I’ve watched most zombie movies that have been made. I’m not proud of that achievement, and truth be told, I never finished some because they are so bad. From my experience, I’ve developed a list of the best of the genre. I’ll try to explain why these movies rank in my top 10, and I’ll add that I do not get wrapped up in the semantics of what a zombie is or is not.
If I have left your favorite biter flick off the list, comment and let me know about it. Note that Walking Dead is a TV show and not on this list, but if it were, it would be #1.
10. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
(Original – not the 1990 remake) This is not a great movie. It had a tiny budget. The acting is sub-par, but excellent for what they had to work with. The story moves slowly, it is filmed in black and white and frankly, the zombies move almost as slowly as the plot.
So why is it on my list?
It was a survival movie first, and the threat just happened to be zombies. The zombies, though shambling and slow, were relentless. They never stopped. They never rested or slept. That’s creepy as hell, and it has been used to epitomize everything from racial bias to the downside of technological advancement in first-world society. I’ve got give props to George A. Romero for creating the zombie genre as we know it, and most of the movies on this list would not have been made were it not for this movie.
9. Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012)
No one was more surprised than I was to see that this low-budget, direct to video movie didn’t suck. The zombies are hardly convincing or threatening, but the story has so much fun adding characters from US history, and Bill Oberst Jr. is so convincing as Abraham Lincoln, that I actually enjoyed this movie and watched it a second time.
Admittedly, one time really was enough.
8. Evil Dead: Army of Darkness (1992)
In this sequel in the Evil Dead franchise, a man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home.
Bruce Campbell is absolute gold in this movie, and he delivers campy lines with bravado and style. The movie is a fun send-up of the genre, and has some lowbrow, laugh out loud moments. Hail to the king, baby.
7. Pet Semetary (1989)
Based on the Stephen King book of the same name, an old cemetery is discovered where, if you bury your dead pet, it comes back. When a young boy is unexpectedly run over, he is buried in the cemetery and things get really wonky.
This is a movie that doesn’t get gross or graphic and doesn’t move very fast, but just oozes creepy.
6. Warm Bodies (2013)
R is a young, introspective zombie. Much of the movie is narrated with his voice over, providing insight into the day to day of being a zombie, but after meeting a girl, a strange, odd relationship forms and he starts to change.
I didn’t expect to like this movie. I thought it would be a sort of zombie-Twilight thing, and was pleasantly surprised to see it is a smart, rather sweet story. So many zombie flicks end on downer notes, it is worth pointing out that this one does not.
5. 28 Days Later (2002)
While the spin on the zombie is unique, it’s still well placed in the genre, I think. The virus doesn’t make the dead rise, but infects the living to become mindlessly violent and voracious. That’s far more believable, if you are the sort who watches zombie movies for realism.
Apart from that, it’s well paced and acted, and has some striking scenes of a world barren of uninfected humans.
4. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun’s girlfriend dumped him, his dead-end job isn’t going well, his roommates are bigger losers than he is, and the zombie apocalypse has begun. By most standards, that is a pretty bad day for anyone. Unless you can turn that frown upside down, nancy-boy, and Shaun has a goal – save his ex and get to the pub at all costs.
This is such a fun movie. If you haven’t seen this one, even if you don’t care for zombie stuff, you’ll probably get a kick out of it.
3. Zombieland (2009)
Zombieland is a comedy that focuses on an unlikely group of survivors in a world overrun by zombies who each have their own goals, however petty they may seem to everyone else.
Like Shaun of the Dead, this is a fun movie. It’s got scary moments, but it’s also loaded with great character dialogue and the rules, narrated by Columbus, keep cadence throughout the movie. After it was over, I somehow felt like I just watched Wonder Years with zombies.
2. Resident Evil (2002)
(The first movie – not any of the sequels) A virus has escaped in a secret facility called "The Hive," turning the staff into hungry zombies. The complex computer shuts down the base to prevent infection and the parent corporation sends in an elite military unit to investigate, where they meet survivor Alice, suffering from amnesia.
Based on a popular 90’s video game, this movie broke the mold and restaged the cause as a fast spreading virus. The action, scenes and acting are solid, but some of the dialogue comes across like a movie based on a 90’s video game.
1. World War Z (2013)
Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane; a retired investigator of some sort for the United Nations. As the zombie outbreak worsens, Gerry is coerced back into service to try and identify an origin of the virus and a way to neutralize it.
While the plot is nothing like the book, Pitt delivers a solid performance, believable in the role of family man and seasoned investigator, Gerry Lane. The tension builds and the story delivers a satisfying conclusion. The movie could have gone deep into gross-out gore, and didn’t. This lent a sense of class lacking from the zombie genre, which typically wallows in blood and violence. Even the soundtrack was good.
That’s my list. Your mileage may vary.
- Zombie Movies for the Purist (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Top 10 Zombie Movies of All Time (houseofgeekery.com)
- Shaun Of The Dead (2004) (liamdoesfilm.wordpress.com)
- Zombies and Popcorn and Brad, Oh my! (eternalsunshinereviews.wordpress.com)
- The 21st Century Zombie (acollectivemind.wordpress.com)
- List Of 5 Popular Zombie Movies (ininja36.wordpress.com)