes and nods.
Though it itself has a few nods back to Cronenbergs debut Shivers, Night of the Creeps references pop in to nearly everything. It's well loved and often name checked for a reason- and that's because it's simply a lot of fun.
Yeah, it's got blood, and a smattering of smarmy social commentary, and a few pretty good gore effects, but honestly it's just really entertaining.
12 - Planet Terror
This is a very impractical way to fire a weapon.
Though I'm not really sure which half of the Grindhouse double feature I prefer, I think everyone will agree that Planet Terror was a lot more enjoyable.
A brilliant throwback to the hammily acted, drive-thru blockbusters of yesteryear, Planet Terror weaves exploitation, sexploitation, gore, comedy, and more zombie action then you can shake a stick at- there's normal zombies, speed zombies, messed up soldier zombies, Bruce Willis- all the wooden, undead action you can handle.
While it's less a straight up zombie movie and more a love letter to them, Planet Terror makes this list by simply being awesome, and showing us what we love about the genre when done right- by getting it pitch perfect.
11 - White Zombie
It is not possible to out-creepy Bela Lugosi.
You might notice a conspicuous lack of zombie movies on here that predate the 50's.
They certainly exist, as the excellent White Zombie and a handful of other goods ones suggest- but the genre simply changed so much with Night of the Living dead that they almost feel part of a separate set. And they are- for most of time, a zombie was merely someone under the thrall of another, either by black magic or some other sinister ritual, and most of these early zombies rely on the that premise for most of their thrills, as well.
But White Zombie is one of the best, if not the best- loved by film nerds and zombie fans alike. It's the origin of the whole 'shoot for the head' thing, as well as being the name chosen by Rob Zombie for his 80's horror metal band.
Consider White Zombie's position a nod to all other classic zombie movies, that paved the way for what we have now, without particularly baring much relation to it.
10 - Zombie (Zombi 2)
Scene from any Midwest Buffet.
In terms of influence, and frequency of name dropping amongst horror nerds, Fulci's Zombi 2 is huge.
Like most italian horror flicks of this era, it's a bit uneven- There is a lot of terrible acting, a convoluted script, a disappointing climax- but along the way are these brief snatches of brilliance that make Zombi 2 such a huge hit.
Those with eyeball issues need not apply- Zombi contains probably the single most harrowing scene of that particular sort of damage being inflicted on a person of all time, and the awesomeness doesn't stop there- there's also buxom gratuitous nudity, iconic zombie shots (the conquistador zombie, not pictured, is one of the most famous zombies of all time), an underwater battle between a zombie and a shark!!
Does that redeem an otherwise marginal film? I think so, and though I'm not much for it myself, you can't deny its effect, and its inevitable presence in any zombie lovers collection or list.
You can read my full review here.
9 - Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
This film gets props for creativity and sheer depraved madness.
The dead in this film, instead of being created by some alien disease, or cosmic energy, or man-made virus, come from righteous indignation after some 70's hipsters with a crush on the Manson family decide to dig up, steal, and mess with a corpse.
Yes, it's basically Weekend At Bernies- except, in that film, nobody was trying to marry and sleep with the uncle.
And yes, it goes there.
It won't be for everyone. You probably know, based on that description, whether you ever want to watch this- but if you like Zombies, you really should- it's a insanely dark black comedy, filled with depravity and humor and rampaging-zombie madness.
There's simply noting else quite like it.
8 - Re-Animator
There will be some people that will read this and scoff at Re-Animator being called a zombie movie, but the film- a HP Lovecraft adaptation about two med students who discover a way to re-animate dead things, but not how to make anything more then mindless and bloodthirsty brutes- is pure zombie fodder by any other name.
Hugely influential in its time, and launching (or dooming) Jeffrey Combs to cult stardom, Re-Animator is easily one of the best horror movies of the 80's- darkly comical, violent, and a whole lot of fun.
It may not be the standard 'something falls from the sky and dooms the world in a zombie apocalypse' film- but honestly, isn't that getting a little tired at this point? There's only so much life left in that set-up, which was already old when Re-Animator came out.
If you haven't seen Re-Animator, I heartily suggest you check it out. It's probably the only movie in existence where a severed head attempts to go down on a girl in a hospital morgue. I think Lovecraft would be proud.
There's a slew of sequels- all somewhat entertaining, but mostly just bad.
7 - Return of the Living Dead
I think he looks just a little bit like a puppy.
John Russo and George Romero, who worked together on Night of the Living Dead, had a bit of a falling out. When they went their separate ways, both maintained some claim to the movie, and Russo got to keep the '...of the Living Dead' title (hence why Romero's later movies have dropped that moniker.)
Regardless of who was in the wrong (something hardcore zombie fan boys debate endlessly), Russo went on to spawn the 'Return of the Living Dead' series, which started with this cult-favorite film. I'd say it's probably the most referenced zombie film out there, next to 'Night of the Living Dead'- you can find little nods to it all over the place, even in films where you wouldn't really expect them to crop up.
It's a bit of a weird beast- very 80's, very madcap and heavy on the comedy in the beginning but shredding that as it goes along and the body count, and zombie count, goes up.
It's got everything you could want- a bunch of unlikeable characters just waiting to get torn apart, bloody deaths, hordes of zombies, and, rare to these types of films, a specific monster- (the so called Tar Man, who graces the picture above.)
In Russo's world, Night of the Living Dead was a real happening, and those zombies could not be killed- only sealed in barrels, where they slowly atrophied. You can guess something, somewhere, goes wrong with that process...
6 - Shaun of the Dead
Footage from the Ipad pre-sale.
Shaun of the Dead is one of those rare parody films that manages to hit all the right notes. Too often these films wallow in their own cleverness, or forget that to succeed, they also have to be good films in their own right.
Shaun of the Dead walks that narrow line admirably, and ended up being of the best zombie films of all time, even while savagely mocking the all the genres conventions.
It also more or less succeeded in making the elusive zombie romantic comedy a success, something filmmakers had been trying to do for years without much success. And, like any top zombie movie, it's got awesome gore.
5 - Braindead (Dead Alive)
He'll probably be fine.
Before Lord of the Rings, New Zealand's Peter Jackson was a horror and splatter movie titan, giving us the low-budget gross-out-fest Bad Taste, the extremely tasteless Meet The Feebles, the demented and deranged Heavenly Creatures, and Braindead, one of the most over-the-top zombie movies of all time.
In terms or sheer unhinged blood-soaked glee, I can think of no better movie. The last half of this film is literally just buckets upons buckets of gore soaking into the celluloid as more and more perverse violence in inflicted upon the dead, and the soon-to-be.
Has it had much of an influence? That's hard to tabulate. While well-known, it's really it's own beast, and doesn't have many of those iconic moments that directors like to refer back too to show how zombie literate they are. But that doesn't mean much- it's one of the most entertaining, relentless, and endlessly entertaining zombie films of all time.
If you only know Jackson as he is now, as director of the LOTR triology and King Kong- then you owe it yourself to check out his early work. It'll blow your mind.
You can read our full review here.
4 - Cemetery Man (Dellamorte Dellamore)
Kissing: You're doing it wrong.
I absolutely love Cementary Man.
It's such a great movie on so many levels- one part awesome horror, one part campy insanity, one part intellectual mind fuck- it's like Evil Dead, if it had been written by Tom Stoppard.
The plot, or as much of it as I want to give away, centers on the grave keeper, played by the brillant Rupert Everett, of a graveyard with some very unusual properties. Namely, anything buried there gets a second life; an undead one.
Life is a little less then pleasant for dear Rupert, who is forced to deal with these newly reborn every night, in all there various nefarious forms. There's so much I'd like to talk about- so many great scenes, characters, twists- but I don't want to ruin anything if you haven't seen it.
And you probably haven't- this film is criminally underrated. GO WATCH IT, RIGHT NOW.
3 - Dawn of the Dead
Rarely seen footage from the aborted Smurfs life action film.'
What Night of the Living Dead did, Dawn of the Dead did better. More zombies, more gore, a bigger budget, a more developed script- Dawn is usually the film critics and reviewers alike rank as the best zombie movie, and the best film Romero's ever put out.
It earns that title easily- it's both a scathing look at consumerism and greed, and an bloody fun movie (or is that fun, bloody movie?)
If you've yet to see it, and you call yourself a zombie fan, you're living a lie.
You can read our full review here.
2 - 28 Days Later
He just wants a hug.
28 Days Later came out of nowhere to revive the flagging zombie genre, and launch the steadily growing careers of director Danny Boyle and star Cillian Murphy.
Though not technically about zombies, the virus-infected monsters of the film still eat, kill, and hunt humans as zombies do- they just do it much, much faster.
Though the Dawn of the Dead remake paved the way for 'fast' zombies, this film drove the idea home in a much more compelling package, and was a thrilling tale of post-apocalyptic survival to boot. I'd say it's done more then any other film in this decade to bring zombies back into the limelight.
1 - Night of The Living Dead
Does this really suprise anyone?
In terms of sheer influence, it's hard to beat Night of the Living Dead.
It's not the first zombie movie, but it's imprint and mythology can be seen on nearly every flick that followed, and though the genre has undergone some mutations, most are just some variant on this formula.
Deftly mixing low-budget horror, social commentary, and a bleak atmosphere, there is a reason Night of the Living Dead routinely makes best movies of all time lists- a feat that would be impressive enough for a horror movie, but for a zombie movie, it's almost unbelievable.
You can read our full review here.
Well, there's our list! What do you think? Agree, disagree? Leave a comment and tell us how wrong we are!