By David Bronstein
It’s that time of year again and Halloween is nearing. Every October the talking gets down and dirty, as to what is the best horror movie ever? People make lists, dedicated horror websites get traffic from hell, and just about everyone wants in. Lists are a great thing. We can never agree, or we see a list that we believe is missing the obvious movie. So let’s roll on, with the greatest zombie movies ever made, in my opinion.
The only problem I have with zombie lists is that every one of them I have come across either has a batch load from the last decade or has choices that contain zombie horror comedies or worse still, zombie rom coms. The final straw was seeing a best of zombie list that included Fido. Really!
So, whilst this list does have one horror comedy, the rest is pretty much serious stuff, oozing the gore and chilling your bones until they become, well, stiff. Sit back, relax, and let’s take a look at what I’ve picked out.
10. The Plague of the Zombies, 1966
If you ever wanted to know what directly influenced George A. Romero (the Godfather of the zombie movie) then look no further than this Hammer horror classic. Oozing atmosphere and dread, Plague of the Zombies has gone down as a genuine horror classic. Though certainly tame for today’s audiences, it is the acting that wins out. Andre Morel is outstanding as the would be hero, but can our heroes win the day?
9. Nightmare City, 1980
Also known as City of the Walking Dead could well be the most crazy horror movie you’ll ever watch. For 80 odd minutes we are literally seduced by the comic violence. It is a can’t take your eyes off feast. Recently we have been treated to the uncensored cut --and boy does it not disappoint. It’s interesting to see a zombie movie of the '80's where the living dead run, and run fast. It’s wild mayhem, not to be taken too seriously. Watch out for the many boob death scenes.
8. City of the Living Dead, 1980
Again 1980's, but this time Italian master of shock Lucio Fulci was behind the lens, which ensures that this movie is full of gore. A straight forward zombie movie, where the title says it all, but as aforementioned, this is all about the blood. So, think a tool being drilled into a hapless victim and camera lingers. But Fulci saves the best for last- a women throwing up her own organs, and just to be sure Fulci plays that scene out real slow. A zombie gore-fest classic.
7. White Zombie, 1932
Considered to be the very first zombie film, White Zombie is strong on atmosphere and still remains underrated in the horror genre. Even years later, the movie was referenced when Rob Zombie created his band White Zombie. This movie is of course short on blood, but the acting is great and this is a genuinely classic horror movie.
6. Dellamorte Dellamore, 1994
Also known as Cemetery Man, this Italian horror came and went in the 1990's with little to no attention. It was only a decade later when Martin Scorsese called the movie the best Italian film of the '90's that interest was revived. English actor Rupert Everett stars as man who must defend the town he lives in from zombies. Funny in places, and laden with gore, this is a '90's horror sleeper.
5. I Walked With a Zombie, 1943
Classic suggestive horror from legendary film producer Val Lewton. I Walked With a Zombie may suggest that we are in store for a trashy B movie, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a genuine classic film. Very talkie but the pay off in the last half an hour is well worth it. The image of the local man’s eyes in the corn field will be ingrained with you forever after watching this.
4. The Return of the Living Dead, 1985
Originally this film was going to be a follow up to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, but the producers ruffled Romero’s feathers and that didn’t fly. Cue Dan O’Bannon, he of Alien fame to come in change the script from serious horror to comedy and direct with aplomb! And you know he may well have made the greatest horror comedy of all time. Plenty of brains get eaten here. And for rock/punk fans this is a great movie featuring a killer soundtrack from the likes of The Cramps and The Damned.
3. Day of the Dead, 1985
George A Romero’s third, and at the time final, zombie movie. Known as the lesser of his works, Day of the Dead is still a magnificent achievement. Blending cold hearted characters in a underworld setting, trapped by the zombies living on the streets. It is talky, but never bores. And the final thirty minutes belong to the horror gore of fame --it is blood thick relentless.
2. Night of the Living Dead, 1968
Romero’s first zombie movie and a genuine classic horror film. The first half is pure terror and not to be watched alone. The mix of characters is spot on and the script is strong. Kudos to Romero for having a black ‘hero’ character. For the time, Night is a very bloody movie, and the shocks just keep coming. Comes complete with a devastating climax you won’t see coming.
1. Dawn of the Dead, 1978
You probably guessed what was at No.1. How could it be anything else? The grand daddy of zombie horror films. Dawn of the Dead is an epic tale of survivors stranded in a shopping mall and trying to live some sort of life. But the zombies are getting closer, and seemingly nothing will stop them. Gore fest ensues. And you have to ask yourself how many horror films can get away with a pie fight? Madness, but beautiful madness and the greatest zombie movie ever, hands down.