Good Zombie Movies

Good zombie movies are easier to find now than ever. After the success of Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and Zack Snyder's remake of Dawn of the Dead, zombie movies became a legitimate and viable movie genre of its own. And since low-budget zombie movies are relatively inexpensive to make, and because low-budget filmmakers hope to emulate the success of the original low-budget zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead, there are new zombie movies going straight to DVD almost constantly. Here are some suggestions for zombie films actually worth watching.

  1. Night of the Living Dead - There were zombie movies before George Romero made Night of the Living Dead, but when people think of zombie movies today, they think of hordes of flesh-eating dead people who have been reanimated. This low budget gorefest was extraordinarily controversial at the time. Much of the inspiration for Night of the Living Dead came from Alfred Hitchock's The Birds. The original version of Night of the Living Dead is still worth seeing, and it's still creepy and effective.
  2. Dawn of the Dead - George Romero's second zombie movie proved that the success of Night of the Living Dead was no fluke. I'm tempted to say that this is the best of Romero's original zombie trilogy, in much the same that Empire was the best of the Star Wars movies. If you've only seen the Zack Snyder remake, then you should check this out, because the plot is dramatically different. The dated costumes and sets are a hoot. Keep in mind that when Dawn of the Dead was originally released, the modern day shopping mall was just then becoming commonplace all over the country.
  3. Day of the Dead - The third movie in Romero's original zombie trilogy is a real treat, but stay far away from the recent "reimagining" starring Ving Rhames and Mena Suvari; it's one of the worst movies ever made. The number of survivors left behind in Day of the Dead are minimal, and they exemplify the classic military versus scientist trope of zombie movies. (This trope was also used in Zombi 3, which is too uneven to really be considered a "good" zombie movie, but it's probably still worth seeing just for laughs.)
  4. Diary of the Dead - Did you notice a gap between Day of the Dead and Diary of the Dead? That's on purpose. Romero's fourth zombie movie, Land of the Dead, is terrible. Don't bother wasting your time with it unless you're really bored. It's not even that much fun to ridicule. Diary of the Dead, on the other hand, was a surprising and delightful return to form for the master of the zombie movie. It'll be interesting to see if Survival of the Dead turns out to be anywhere near as good.
  5. Tom Savini's remake of Night of the Living Dead - Since Night of the Living Dead is in the public domain, pretty much anyone can make their own remake. But there haven't been too many actual remakes on celluloid, and of those, the only one worth watching is Tom Savini's remake. It follows the plotline of the original pretty closely, but it has a few surprise changes to the plot and characters, so it's worth checking out if you haven't already seen it.
  6. Zack Snyder's remake of Dawn of the Dead - I have friends who insist that Snyder's remake is better than the Romero original. I won't go that far, but I will say that Snyder's Dawn of the Dead is the best zombie movies since the original came out. (Yep, it's better than 28 Days Later or Day of the Dead.) The ensemble cast is what really makes this one stand out so well. The soundtrack is terrific too.
  7. 28 Days Later - Some purists contend that the zombies in 28 Days Later aren't zombies at all, since they're just living people driven nuts by a virus. But don't let that stop you from seeing this amazingly effective British zombie film. The sequel, 28 Weeks Later, offers few of the pleasures available in the first film, but it's still worth a look.
  8. Shaun of the Dead - The interesting thing about Shaun of the Dead is its effectiveness as both a zombie movie AND as a romantic comedy. Zombieland tries to duplicate the rom/com/zom formula, but that one, while worth a laugh, isn't nearly the masterpiece that Shaun of the Dead is. It's as good as Zack Snyder's remake of Dawn of the Dead.
  9. Zombi 2 (Zombie) - This is an unofficial sequel to Dawn of the Dead from Italy. (Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy as a movie called Zombi.) The story has no plot connections with its predecessor, but it features some amazing special effects. If you enjoy the clever use of special effects to create unusual gore scenes, then this is a must-see.
  10. [Rec] - Like Diary of the Dead, [Rec] is one of these reality-tv type horror movies, where everything is seen through the perspective of participants in the action who are filming what's happening. It's a nice little horror sub-genre, and setting an entire zombie movie in the claustrophobic space of an apartment complex, instead of having a massive zombie outbreak all over the country, makes for a nice change of pace. Don't bother with the American remake, Quarantine. (In fact, don't even watch the trailer for Quarantine, since it includes major spoilers. I wonder what the studio was thinking when they released that trailer. Whoever okayed that should be fired.)

See also:

  • The 13 Best Zombie Movies
  • George Romero Zombie Movies at the Homepage of the Dead
  • Good Zombie Movies at All Things Zombie
  • Top Grossing Zombie Movies
  • Voodoo Movies

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