8. Dead Alive aka Braindead (1992)
In an expedition to Skull Island, a man captures a Sumatran Rat-Monkey, the creature is then sent to Wellington Zoo in New Zealand. Lionel Cosgrove lives with his dominating mother Vera, he is a mama’s boy and his love affair with Paquita is disapproved by her mother.
While snooping on a date, Vera is bitten by the Sumatran rat-monkey and slowly transformed into a zombie. Lionel tries to keep her locked in the basement. One day, Vera breaks free and starts turning all the people in town into zombies. Lionel will have to deal with her undead mother and the rest of the zombies while trying to keep it a secret to Paquita and the rest of the world.
The film is crazy and gory from beginning to end. One reason to enjoy the film was Peter Jackson´s pre-CGI filmmaking, filled with practical effects. It is said to be the bloodiest film ever that time. In the infamous lawnmower scene, the production pumped five gallons of fake blood per second.
At times it is almost comical and could be considered a satire of zombie genre. The creature that turns people into zombies comes from Skull Island, which is the same Skull Island from his later film King Kong, which contains an Easter egg to Dead Alive.
7. 28 Days Later (2002)
Animal activists invade a secret lab with the intention of releasing apes that are undergoing experimentation, the apes are infected with a zombie virus. While setting them free, one of the activists is bitten by a chimp and starts attacking the others with disastrous results. 28 days later, Jim wakes up from a coma, disoriented and confused, he goes out of the hospital, only to find a deserted London. After wondering around, Jim comes across an infected person, which makes him realize the situation he is living in.
Saved by Selena and Mark, Jim will come to terms with the reality he now lives in, fighting for survival in this apocalyptic scenario.
One of the most clever zombie movies out there, this is a film where the city of London could be considered a character of its own. Brilliantly directed by Danny Boyle, this film has suspense in every corner. Boyle achieved what no other director could by showing us the aftermath of a zombie outbreak, portraying the human and monstrous side of humanity with the basic survival instinct.
There are great performances by the entire cast with Cillian Murphy and Christopher Ecclestone standing out. The film has a great score by John Murphy that smoothly plays during the mansions raid. Boyle also, in a way, reinvented the genre by creating a plausible scenario and making zombies scary again by making them almost unstoppable and fast.
6. I Walked With a Zombie (1943)
Betsy Connell, a young nurse, arrives at a sugar plantation in St. Sebastian, the West Indies, to care for Jessica, the invalid wife of the plantation’s owner Paul Holland. One night, Betsy finds Jessica walking in the garden as if she was in some kind of trance. Betsy will stop at nothing to find a cure even if she has to seek into voodoo.
The film is unsettling in its core, trying to comprehend the native’s culture and fascination with supernatural elements, using the Caribbean folklore with the juxtaposition of strange religious images like a St. Sebastian figure. Brilliantly directed by Jacques Tourneur, this film is a new interpretation of Jane Eyre with no happy ending.
5. Day of the Dead (1985)
The world as we know has come to an end, zombies now rule the earth, only a handful of people have survived. A group of scientist and military personnel are hiding in an underground bunker somewhere in Florida, trying to contact any other survivors, only to find themselves alone in the world.
The scientists are desperately searching for a cure, while doing so they discover that zombies might retain some of their humanity. As scientists and the military clash against each other, they will have to join forces as the bunker starts to become overrun by zombies.
Day of the Dead is the most controversial film in Romero’s trilogy. Having to fill the shoes of its previews films, Day of the Dead comes somewhat short to its predecessors but it’s still a good zombie movie. This time Romero criticizes the nature of human emotions, how men have become overrun by prejudice no matter what turmoil we encounter. This might be a soul-searching film in a way, due to its profound nature on its take on humanity.
The most notably character is Bub, whom Dr. Logan is trying to humanize. It is fun to watch as Bub regains some memories of his life prior to his infection. Romero also reinvents and adds another chapter to the zombie anthology as he states that amputation of an infected limb may prevent a full zombie transformation.
Tom Savini treats us to splendid makeup and special effect, greatly choreographed scenes and over-the-top violence and gore. In the end the message is clear: humanity’s last hope rests on a complete reassessment of their moral and scientific priorities. In the end, George A. Romero followed this cult classic trilogy with less popular reboots like Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and Survival of the Dead.
4. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Life is not great for Shaun. He hates his job, no one takes him as an important person, Liz just dumped him for not taking her seriously. Shaun decides to take control of his life and get back on track. Unfortunately, a zombie outbreak just happened, and Shaun decides to rescue the ones he loves and the ones he does not love that much with the help of his best friend Ed.
Director Edgar Wright’s first part of the unofficial Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy, this film perfectly combines comedy and horror to deliver a great fun and dark film. At times the film carries itself thanks to the great duo, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
A great example of how the everyday man reacts to a zombie apocalypse, the movie is filled with a great soundtrack especially when Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now plays at the Winchester. In the end true love and friendship prevail with a bittersweet touch.
3. Re-Animator (1985)
Herbert West, a medical student, returns from Zurich after the mysterious death of his mentor, who dedicated his life to reanimate the dead. Herbert enrolls at Miskatoic University in order to further his studies. With the help of Dan Cain, a fellow student, he continues with his experiments that will have horrific consequences for everyone.
A great adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft novel “Herbert West-Re-animator”, the film is great on its own. With great visual effects, and a great headless Dr. Hill zombie designed by Tony Doubling, this is a perfect example of how science fiction and horror can be well-mixed in a glorious gore fest.
Jeffrey Combs totally steals the show as a mad scientist obsessed with death. With great humor, this horror film will easily blow your mind. The film had such a cult following that it spawned two sequels: Bride of the Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator.
2. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
A few weeks after the event in Night of the Living Dead, the situation is getting worse, the zombie outbreak is out of control and massive hordes are all over the place. Two Swat officers, a traffic reporter, and his girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall, after finding what seems like a safe sanctuary, all hell break loose when they are attacked by the undead and a ruthless gang of bikers.
In this direct sequel to Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero treats us with a look on how things evolved in America. Making the film an open criticism to consumerism, showing us how these four survivors take all they want and need from the mall while the living dead only walk stupidly through the mall, with only the basic need to survive.
The film is moodily satirized by the annoying mall music, with great improvement in special effects and the way zombies interact with the living. Romero’s Dawn is an honest and brutal reminder of how raw and violent real life can be.
1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Barbara and her brother Jimmy are out on a road trip from Pittsburg to the countryside to visit the grave of his father. In the cemetery, Jimmy is attacked and killed by a man who appears out of nowhere. Barbara escapes and finds a shelter in a secluded farmhouse with other survivors.
They realize that the people going after them are undead. Outside the farm, they are surrounded by a horde of relentless zombies who can only be killed by a blow to the head, Barbara and the others must do what it takes to survive.
Directed by the father of modern zombie folklore Gorge A. Romero, at times the film feels like a cheap B movie with comedic tones, but slowly as it evolves, the film transforms itself as a masterpiece that criticizes and shows civil uprising, racism, the fear of the masses, and the possible nuclear war, with subtle apocalyptic undertones with no hope on the horizon.
The film also re-invented what zombies look like, leaving all the supernatural/voodoo roots and making them something more violent and primal. The film is great from beginning to end and has one of the creepiest little girl ever on film.
Author Bio: Daniel Miranda is a Consultant/Entrepreneur from Mexico. He is a cinema aficionado and travel enthusiast. His favorite directors are Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman, Tarsem, Wim Wenders, Steve McQueen and Ridley Scott.