Love ’em or hate ’em, zombie movies are a staple in the entertainment industry. Whether you like your zombies slow or fast, this list of my personal favorites should appeal to everyone.
Re-Animator | October 18, 1985 (United States)
Director: Stuart GordonWriter: H.P. Lovecraft, Dennis Paoli, William NorrisStars: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara CramptonSummary: After an odd new medical student arrives on campus, a dedicated local and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue.
Countries: United StatesLanguages: English, German
This movie really stuck with me as a kid because it’s about a scientist who successfully brings dead tissue back to life. There’s no crazy apocalypse or big event that happens to suddenly create zombies; the undead are a result of science.
#9 Evil Dead II
Evil Dead II | March 13, 1987 (United States)
Director: Sam RaimiWriter: Sam Raimi, Scott SpiegelStars: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan HicksSummary: The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holes up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.
Countries: United StatesLanguages: English, Latin
This is the movie that put Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi on the map, and for good reason. I remember going to the video store as a kid and staring at that amazing cover, trying to figure out how they got a human head inside of a skull.
#8 I Walked with a Zombie
I Walked with a Zombie Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Romance | April 30, 1943 (United States)
Director: Jacques TourneurWriter: Curt Siodmak, Ardel Wray, Inez WallaceStars: Frances Dee, Tom Conway, James EllisonSummary: A nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island.
Countries: United StatesLanguages: English
This movie came out 25 years before Night of the Living Dead, but really is one of the first looks at how to deal with undead (shout-out to 1932’s White Zombie). It’s not gory, and it has some boring romantic parts (gross!), but it truly is a classic in every sense of the word.
#7 The Return of the Living Dead
The Return of the Living Dead Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi | August 16, 1985 (United States)
Director: Dan O'BannonWriter: Rudy Ricci, John A. Russo, Russell StreinerStars: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don CalfaSummary: When two bumbling employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to rise again as zombies.
Countries: United StatesLanguages: English
Uh oh, did I just add a non-Romero “of the Living Dead” movie to this list?! John Russo’s Return of the Living Dead came out when I was 10, and it really is the one that’s probably stuck with me the most. Not only did it introduce us to the concept of a fast-moving zombie, but it also gave us the classic trope about zombies eating brains.
#6 Dead Alive
Dead Alive Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller | February 12, 1993 (United States)
Director: Peter JacksonWriter: Stephen Sinclair, Fran Walsh, Peter JacksonStars: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth MoodySummary:
Countries: New ZealandLanguages: English, Spanish
Before he took the hobbits to Isengard, Peter Jackson made one of the bloodiest zombie movies ever. Yes, it’s another comedy on the list, but it’s also funny in a dark, dark way.
#5 Dawn of the Dead
Dawn of the Dead | 1979 (United States)
Director: George A. RomeroWriter: George A. RomeroStars: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. ReinigerSummary: Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge i... Read all
Countries: United States, ItalyLanguages: English, Spanish
1978’s sequel to Night of the Living Dead goes way deeper into the apocalyptic event that NotLD ever did. For one, it actually explains what happened, and shows us humanity’s response as a whole. I consider Dawn of the Dead to be the Road Warrior to Night of the Living Dead’s Mad Max.
#4 28 Days Later…
28 Days Later... | June 27, 2003 (United States)
Director: Danny BoyleWriter: Alex GarlandStars: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher EcclestonSummary:
Countries: United KingdomLanguages: English, Spanish
In stark contrast to Night of the Living Dead’s slow, lumbering zombies, we get the infamous fast-running zombies that really ramp up the horror aspect of these types of films. 28 Days Later has become synonymous with that new kind of zombie that everyone hopes doesn’t exist in a real zombie apocalypse.
Zombieland | October 2, 2009 (United States)
Director: Ruben FleischerWriter: Rhett Reese, Paul WernickStars: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody HarrelsonSummary:
Countries: United StatesLanguages: English, Spanish, French
Just like with Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland expands the zombie comedy genre into new directions. Released in 2009 when video games were exploding in popular media, Zombieland takes the same approach to deliver a game-like experience that doesn’t try to be more than it is. This movie also made the most money out of any other on this list.
#2 Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead (1968) 96min | Horror, Thriller | 4 October 1968 (USA)
Director: George A. RomeroWriter: John A. Russo, George A. RomeroStars: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl HardmanSummary: A ragtag group of Pennsylvanians barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monsters who are ravaging the East Coast of the United States.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Adding this 1968 classic makes me look like a giant hipster, but there’s no denying the movie’s quality story and effect it’s had on the entire zombie movie genre. Sure, it’s not the first movie to feature zombies (there’s an earlier one on this list!), but it really brought out the horror factor and and introduced us to the group-of-survivors trope that just seems to work over and over again.
#1 Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead Comedy, Horror | September 24, 2004 (United States)
Director: Edgar WrightWriter: Simon Pegg, Edgar WrightStars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate AshfieldSummary: The uneventful, aimless lives of a London electronics salesman and his layabout roommate are disrupted by the zombie apocalypse.
Countries: United Kingdom, France, United StatesLanguages: English
Shaun of the Dead is known for its comedy and wit, but the movie really is so much more than that. Using everyday found objects as weapons against the undead is something that’s not covered much (yet very helpful!). No matter how many times I get tired of people calling me “Shawn of the Dead,” this movie still deserves #1 in my book.
Of course, this list is strictly my opinion, but I’d love to hear your own top 10. Leave them in the comments below!
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