Zombie movies are among the favorites of horror movie fans, especially around the Halloween season. With films like that of George A. Romero Night of the Living Dead making the rules, there are countless great movies out there that fit the genre, even the ones that aren’t really about zombies.
While zombies are typically seen as resurrected flesh-eating ghouls, other films take aspects of the genre’s well-known lore to create terrifying new threats. While they can follow the genre closely, there aren’t any actual zombies in these movies.
ten The Suicide Squad (2021)
James Gunn’s The suicide squad is already a very different superhero movie because it makes the villains the protagonists. But it’s also a bloody and wild adventure that has more in common with The dirty dozen than The Avengers. And amid all the madness, Gunn included a pseudo-zombie movie.
The climax finds the alien monster Starro unleashed to wreak havoc as he unleashes small versions of himself that attach themselves to the townspeople, transforming them into Starro’s army. In a lovely spooky touch, the military also speaks collectively in unison, sharing a common spirit.
9 I am a legend (2007)
Based on the novel by Richard Matheson, I’m a legend is the latest adaptation of this story and stars Will Smith as seemingly the Last Man on Earth. After a virus outbreak kills most of the population, others turn into aggressive monsters who can transmit their disease to the living.
However, these creatures are actually mutated humans and aren’t the flesh-eating zombies some assume they are. It’s a solid sci-fi action flick with a terrific performance by Smith. Unfortunately, the film’s deleted original ending reinvented the monsters in a more compelling way.
8 REC (2007)
The horror film in Spanish REC is one of the best movies found in the genre. It revolves around a film crew that follows a team of firefighters through their typical night on the job. A call to an apartment complex becomes terrifying as an infection spreads that turns people into deadly monsters as authorities seal the building with the survivors trapped inside.
While the infection is spread through bites similar to the zombie pandemic in other films, its origins actually stem from demonic possession, adding a supernatural element to the story.
7 Shivers (1975)
David Cronenberg is known to make films with an unsettling sexual nature, so it’s no surprise that this was factored into his approach to the zombie genre. Thrill is one of Cronenberg’s earliest works and imagines a sex-transmitted zombie infection and turns victims into sex-obsessed demons.
It’s definitely an interesting take on this kind of horror story and is filled with commentary like the best horror movies are. However, given the subject of the film, it is also incredibly unsettling to watch.
6 Assault on Compound 13 (1976)
John Carpenter is a master of the horror and action genres that he combines in his first film, Attack on the enclosure 13. The film follows a small group of police officers and criminals who are forced to regroup when their police station is attacked by a murderous street gang.
The gang in question is where the horror elements come from as they look like emotionless thugs almost in a trance that forces them to do violence. No explanation is given as to why they are that way, which makes it even scarier.
5 Slither (2006)
Before James Gunn made films for Marvel and DC, he delivered this low budget, twisted creature feature called To glide. After a comet crashes into Earth, a local man is infected with the parasite inside. This leads him to unleash hordes of slug-like creatures all over town that overtake the minds of the victims, creating a beehive-minded entity.
The concept is similar to what Gunn did with Starro in The suicide squad, as people become puppets of the central being. Driven by their endless hunger, they feast on anything they can get their hands on.
4 Overlord (2018)
Another great horror movie that mixes multiple genres is Suzerain. The film stars Wyatt Russell and Jovan Adepo as American WWII soldiers who stumble upon a terrifying Nazi experiment to create the ultimate super soldiers.
The film shows the different stages of the experiment, some more successful than others, which transforms the subjects into powerful and raging monsters. It’s a fun and underrated entry into the WWII horror movie genre.
3 Planet Terror (2007)
Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino teamed up for the two-part movie Mill it was a throwback to the exploitation horror films of the past. Rodriguez conducted the first part, Planet terror, which seemed to take inspiration from old Italian films which were almost zombie stories but not quite.
The creatures in this movie are known as Sickos because they are all infected with a biological weapon from the nearby military base. Interestingly, while Sickos feast on human flesh, they aren’t as dumb as zombies and can even speak normally.
2 The Fools (2010)
Crazypeople is a remake of a little-known George A. Romero film of the same name. It might have been Romero’s name that made people believe this was a zombie movie, but he actually presents a different kind of threat.
The film takes place in a small town where several citizens are infected by a military complex that turns them into stupid killers. It is also unique that no matter how deadly those infected are, the government agents trying to contain the city prove to be just as ruthless.
1 28 days later (2002)
Danny Boyle’s 28 days later is one of the films that contributed to the resurgence of zombie movies. Oddly enough, it’s not really a movie that belongs to the genre as monsters are people infected with rabies.
Despite this important distinction, 28 days later follows the general formula of a zombie movie in the story of a young man who wakes up from a coma to find the world changed by an epidemic. The film also ended up having a big influence on the zombie genre as it is credited with embracing the idea of fast zombies.
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