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

    • Heh. Zombieland is like Zombie movie lite 😉 It’s accessible to people who don’t dig on zombie movies 😀 So, I can see that.

      It is a great flick though. I wish we would finally get #2!!! 😦

  1. Solid list. I haven’t a couple of those, Rec especially looks interesting.

    Some others to consider:
    The Serpent and the Rainbow. May not technically be a zombie film, but its Wes Craven so it’ll do.

    Cabin in the Woods. “Yes, you had “Zombies.” But this is “Zombie Redneck Torture Family.” Entirely separate thing. It’s like the difference between an elephant and an elephant seal.” I think it counts.

    Ghosts of Mars. John Carpenter+Zombies+Mars=WIN!

    Plan 9 from Outer Space. OK, so, they called them ‘Ghouls’, not zombies, but they were dead flesh eating corpses, so….

    • [Rec] is a great flick. Short and scary, give it a shot. 😉

      LOL @ the thought of including Plan 9. Funny stuff Gelfman!

      I’ve actually never seen Ghosts of Mars, but I did just watch John Carpenter’s “Vampires” the other day, does that count 😯 LOL

      Serpent and the Rainbow is an excellent flick, and yeah, the “technicality” definitely got in the way, personally. So many great undead cannibal movies to pay tribute to, you know? LOL 😉

      “Cabin in the Woods”? Uhm…. no. LOL

  2. I can’t think of any film that would improve on the list. I hated the “Zombie/Virus Victims/Whatever the hell they were” in “I am Legend” so their absence here makes me happy. I have not seen the 1979 Zombie, it sounds right up my alley with a shark being bitten (please let there be zombie sharks). Also have not seen “Rec” is the English language remake that Jennifer Carpenter film from a couple years ago?

    • I briefly considered “I am Legend”, but I believe those creatures to be vampires. They couldn’t come out in daylight, so… Vampires in my book!

      Yes, Rec was remade as “Quarantine” which somehow isn’t half as effective as the original was. I highly recommend the original, though, even if you’ve seen the remake.

      Meanwhile, Zombie? Rich. Hellllllll yeah. LOL Great zombie flick. No Zombie shark, but just the fact that they have a zombie FIGHT a shark is awesome. 😀 Good stuff. Good old fashioned gory zombie flick 😀

  3. I’m so glad Zombie is on here. It might not technically be the best, but it’s one of my favorites. I can’t believe they just tranquilized a shark and made a stunt guy go down there and screw with it. That is insane, but one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And the eyeball gouge scene isn’t too shabby, either.

    No Day of the Dead, eh? I figured it was on all the top 10 lists, even though I’m not as big a fan of it as most people. It’s not bad, but I agree, it wouldn’t be on my list, either.

    I have a feeling World War Z won’t make the cut next time.

    • I think they pulled that shark’s teeth out too… I have no information that would lead me to say that other than it looked as if it had no teeth. LOL 😯

      No Day of the Dead. That’s one that’s actually NOT one of my faves. Not a big fan of Bub the smart zombie 🙄 So, you and I may see eye to eye on that one too.

      We’ll see about WWZ, man. We’ll see. I had higher hopes a couple days ago when the RT score was in the 80s 😦 It’s at 68 now.

      • WTF, I’ll have to look at the shark scene. If they pulled its teeth out, that’s horrible. I’m glad we have better rules in place for the treatment of animals now.

        Yea, we agree about Day of the Dead. It’s kind of boring, too.

        I dunno. The trailers I saw for WWZ were awful. The zombies are absolutely stupid-looking. They’re like a tidal wave of ants rolling over each other. You can’t explain that away.

      • Take a look and you’ll see what I mean… didn’t look like all of them were gone, but definitely seemed like the fewest teeth I’ve ever seen in a shark, for sure! 😯

        Totally agree about the stupidity of the WWZ zombies. I guess I’ll see tomorrow. 😦

    • I’ve got your back on Day of the Dead, as well. In fact, Romero has churned out nothing but practically unwatchable crap since the original Dawn, as far as I’m concerned.

      • Diary… Ugh. If I had to sit through that again… *shudders*

        Land… You don’t like one smart zombie, but you’re okay with a horde of them?

        That’s not meant to sound as confrontational as it does. I know you know this, but I’m just saying it, since we’re in someone else’s comment thread.

      • I also like Land. It’s unexplained why they’re smart, but they’re a giant metaphor for the public who lets rich asshats dictate society to a large extent, so I’m totally on board with that one. I haven’t seen Diary, and I’m actually half-way through Survival right now. So far it’s…weird. The effects are dogshit and the humor doesn’t land at all for me. They’re about to bring the army dudes onto the island, so we’ll see how it turns out.

      • It’s not unexplained, though, if you put together the whole Quadrilogy. If you go back to the beginning, and watch them all consecutively, you see intelligence creep. Tools used in Night. Instinctive Memories in Dawn. Full on gun use in Day. The ability to teach in Land.

        I’ve heard in interviews this was always intended by Romero. Whether or not that’s as true as Lucas saying he always wanted 9 movies, and he wrote them all at the same time is up to everyone to decide on their own, I suppose.

        But, yeah, they’re not a different bunch of zombies, as Fogs says. They’re the final stage of Romero’s initial vision.

        Then, when fast moving zombies took off, while his teaching zombies faultered, I’m pretty sure he decided to try some guerilla filmmaking, taking them back to the basics at the same time. Trouble was, the story was shit boring.

      • “That’s not meant to sound as confrontational as it does.” LOL, cmon, spike, you know you and I are in the no worries zone.

        I guess I look at the zombies in Day as the more traditional, mindless zombies, and Bub stands out as an aberration (and a plot device I didn’t care for). While in Land (which I like, but let’s not get carried away, I guess) is a different movie with a different set of zombies…. if that makes any sense. I certainly wouldn’t advocate for those to be the zombie standard.

      • I haven’t watched any of them back-to-back like that to notice an over-arching theme, but that’s pretty cool if he did that. My point was that I don’t even need that sort of thing to be okay with how they’re portrayed in Land, but I certainly won’t complain. Man, I hope the last half of Survival picks up, though, otherwise it’s going in the garbage heap.

  4. I’ve never been a big zombie fan so I think it’s interesting that of the two I’ve seen on this list, one is Shaun of the Dead. While I still enjoyed the movie, a lot of the homages were lost on me and I ended up liking Hot Fuzz much better. And the other one I’ve seen, 28 Days Later is another atypical zombie movie. I did love it though. Great list, will have to add several to my Letterboxed watchlist.

    • Don’t get me wrong, I actually prefer Hot Fuzz myself. But Shaun has this huge popularity quotient that’s really hard to deny. That is a really really beloved film. And a great movie in the zombie sub genre of course, too.

      28 Days Later is a good one. Very solid movie. As to the others, if you haven’t seen them, I think it goes without saying I’d recommend any that are on this list! 😀

  5. I would put Zombieland towards the top of that list. I thought Cabin in the Woods was clever. Wouldn’t classify it as a zombie movie. Wasn’t sure if you were insinuating you didn’t like or just didn’t think of it as a zombie movie. I Am Legend was a quasi-zombie movie…

    • I like Cabin in the Woods, I just think its overrated. A lot of people went a little nutty over it when it was first released… Meanwhile though, it’s just not a zombie movie. It has a few zombies in a few scenes, but its just not enough.

      I think the “quasi” qualification for “I am Legend” is appropriate. Those things were like Zombie vampires. Again, its enough to bounce them from here. 😉

      Thanks for chiming in Szever!

      • Well, plus the fact that the CG monstrosities in I Am Legend were by far the worst part about the movie. I really, really like it otherwise (minus the rushed ending).

      • Seriously, you’re not even the worst. I think Andrew Crump of (then) A Visual Feast and (now) Go See Talk just… took it to a whole new level. LOL. That was my recollection. He and I had at it pretty good.

        But yeah, you too. 🙄

  6. “Dead Alive” is one of my favorites. I remember seeing it over a decade ago and was shocked by what I saw. Yet, I still laugh at the zombie baby. It was presented in such bad taste but I couldn’t stop laughing. My favorite zombie film is “Shaun of the Dead”. “Why is Queen still playing?”

    • Shaun is a good one. Not my fave, but obviously still a great flick. You’re right about “Dead Alive”… LOL SOOOOOO gross, but very funny at the same time. Love the zombie baby!! 😀

  7. I still need to see Dead Alive! My list would probably be topped off by Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later, but I haven’t seen a lot of the older ones here so that could change

  8. I made the mistake of watching REC late night. Gotta say I was enduring it, but when they entered in the last room, and the girl play the radio, man…

  9. What? No Zombies, Zombies, Zombies! Stripers Vs. Zombies? What about Flight of the Living Dead?

    Great list. I need to pull the trigger on REC.

    I too, was late to the party on Return, and also Zombi 2. So, if I was making my own list, I’d have to drop those three, and toss in Dead Snow, Resident Evil, and Army of Darkness (No, it shouldn’t count, but since you and I won’t see eye to eye, Bruce Campbell acts as a tiebreaker, chainsawing the dispute in twain.)

    • I honestly haven’t seen the first Resident Evil, although ironically, I’ve seen every other movie in the franchise, LOL. But I have seen Dead Snow, and wasn’t all that impressed. I mean, I don’t know, it was good, I do like it, but I think it got a rep it might not have earned just cause the Zombies were Nazis. 🙄

      Meanwhile, no, you’re right, Army of Darkness does NOT count, otherwise, obviously, It would have cracked this list somehow!! 😯

      • With Dead Snow, I didn’t even care that they were Nazis. I loved the epic, ridiculous gore, and the attempt to turn the stereotypical characters on their heads.

        I just laughed out loud thinking about the intestine cliffhanger. I can think if maybe a dozen movies that will make me laugh if I think of them.

  10. I totally forgot to mention They Came Back. It’s French, and it’s not like any other zombie movie. Literally. They don’t even eat the living. It’s still very much a movie about people coming back from the dead without their former cognitive functions. It might not work for you, but I think you should see it at least once.

  11. I love zombie movies, but as with many genres I’ve discovered more recently, I haven’t seen many movies of the kind yet. Love Dawn of the Dead (the original), which I watched as a teenager without understanding the social commentary. Finding out about that made me love it even more. I also like Braindead, which I just watched for the LAMB movie of the month blogathon, as well as 28 Days Later which I watched after my first trip to London.

    • LOL. That’s a nice choice right there. Going to London? Ok, let’s watch 28 Days Later! 😀 Nicely played! Dawn of the Dead is pretty great. I love the fact that a zombie movie can have something to say, you know? 😀 Glad to hear you liked Brain Dead, I imagine that that movie certainly isn’t for everyone! 😯

  12. Romero’s ’78 Dawn of th Dead would be my number 1, Fogs. Can’t really argue with your set up here, though. Fine choices.

    I’m now intrigued about shark fighting zombies. Sounds interesting 😉

    • Thanks, Mark. I knew if there was going to be debate it would be Night vs Dawn, but I’m firmly in the Night camp 😉

      And that zombie/shark fight is awesome. Not so much in its execution, but just the fact that that do it… LOL. I’d say you should Youtube it, but I actually recommend the whole movie! 😀

  13. I haven’t actually seen that many zombie films, I haven;t even seen a single Romero one, so I’d probably go with 28 Days Later & Shaun of the Dead as my two favourites, although that may well change once I eventually get round to seeing some of Romero’s stuff.

    • Yeahhhhh… you definitely need to check those out. At least the two that top the list here. Those are classics of the horror genre, I would basically recommend them to anyone who hasn’t seen them. Especially “Night”, that’s an awesome and influential film!

  14. I really can’t argue with this list since all my faves are on it! Shaun of the Dead is truly one of my all-time favourite films anyway but the combination of Simon Pegg, zombies and Brit humour is a winner for me. For the more serious of Z flicks, 28 Days Later is a crazy adrenaline rush that puts me on edge.

    Zombieland was a revelation. I wasn’t expecting to be so entertained by it. And Bill Murray! Awesome. Still curious to try those infamous Twinkies…

    • You’ve never had a Twinkie? 😯 Actually, it may be too late now… the company that used to sell them went bankrupt! 😦

      Meanwhile, yeah, Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later are two great British contributions to the genre. Definitely two different tones involved. LOL

      • Don’t say it’s so! 😦 To my knowledge, they’ve never been on sale here, but supermarkets have only just started stocking Fruit Loops for the first time so we’re a bit behind 😉

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