The best kind of film is a zombie film. The world thrown into disarray, people adapting to a completely new way of life and dealing with people they wouldn’t normally be stuck with… and people getting eaten by the undead. So many great concepts to be explored. And yet, sadly, most do not.
This list is a list of my personal favourite twenty zombie films, although I did expand this to a Top 50 on IMDb. If you’re too lazy to read ahead, that list can be found here.
PS I am not being overly strict with the definition of ‘zombie’, but I am not including films that simply have a character who dies and comes back (ala Jason Voorhees).
20. The Dead Next Door (1989)
A group is set up by the Government to kill zombies. Extremely low-budget, but campy and fun. Don’t expect great performances or effects but that’s not what this film is about. It is more comedy focused and has a likable sense of humour, as well as some cool gore.
19. Idle Hands (1999)
This is not so much a zombie film, but a film which features zombies. However, it’s a long-time favourite of mine so I shall include it. Anton’s hand becomes possessed and starts murdering people. This includes his two best friends, who both come back from the dead. Funny and doesn’t wear out its welcome.
18. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
Bill Pullman goes to Haiti to investigate a rumour about a drug which causes people to become paralyzed, but conscious and which may be the inspiration for the zombie legend. The plot makes it sound like some dragging drama, but it is actually a very atmospheric and entertaining film. Bill Pullman is also rather attractive.
17. I Am Legend (2007)
Will Smith is apparently the lone survivor years after a virus has wiped out mankind. Keeping him company are his dog and the bloodthirsty mutants of the virus who mostly come out at night… mostly. Arguably not a real zombie film, I say to hell to with it. Cringeworthy bad effects and a silly Hollywood ending are the only things that I really dislike about the film. Lone survivor in a post-apocalyptic city with zombie-vampire-creatures that come out at night is a winning combination.
16. Deadgirl (2008)
Two highschool boys find a girl who can’t die in an abandoned mental hospital. A dark film that explores the concept well. Noah Segan is impressive playing the dickish character who decides to take advantage of the situation and Shiloh Fernandez is just a little bit annoying as a the nice guy who struggles with deciding what to do. This is more focused on the human nature side of things, rather than the zombie side, which is what I most enjoy. A bit of social commentary as well.
15. Army of Darkness (1992)
Ash is transported to the 1300s and must battle a horde of zombies and find the Necronomicon in order to get home. The weakest of the Evil Dead trilogy, yet still a fun ride. Zombie slayin’, campy humour and Bruce Campbell in dat outfit.
14. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
One of the best horror remakes – and remakes in general – finds a group of people hiding out in a shopping mall during the zombie apocalypse. Whilst it doesn’t recreate the tension and atmosphere of the first film, it takes the concept, modernizes it and does it awesomely. The characters aren’t horrible, the gore and zombies are cool and it makes the most of the zombies.
13. Evil Dead II (1987)
Ash holds up with a group of strangers in the cabin as he must survive the continued attacks from the demons. Taking a more comedic tone than the first one, it is funny and bloody and although the secondary characters are more annoying, it still heavily features a sexy Bruce Campbell.
12. Død snø (2009)
A group of medical students holidaying in a cabin in the snowy mountains find themselves face to face with Nazi zombies. Despite being hated by seemingly every Norwegian, I think it strikes a great balance between a gory zombie film and a funny zombie film. It is damn fun and also has a pretty snowy setting.
11. Stalled (2013)
A janitor gets trapped in the ladies toilet during the zombie apocalypse. Yes, the entire film takes place in the toilet, and yes, it does this very well. Dan Palmer is a likable lead and holds the entire film on his shoulders. It’s funny and even emotional at times, and a refreshing take on the genre.
10. Day of the Dead (1985)
Scientists and doctors hide out in an underground bunker, where tensions are reaching a breaking point and the undead have taken over the world above. Whilst most zombie films focus on the initial breakout, I liked that this focused more on the cabin fever side of things. Packed full of tension and featuring an interesting cast of characters, it’s easy to find yourself drawn in. And Bub is seriously cool.
9. “Dead Set” (2008)
A zombie outbreak occurs during a series of Big Brother, whilst the housemates are unaware of apocalypse. Ok, yeah this is a mini-series and not a film but what are you going to do about it? It’s my list so deal with it, biatch. It was a cool idea and allows for a longer progression of the zombie apocalypse, and is gory and funny.
8. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
The employees of a warehouse accidentally release a gas that causes the dead to reanimate. Hilarious, gory fun. Doesn’t bother with a slow build-up or unnecessary explanation, it just chucks you in there with the zombies. An interesting mix of characters and a slight twist on the actual undead help set it apart from other similar films.
7. [Rec] (2007)
A reporter and her cameraman and a group of emergency workers are locked inside an apartment building with a virus turning people violent and aggressive. A great found footage style film which utilises the style well and helps develop the claustrophobia of the quarantine. Creepy, violent and intense.
6. Dèmoni (1985)
A screening of a midnight horror film goes wrong as the cinema goers proceed to be possessed by demons. This is one kick-ass film that starts off amazingly strong, dips slightly in the middle, and then picks itself back up again for an awesome finale. The gore is amazing, it’s crazily intense and just damn entertaining.
5. The Evil Dead (1981)
Some friends go to a cabin in the woods, releasing some demons which proceed to possess and kill them off. I proudly declare this to be the scariest film I’ve ever seen. Everything about it is creepy; the effects, the noises, the fog, the camera angles… some spooky shit. The pencil scene was also my most traumatic childhood experience.
4. Braindead (1992)
Remains the goriest film I’ve ever seen, and not only easily holds that title, it’s actually an amazing film that uses the gore for a purpose. Likable lead, awesome gore, awesome zombies, just awesomeness all around. If you haven’t seen it, you have not yet lived.
3. 28 Days Later… (2002)
Jim wakes up in a hospital in London to find the city an empty wasteland four weeks after an outbreak of a rage virus. I find it a bit creepy at times and I think the rage virus concept works well in introducing ‘fast zombies’. It’s genuinely unsettling and it’s easy to sympathize with the characters.
2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
After his girlfriend breaks up with him, Shaun decides to win her back, but unfortunately decides to do so during a zombie apocalypse. Easily the greatest zomcom ever, hitting the right notes in the horror category, the comedy category and even being genuinely emotional. Everything about it is pitch perfect.
1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Arguably the greatest of the ‘Dead’ trilogy as well as being my personal favourite all-time zombie film. It is seeping atmosphere and despite the bad zombie effects, makes the bumbling and slow undead creepy as balls. It also makes my Top 10 films of all time, because it is just an amazing film that seems to get better every time I watch it.