The 10 Best Italian Zombie Movies

6. Demons (1985)


When Demons released, the team behind it seemed like a match made in heaven. Dario Argento of Suspiria fame wrote the script, with Lamberto Bava, son of Mario Bava, directing. Despite the pedigree creative team behind the film, Demons is less of a moody Giallo film, as it delivers pure ‘80s cheese in its most unadulterated form. The movie forgoes the usual dead and moody atmosphere that defines most Italian zombie films in favor of pure chaos and nasty practical effects.

Set in a movie theater, the film follows a series of characters who find themselves at the premiere of a new horror film. As the film unfolds, zombies begin to take over the theater as patrons try anything and everything to protect themselves and escape.

Featuring memorable characters, including a blind man, a pimp and two prostitutes, and a gang of roving punks who snort cocaine straight from a coca-cola can, Demons combines memorable kills with a goofy sense of fun that makes it immensely watchable. The film’s anarchic tone is elevated with a rock soundtrack featuring the likes of Billy Idol, Motley Crue, and Pretty Maids.

Perfect to watch with friends, this audacious zombie flick embodies everything fun about the ‘80s era of horror with gusto and some of the most satisfying kills of the decade. The demented glee and satisfying gore makes for a bonafide classic that can be revisited again and again.


7. City of the Living Dead (1980)

Following the success of Zombi 2, City of the Living Dead, the very beginning of Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy started out with a bang.

The film features surreal horror sequences, foggy streets, grotesque zombie designs, and some of the most audacious setpieces in the genre. The scene in which a woman’s eyes bleed and she literally starts spilling her guts is one of the most memorable sequences Fulci has ever put together.

The film became the poster child of violent films that “tore at the fabric of society”. Upon home release, the movie found itself at the center of a campaign to reduce the availability of violent films to minors. The film was initially banned in West Germany and was subject to intense criticism for its violence. However, contemporary review have more than vindicated the film’s quality, as City of the Living Dead became a fixture of the genre that viewers praise for its excellent atmosphere and direction.


8. Burial Ground (1981)

Burial Ground is one of the many films released under the title Zombi 3. Dismissed initially as a cheap clone of Zombi 2, Burial Ground wisely forgoes plot to deliver a harrowing assault on the senses. Jam-packed with effective gore and a merciless tension that is sustained throughout the short runtime, the film stands as an effective and grotesque exploration of sleaze and sexuality that has to be seen to be believed.

The film follows a scientist who opens a crypt that unleashes an evil curse. As the scientist gathers a crowd to celebrate his new scientific discovery, zombies descend on the group, causing mayhem and destruction. The guests seek shelter in a mansion and spend the night fighting for their lives.

Busting at the seams with well-paced kills, a surreal atmosphere, and a great soundtrack, Burial Ground makes the most of every moment. The film may not match the visual heights of a Fulci film, but as a grindhouse Oedipus horror with some of the grossest effects in the genre, the film delivers everything zombie enthusiasts could want in a zombie flick.


9. Nightmare City (1980)

Pulling from the radiation poisoning genre that reached heights in the ‘50s, as nuclear bombs became the cultural boogeyman that pervaded the public, Nightmare City set out to be a zombie film. However, it ended up sharing more with George A. Romero’s The Crazies than Night of the Living Dead.

The film follows Dean Miller, an American television reporter who arrives at an airport to interview scientists about a recent nuclear accident. Zombies populate the area immediately as Dean escapes to a radio station in an attempt to warn the public about the impending zombie hoard. Zombies quickly ascend on the radio station, and Dean and his wife have to fight for their survival.

Complete with bad dubbing, inventive gore scenes, and a hefty dose of dancing, Nightmare City is a formidable entry in the Italian Zombie genre. The mayhem and carnage present in the film are offset by a unique take on zombies, with creatures that are more agile than the average resurrected dead.


10. Zombie Holocaust (1980)

Though Zombie Holocaust lacks an original plot, it compensates with some of the goriest violence in the entire genre. Featuring a mashup between the cannibal genre and the Italian zombie genre, the film is audacious and over the top, in the best kind of way.

Zombie Holocaust is yet another film that bills itself as Zombi 3. The movie follows a team of scientists as they track a trail of mutilated corpses from New York to the Asian Molucca Islands. There Dr. Peter Chandler and anthropology expert Lori encounter a hoard of flesh-eating zombies who are in search of a new queen.

With memorable gore setpieces and an over-the-top approach, Zombie Holocaust exemplifies the best of the genre’s sillier elements without sacrificing any of the creative gore that’s expected from these types of films.