I’ve been watching horror films since I was a kid, and have been a devout zombie fan for the last decade. A few years ago, I actually wrote a zombie apocalypse novel titled The Undying Love, which was published in 2013. While writing this book, I watched numerous zombie movies to make sure I had a very firm grasp on the zombie mythos.
After countless hours of “research,” here are my top 10 favorite zombie movies:
10. Return of the Living Dead
Originally, this movie was dismissed as another Romero rip-off, but over the years, it has achieved cult status. In addition to some gruesome zombie scenes and a naked punk-rock chick dancing in a cemetery, it also contains the classic line: “mmmm… brains.” While zombies craving brains isn’t really consistent with most zombie lore, for whatever reason, this simple sentiment has resonated in undead pop culture.
9. World War Z
Yes, I know it’s a big, shiny blockbuster. Yes, I know it didn’t stay true to the Max Brooks novel. But you must admit, it was entertaining to see the zombie apocalypse played out on a global stage, instead of the all-too-common scenario of a few people holed-up in a farmhouse or army base. It’s also pretty wild that Brad Pitt’s highest grossing film is a zombie movie.
8. Zombi 2
This movie features a scene in which a zombie fights a shark. I don’t think much more needs to be said.
7. Shaun of the Dead
Providing breakout roles for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this is by far the best zombie parody out there. The movie is full of witty satire while also serving as a fun and refreshing tribute to the genre. It has great characters, beer drinking, and British humor. What’s not to like?
That’s right, another zom-com. While Shaun of the Dead is a dynamic and clever parody, Zombieland is just flat-out humorous. A lot of critics say that it’s just a commercialized endeavor trying to capitalize on the popularity of zombies. Maybe they’re right, however, under all the gloss is a very funny movie that’s filled with loads of zombie-centric action. It also features one of the best celebrity cameos off all time.
5. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Like a lot of George A. Romero’s films, this zombie epic is drenched in social commentary. While it’s certainly culturally significant and thought provoking, if you watch it with a critical eye, you will notice a number technical flaws, like visible crew members and zombies with greenish-gray faces but healthy-looking necks. But make no mistake about it. I’m a huge fan of this monumental piece of zombie cinema.
4. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
This movie had the potential of bastardizing a classic, but ended up being a very notable and worthy remake of its predecessor. Highly intense and entertaining, this movie paid homage to the original while also setting itself apart.
This low-budget, independent zombie flick came out of nowhere and is quickly becoming a favorite among the undead community. The premise of the film is vastly intriguing, and its tension relies on chilling atmosphere and off-camera dread, instead of buckets of blood and dismembered limbs. It has lots of zombie brain candy, including a very original manner in which the plague is spread.
2. 28 Days Later
It’s not too often that you get somebody with Danny Boyle’s directing chops to helm a zombie movie. The Academy Award winning director spun a heart-pounding and visceral apocalyptic tale. Of course there’s the debate of whether or not this movie’s “rage-zombies” are technically even zombies. Personally, I think this film easily fits into the zombie canon. I also think the ultra-fast zombies in this movie provided a much-needed burst of energy to a genre that was starting to stagger. Pun intended.
1. Night of the Living Dead
George A. Romero is often called the father of the modern zombie, and for good reason. His landmark film gave us the zombie that we all know and love today: undead and craving the flesh of the living. Before this, zombies were an obscure voodoo legend that had hardly been touched on by mainstream forms of media. Not only did this movie give birth to an entire genre of horror fiction, it also launched a pop culture phenomenon. Of course there are zombie movies and books, but there are also zombie comics, graphic novels, video games, and board games. There are numerous zombie-related websites and online communities, not to mention zombie apocalypse survival events, zombie conventions, and zombie walks for charity. Heck, there’s even zombie porn. All of this exists because of an independently made, ambitious little black and white horror film from 1968.
Honorable Mention: 28 Weeks Later, Dead Alive, Dead Snow, Planet Terror, The Serpent and the Rainbow
About the author: Greg McCabe is a born-and-raised Texan. His debut novel, The Undying Love, was published in 2013. Greg enjoys all genres of fiction, but seems to gravitate towards horror and science fiction.