When I was in my early teens I saw Resident Evil for the first time and it’s what sparked my obsession with not only the Horror genre but, more specifically, with the Zombie Horror genre. This movie lit a fire in me and got me obsessed with the macabre and turned me into the gore whore that I am today.
The Zombie industry has completely taken off and has become more and more popular than it ever was, and for a good reason as well. It takes everyday life and every day people, set in your own back yard, and turns it into a suburban nightmare of man on teeth combat where no one is safe, not even if you’re an unborn foetus or a dude taking a shit.
Over the years there have been some amazing Zombie writers and directors however there are two who get a special mention as they are the two who started it all. George A Romero, the creator of one of the first and most iconic Zombie films of all time, Night of the Living Dead, and Sam Raimi who created one of the best horror series that has ever existed, The Evil Dead.
The 1968 film Night of the Living Dead paved the way for some of the best Zombie horror films to come out of the 80s and 90s and most of them were written and directed by Romero. Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead were some of his earlier work however Romero continued to write, produce and direct other movies in this genre over the next few decades such as the 2007 Diary of the Dead and the 2009 Survival of the Dead. In the 2000s, Romero remade a lot of his earlier “Of the Dead” films as well as his 1973 motion picture The Crazies. Although The Crazies isn’t a zombie horror flick, it’s a brilliant movie and if you are a Romero fan, one you should check out regardless.
Romero zombies are very traditional in how they walk and how limited they are with their movements and speech. In one of his later movies, Diary of the Dead, one of the characters can be heard making a comment about Zombies and how they move.
“How many times have I told you? Dead things don’t move fast. You’re a corpse, for Christ’s sake. If you run that fast, your ankles are gonna snap off”.
I like to think that this is Romero’s way of taking a stab at other zombie genre writers giving the undead super strength, speed and stamina or it’s his way of bringing the genre into the 21st century because, who are we kidding, there’s nothing very scary about decaying meat sacks travelling at sloth speed.
From Romero I was introduced to Sam Raimi. Rami has done some terrible things in his career such as Xena the Warrior Princess, Hercules and the dreadful excuse of a superhero movie, Spiderman 3. Although I question his decisions for part of his career, Raimi redeems himself with his brilliant three part series, The Evil Dead, The Evil Dead 2 and The Army of Darkness. This fantastic series gave us one of the most impressive and relatable protagonists of our time, Ash Williams who was played by Sam Raimi’s oldest friend, Bruce Campbell. Rami’s Evil Dead series has become so iconic that not only has it been recently re-made (with a super satisfying spin on it) but Raimi himself has also recently released a television series called Ash vs Evil Dead starring Bruce Campbell as Ash, nearly 40 years later.
After the success of the Evil Dead series, Raimi didn’t really do that much in the way of Zombie films. He did, however, produce some fantastic horror flicks such as the impressive Vampire horror, 30 Days of Night, and the uncomfortably vomit worthy, Drag Me To Hell which, in my opinion, has one of the most original horror script ideas to have come out of Hollywood in a really long time and is definitely worth a watch. Although these two Americans have literally paved the way for the Zombie genre, the Europeans have done amazing things with it as well and here are a few that you should definitely add to your list of what to watch.
28 Days Later is a post apocalyptic zombie horror set in London and starring Cillian Murphy who wakes up in hospital weeks after the first outbreak of the rage virus, turning everyone into man eating corpses. The reason I love this movie so much is because it’s a very raw and realistic interpretation of what would happen to a city a few weeks after the initial chaos has subsided and how the uninfected would survive and what they would have to do to survive. Eventually they made the sequel, 28 Weeks Later, where the movie is based around the US Armed Forces coming in to clean up the streets of London. This is one of those rare moments where the sequel is just as good, if not better, than the original. This is proven in the first fifteen minutes of the film with, in my opinion, one of the best opening scenes of any zombie horror movie ever.
Shaun of the Dead is another English zombie movie that I can’t not mention. I wouldn’t necessarily classify this as a horror but it is definitely up there with the gore factor, giving it the right to sit in the comedy/horror category right next to the hilarious, yet somewhat disturbing, British mini series, Dead Set. If you love watching Big Brother yet still wouldn’t mind seeing all the housemates get slaughtered, then Dead Set is perfect for you.
Moving away from English zombies, REC is a hand-cam style, Spanish zombie film set in an apartment building that has been cordoned off from the world, creating the perfect feeling of isolation and panic. The dark, decaying rooms mixed with unanswered questions of how the outbreak started create amazing suspense for the viewer and keep you guessing right up till the terrifying twist at the end. If you’re not into subtitles however, the American remake Quarantine is actually surprisingly good and I definitely recommend seeing it even if you see REC as well. If you don’t mind a bit of subtitles, my final recommendation would be Dead Snow, the R18+ Norwegian Nazi Zombie film. Dead Snow is definitely one of my top 10 all time favourite horror films even though there isn’t really a story line, the scenery is amazing, the zombies are perfectly designed and it’s great if you just need a good laugh.
The above movies mentioned are only a few of my all time favourite zombie horrors and as much as I would love to list all of the greats, unfortunately I think it would take forever and you would get bored so, to wrap up, here is a list of other zombie horrors that you probably should see before you die. Enjoy!
(disclaimer: I will probably get a lot of backlash from people who don’t consider some of these zombie films, which is fair, however they are there because they are movies about re-animated corpses and/or no longer human/should be dead and because it’s my fucking blog so just read it and shut the fuck up).