One of my favorite sub-genre’s of horror is the Zombie films. There is something about death that scares the hell out of us yet fascinates us the same. And Zombie films give us that dark attraction of death along with the terror of monsters, from the very first Zombie film, “White Zombie”, up to the current blockbusters Walking Dead. There may be debate as to what a zombie is but for the purpose of this article, I won’t debate whether these are undead infected or undead reanimated by the bite of a zombie.
Here is my list of the greatest Zombie movies/series in horror.
- Night of the Living Dead (1968) – George Romero’s original simply must be at the top spot of this list. Though it was not the first Zombie movie ever made, it definitely revolutionized the sub-genre, setting the general rules for a Zombie film such as Zombies are reanimated corpses, Zombies are compelled to eat the flesh of the living, Zombies are unthinking, tireless and impervious to injury and the only way to kill a zombie is to destroy the brain. I would wager there hasn’t been a Zombie movie made since that hasn’t had some influence from this film.
- The Walking Dead (2010-2022) – When I watched the first episode of The Walking Dead on AMC back in 2010, I sat down in the den and honestly did not have high expectations but it WAS horror and it WAS on television so I had to watch. I was blown away and watched religiously up through about season 9. Robert Kirkman, with his graphic comics influencing this series, changed the way television audiences viewed horror. People don’t realize how important this series has been to the entire genre.
- Dawn of the Dead (1978) – Another Romero film, Dawn is shot in an abandoned shopping mall surrounded by Zombies and the fun begins. It is suspenseful and is a splatterfest on film. Many say that this was even better than Night of the Living Dead.
- Re-animator (1985) – Based on H.P. Lovecraft’s 1922 short story “Herbert West–Reanimator,” Stuart Gordon’s film has become a genre favorite to Zombie fans. When medical student Dan Cain advertises for a roommate, he finds one in the form of Herbert West. Initially a little eccentric, it some becomes clear that West entertains some seriously outlandish theories, specifically about re-animating the dead. It’s not long before Dan finds himself under West’s influence, and embroiled in a series of ghoulish experiments that threaten to get out of hand.
- 28 Days Later (2002) – Great film by Danny Boyle, it’s a different take as it follows survivors struggling to make sense of the aftermath, 28 days after a viral epidemic ravages Britain in the form of a virulent and incurable sickness that leaves its hosts in a perpetual state of aggression, filled with uncontrollable rage.
- World War Z (2013) Based on the novel of the same name by Max Brooks. This, like 28 Days Later, is a bad science movie where people are infected by a virus and reanimated into Zombies. These Zombies have some different traits but it is a brilliant story and the monsters ARE Zombies.
- REC (2008) – A Spanish found footage film, a TV reporter and her cameraman are conducting a routine interview at a local fire station when an emergency call comes in. Accompanying the firefighters to a nearby apartment, the news team begins recording the blood-curdling screams coming from inside an elderly woman’s unit. After authorities seal off the building to contain the threat, the news crew, firefighters and residents are stuck facing a lethal terror inside. This is a high energy, intense movie, as most found footage films are.
- Zombie (1979) – an heiress journeys to a Caribbean isle in search of her missing father, only to be caught up in a zombie infestation that quickly spreads. Lucio Fulci’s film is grisly with incredible practical effects. One of the coolest scenes ever in a Zombie movie in an underwater scene between a Zombie and a shark.
- Shaun of the Dead (2004) – A comedic horror, this film has been called a parody of the genre but it is actually poking fun at the humans. The make up was very good, and Simon Pegg was brilliant in this.
- Day of the Dead (1985) – Another Romero film, this film reintroduces the science back into zombie flicks, finally making one of the main characters a researcher, Matthew “Frankenstein” Logan, who has had some time to study the zombies in the relative safety of a lab. With a bigger budget than Romero’s NOLD and Dawn of the Dead, the practical effects in this one were amazing, especially for its time.
Others to Watch
White Zombie (1932)
Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Plague of Zombies (1966)
Train to Busan (2018)
Night of the Creeps (1986)
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Fear the Walking Dead (series 2015 – )
Zombie 2 (1979)