The zombie walk, the weapon reserve, and armored vehicles have all become standard features of the genre, as movies like Shaun of the Dead (2004) made great comic use of. Today, zombie movies explore different subjects – Train to Busan (2016), for example, perhaps an excellent commentary on the horrors of public transport in Korea, while Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) brings the lives of British teenagers to the fore as they hack, cut and sing their freedom in this one-of-a-kind zombie musical. With COVID-19 restrictions making the world look like a zombie movie gone wrong, it’s only a matter of time before the genre begins to incorporate face masks and thermometer-wielding security guards. So if you’re feeling a little stressed out right now, here’s a list of the top ten zombie movies to remind you that things aren’t going too badly… yet!
1. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun (Simon Pegg) is an electronics salesman and, along with his lazy, video game addicted best friend Ed (Nick Frost), fights to save Shaun’s family from zombie annihilation – in London’s Crouch End . Shaun of the Dead has all the important elements of a good zombie movie, but with their refuge and weapons stash being at the local pub, The Winchester. There is also a romantic sub-story, with Shaun trying to win back the affection of Liz (Kate Ashfield), his ex-girlfriend. There are also plenty of fabulous popular cultural references, including the 1980s LPs Shaun and Ed toss at their zombie intruders in their backyards.
2. Zombie 2 (1979)
Underwater zombies, sharks and boobs. What more can we say about this Italian classic, other than it features zombies fighting sharks and features a team of divers (led by a mad scientist) trying to rid the Caribbean island of a voodoo curse. The film caused minor moral panic in the UK, possibly due to its shocking violence, daring music and fake blood. Breasts, however, aren’t much of an issue for the 1970s UK cinema censorship board.
3. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
In this classic George A Romero film, you’ll be treated to zombies wreaking havoc in a 1970s suburban mall, tearing up mannequins and real body parts, as the protagonists transport dead zombies in carts. races and load firearms. store. Shotguns and sniper rifles are used to dismantle the undead, who gather by the thousands outside the security gates. There’s also a mildly comedic zombie fist fight at the end, right before the remaining survivors flee by helicopter.
4. Hot bodies (2013)
The zombie-romantic comedy Warm bodies opens with the self-critical zombie character R walking around an abandoned airport hungry for human brains. “What’s wrong with me?” he asks. “We’re all dead,” he says, reflecting on the listless zombies around him. While on a mission to collect medical supplies, Julie and her boyfriend (both surviving humans) meet R and her friend Mr. M ends up killing Julie’s boyfriend, as R begins to develop feelings for Julie. He becomes more human during the film, as Julie does her best to protect her new zombie boyfriend from human resistance. A creatively written film, centered around the very unique love story between zombies and humans.
5. I walked with a zombie (1943)
Another thriller set in the Caribbean, this first zombie film once again makes good use of pagan folklore and dark magic. Jacques Tourneur made other 1940 classics such as The curse of the cat people (1944) and Leopard man (1943), which are based more on suspense than on blood and gore. In I walked with a zombie a nurse named Betsy is bought on the island by a wealthy sugar cane plantation owner, who wants her to take care of his wife. Exposed to indigenous culture and their voodoo superstitions, the zombie becomes a metaphor for the dark forces of the human mind.
6.28 weeks later (2007)
A sequel to the equally voracious 28 days later (2002), this British zombie thriller has all the elements of a post-apocalyptic COVID-19 narrative – with NATO special forces assigned to protect a safe area in London from the zombie-inducing Rage virus . There’s a lot of guts and brains strewn about this movie, as the army destroys the fast-moving zombies in every way they can – automatic weapons, sniper rifles, and even helicopter blades. What is also impressive (and frighteningly realistic) is the incorporation into the film of real London locations, such as Heathrow and the Tower of London.
7. Evil Dead (1981)
Camera angles, music, and special effects all improved in this early 1980s film by Sam Raimi, which follows a group of young couples on vacation to a cabin in the countryside. Before leaving for the night, one of them finds an old tape recorder in the cabin which, when he passes it on, warns of ancient Sumerian burial practices and the Book of the dead. They later discover that not only is the forest haunted, but it’s also full of undead desperate to demolish the cabin to taste their flesh.
8. Train to Busan (2016)
The tranquility of the Busan countryside and the order of Korea’s rail system are turned upside down, when some of the passengers transform into vicious, flesh-eating zombies. At first, the tightly secured cabins seem like a perfect refuge from the raging apocalypse on the outside, until suspicion turns to those inside. The supposed safety of the train, chaos and destruction on the approaching platforms create very dramatic contrasts, as high-speed conflict ensues.
9. The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
In the future, a fungal disease turned a large part of the human population into zombies, otherwise known as “hungers”. A second generation of starving people has adapted the ability to control their flesh-eating urges, offering hope that scientists can use their DNA to save the remaining human population. The post-apocalyptic UK still looks great on the big screen, but I hope that’s not how the so-called ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 is going.
10. Resuscitator (1985)
Dr Herbert West is a young medical researcher working on a new serum to bring the dead back to life. Battling an ethics committee and the entire medical establishment, he struggles to keep his experiments a secret. Dead cats and decapitated heads make interesting experiments in the morgue, giving rise to comical zombies marching through hospital wards. This horror comedy is loosely based on HP Lovecraft’s 1922 novel Herbert West – Resuscitator, and it retains some of the tropes of the mad scientist from the early 20th century.