As horror movies are released, we're seeing more and more repeats, remakes, reboots, and a lot of unoriginal material. At the top of the list of horror elements that are only repeating the movies that came before them is zombies. It seems that every couple of years, a new zombie movie is released, but few of them rarely show anything we haven't seen before.
My most recent disappointment in the horror sub-genre was World War Z (2013). Based on the book by Max Brooks (although it mostly only took the title), the most entertaining part about this film was that Brad Pitt decided he wanted to fight zombies...and that's not exactly saying much for the film. Yes, it was entertaining the first time through, but when you stop and think about what you just watched, you quickly realize all of the things you've seen many, many times in previous zombie films. Is the age of well-done, original zombie projects over? Here are some of the best zombie films that set a precedent for originality:
1. George A. Romero films
As I thought about it long enough, I couldn't narrow down Romero's films that I loved to one, so I chose two, and they'd have to be Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978). No offense to Zack Snyder's remake of the latter, because it's one of the few horror remakes that I almost loved as much as the original. Romero took a relatively unexplored aspect (at the time) of the supernatural and made it truly terrifying. The dead return to life to feast on the living was a concept that was unprecedented in that age. Romero is one of the many credited for beginning the zombie's takeover of the big screen.
2. 28 Days Later
If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend you fix that immediately. Some will argue that this is not technically a zombie movie, and they're not wrong. The virus in this film isn't shown bringing the dead back to life, but rather infecting people with rabies-like symptoms that drive them absolutely insane and completely bloodthirsty. Technicalities be what they may, I still consider it a zombie film. This movie starts in a way that The Walking Dead kind of ripped off (comic books began publishing in 2003, this film was released in 2002): A man in a coma for four weeks wakes up to find a desolate, abandoned city, only to quickly discover exactly why it was abandoned. Credit cannot only go to Danny Boyle, the director, for although he did an excellent job, Cillian Murphy is my absolute favorite part of this film. Known in recent times as Dr. Crane/The Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, Murphy was a relatively unknown who completely blew everyone away in this film that mixes just a little bit of comedy with a lot of gritty, dark horror.
3. Shaun of the Dead
I'm not necessarily jumping on the bandwagon of people that loved this movie. It made me laugh the first couple of times I watched it, but I felt that it got old too fast. Though it wasn't my favorite, it's on my list because of its' originality that it brought to the genre: the comedy. I almost put Zombieland here, because I did like that one a lot more, but the originality from it came from comedy and, in all fairness, this movie did that first. The buddy duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost starred in this film where two ordinary friends are faced with an epidemic and all they want is to make it to their favorite bar...okay, and save a love interest, too, but first, they have to survive the onslaught of zombies in their way. As they overcome the obstacles in hilarious ways, and even take some pictures on the way, they must survive to make it to their favorite hangout.
I know that many of you love The Walking Dead, as do I, but the only real originality from the series is its' characters, not its' zombies...also, there aren't exactly a lot of zombies in that show as much as there are humans getting pissed off at each other, so it didn't seem fair to put it on this list.
Agree with my list? Which zombie movies do you love the most (old or recent)? Comment your opinions, compare zombie favorites, and make sure you always run like hell!