ANO’s Top 11 Zombie Movies

(Please excuse my tardiness.) On behalf of the ghouls and ghosts at A Nerd Occurrence, here are eleven zombie movies we believe are worth your consideration. The choices were culled from many other top zombie movie lists, with some other choices thrown in to keep things interesting. We have a few passionate zombie movie fans and some more casual horror fans, so it should be a good mix for everyone. Let’s start with a good summary of the genre from one of our experts, sift through some honorable mentions, and then get to the meat of the matter.

“I think zombie movies are interesting in that there are so many of them, but the best ones are almost all genre crossovers. I think the pure zombie film had already played out by the end of Romero’s initial trilogy.” – Ryan

Honorable Mentions:
Braindead (1992)
City of the Living Dead (1980)
Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)
Diary of the Dead (2007)
Night of the Comet (1984)
Re-Animator (1985)
Santo Contra los Zombis (1962)
Sugar Hill (1974)
To kako (2005)
Versus (2000)
Wild Zero (1999)
White Zombie (1932)

11. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

“I enjoyed 28 Weeks slightly more out of the two.” “Set 28 weeks after the first recorded cases of the virus, the UK is a very tightly controlled military state while they rebuild and reclaim the areas lost to the contamination. In a particularly disbelief suspending moment stupidity ensues and of course the virus makes it into the controlled area and infects the clean populace once again. It ends with a terrifying walk through the dark of London’s underground rail system that finally fades out over infected humans running amok through Paris – the virus made it off the British Isles and to the mainland.” – Jeremiah

10. Fido (2006)

“Growing up, my brother and I had an ideal dog that we named him after the day we got him, St. Patrick’s Day, Patrick had a distinct three-color calico coat, a calm demeanor, and most importantly like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin he had a strong sense of loyalty. He could only catch the occasional small animal, including a memorable blue jay for Mother’s Day, but if we trained him in secret dog-style martial arts, then he might have been more apt to catch larger game. Filter that idea through the zombie mythos, with a hint of admiration for the family pet, and you can easily see how ‘Fido the Dog’ could turn into ‘Fido the Zombie Pet.’ I’m just not sure I’d call it great for the whole family, at least until they’re at least five or six years old.” – Anthony

9. Zombie (1979)

“Many of the movies on this list use the zombie as a metaphor for something bigger, so sometimes it’s fun just to take a step back from all of that and admire some purely disgusting zombies going to town. If you’re looking for more, how about the theme song with that killer bass lick?” – Anthony

8. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

“Let’s set aside the notion of ‘historical significance’ and assume you or were not impressed by Night of the Living Dead. Honestly, most movies without at least some degree of action are hard for me to get into as well. You have to instead focus on the strength of the acting here. Night of the Living Dead is more like a play starring highly trained actors, than an action movie in the modern sense. Duane Jones provides an inspired performance in the lead role, or in other words, the last sane man in the story. The world’s first ghoul, Bill Hinzman, also shines without needing even a touch of make-up. In the reverse, there’s a subtle bit of acting about halfway through the movie, where a character (Barbra, acted by Judith O’Dea) that earlier went into psychological shock lies on a couch. An another character, Helen (Marilyn Eastman) nonchalantly lights a cigarette and this almost breaks Barbra out of her anxiety. Almost. That bit could have meant nothing at all, or it could have been something more. Similarly, Night of the Living Dead hit enough of the right notes to stand out from the pack.” – Anthony

7. Day of the Dead (1985)

“Zombie fantasy worlds are cathartic. When you’ve had a bad day at work, it’s great to come home, put on a horror movie, and let your subconscious really think to itself ‘at least it’s not that bad.’ Any problems you’re having in life, any political or socio-economic or romantic conflicts, hell, even class structure, just does not matter when it’s the end of the world and you’re one of the chosen few. So if Night of the Living Dead showed the start of it all, and Dawn of the Dead brought the best of times and the worst of times to light, then Day of the Dead shows the end of the line. The good times are miles in the rear view mirror. It’s so bad that the only ones left hate each other with such intensity that that they’d rather turn to the problem itself than work together to survive. It could be symbolic that the most sympathetic character in the movie, a zombie that experiences a sort of rebirth named Bub, is chained to the center of three crosses. Any potentially offensive spiritual theories aside, ‘some men just want to watch the world burn’ in a movie and then return to reality when it’s done, and one of those movies is Day of the Dead.” – Anthony

6. Return of the Living Dead (1985)

“You definitely should [watch Return of the Living Dead]. To the best of my knowledge it’s where the whole “zombies eat brains” thing started.” – Ryan

“Wow… you think you know someone… then they tell you they’ve never seen Return of the Living Dead.” – Michael

“For the longest time, I had a preconceived notion about this movie and I thought I would not like it. During the polling and evaluation period for this list, our resident horror zombie movie-reviewing guru voted for Return of the Living Dead. It was time. My main notion was that it was just a silly comedy with zombies, like one of the Jaws sequels, but that doesn’t mean the original is any less effective. Everything felt original in a genre that can feel like everything’s been done before.” – Anthony

5. 28 Days Later (2002)

“As we’ve seen so far with the sheer number and variety of movies on this list, sometimes, you just gotta let go of preconceived notions of how you want things to be and just go with something completely new. These aren’t voodoo zonbi from Haiti, nor are they even a movie-look-a-like. It should always be OK to break the rules, as long as you know the format and make something worth watching.” – Anthony

4. Grindhouse: Planet Terror (2007)

“Around the time the Grindhouse anthology was released, I was just starting to get into the history of movies and all of the fascinating subgenres out there. So my mind was thoroughly blown when I could see two grindhouse-style movies in the same theater as fancy-pants CGI family movies. I first went on a Sunday morning and the audience was a like-minded group of passionate grindhouse fans. Maybe not quite the level as the legendary El Topo or the built-for-Halloween the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but it was a Sunday morning so what do you expect? The second time I went was on a weekday afternoon before class and I had the whole theater to myself. It felt just like any self-disrespecting two-dollar movie joint, except the interior was much nicer and the only bum there was myself! So how does Planet Terror hold up? The whole Grindhouse experience – over three hours long, with mock trailers acting as the filling between the first course [Planet Terror] and the second course, [Tarantino’s] carsploitation movie Death Proof – was a cinematic experience. (I even designed some cool packaging for the DVDs.) A costly love-letter to cheap, underground movies that were actually fun! It’s a shame that the response was so poor when the movies came out that I was able to buy two of the toys for $1.84 at FYE. The toy for co-producer Quentin Tarantino‘s character cost less than the price of a can of soda! Oh well. At least the movies, and in particular Planet Terror, are worth much more than $1.84.” – Anthony

3. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

“The biggest difference between the old and the new Dawn of the Dead is the nature of the beast. Sure, the zombies are vastly different. The slow and lumbering actors in powdered make-up give a sense of dread and suspense to the original movie. The acting is more of a traditional theater style, where the camera – a surrogate for the audience – is more still, shifting your focus to the actors’ performances. The special effects might just be its only weakness, if only because we are spoiled by modern technology, and yet there is a small cast of zombies that stood out well enough to have their own toys. (I am a fan of 3D re-incarnations of 2D characters.) The setting for the original is like it were filmed inside the world’s tallest building, currently the Burj Khalifa, whereas the remake is just your unassuming local mall. The mall is a major character in the movie, not a living breathing one, but more of a concept, like the room in 12 Angry Men. That all leads back to that nature of the beast I was getting at earlier. It’s all the little differences between two movies that are essentially the same: the culture.” – Anthony

2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

“The great thing about having an established pattern is that after a while, you can be a little creative with it. When you’ve had over 40 years of zombie movies, covering everything from the traditional to the gory, why not have a little fun with it? The great thing about Shaun of the Dead is that it’s appealing to both the horror camp and the comedy camp without resorting to camp. If you think the jokes fall flat, (check out more British humor like the sitcom Spaced or maybe watch more comedies in general,) then there’s a solid enough movie to enjoy. And, the great thing about that is if you play your cards right, you have quite a wide audience to entertain. Unfortunately, if you’re worried about getting some of the more specific zombie jokes, then you may have to sit through some of the George A Romero movies, which let’s face it, there could be worse things to worry about.” – Anthony

“Confession time. Prior to watching Shaun of the Dead I hated the entire zombie genre. Romero’s classics (while I admitted they were great works) I was never really a fan. Then they did a campy British comedy about it and I finally got it. Since then it’s become one of my favorite sub genres.” – Jeremiah

1. Zombieland (2009)

“There it is, our number one choice, Zombieland. I am a philosophical guy and you’ve either seen the movie or read enough about it to know the basic plot, so let’s take another approach to the movie for a bit. There are two main camps in the zombie genre: horror and commentary. My favorite phrase about zombie movies is this: ‘if you’re dumb enough to be bitten by a zombie, you deserve it.’ That’s been muddled a bit with modern zombie movies, which I never really understood. Our generation is probably the least healthy generation in the history of humanity. Excessively sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits cause minor health problems that snowball into major health problems. The US and the UK are not nations where you could take 50 random people and ask them to all run down a street. We’d get tired and bitch about it. How would zombies differ? Would instinct kick in? Sure, there’s suspension of disbelief on a massive scale just to watch a zombie movie, but I can only pretend for so long.

The great thing about Zombieland to me is that there is no pretending. It all feels very real. I can sympathize and relate with the four main characters because each one is great and awful, they lie and are occasionally brilliant in their own way, and they change in ways that are both human and realistic. Here’s the kicker: remove the zombies and the movie does not fall apart. It takes a little creative thinking and a little suspension of disbelief, but just try ignoring the screen every time you see a zombie the next time you watch Zombieland. After the scene where Columbus and Tallahassee are conned by Wichita and Little Rock, how long does it take before you see another zombie? Sure, Tallahassee brings up a story involving a Zombie Kill of the Week, but disregarding that, it’s around 14 minutes before you see the next zombie.

The last line in the movie references sunscreen. I would like to imagine this refers to the article “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” written by Mary Schmich adapted by Baz Luhrmann for pop culture consumption as the song Wear Sunscreen. Go watch it. It’s the intent of Columbus’s rules without the neurotic touch, and in a way, that’s what gives Zombieland its charm. Well, that, and a certain BM.” – Anthony

Many of these zombie movies are readily available on DVD and Bluray. Streaming and on-demand choices are available thanks to services like Netflix and YouTube. Some of the more obscure movies may require creative thinking, so just be careful with that juicy brain of yours, and stay safe this windy Halloween / belated Halloween but still Halloween enough time of year.

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About Zombiepaper

My interests are very specific and sometimes esoteric: writing, videogames (EarthBound), movies (zombie, martial arts, and animated), music (listening and bass guitar), thrift stores, philosophy, and toys. Also, Cowabunga!

Posted on November 1, 2012, in App Attack, Movies, Nerd Culture, Opinion, Reviews, Toys and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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