This Sunday, AMC will air the sixth season finale of their popular zombie series, The Walking Dead. Based on the popular comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Chuck Adlard, the show has been a ratings juggernaut for AMC. It also managed to transcend being reserved for horror fans and found an obsessive place in the hearts of millions of regular viewers. 14.5 million, to be exact. Unlike most shows, whose numbers simply plateau after the first few seasons, The Walking Dead seems to attract more and more viewers every year. In other words, it is a cultural phenomenon that shows no signs of stopping.
AMC’s companion series, Fear the living deadwill premiere its second season on Sunday, April 10. Fear the living dead only had about half the viewership of its more popular sibling in its inaugural season last year, averaging 7.6 million viewers per episode. Those numbers will likely increase in the second season, but it’s still too early to assess whether AMC will be able to build an audience for Fear as strong as the one they have for its sister series.
More fans of The Walking Dead will no doubt be listening for Fear This year. For them, the zombie train will continue to roll until summer. Those who disagree Fear, however, might feel a zombie-like void in their hearts next week. For those of you who just want even more zombie shenanigans to watch until The Walking Dead returns for its seventh season this fall, I got you covered!
Are you looking to start expanding your zombie obsession beyond the stories told on AMC, but don’t want to shell out big bucks on Blu-rays and DVDs of movies you haven’t seen? Fret not, because there are still plenty of undead streaming options at your fingertips, no matter which service you choose. Whether you subscribe to
BATTERY (2012) – Available on Amazon Prime
Jeremy Gardner directed, co-wrote, co-produced and co-starred with fellow cinematographer Adam Cronheim in this absolutely stellar low-budget zombie offering. As much as people love zombie action on The Walking Dead when it comes, it’s the drama that outsells viewers of the series. People love these characters. A little like The Walking DeadGardner and Cronheim Battery takes its dramatic lineups from George A. Romero’s zombie cinema and populates its film with interesting characters who are on a personal journey. The best kinds of genre movies are those where the movie would still work if you removed the genre element (in this case, the zombies) and Battery fits a T perfectly. If you’re looking for some great characters roaming the zombie-infested countryside, look no further.
THE DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) – Available on Hulu
Speaking of George A. Romero, what would a list of suggestions like this be without at least one of his zombie classics in the rotation? Hulu has the third entry in its loosely connected series of Dead movies, The day of the Dead. Produced in the mid-1980s, it is the most macabre and nihilistic of films; filled with an epic sense of despair and dread from start to finish. The zombies themselves are terrifying, but nothing is more surprising than the inhumanity displayed between the humans themselves. Man’s worst enemy is himself, and few zombie movies illustrate that more clearly than this one. Day was considered a bit of a disappointment upon release, earning less than its two predecessors (Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead), but it still managed to gross $77.7 million worldwide ( adjusted). Not bad for a carnage-filled little zombie movie that cost under $8 million (adjusted) to produce.
DEAD SNOW (2009) – Available on Netflix
This Norwegian splatterfest is an energetic boost for the zombies. Taking a few pages from Sam Raimi’s cinematic playbooks (diabolical death) and Peter Jackson (Undead), this film brings his gruesome undead creations to life in a very fun slapstick (splatstick?) way. I expect nothing less from a film where Nazi zombies chase students in the mountains of Norway. Grossing just $2.4 million worldwide (adjusted) upon release, it still managed to prove itself on the home video circuit, eventually sparking a sequel. If you end up enjoying that, the big thing is this (even better) sequel, Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014), is also available on Netflix.
DEMONS (1985) – Available on Hulu
Also hailing from the mid-80s, this zombie version of demonic forces. Born from the demented mind of Italian horror maestro Dario Argento (who produced Romero’s film dawn of the dead), demons is an absolute one of a kind horror effort. Filled with as much creeping, violent terror as the best efforts of the zombie subgenre, demons is a roaring ride to the end of the world and you have to search for it on Hulu, if you’re a subscriber. What if you’re not? Well, maybe this list will convince you to at least sign up for a trial subscription.
THE GRAPES OF DEATH (1978) (aka The Grapes of Death) – Available on Amazon Prime
If you fancy something a little different from Romero’s more classic take on the walking dead, then French exploitation auteur Jean Rollin’s cinema might just be for you. Considered one of his best films, The grapes of death is a little simpler than the filmmaker’s other works, but still very entertaining. You can also find this title on Amazon Prime, along with a wide assortment of other Rollin titles such as The living dead girl, Fascinationand blood lips. European horror, especially from this era, tends to be a bit more artistic and dreamlike in storytelling, but no less gruesome (or, in some cases, sordid), so keep that in mind if you dive your toes in this arena for the first time.
MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973) – Available on Amazon Prime
If you want another more offbeat title, then how about an early 70s horror offering from the authors of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, who would go on to do howard the duck thirteen years later are behind this horror film which contains creatures that are a strange mixture of vampires and zombies. Almost surreal, this atmospheric chiller is an unsettling, dreamlike journey that goes back in time and allegorically examines some of the horrors of early ’70s America. whether in streaming or elsewhere.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) – Available on Amazon Prime
The ultimate zombie classic! Easily the most recognizable title on this list, you might find it out of place, but you’d be surprised how many zombie lovers I’ve met who haven’t seen it. If you are one of those people, don’t be ashamed. We all have a mental list of horror classics we haven’t seen yet, whether you’re new to the genre or an expert. There’s never a bad time to catch up on a masterpiece like this, so don’t hesitate to finally sit down with George A. Romero’s zombie masterpiece. Adjusted for inflation, this little undead movie that may have managed to gross over $213.5 million worldwide during its theatrical release. Unfortunately, due to a rights snafu, Romero and his fellow cast and crew never saw a dime of that money, hence the filmmaker eventually returning to this cinematic world and directing five sequels.
PONTYPOOL (2008) – Available on Netflix
What if a zombie-like disease was somehow transmitted through words, instead of bites? That’s the question posed by director Bruce McDonald (and original writer Tony Burgess) in this unsung gem from 2008. The concept might sound silly on paper, but I can assure you it doesn’t. the movie itself. Anchored by a stellar performance from Canadian actor Stephen McHattie, Pontypool is low-key, but very terrifying as a horrific plague grips the small town of Pontypool. If this one manages to stick with you after you’ve seen it, be sure to give McDonald’s Last Horror Deal (2015 Hellions) a look too.
RE-ANIMATOR (1985) – Available on Netflix
“Dead cat. Details later”. by Stuart Gordon Resuscitator Not only is it one of the best zombie movies to ever hit the big screen, but it’s also one of the best horror movies of all time overall. A masterful blend of horror and comedy, it packs as many excellent performances as it does top-notch special effects. Crafted cheaply with a lot of passion and love for the genre, it grossed $4.6 million domestically (adjusted) at the time and proved to be a cult classic mainstay in the decades that followed. Some cult classics lose a bit of their luster over time, but Resuscitator will never be one of them. If you haven’t had the pleasure, now is the time to check it out.
THRILL (1974) – Available on Hulu and Amazon Prime
Sex is a beautiful thing, but it can also be scary. The same goes for sexual desire. Few filmmakers have explored these taboo waters in the horror genre more expertly than David Cronenberg. From The Brood for Fly and Videodrome for Dead ringtones, the Canadian author is a master of body horror and taboo terror. It made its commercial debut with this little film and while it’s not as lauded as its later efforts, it’s just as impactful as its more heralded offerings. It was notoriously hard to find for years after its DVD release sold out, but it’s now available for everyone to stream on the internet on at least two services. Sometimes you have to love modern video distribution!
Of course, there are plenty of other titles to choose from on each service. Amazon Prime owns the likes of Bela Lugosi star white zombie (1932) and Virginia Madsen with Raised zombie (1987). Hulu contains a bit of the old (1980s children) and the new one (2012 Cockneys vs. Zombies). As for Netflix, you have everything from fun horror comedies like Zombeavers (2014) to underrated zombie shows like Syfy’s Nation-Z and the CWs iZombie. Both of these shows have a more niche audience than either Walking Dead series, both averaging less than 1.5 million viewers per episode, but they certainly have loving fans. All of these movies and shows are definitely worth watching when you’re ready to branch out beyond the adventures of Rick, Michonne, Daryl and company.