Forget vampires and werewolves; zombies are the monsters that have been taking over the world these days. From the popularity of TV shows and movies such as The Walking Dead and World War Z to the annual zombie walks occurring all around the world, it seems like just about everyone has been infected with loving these brain-munching creatures.
But which zombie movies are the best? Which films hold up and still keep us up at night? Here at Lists Diary, we’ve counted down the Top 6 Best Zombie Movies Of All Time so that you’ll never be stuck with any braindead blockbuster or lifeless zombie flick ever again.
6. 28 Days Later (2002)
What’s often credited as the film that brought life back into the zombie genre, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later not only works as a horror film, it works as a political metaphor. When a group of animal rights activists breaks into a research laboratory, they release chimpanzees that are infected with a rage-inducing virus.
This virus quickly spreads amongst the populous, and twenty-eight days later a man named Jim wakes up from his coma and discovers that society is in shambles over what resulted in a zombie outbreak. Harkening back to the statements that classic zombie movies were making about humanity, this makes the film all the more timeless and haunting, as there is a method in the madness.
While some hardcore zombie fans may deny that this is a zombie movie, (technically they’re not zombies as those infected are not the living dead) no one can deny the effect this film had on the genre, as fast-moving zombies are all the rage these days. This film’s dark depiction of humanity in a destroyed world is frightening yet impactful, which is why 28 Days Later is not only one of the best modern zombie movies, it’s one of the best zombie movies period.
5. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
What’s better than zombies? Punk rock zombies of course! This horror comedy is legendary as it introduced the concept of zombies specifically hungering for brains, which is now a staple of the genre, as well as the living dead moving at a fast-pace. While the name follows in the tradition of the Romero trilogy, everything else in this movie is refreshingly original.
The film begins with two employees of a military supply warehouse accidentally releasing a gas that causes dead bodies to reanimate. Horrified, the fools rush to find a way to end the outbreak, recruiting and meeting others along the way who help the cause, such as the boss of the warehouse and a group of teenage punks. With a killer soundtrack, gory effects and hilarious characters, this is what a memorable zombie movie looks like.
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4. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
This satiric take on the zombie genre has made this film one of the most entertaining comedy horror films to date. Directed by Edgar Wright and starring the always-funny duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Shaun of the Dead pays homage to George Romero’s trilogy in the most loving and hilarious way possible. The film follows an every-man named Shaun who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in his life.
Stuck in a boring dead-end job and living with his careless best friend, his girlfriend desperately urges him to step up and take control of his life. Shaun is hesitant at first but gets the push he needs when the town he lives in becomes swarming with the living dead. Like every Edgar Wright film, this movie is a genius when it comes to its visual comedy and storytelling.
Most recent comedy films lack this level of detail, so this makes Shaun of the Dead all the more entertaining.The film also contains surprisingly emotional moments and has a cast filled with likable, funny characters. All of this paired with realistic gore and iconic scenes lands Shaun of the Dead this spot on our list.
3. Re-animator (1985)
Now, this is the definition of a cult movie. Hilarious and terrifying, Re-Animator follows a snarky medical student named Herbert West who has just discovered the serum to end all serums: The secret to re-animating the dead! While researching this phenomenon with another medical student, all hell breaks loose during the observation stage, and what happens next is some of the most over-the-top moments in cinema.
Herbert West and his antics are hysterical yet disturbing, and just when you think things couldn’t get crazier in the film, they always do. Sometimes nauseating but always riveting, Re-Animator is a movie you’ll never forget, even if you wish you could.
2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
While White Zombie is credited as the first zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead is credited as being the first REAL zombie movie. A landmark in cinema and historically significant, George Romero’s first film explores societal themes against the backdrop of the apocalypse.
This film is revolutionary in more ways than one, such as setting the standard for what a zombie should be like (a slow-moving cannibal back from the dead) to casting a black man as the main character of the film. (A rare occurrence in the 60s, especially for the black character to be shown in a positive light).
The word “iconic” doesn’t even do this movie justice. With its creepy black-and-white look to its memorable lines, (“They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”) Night of the Living Dead are a quintessential zombie movie and one of the best horror movies of all time.
1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Now hold on a minute! How could the game-changing Night of the Living Dead only be #2 on our list? While we acknowledge how important Night of the Living Dead was for the genre and horror cinema in general, we believe that Dawn of the Dead has more to offer and is the strongest installment of the Dead trilogy. The story goes like this: A small group of people hides away in a shopping mall during a worldwide zombie outbreak.
Possibly being humanity’s only hope, the gang attempts to survive the violent environment they’re forced to be subjected to, some not making it, others barely making it out alive. This film is filled to the brim with social and political commentary, the most obvious being about consumerism. (This movie isn’t set in a mall for no reason).
The film also has some wicked special effects and memorably hideous scenes, and while some of the elements such as the blood are not realistic, they give the movie its identity and are iconic on their grounds. All of this and more makes Dawn of the Dead the best zombie movie of all time.