Zombie Movies . . .

Ok.  If we are going to be geeky, let’s get geeky.

My top 10 (ok, 11) Zombie Movies:

  1. Shaun of the Dead
  2. Zombieland (loved it)
  3. Dawn of the Dead (Snyder)
  4. Planet Terror
  5. Dawn of the Dead (Romero)
  6. Night of the Living Dead
  7. Land of the Dead
  8. Dead Alive
  9. Day of the Dead
  10. Return of the Living Dead
  11. Resident Evil (the first one.  I know—video game movie, but it is a cool Zombie flick, you have to admit)

Interesting . . . I couldn’t help but notice that when I put this together, 4 of my top 5 have been within the last few years (all this decade), and looking at upcoming releases, there are some real promising ones on the horizon.  The world is looking up if you’re a Zombie lover (no necrophilia puns intended).  As the Zombie Survival guide warns: never attempt to have sexual relations with the recently re-animated–as they tend to bite.

Gotta give a shout out here to George Romero (well represented on my list).  He defined this genre (though others have far surpassed him in it).  My top four are the Zombie flicks I have the most fun watching.  And while Romero’s may not be as much fun, his are still among my favorites.  Got to love a guy that take a bunch of walking dead and make a smart and relevant political and social commentary out of it.  That was one of my favorite things about Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead: hilarious and gory, yet some of the sharper social criticisms I have seen.  Rule #1: Cardio.  You got to appreciate the little things. Etc.

Zombies are a metaphor for us.  They are us at our most base.  When we battle them, we battle ourselves.  They are harmless (relatively) if you meet one alone.  In a mob, they are truly deadly, almost unstoppable.  None of us are as dumb as all of us.  Zombies feed on human flesh (in some versions, just the brain), and they can be killed by destroying the brain.  When our reason and logic fails us, we are doomed.  We feed on each other’s flesh and brains; we are in constant warfare; we tend to be gluttonous—focused only on ourselves and not the greater good.  Romero uses the zombie to make insightful social comments and criticism.  That is why his films, albeit technically and “narratively” (my spell checker is saying this is not a word, but it should be) inferior, belong in anyone’s list.  They may not be as fun as some of the other zombie flicks, but they are relevant.

Night of the Living Dead dealt with the paranoia surrounding the “space-race” in the fifties and sixties (a meteor was the cause),  Dawn of the Dead with rising commercialism (as represented by the shopping malls—which were popping up all over the place at the time) of the 70’s and early 80’s.  Take a good look at the mall next time you’re there.  To Romero, mall shoppers looked like zombies wandering around, slaves not to a zombie appetite, but to their credit cards.

The 80’s bought with it its own brand of paranoia, the cold war and the impending threat of nuclear holocaust.  Many films in the 80’s dealt with this, but none as directly as Day of the Dead.  C’mon, a bunch of army guys held up in a bunker with hordes of the living dead outside?  It is the paranoid fantasy of the 80’s embodied.  The future we all dreaded.  But what we really dreaded weren’t the bombs, it was ourselves.  Outside.  Wanting to eat us.

Land of the Dead addressed the social elitism of the late nineties and into the 21st century.  You don’t have to be a genius to see Bush in Dennis Hopper’s role there, protecting the wealthy on an island while everyone else is kept out, using others to achieve his own ends.  Even Diary of the Dead (which I haven’t seen yet), deals with our current fascination with reality shows.  We’d rather spend our time watching others live their lives out on TV than live our own.  We can sit for hours on end focused on the tube.  Hmmm . . . sounds like a zombie.

That’s one thing I love about Shaun of the Dead.  It is a real and intelligent comment on social lethargy (and it’s fun as hell).  We get into a routine, we procrastinate; we have jobs we hate, so we escape into alcohol, TV, and video games.  We won’t grow up.  We have a sense of entitlement, yet no will (or means in many cases) to earn the things we feel we should have.  So we finance them, or pretend to have them by focusing our lives around Brad Pitt (who’s a damn fine actor, don’t get me wrong).

Zombieland was equally insightful.  Comments on obesity, love of and dependence on materialism, the way we ignore life’s finer fruits in the pursuit of material possessions.  All of these things mean nothing in the face of apocalypse.  That’s what makes the zombie such a relevant metaphor.

That and they’re scary as hell.

Good “Zombie” movies that aren’t technically zombie movies but deserve consideration:

  • Heavy Metal, story “B-17”
  • 28 Days Later (haven’t seen the sequel yet.  28 Months Later is scheduled for release next year.  Not sure about that one))
  • Slither (this one’s a hoot)
  • Evil Dead Trilogy (Evil Dead, Evil Dead two, Army of Darkness)
  • C.H.U.D. (Classic)
  • Night of the Comet (worth seeing is you like bad acting.  Loved it as a kid)
  • Pet Cemetery (a zombie cat?  What’s not to love about that?)

"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.


  1. Zombies are the finest example of the Plato’s Tripartite Soul out of balance. They are all appetite without reason to moderate. For Freud they are Id without Superego.

    Zombies represent and illustrate the world out of balance, which may help to explain why the best zombie movies have come out in the last five years.

    As Columbus says, “It’s amazing how fast the world can go from bad to total shit storm.”

    Interesting that runwolf’s next post deals with this very topic . . .

  2. All Id and no Super Ego. I like it.
    “People need extreme examples to shake them out of apathy”–B. Wayne.

  3. Ok. Zombies must:
    1. Be Re-animated coprses
    2. Feed on human flesh and/or brains (not souls, etc.)
    3. Get stiffer and slower as time goes on (rigormortis)
    4. Moan
    5. Be re-animated corpses

    28 Days Later is a cool flick, but it IS NOT a zombie flick. They are alive. Don’t make me hurt you.

  4. Finally since Ecto ate my Zombie post here’s my list:

    1. Shawn of the Dead
    2. 28 Days Later (Scariest. Movie. Ever.)
    3. Dawn of the Dead (Snyder, 2004)
    4. Any Romero
    5. I Am Legend (2008) (I know in the book they’re the coolest vampires ever, but in the movie they’re mostly zombies)
    6. Evil Dead II
    7. Quarantine
    8. Cabin Fever (Eli Roth)
    9. Dead Alive (Most disgusting film ever made.)
    10. The Fog (Carpenter 1980) No they’re not just ghosts. They’re ghosts that stick meat hooks in your gut! Oh and it brought together Vivian Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis! AND it had Little Lucy as a deejay. Great movie.

    Honorable Mention: Christopher Moore for The Stupidest Angel – Nothing like zombies who love brains and Ikea!

  5. Quarentine is a good one. The Fog is a ghost movie. But Adrienne Barbeau had (still has??) one the best racks in film. Am I allowed to consider cleavage when making these lists?

    1. Okay, I was up late (or was it early) last night watch The Fog again. In the middle, the one “body” they recovered from the first ship to be eaten by the Fog was RE-ANIMATED in the MORGUE and attacked Jamie Lee Curtis!

      THUS, it is a Zombie Movie.

  6. Zombies are the new vampires.

    And I can’t believe you ranked Zombieland so high. I mean really, it hasn’t even been time tested. Shaun of the Dead, despite the silly spelling of Sean, is, however, great.

  7. Zombieland did everything right. Zombie stripper chasing a patron out of the club, dollar bills in hand? A grocery store full of fat zombies? A bunch of zombie ballerinas chasing a soccer mom in an SUV? Rules for survival? I loved it. It will hold up over time. Mark my words. The only part that kind of took me out of the movie is the Bill Murry scene. Jury is still out on that one, but for now, it is one of my favorite films of the year.

  8. Oh and now you’ve gone and spoiled the surprise. Shame shame.

    Oh I think it is one of the better films this year, possibly this decade. And it should eventually be #2, and in time could be #1, depends on which has more re-watchability. But this soon so high? It has no where to go now.

    My personal favorite was the scene where…. nevermind, I loved it all. Even Bill Murry. I can see him doing just that.

    1. Na, it’s never going to be number one. It’s good, but there just aren’t enough zombies in it.

      It will, however, make a fun franchise.

      1. Alright, you know I want my stories told with a nice little bow on the end. But I have zero need to see another Zombieland. At least, not with those characters. I wouldn’t mind seeing other Zombieland group of survivors.

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