My Top 20 Zombie Movies

Dark bleetings, kids! If you know me at all, you know that zombies are my favourite, so writing this list is super fun for me. I love zombies so much that I managed to angle my BA degree around them and I wrote my dissertation on The Walking Dead. Then I went on to an MA in Scriptwriting, for which I wrote.. you guessed it… a zombie theatre play.

After studying, I went off to work as an entertainer in the wonderful land of a British holiday park, where I got to write a Halloween musical… about zombies. I only give you this background to assure you that for many years, I have been quite dedicated in my zombie studies. Obsessed, some might say.

The reason I felt the need to insist that I’m totally qualified to make this list is because I already know that I’m going to get s*** for it. Lol. Many MANY people are going to be annoyed by the ranking position of some of my choices over others. Some of you will be irritated by the mere inclusion of a couple of them. And my number 1 pick isn’t going to go over well, not because it’s not great, but because of the other films I’m placing it above.

And to you I say, come at me, bro! I love arguing about zombie films even more than I love enthusing about them. Let the battle commence!

I’ve never spoken to someone who’s even heard of this one, but it’s loads of fun. Zombie carnage, so-blatant-it’s-funny-sexist-stereotypes, and Danny Dyer makes for a silly but winning combination.

Another one that most people I talk to haven’t seen. A radio DJ barricades himself into his studio whilst the zombies rise outside. This is a zombie movie with a difference because of the way the virus is transmitted.

Went in expecting this to be terrible, because all my favourite things recently keep getting ruined by bad sequels or remakes. Was very pleasantly surprised and I think I laughed as much during this one as I did during the first.

I assume that people will come at me for 2 reasons: because I’ve picked the remake over the original, and because “but they’re not zombies!” I humbly disagree – infected people losing autonomy and operating on their base violent urges… what do you call that again? Oh yeah, zombies. Also, Timothy Olyphant is the best.

Hahahahahaha. I’m laughing because I know at least 80% of you scrolled down to this and lost all respect for me. But I stand by this decision. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of this movie series is a clusterf*** that I’m convinced was just the cast and crew punking us all with increasing severity, just to see if we had a “this is absolutely batshit” limit. Those other Raccoon City efforts were well-intentioned but poorly-executed mistakes. And don’t even get me started on the Netflix series, which for some bizarre reason ripped off elements of The World Beyond the Walking Dead, which is easily the worst thing to ever come out of The Walking Dead universe.

However, this first offering had good zombies, made an effort with an original story and characters, whilst slipping in enough references to the games to raise a smile, and was entertaining. My brother and I are still, to this day, randomly doing Michelle Rodriguez overacting impressions.

PS. the animated RE movies are significantly better, but this list is live-action only.

This isn’t just the best punk zombie film (yes, there are others), but probably one of the best punk-rock movies in general. The whole tone of this movie is what really makes it. Plus, this is the movie responsible for everyone thinking that zombies eat brains specifically, when 99% of the time, they don’t.

Two words: wacky scientist. I love this. It has shades of The Curse of Frankenstein (which isn’t included in this list because I consider Frankenstein’s monster something else entirely). It’s an absolute blast.

Complete change of tone here. I usually prefer my zombies a bit more fun, vicious, savage, etc. However, I really appreciate it when a writer tries to do something different with a cliched subgenre, and I think it paid off here. A little melancholy, a little sad, and a little anger-inducing. It’s great!

And here’s another in that sort of ballpark. This one ranks higher because those zombie kids are much scarier.

Listen, I don’t care… the things that get buried come back and they’re not right. THEY’RE NOT RIGHT, I TELL YOU! This might have a considerably low number of zombies, but they’re zombies none the less, and this movie is excellent.

At this time, I’m declining to comment on the remake because this is a list about things I like, and I’m still angry. That remake well and truly forgot the face of its father.

Woody Harrelson on a quest for Twinkies.

Oh, George! My hero! My messiah! What ever would we have done without him? The guy quite literally changed horror. Yes, I know, not with this film, but this is George’s first entry on the list so I had to celebrate him for a minute. I watched this so many times as a teenager, wishing to live out my days in a mall that I’d claimed, fighting off zombie hordes. I still kind of want to live out my last years that way.

“But they’re not zombies, because they’re not dead,” I hear you protest. Again, I don’t care. There were 30 years of zombie movies before George A. Romero redefined zombies – they weren’t undead before then either. They were either slaves controlled by Voodoo, or weird poisons, or they were twisted by radiation, or they were under some sort of parasitic/alien influence. Infected and sprinting is the latest in zombie evolution, and I LOVE them. They’re so much scarier than the shuffling undead ones. All I’m saying is, if undead zombies come, I have several contingency plans and am fairly confident about my survival chances. But if this type of zombie turns up, bye.

If you’re arguing with me about this one because of the revelation in the sequel, I understand. But I’m judging this one as it’s presented, and they’re zombies. I’m a bit of a sucker for found footage movies and though I acknowledge that there’s no way the cameraman would still be carrying a shoulder-mounted beast of a camera whilst running for his life – upstairs, no less – I’ll forgive it because it’s my only gripe. And, I was actually scared the first time I watched this, so that was fun.

Yep… yes I did. Yes I did rank the remake higher than the original, and I’ll tell you for why. It’s mostly because, as much as I adore the original, even for me, it’s a little slow. I love a slow burn, but the original reeeeeally takes its time. The opening of this remake is one of the best opening scenes in horror history, in my opinion. It’s super exciting and establishes the protagonist and the world very quickly, and then keeps its pacing for the duration. Oh, and also…. a-wah-ah-ah-ah.

I love Day of the Dead. This tends to be liked the least out of the original trilogy, and I guess I see why. It’s bleak and some of the characters are infuriating, and it’s sort of cold in a way that its predecessors aren’t. But it has Bub, and the climax is spectacular. And best of all, Rhodes shambling down the corridor leaving a trail of blood, and sassing the zombies even as they eat him to death. I love this film so dearly.

If you like zombies and haven’t seen this, correct that immediately. It has excellent everything – pacing, setting, character, stakes. It’s the kind of film where you do that chef’s kiss thing after watching.

In my opinion, THE best opening in horror history. Robert Carlyle sprinting towards the river, as the infected appear on the horizon, and that soundtrack…. oh my gosh. A masterful, perfect combination of outstanding acting, score, camera work, directing, zombie extras – it’s incredible.

I know most people prefer the first one but I was so interested in the setup for this one. I love the idea of the UK being slowly rebuilt after the infected have died off, and was on the edge of my seat wondering how it could go (inevitably) so wrong. I thought the explanation for the infection resurfacing was clever, and I adore the cast and the relationships.

Of course, no zombie list is complete without this. Despite it being over 50 years old, this is still one of the best zombie movies in history, and is better than almost everything else in the genre that’s since been released.

One of the most interesting things about it is the conversation that’s still taking place about it, regarding race, prejudice, and society. For decades, people have been re-contextualising this film based on the current political and social climate, and it’s still relevant. Perhaps more relevant than ever.

Outside factors aside, this film is tonnes of fun with a great location and cast, and though it has its flaws, it’s truly special.

That’s right – above everything else, Shaun of the Dead is my very VERY favourite zombie film. For a start, it has one of the tighest scripts I have ever seen. The jokes, the callbacks, the references and easter eggs, the character development – hell, the character establishment! You know exactly who every single one of those people are within seconds of meeting them. The performances are outstanding, the zombie makeup and special effects are great, and that’s not even to mention the production quality. The locations are familiar but varied, and the settings are interesting because the characters keep moving. You’ve got the A plot, which is the zombie apocalypse, then you’ve got the B plot of Shaun and Liz’s relationship, and then besides this there are multiple other threads (the housemate situation, Shaun essentially growing up and becoming a responsible man during the course of the story, Shaun’s relationship with his mum and stepdad (sorry, Phil), hell – even David and Dianne). And every single one of these threads get tied up in a satisfactory and logical way.

It probably goes without saying that it’s very funny, but not just funny – layered. There are jokes within jokes. I’ve seen it countless times now and still always notice something new upon each viewing.

Perhaps I love it so much because I’m a big fan of The Quest, or The Hero’s Journey, as it’s commonly referred to. Shaun is Frodo. He’s established in the ordinary world, receives the call to action, and grows into his hero status as he partakes in his quest to rescue his loved ones and restore order. It’s a classic tale. With zombies.

Okay, that’s enough rambling from me! I’d love to hear your opinions and about your own favourites, so please don’t be shy to get in touch with me to discuss! Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: