Zombie movies have a loyal fan base among cinema audiences, although their popularity has seen its ups and downs over the years. Some of the best zombie movies of all time are partly responsible for rekindling interest in the genre through standout performances, fascinating exploration of tropes, an interesting new take on the subgenre, and more.
Ranker users have voted for what they think are the best zombie movies ever made, and those movies span a wide range of years, themes, and tones. This range of options provides viewers with a variety of titles that make perfect use of the zombie subgenre.
ten The Evil Dead (1981)
While the antagonists aren’t technically zombies, they act quite similarly and cause the movie to be categorized as a zombie movie. Devilish death, the first feature in the franchise that spanned decades and various forms of media, is a bloody, gripping film that uses extreme elements very well. The story surrounds students as they go on vacation to the woods and accidentally release demons and evil spirits who possess some of them, leading to a survival scenario.
The film was on a relatively low budget, but it nonetheless provided a thrilling and often terrifying experience, also featuring comedic elements that would be featured more in future franchise entries.
9 Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Featuring a cast of quirky characters in the aftermath of a zombie disaster, Return of the Living Dead is a fascinating take on the subgenre that has remained a classic.
Although this is a horror / comedy film, To recover is sometimes credited as a film that scared the zombies back. Much of this was because of the special effects for zombies, which went way beyond light makeup and instead created terrifying appearances. The film is also known for its soundtrack, which featured heavy rock and punk music and contributed to its legacy.
8 Day of the Dead (1985)
The day of the Dead takes place in a world overrun by zombies. In a secure bunker, scientists attempt to find a cure for the zombie pandemic, while a scientist investigates whether zombies can become tame over time. The film features outstanding makeup effects and a gripping storyline with many interesting characters.
The film also develops the lore surrounding cinematic zombies in a fascinating way, providing a glimpse of hope while having an incredibly tense atmosphere. The performances are excellent and help make this film worthy of its lasting legacy.
7 28 weeks later (2007)
A sequel to the acclaimed 2002 film 28 days later, 28 weeks later is a worthy follow-up. As Devilish death, the 28 days technically, the series doesn’t feature zombies but rather humans infected with a virus known as “Rabies.” However, the film is generally classified as a zombie flick and a great movie.
The sequel focuses on the events immediately after the first film, in which government agencies attempt to help survivors. The second entry in the film series, however, features a different cast. While not generally considered as iconic as the first film, 28 weeks later contains many of the best elements of the original, creating a tense, emotional atmosphere and a captivating audience watching it.
6 Land of Zombies (2009)
Mixing wonderfully comedy and horror, the land of zombies follows the survivors as they attempt to make their way to a supposed safe zone. Along the way, they must defend themselves against the living dead, although much of the action is comedic.
the land of zombies succeeds in both its horrific and comedic aspects, letting audiences feel the tension of the scenes while providing some really fun moments between the actors. He also has an incredible celebrity cameo that doesn’t feel forced, but rather elevates the stage.
5 Shaun of the Dead (2004)
There are plenty of reasons why Shaun of the Dead is a great comedy movie, but it also works perfectly as a zombie flick. The story centers on the character of Shaun, who, along with a small group, learns that the zombie apocalypse is unfolding around them and seeks to find a safe place to wait for him.
Shaun of the Dead foreshadows the horrors to come early on, often comically. Outstanding performances that seem believable in both funny and serious moments help make this film a most enjoyable watch.
4 Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The original Dawn of the Dead is one of the most well-known subgenres and one of the scariest zombie movies of the 1970s. The film follows the survivors of the initial zombie outbreak as they attempt to navigate the apocalypse with their life.
As one of the most iconic titles in zombie movie history, Dawn of the Dead continued to influence films with similar concepts for decades, but very few could come close to the quality of the 1978 classic. With recognizable locations scattered throughout, the film has a layer of realism that makes it all the more terrifying.
3 Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Largely following a plot similar to the original Dawn of the Dead, the 2004 remake succeeds in many of the same aspects as the 1978 version. However, it is stand-alone and does not build on the fame of its predecessor.
The movie is perhaps best known for some of its incredible action scenes that show how terrifying zombies are. The actors deliver excellent and authentic performances in their roles, allowing the audience to connect with them and feel more invested in the story as it unfolds.
2 Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Widely credited with redefining pop culture‘s portrayal of a “zombie,” George A. Romero Night of the Living Dead is still a popular watch among fans of the subgenre. The film centers on a group that tries to survive a horde of zombies by barricading themselves in an abandoned house.
A lot of things Night of the Living Dead still holds up today, including its excellent use of tension. The atmosphere of the constantly looming threat, as well as the excellent performances, make it clear why this film has remained in the public consciousness for so long.
1 28 days later (2002)
Today considered a classic of zombie cinema despite its release less than twenty years ago, 28 days later focuses on the character of Jim, who wakes up from a coma to find London seemingly deserted. He soon finds out that it is because many people in the population have been infected with a virus called “Rabies”.
Due to the film’s fantastic presentation, audiences learn details of the state of affairs just like Jim does, helping viewers relate to him better. Many other characters are identifiable as well, and this movie comes across as a great horror movie with stellar action scenes and emotional moments.
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