Zombies are probably the most iconic mass-villains of all time. And with good reason. They’re horribly deformed, relentlessly evil and pretty hard to stop (on account of them…being actually dead already). Be they the classic slow shuffling zombie or the fast moving militia brand of more recent years, zombies represent a fairly basic horror and disgust – that we, and those we love will one day die and become rotting disgusting cadavers ourselves. The  twist is, these living dead are out to get us, and nothing is more frightening than that; a mindless relative wanting to eat your brains and rip your guts out. This is a list of my top 10 zombie flicks, and why.

#10: 28 Days Later (2002)

28 Days Later strikes me as, even for a zombie film, an incredibly violent and fast paced one. Main character Jim wakes up in a deserted hospital, to pessimistic and exploitative characters battling out an existence in a post apocalyptic society full of rotting corpses who are also Olympic sprinters, judging by the speed of them. If you ask me, I’d rather still be in the coma.

#9: Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Without a doubt, the most ridiculous film on this list, and indeed, one of the most ridiculous in the history of cinema in general, Return of the Living Dead is an absolutely hilarious take on George A. Romero’s classic. Classic ‘rampaging teen punks with no concern for authority’ and woefully inept and upset warehouse workers are forced to confront nigh-on indestructible, mud covered cadavers, who need to eat brains in order to help momentarily extinguish their existential woes. If you haven’t seen this film; after that description, why the hell are you not watching it right now?!

#8: Reanimator (1985)

Instead of the weak willed, unorganised and pretty flimsy undead of other films, the titular reanimated corpses of Reanimator are practically body builders. Tough as raw muscle and organised enough to storm a hospital undetected, these disgusting corpses want nothing other than to molest those they fantasied about in their former life. What’s a corpse to do?

#7: Dawn of the Dead (1978) 

The first George A. Romero film proper to make this list, and assuredly not the last either. Dawn of the Dead combines badass tough-guy quotables “The only person who could miss with this gun is the sucker with the bread to buy it!”, with a fairly specific and maybe questionable social message (modern day consumers as zombies). Dawn of the Dead nevertheless features some breathtakingly disgusting scenes (see: above) as well as vivid colours, imaginative dialogue, and one very iconic shopping mall. On the down side, the make-up was, and still is pretty dreadful, but ho-hum, in the words of Alan Partridge “Zombies…By their very nature, are inconsistent”.

#6:  Shaun of the Dead (2004)

 

There is obviously no question, Shaun of the Dead is a comedy film. But it is also completely what this list is about, the distillation of every zombie movie cliché into one glorious gore-pie. The tentative loser who becomes a hero through bashing zombies, the dopey guy who coughs or farts to attract the beasts attentions, the bastard who has grown cynical of the human race in a matter of a few days, and the former ‘good guy’; who sees it all as pointless and offers himself up to a splattery gut writhing end. Shaun of the Dead is both playful and genuinely funny in it’s poking of the Zombie film.

#5:  Zombi II (1979) 

There have been elements of comedy and ‘the sheer ludicrous-ness of it all’ in every entry of this list so far. With Zombi II (aka, ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters) though, all that disappears fairly quickly. Make no mistake, this is (one of) the most disgusting, violent and completely gore filled zombie flicks of all time, and that really is saying something. Were it not for some scenes (i.e. ACTUAL SHARK VERSUS ZOMBIE!!), maybe it would have faded into obscurity, but the sheer realistic nature of the zombies, the horrific violence and the really disgustingly grimy feel permeating the whole picture make it worth a watch for sure.

#4: Night of the Living Dead (1968) 

It seems almost unfair to group Romero’s first film with the rest of these on here. Not only is it over 40 years old, but it also kicked off a wave of films based on his slow shuffling menaces to society, some of which feature on this very list. The impact may appear to have been dulled, being in black & white and all, but regardless, the film still possesses an eerie and unsettling tone, one which is eons creepier than the action movie flicks which feature zombies that Romero has taken to directing nowadays. Watch again and the moment you first see a zombie try not to be utterly engrossed.

#3: Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)

There will always be a place in my heart, and indeed any horror list for Evil Dead 2, simply because I completely loved it when I was younger. Today though, the camp effects and amped up acting serve as slight respite to the really bloody horror on show. Which scene is the best, Ash sawing his arm off? The deadite getting it’s head squashed in a cellar door, eye popping and all? There are too many to name, with so many laughs and so many shocks, it’s a surprise Evil Dead 2 isn’t even higher.

#2: Braindead (1992) 

As is fairly well known, before Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson had a nice little career going for himself in disgusting cult horror. Along with Bad Taste, Braindead (aka ‘Dead Alive’) is a film that shows nearly everything disgusting there is to show in just over an hour and a half. One of the first, and surely the best films to take splatter and gore to new level of  extremity, so much so that it becomes absolutely hilarious. The classic tale of ‘Woman meets zombie monkey. Monkey bites zombie woman. Zombie woman nearly destroys New Zealand’ plays out frantically, culminating in a climax that is so bloody, so gorey and so utterly repellent that it is about as fantastic as could be. A classic that deserves many re-watches, mainly for the jaw droppingly gorey props and dummies, all of which were lovingly crafted by Jackson and his completely mental friends.

#1: Day of the Dead (1985)

At number 1, it’s George A. Romero’s 3rd entry in this list, and very bizarrely, the 3rd film from 1985 to appear too. It’s encouraging to know that directors were busying themselves with revolting the general public and pushing the boundaries of horror, as opposed to writing crappy rom-coms or aimless political thrillers even back then. Day of the Dead is my number one though, and for many reasons, but not for the acting or the music, which is unfortunately faithful to the 1980’s by being both slightly odd and wooden, and completely shit, respectively. The story, the zombies, the tension, and the awesome effects however, are different things all together. Romero weaved a story of distrust amongst military personnel who saw themselves at the mercy of egghead scientists. The sadistic militia are not above torturing or even killing (for literally no reason) the zombies, whom the scientists have shown to have potential as intelligent creatures capable of learning and re-enacting their former lives. See for yourself, the bullying army are responsible for more deaths than the zombies, and when the repellent Captain Rhodes gets shot by Bub at the end of the film, soon to have his guts torn out, you find yourself…strangely on the side of the zombies?What…is…Happening….to me?!….

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