Since the horror genre has existed, zombie movies have proven to be one of its most enduring subgenres. Whether it be George A. Romeroit is night of the living dead and the frankness it engendered, or The Walking Dead Dominating the small screen, zombie fiction will forever be devoured by the hungry masses.
The abundance of films in the genre has led to a debate over what constitutes a zombie. Some of the best zombie movies don’t feature zombies, but rather rage-induced maniacs, mind-controlled hosts for alien parasites, and even those possessed by demons. Here are the best “zombie movies” that feature a spin on the menace of the undead.
The signal (2007)
Presented as a film divided into three parts with three different directors, The signal presents an epidemic caused by a mysterious signal emitted by any telephone or audio-visual device. Those who hear the signal go mad, determined to harm everyone they meet.
Despite its split nature, the film is not an anthology and tells one story, following a woman who decides to leave her husband for someone else, and the different segments follow the two lovers’ attempt to come together in the midst of the pandemic. Recommended for anyone who loves their horror of the indie variety.
The signal is available to stream on Tubi.
A recent release Sadness currently attracting the attention of the horror community. When a viral pandemic engulfs Taiwan, a young couple tries to find each other as those infected are turned into bloodthirsty maniacs.
Sadness quickly gained a reputation for its hyper-violent content, as its villains take sadistic pleasure in inflicting intense pain on those around them. Nothing is sacred as the film escalates into a bloody frenzy, likely to appease the most hardened of gore hounds while sending the most disgusted running for a sick bag.
Sadness is available to stream on Shudder and AMC+.
A remake of the 1973 film of the same name, Crazypeople stars Timothy Olyphant as a small town sheriff. When a virus sweeps through town and turns its residents into violent killers, the sheriff, his wife, and a few locals attempt to escape the town as their neighbors hunt them down.
Trading gruesome gore for tense action sequences, the film is well shot as the survivors find themselves in one life-threatening situation after another. Crazypeople is one of the few remakes that surpasses the original, and Olyphant’s presence helps elevate the film from B-movie territory.
Crazypeople is available to stream on Tubi.
From the creative mind of james gunn, Slide is his first film as a director. When Grant (Michael Rooker) is infected with an alien parasite, he begins to transform into a hideous monster while infecting the rest of his townspeople via small slug-like creatures. It falls to Grant’s wife, Starla (Elizabeth Banks) and Police Chief Pardy (Nathan Fillion), to arrest Grant and save the day.
Slither combines Gunn’s twisted humor with body horror, delivering a fresh take on the zombie genre alongside plenty of laughs. Recommended for anyone wanting to see the origins of Gunn’s directing and writing style that has continued through to his films today.
Slide is available to stream on Starz.
Taking the Nazi Zombie subgenre that dominates the direct streaming world and giving it a bigger budget, Suzerain is an adrenaline rush full of WWII action and zombie thrills. After their plane crashes and leaves them stranded behind enemy lines, a small squad of American soldiers discovers a sadistic Nazi lab.
Of course, the discovery of this lab brings the revelation that the Nazis created zombies, though they function more like unstoppable super-soldiers than brain-dead cannibals. Suzerain has the heart of a B-movie but enough production values to deliver plenty of action and thrills throughout its runtime.
Suzerain is available to stream on Paramount+.
Night of the Creeps (1986)
An underrated cult classic from the golden age of splatter movies, Night of the Creeps swaps a zombie virus for alien parasites. When a couple of college students accidentally unleash the parasites on their classmates, they race to stop the growing army before it spreads too far to contain.
Horror Favorite Tom Atkins is in great shape as a messy sleuth, delivering great one-liners as he helps teenagers. A fun horror-comedy that never takes itself too seriously, Night of the Creeps will appeal to fans of Return of the Living Dead.
Planet Terror (2007)
Born as part of the Crusher collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, Planet Terror is Robert Rodriguez‘s contribution to the project. When a fatal incident involving an army lieutenant (Bruce Willis) causes a biochemical agent to spill into a nearby town, the inhabitants are transformed into flesh-eating Sickos. Led by a stripper with a gun for a leg (Rose McGowan), a small group of survivors attempt to flee the city to safety.
Deliberately filmed and edited to look like a retro exploitation film, Planet Terror contains a lot of grainy footage and even a hilariously placed missing reel.
Planet Terror is available to stream on Tubi.
Arriving amid the found footage craze that swept the horror genre in the late 2000s, [REC] is a Spanish zombie movie set in a quarantined building. When a late-night reporter and her cameraman accompany a nighttime firefighting crew, they find themselves trapped in the apartment building alongside the frightened residents.
Soon, a deadly infection is revealed to be spreading among the occupants, turning them into rabid maniacs. Whereas [REC] looks like a standard zombie movie, the plot delves into a single origin for her illness, and the angle of the found footage makes her violence in the face of her literally in your face.
[REC] is available to stream on AMC+.
diabolical death (nineteen eighty one)
Trade Infectious Zombies for Demonic Possession, diabolical deathThe “deaths” of are one of the most unique versions of the classic zombie. When five friends staying at a cabin in the woods find an audio tape, they listen to the recorded voicemail and release sinister demons into the woods.
A classic of the horror genre, diabolical death launched the career of director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell, whose role as Ash is one of the most beloved in film history. The success of the cult film spawned three other films (including a forthcoming fourth), a television series and several video games.
diabolical death is available to stream on Shudder and AMC+.
28 days later (2002)
When a group of animal rights activists break into a testing lab, they release a chimpanzee infected with the “Rage” virus. After the animal infects its rescuers, causing the infected to go on a murderous rampage, the virus soon invades the UK.
Waking up from a coma 28 days after the outbreak began, bike courier Jim (Cillian Murphy) finds himself in a deserted London with the infected pursuing him at every turn. Predating the COVID-19 pandemic by 18 years, 28 days laterThe themes of isolation and despair seem more relevant today than when they came out.
28 days later is available to stream on HBO Max.
NEXT: 8 Great Zombie Movies & Shows To Watch On Netflix