The recent release of Overlord has reminded many people why the zombie genre is so popular. People just love watching the undead duke it out with the living, and who can blame them? Especially right now, when Oscar bait movies are being shoved down our throats, it may be nice to sit back and watch some movies about flesh eating monsters. A lot of movies on this list offer plenty of gory fun.
From the above description, it may sound like zombie movies are purely trashy entertainment. Some of the movies listed below really are just trashy fun. On the flipside, some of these movies are oddly close to the Oscar bait movies mentioned above. There are movies that border on being flat-out dramas, and that’s just fine. That just means that the list should, in theory, include something for everybody. Maybe zombie movie haters will be converted with some of the entries.
1. Who Can Kill a Child
Who Can Kill a Child? jumps straight to the point with the thought provoking title. Really, who can kill a child? What could possibly lead someone to kill a child? Well, in this movie, the general consensus seems to be that if you’re on an island with a bunch of violent, murdering children, it may be in your best interest to take matters into your own hands.
This is especially true if those children display characteristics reminiscent of the common zombie. Even if the movie never uses the z-word, this pretty much fits the bill, which is why it has made its way onto this list that admittedly uses the word “zombie” loosely.
A passive watching of this movie may lead you to believe that it’s a straightforward slasher movie where adults and kids try to kill one another, but it’s not exactly that simple. There’s a lot of morality to be discussed here. There’s also a lot of lore that may be worth chatting about.
Basically, this is a movie that can be viewed as either a thinker or a braindead exploitation movie depending on who you ask. The good news is that it functions well enough as both. This is an experience that’s both fun and fairly intelligent.
Pontypool isn’t a zombie movie in the traditional sense. The monsters in the movie aren’t necessarily the undead dudes that fans of the genre have grown to love. In other words, if you’re a stickler for zombie lore, this might not be the movie for you. Everyone else absolutely deserves to give this criminally underrated movie again. Not only is it one of the best “zombie” movies of the 2000s, it’s also one of the best overall horror movies from that beloved period in time.
Pontypool succeeds because it knows how to build tension and because it knows how to create a haunting atmosphere. The success of this movie is largely tied to the haunting setup that leads to one of the most atmospheric movies in the genre.
This setup also leads to the movie’s brilliant use of sound. There’s a lot of talk from people who are sick of jump scare after jump scare. Horror fans looking for something that relies on terror rather than loud bangs may be in for a treat. At the same time, horror fans are in for a treat regardless.
3. The Battery
You’ll notice that a lot of this list includes zombie dramas rather than zombie horror movies. While, to some extent, zombie movies are inherently within the horror genre, several of the movies listed below lean heavily into more dramatic territory. They put the brain eating and headshots on the backburner while the more human aspects of the subgenre are put front and center.
It’s admirable, but it is, to some extent, a probable reason as to why these movies can’t quite find their audience. A lot of people come into zombie movies expecting balls-to-the-walls action. Imagine how these people feel when they turn on a zombie movie only to discover it’s just two dudes arguing for ninety minutes. It might n
In some ways, it’s unfair to say that The Battery is just two dudes arguing for the entire runtime. On the other hand, that is a large portion of the runtime. Actually, that’s kind of the beauty of this movie.
This is more of a character study than anything, which helps it stand out from the competition of brain-bashing zombie movies. The constant fighting may be annoying for people wanting something simpler, but it’s really fascinating to think about the ways people would interact with one another in this kind of situation.
With all of that in mind, be aware that The Battery more closely resembles a mumblecore movie than a zombie movie. This is great for a very specific kind of moviegoer but it also means this isn’t completely accessible. Within a few minutes, most viewers will be able to figure out whether or not they’re the target audience. The target audience should really enjoy everything this has to offer.
4. The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (Let Sleeping Corpses)
Ignore the fact that this movie has like, five titles. It shouldn’t be remembered for its numerous titles. It should be remembered because it’s a really damn good zombie movie that has somehow proven that “zombie murder mystery” isn’t a bad idea. Maybe it’s not a bad idea because the campy fun proves to be more entertaining than anything else. Or perhaps it’s not a bad idea because the people behind the camera really knew how to make a kooky premise work.
In reality, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue is worth watching for a variety of reasons. The main draw might be the quirky, campy tone that’s hard-to-miss even within the opening few minutes. At the same time, great action scenes, a fun setup, and likeable (albeit underdeveloped) characters also make this a movie that’s hard to resist. It hasn’t aged as well as some people may like, but it’s still a movie that’s easy to appreciate.
5. I Walked with a Zombie
It’s a shame that the underrated streaming service Filmstruck is shutting down. It’s one of the best places to watch criminally underseen horror classics like 1943’s I Walked with a Zombie.
This zombie flick from the director of Cat People feels nothing like comparable movies from the same time period. More importantly, it still feels wholly unique to this day. Maybe it’s because most zombie movies have turned up the horror and turned down the drama, but it’s hard to find an experience like this one.
As hinted at above, the movie excels because it’s not a traditional horror movie. It’s far from the zombie movie experience we have come to expect. In fact, some pickier people may want to avoid calling it a zombie movie at all.. It’s a drama with witchcraft and raising the dead, so close enough.
It’s just not the kind of “bash-their-brains-in” movie viewers have gotten used to over the years. It’s a slow, emotional journey that will leave many viewers satisfied as long as they don’t an epic, large-scale zombie movie akin to World War Z.