The Top Ten Zombie Movies

BT-Top-10-May-2012With the impending release of “World War Z”, I thought the timing was perfect to do a top ten of one of my favorite types of horror movies, the Zombie Movie!

Believe it or not, Zombie movies are actually a pretty diverse sub-genre. They range from straight up horror movies and gorefests to low-budget campy films to outright comedies. Hell, earlier this year there was even a Zombie rom com (“Warm Bodies”)!

bannerWith such a wide range of movies to choose from it wasn’t easy narrowing it down to ten! Click through to see what made the list!

10) Dead Alive (1992)

dead_alivePeter Jackson’s 1992 gross out zombie comedy is more batshit crazy than I can even explain. A young man with an overbearing mother tries to protect her after she’s been infected by the virus. Instead, he winds up turning their home into zombie central. Played for laughs, zombies get killed in the grossest, goriest, funniest ways possible. There’s a massive zombie slaughter scene with a lawnmower that will leave you wanting a shower afterwards!  Zombie tea parties, zombie intestines, and don’t forget the zombie baby!

9) Return of the Living Dead (1985)

return_of_the_living_deadThe zombie movie genre has no shortage of campy films, but few have established the kind of cult following that “Return of the Living Dead” has. With its punk rock fashion sensibilities, animatronic zombies, B-Movie queen Linnea Quigley, and the introduction of the zombie refrain “Brainnnnnnsss…” into the zombie lexicon, “Return of the Living Dead” is an unforgettable 80s classic. Based on a novel by “Night of the Living Dead” co-writer John Russo, it went on to spawn four sequels and create its own influence on the genre.

8) Zombie (aka Zombi 2) (1979)

ZombieIn case anyone needs any incentive to check this one out, it features a scene where a zombie fights a shark. No kidding involved, a zombie fights a shark. The rest of the movie is a straight forward, dead rising from their graves on a small tropical island gorefest featuring 1970s level special effects and makeup! The zombies shamble but outnumber their prey, leading to lots of undead feasting! Directed by noted giallo director Lucio Fulci, this one has no shortage of blood and guts. AND a zombie fights a shark! What’s not to love?

7) “Zombieland” (2009)

zombieland_ver2This zombie comedy introduces us to the “Zombie Rules” including “Cardio”, “The Double Tap” and “Wear Seat Belts”. A small group of ragtag survivors forms after a brief period of mistrust (“Mistrust” meaning robbing each other at gunpoint). Together they make their way to Pacific Playland, as it’s just as good a destination as any. Along the way, attachments form, Twinkies are sought, and we get one of the greatest cameos ever! It’s a fun comedy set in the midst of the zombie apocalypse! A sequel has been much conjectured about, but at this point it’s reportedly not in motion.

6) “Dawn of the Dead” (2004)

dawn_of_the_dead_ver2Zack Snyder takes Romero’s 1978 classic and turns it into a modern action/horror film. Solid acting and directing and modern production values make this one notable. As a group of survivors gather in a cleared out shopping mall, the people turn out to pose more danger to each other than the zombies do. As they prepare to make their exodus, will their band be able to pull together and do what needs to be done to make it out alive? Starring Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames, this film is one that gives remakes a good name.

5) “[Rec]” (2007)

recA TV crew following a team of fire fighters on a routine night winds up on a call to a building that’s ground zero for a burgeoning outbreak. While the cops and fire fighters investigate the call, the center for disease control quarantines the building. The TV crew and rescue workers are left trapped inside, wandering around a dark, zombie filled building with no hope for escape. This 2007 Spanish film is small-scale zombie terror at its best. It’s already spawned two sequels and an English language remake!

4) “Shaun of the Dead” (2004)

shaun_of_the_dead_ver2“Shaun of the Dead” takes the stereotypical zombie apocalypse and inserts two slacker buddies as the unlikely heroes. Though the world is falling apart around them, Shaun and Ed still head for the pub. Their thinking? “It’s safe”. Gathering a small group of people close to them, they brave the zombie outbreak trying to reach the safety of their local bar. Hilarity, romance, and zombie battling action ensue. One of the most famous horror-comedies of all time, it also introduced the world to the comedy duo of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.

3) “28 Days Later” (2002)

twenty_eight_days_laterThough it wasn’t the first movie ever to feature zombies that could run, it certainly felt as though Danny Boyle introduced the world to the concept of “Fast Zombies” with this horror story of an outbreak that devastates the population of Britain. In an unforgettable scene to start the movie, Cillian Murphy’s character awakens to an empty London. As with all good zombie movies, the humans in the film are just as frightening as the zombies, and the “safety” that gets reached is just as dangerous as what the survivors are fleeing.

2) “Dawn of the Dead” (1978)

dawn_of_the_deadGeorge A Romero’s follow-up to his classic “Night of the Living Dead”, “Dawn of the Dead” gives the requisite dosage of zombie action, coupled with a scathing indictment of the American culture of consumerism. Many point to the shambling zombies wandering the mall as American shopping send up, but in my opinion it’s the period of contentment the survivors go through when their material needs are met that’s the most damning! As long as we have our “stuff”, who cares what hell rages outside our gates? Classic movie from the master of the genre!

1) “Night of the Living Dead” (1968)

Night of the Living DeadThis is the movie that started it all. There may have been movies about zombies prior to this, but they were of the voodoo kind, not the flesh-eating undead variety. George A Romero’s low-budget, independently made horror film redefined the very term. Released pre-MPAA, it was highly controversial for its shocking levels of violence. Its classic, massively influential place in movie history, coupled with the shockingly brilliant ending that retroactively makes the film a condemnation of racism makes “Night of the Living Dead” the greatest zombie movie ever made!


Well, there you have it folks. The Top Ten Zombie Movies!

What do you think? Any that I have too high or too low? Did I make any glaring omissions? Any that I’ve included that you don’t think belong?

Let’s hear it!!



130 thoughts on “The Top Ten Zombie Movies

    • A lot of people criticize the second half of 28 Days Later, but I’m fine with it. It showcases the common Zombie theme refrain that the ugliness in humans is more dangerous than any zombie outbreak!

      I was late to the Return of the Living Dead party, and that can be damaging. If I had caught it in ’85, it may have more nostalgia for me. As it is, I cant go higher, it’s too campy, dated, etc… Zombie, meanwhile, HELL YEAH! LOL 😀

  1. I haven’t seen some of these but you included Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead (’04 version) and 28 Days Later! Thats good enough for me. With that said, they would’ve probably scored higher on my list. But then, as much as Resident Evil sucks, its something like a guilty pleasure which I totally love! So I’d have to put it in there 🙂
    Awesome list Fogs! 🙂 I CAN’T WAIT for World War Z!!

    • In all seriousness? I have now seen every Resident Evil movie except the first one. LOL. No joke. 😀

      I didn’t think it would crack this list though, so I didn’t circle back for it. Meanwhile, I’m now cautiously optimistic about WWZ due to the Rotten Tomatoes score. LOL The trailers so far have left me kind of cold. 😦

      • Resident Evil, the first one is the one that ressembles zombies the most. Its a personal thing..haha! I don’t expect it to crack a lot of other people’s lists for zombie movies.

        WWZ trailers were alright. It looked a bit ridiculous but entertaining, which is why I’m reading the novel now. Its going to probably be a bit different. The way they seem to do it, it seems like it has lots of ways that it can go…but definitely more entertaining than the book..haha!

      • It may have originated with a possession, but it definitely became a virus, spread by biting. A lot of movies have different genesis explanations for how the disease began, Night of the Comets for example used alien parasites… to me, the proof is in the pudding though. Those were zombies 😉

  2. Zombieland, Shaun and 28 days Later are the ones I’ve seen. Liked all three but these days it’s the TV Zombies that get me, GOT and Walking Dead are “unreal”. My wife never looks forward to a movie but she’s “dying” to see WWZ. Apparently the book was quite something, she couldn’t “put it down”.

    • Really, huh? Ohhhhhh I bet it’s because she read the book. LOL I gotcha, I’m on to her…. LOL Pass that along 😉

      You’re right, too, the TV Zombies today are top of the charts. Both of those series are phenomenal! If they were films, they’d rank very highly here (Though to date, GoT’s zombie content has been rather light 😉 )

  3. Great list, Fogarty! I have the exact films in mind! I always knew you were sorta telepathic. Or I’m just running out of things to say. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Reblogged this on "You Jivin' Me, Turkey?" and commented:
    Whilst I May Not 100% Agree With The Order He’s Put Them In, Y’all Do Know I Love Love LOVE Me Some ZOMBIE Flicks. Period. Today, Fogs Has Picked-Out 10 Of The Very VERY Best For Everyone.
    It’s An Impressive List, To Say The Least.
    So, Kick-It-Back And Enjoy This One, My Peeps.
    You Shant Be Disappointed, Fo SHO!!!

      • I Would Have EASILY Placed “Dead Alive” (aka “Brain Dead”) At The Top Of The List, And I Would Have Ranked “Return Of The Living Dead” Much Higher. I Also Wouldn’t Have Even Placed The Remake Of “Dawn Of The Dead” On The List At All.
        Otherwise, I Find Your List Very VERY Soundly.
        OH, And The Movie “Zombie” Wouldn’t Have Made It, Either. I Would Replace It With The Flick “The Dead Next Door” 😀
        But, Ya Know, That’s Just Me, Sir. 😉

  5. Perfect List cant argue a thing though I havent seen Rec its legend precedes itself. I take it its a must see!

    • Yeah, [Rec] is really good, Ric. They have an immersive scenario, hand held/1st person POV perspective and then a slow build realization to what’s going on… It really, really works! 😉

  6. Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead are two of my favorites just because they are fun. Night of the Living Dead still has to top the lists simply because it was a difinitive work that sort of codified zombies and it pushed the boundries of what could be shown. People eating human flesh, even if they were zombies doing it, was considered to be one of the most horrifying things about the film.

  7. Great list. I agree with everything except, 28 Days Later. The begining was exactly like the begining of ‘Target Earth’ (1954) and that awful guitar song just grated on my nerves – it would have been much better with standard music score , IMO. I do like ’28 Weeks Later’ and would use that as the replacement in my list 🙂

    • Thanks!!:D

      I haven’t seen Target Earth, maybe I’ll have to check that out one of these days. You’re the first person I’ve heard who’s drawn a derivative connection to that movie…

      I couldn’t substitute 28 Weeks Later though, I like “Weeks”, but I certainly think the first one is superior. 😀

  8. Excellent list, Fogs!

    Was very pleased and surprised to see ‘Return of the Living Dead’ make the cut and be placed right where it should be.

    Fast moving zombies (Or, FMZs as we living impaired carnivore fans like to call them) go against tradition. And are more for shock than fear or suspense.

    Though the grand master and pioneer (The guy with the arrows in his back), George A. Romero and his no budget “backyard” masterpiece still reigns supreme!

    Well done, indeed!

    • Thank you Jack, I appreciate that. 😀

      I would definitely prefer SMZ, myself. Call me a traditionalist. Especially the FMZ that are in this WWZ trailer Jack, have you seen those? Good Lord! Super sonic zombies fer godsakes 🙄 Sprinting. LOL

      Romero needed to own the top spot. The only debate I would tolerate on it would be switching Night and Dawn, but I’m a firm believer that Night is the better film. I can see the other side though.

  9. I’m not hugely into the zombie genre, so most of these I actually haven’t seen. I especially need to get on Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, and 28 Days Later. I’m slackin’ in this genre, lol. Nice to see Zombieland make the list, though. Really enjoyed that one. 🙂

      • Wowza, yeah, those are some big ones. Shaun of the Dead actually probably has the biggest pop culture footprint out of those three if you’re looking to prioritize, but they’re all excellent films.

        And yeah, Zombieland is great, I wish they could get that sequel going! 😯

  10. It’s not a movie, so of course it has no place on your list, but since you’re talkin’ zombies, I gotta mention the video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Never before or since have the undead displayed such kick-ass dance moves.

  11. Great list. I personally would put the original “Dawn Of The Dead” first. That was a case of the sequel being just a bit better than the first of the series. And “Shaun Of The Dead” is the best combination of comedy and horror ever.

    • “I personally would put the original “Dawn Of The Dead” first. That was a case of the sequel being just a bit better than the first of the series.” I think Tank does too. We’ve discussed before (and will again on next week’s show). I think they’re both great, but I give the edge to the first.

      I agree Shaun of the Dead is probably the best Horror Comedy of all time. I think its a little overrated on the whole, but within that context, you’re right, it probably is still King. 😉

      • I will recommend a film to you. It’s wouldn’t be in the top ten but it’s a very enjoyable comedy/horror-“Juan Of The Dead”. Not as funny as “Shaun” but still not a waste of time.

      • Bit late with this reply, I apologize! I’ve just watched Living Dead at Manchester Morgue again, and it’s still awesome. I recommend the Blue Underground version on blu-ray (which I believe is uncut). The picture quality is fantastic, they’ve done a really good job on it.

        Sure, the acting can be ropey — some of the dubbing is hilarious, although in a fun way. But the first hour creates a great mood with a creepy soundtrack and some gorgeously shot location work. Then they really cut loose with the gore.

  12. Glad to see the 2004 Dawn of the Dead get some respect. It’s a controversial pick in some circles, what with the original being such a classic. But Snyder was going for something different. And I liked how the folks at the mall broke out of their own volition, because they came to the realization that if they stayed they were effectively in prison. (Had they not tried, they would’ve probably been safe for eternity.) Better to try for a jail break than to effectively spend the rest of your life effectively dead.

    • eh, I don’t know, I think it’s relatively respected nowadays. I’m sure back around its release purists were up in arms… but remakes weren’t as dime a dozen back then either I don’t think.

      I’m torn on their decision to leave (especially seeing as it didn’t work out well for them). Considering the circumstances, prison isn’t a horrible thing (see: The Walking Dead). I hear you though…

  13. Excellent list! Oh man – I need to do a Zombie Top Ten. But the majority ended up in my recent Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies list anyway. 😉 It’s a genre I love for some strange reason. Glad Romero tops your list – Dawn would be my number one. Day of the Dead would also make my ten. Hell, probably even Land of the Dead. (I really do love Romero’s) 😉 And glad the Dawn remake also made your list – only remake that’s ever not pissed me off! Great work. I’m totally retweeting this.

    • Thanks T9. I’m a big fan of Romero, too. I even liked Diary of the Dead! (Survival not so much though 😦 ) But I don’t dig Day that much due to Bub the learning zombie 🙄 (NOT a fan)

      Of course, Romero is still the King, and his first two flicks are two of the best ever made!

  14. Pingback: Pedaling Past Zombies | Mark My Words...

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