Top 5: Zombie Movies

There’s no doubt that zombies have been a monumental pop-culture phenomenon over the past couple years. With The Walking Dead absolutely dominating Sunday night ratings and breaking records left and right for AMC, plus a plethora of films and fan-fiction on the undead being released what seems like every month, these flesh-eating beings are everywhere and are as popular as they have ever been. However, zombies have been a major topic in cinema for 40-50 years, stemming way before the topic of zombie survival became such a popular topic. With Warm Bodies’ release this past weekend (I reviewed the film myself and gave it a pleasant 7/10) and subsequent #1 debut at the box office, it only seemed right that we count down the best of the best regarding these brain-eating undead creatures:


Poster for Zombieland with subtitle "Nut up or shut up". The four actors appear as a group all holding different weapons.5. Zombieland (2009) – Zombieland follows a shy student (Jessie Eisenberg pre Social Network) trying to reach his family in Ohio, a zombie-killing master trying to find the last Twinkie on earth (a raucous Woody Harrelson), and a pair of sisters going to an amusement park (Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone) as they join forces and travel across a zombie infested America. Very adamant about the fact that it is a zombie comedy (easily one of the funniest films of ’09), Zombieland found a way to take what seemed to be a stale presence and injected it with whimsical life through its playful use of gore and its lighthearted nature of the plot – its simultaneously hilarious and grotesque. The list of different ways to kill zombies created by Columbus brings something original to this very old premise and the film does a fantastic job developing the characters to the point where the audience cares about them rather than just waiting for them to die (making the amusement part climax emotionally effective). Zombieland is a prime example that over the last 10 years this subgenre of film is anything but dead.


File:Shaun-of-the-dead.jpg4. Shaun of the Dead (2004) – The first of what director Edgar Wright refers to it as “The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy”, Shaun of the Dead is the story of a man who decides to try and turn his life around by winning his girlfriend back and reconcile his relationship with his mother, all while dealing with a nasty zombie outbreak. Another zombie comedy on the list, Shaun of the Dead is a direct parody of the popular Dawn of the Dead film and succeeds primarily due to the likability of its characters and the sharpness of the script. Offering social commentary and satirizing many facets of the zombie subgenre (a favorite of mine being the main character’s obliviousness to the ongoing zombie apocalypse in the beginning of the film), Shaun of the Dead succeeds as a zombie film with a lot of heart and a bunch of wit.


File:28 days later.jpg3. 28 Days Later (2002)– A film that revolutionized the zombie movie, 28 Days Later takes place four weeks after an incurable virus spreads across the UK as survivors try to find some sanctuary. 28 Days Later is so influential to this subgenre because it strayed from the conventions that zombie master George A. Romero put in place when he first introduced zombies to the screen in Night of the Living Dead. The zombies in this film are fierce and full of rage, unlike the slow-moving, brain-dead creatures in many of Romero’s classic films. In 28 Days Later, the zombies run at their victims with viciousness and in a fury of carnage, not only creating a higher sense of danger for the characters but also bringing fear to the screen for conventional zombie film lovers once again. Filled with great looking gore and fantastic performances by Cillian Murphy and Naomi Harris, this unconventional zombie film doesn’t follow the trend but at the same time ushers in new rules for fellow zombie lovers to consider.


Painted theatrical release that includes various credits, an ominous zombie looking over the horizon, and the words "Dawn of the Dead" in military print below.2. Dawn of the Dead (1978)– The sequel to Romero’s very successful cult hit Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead follows a group of survivors of the zombie outbreak who take refuge in a mall. Although it didn’t do much to distinguish itself from its predecessor, Dawn of the Dead took the original concept behind Night of the Living Dead and just made the scale much bigger and a hell of a lot more epic and dramatic. By taking place in a mall, the film is allowed to give you the same claustrophobic feeling of being trapped inside while the world is being destroyed right outside the doors, but at the same does not feel as cramped as the film before it. Dawn of the Dead finds a way to perfectly blend real fear and gore while providing commentary on middle class society, producing one of the most entertaining zombie films in history.


1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)- The film that started it all (this is the first time zombies graced the silver screen), Night of the Living Dead is the story of a group of people who hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a rural Pennsylvania home (though, at the time, the creatures weren’t even called zombies yet). After its release, Night of the Living Dead revolutionized the way the industry made films and what audiences saw on screen. The film transcended the way we saw the creatures that we have now come to know as zombies on top of creating its own subgenre: splatter film. Through his choice to have the audience feel sympathy for the characters and set the movie in a rustic community, Romero found a way to create a universe very plain and insanely realistic (the film feels like a documentary of sorts at times), which is an element monster/horror films have been trying to replicate for decades. Shot well, edited fantastically, and featuring some gleefully over-the-top and unrealistic gore, Night of the Living Dead easily holds up as the definitive zombie film and one of the greatest horror films of all time.


So those are my picks for the best of the best in terms of zombie films. Do you agree with this list or completely hate it? And did you see Warm Bodies this past weekend? What did you think? Sound off in the comments below…

Article by Nick Franco


2 thoughts on “Top 5: Zombie Movies

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