Saturday, 3 November 2012

My top ten Zombie Films

Well for a bit of fun to finish off my "Zombie Week" I thought I'd do something a little bit different, well different for me as you'll find millions of these articles on the Internet, and give you a list of my top ten Zombie films of all time, and my reasons why. So yeah, I've reviewed my favourite Zombie films and given them a brains out of 10 rating. I hope you enjoy...

Dead Snow

Who are histories worst bad guys? Well the Nazi's of course! They make the perfect bad guys for films, computer games and comic books, because it's perfectly OK to hate them and therefore you can revel in them being dismembered and disemboweled in the most gruesome of ways. Because they're the bad guys. Now image how much worse it can be if they're zombies! Yep, that's the premise for this 2009 Norwegian zombie flick... and it comes together so well, and for great comedic effect. The basic story is a bunch university students decide to go for a break in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, I know they clearly don't watch any zombie / horror films do they? You just know the slutty one is going to get it first! That's the genius of this film actually, it doesn't try to do anything massively original, or clever. It knows it's a zombie film and it gives its audience what it wants, blood, guts and lots of death... plus some SS uniforms. There are some truly funny moments in this film, and although it's probably not as well known as many films on my list, it is just as deserving of its inclusion.

7 brains out of 10.

Briandead (Dead Alive in North America)

Ever wandered what Peter Jackson did before the Lord of the Rings films? Well this is it. Braindead is a New Zealand film released originally in 1992. The film is probably most famous for the shear amount of gore involved. Seriously they must have used more fake blood than any other film in existence, even Kill Bill vol.1 and... probably vol.2 combined! The plot is one of the silliest I've ever seen in any film, let alone zombie films. It revolves around 'Sumatran Rat-Monkeys', which don't really exist, and a curse they carry. It's all typically overblown nonsense and it is meant to be. Braindead has to be one of the funniest zombie films ever released. Apparently the bite of the monkey turns people into the living dead. The opening scene of the film involves an explorer who captures the monkey being hacked to bits by his team because he's been bitten. Fast forward to after the credits and the film is in Wellington New Zealand, where a meddling overbearing mother, while spying on her son is bitten by the captured monkey while at the zoo... cue much hilarity and mayhem. It gets more and more ridiculous as the film goes on and Peter Jackson comes up with more inventive ways for the heroes to kill off the zombie hordes, and trust me, they are hordes in this film. I first saw this film about 1994, and every time I've seen it since it has had me in stitches. Well worth watching.

7.5 brains out of 10

Army of Darkness

What can I say about the third of the evil dead films? Other than it is completely and utterly brilliant, in a totally crap way. It didn't receive the critical acclaim of the first two Evil Dead films, but Sam Raimi's film gets a mention on my list because of how utterly ridiculous the plot and script is. This time Ash Williams finds himself pulled through time (don't ask) to 1300 AD where he inadvertently causes the army of the dead to rise while failing to recite an incantation properly. It is utterly bonkers and has me in stitches every time I watch it. I'm not sure it can be called a 'pure' zombie film given the nature of the dead creatures it portrays, and the main fact they aren't all zombie-like, but as there are zombies of sorts (deadites) so I'm giving it a pass. I'm sure some other zombie aficionado will come out of the wood work and lay into me for including it... but stuff 'em!

7.5 brains out of 10


OK so I'm starting to notice a bit of a trend with my selection of zombie films so far. I guess I like the funnier side of the zombie film spectrum! Don't get me wrong I also love the gritty blood soaked horror side too, but I guess the comedy zombie films tendto be better films to watch with groups of mates. While Zombieland isn't a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination it does have the added bonus of having Bill Murry in it... playing Bill Murry. The story is none-existent and the interactions between the characters resembles a teen flick more than a zombie film, but it is genuinely funny and also very stylish. Plus the cast of Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin do a good job of portraying their ragtag bunch of maladjusted survivors really, really quite well. The film has some quite shocking moments, some genuinely hilarious moments and just enough vomit inducing schmaltz to make it a classic in my book. No it's not the greatest or most original take on the zombie genre, but it knows its limits and is cool with it.

8 brains out of 10

Day of the Dead

The third film in Romero's 'Dead' series is either loved or loathed by the fans of the series. But it gets its place in my list because of doing something different with the zombie horde. Yeah, I'm talking about Bud, the domesticated zombie. No wait, hear me out! Our heroes are now living in a world where zombies have taken over. Governments and their military's have retreated to fortified enclaves to try and regroup and work out ways of dealing with the zombie apocalypse... you know other than chainsaws and shotguns. Our heroes find themselves on a military base where scientists are trying to domesticate zombies. I know it sounds lame, but honestly it isn't. Obviously it all goes horribly wrong (a bit like some of the acting), as it always does, and there's a zealous military commander type named Rhodes who inevitably makes things worse by being a bit of a dick. Many think Romero lost the plot with this film, I do not.

8 out of 10 Brains

Shaun of the Dead

Right we're back into comedy territory, and although the film sends up many of the genre's classics it does so in a loving homage. The writer's Edgar Wright (who also directs) and Simon Pegg (who also stars) clearly have a deep rooted love of the films they so mercilessly pilfer from. That they have a respect for the zombie film classics they send up make this arguably one of the best comic zombie films ever made. It is often accused of being 'too' in the know and that to fully enjoy the film you have to be fully cognoscente of the patheon of great zombie films. While I have some sympathy with those who hold this view, because undoubtedly an encyclopedic knowledge of all things zombie will give the viewer greater pleasure, the fact remains that this film is a cracking good yarn whether you are as into your zombie films as I am or not.

8.5 brains out of 10

28 Days later

Danny Boyle has made some pretty decent films in his time, this being one of them, so I guess we can forgive him for the London 2012 opening ceremony. Nope, I'm still not entirely sure what it was all about either. But, I do know what this excellent zombie film was all about, and that was reinventing the zombie. The first moment one of the 'shambling' zombies broke into a full on sprint in this film it changed the dynamic brilliantly. Sure other films had introduced faster moving zombies before, but not like this. No more could we run from the living dead, unless you're Usain Bolt, oh no, you had to avoid them or take them head on. Who would have thought doing something as simple as making the zombies run fast would be such an awesomely cool idea? The feral and savage nature of these zombies also meant that one was more than enough of a challenge for anyone, and a horde was a truly terrifying prospect. Utterly bloody brilliant.

8.5 brains out of 10

Planet Terror

The truth is if you read a lot of the reviews for this film you'd see that you were in one of two camps with it:

  1. You either got what Robert Rodriguez was up to or...
  2. You didn't

There is no doubting that this 2007 parody film is a definite acquired taste. It is a loving homage to all those terrible zombie films you watched as a teenager. You know the ones where the scripts were written on set, and the special effects weren't so special. It's clear that Rodriguez has a genuine love for their utter crapness, like all zombie flick aficionados do. He sends them up in Planet Terror in a fantastically over the top and funny way, bad camera work and cutting abound... deliberately. The zombies are way over the top and the heroes aren't even one dimensional, it truly is that bad... and for that reason alone it is actually that good. If you've watched as many zombie films as I have you'll notice the nods and winks to past classic, and the way it is all woven together is just so very clever. As I said, you'll either get it, or you won't. If you get zombie films you'll love it, if you don't then steer clear.

 9 out of 10

The Evil Dead

I've had arguments with various people about whether The Evil Dead is a comedy film or a straight or horror film that's so hammy it crosses over into horror. I personally think Raimi knew exactly what he was doing when he made this film and introduced Ash Williams to the world of cinema. It is a gore fest of the highest order and it revels in the ridiculousness of it's own set up. It doesn't care that it isn't very well scripted and I think it knows it's not to be taken seriously. Whatever other people think of the film I happen to really, really enjoy it.

9.5 brains out of 10

Dawn of the Dead (1978 original... of course!)


It's the best of the 'Dead' films, no question, and it gave cinema its first archetypal zombie apocalypse film.

10 out of 10 Brains

So there you have it, my top ten zombie films. I'm sure there are some in there you don't agree with, and I'm sure for some of you I've left some classics out. However, that's my list and I'm sticking with it. Other zombie films that might be worth a mention include:

  • Night of the Living Dead (1968) - the Romero original, and still a classic.
  • Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) - A very stylish Italian film, called Cemetary Man in English, track it down.
  • Deadgirl (2008) - This film has awful acting, dire scripting, but it has a unique set-up. Reality is this is a bit of a video nasty and is disturbing. 
  • Zombie (1979) - Lucio Fulci. That is all.
  • Return of the Living Dead (1985) - It's another send up of the zombie genre, but it's a good one... plus it has Linnea Quigley dancing naked, and I still have no idea why!!!
  • Dance of the Dead (2008) - It's really not as bad as the prom night set up would suggest.
  • The Crazies (2010) - I'm not so sure this qualifies as a pure zombie film, and even though at points I think it's really forced and a bit hammy... it's not a bad re-invention of what zombies could be.

What zombie films do you guys like? Any I've missed off of the list I really shouldn't have? As always leave your considered and well thought out comments below. Peace out!


  1. Good choices sir, Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead and Planet Terror among my real favourites....

  2. I'd happily put Resident Evil 1 (and maybe 3) and the Dawn of the Dead remake in that list as well. Yes, Dawn of the Dead original is a classic, but the remake is a very good film in its own right, and not just a scene by scene remake like the Night of the Living Dead remake, or a horrible clusterfuck like the Day of the Dead remake.

    Dead Snow: "they clearly don't watch any zombie / horror films do they?", aside from the way they discuss the things on the way to the cabin... (Or were you being ironic?)

    Planet Terror, I don't rate. Never got on with the radioactive zombies schtick, so I don't find it fires on those riffs, and Death Proof was the better film of the Grindhouse release. Might need to watch that again though, and double check. And, I'm going to have to give Class of Nuke-em High another spin, cos I'm sure that had zombies in it.

    As to other films, what about The Serpent and the Rainbow? Feturing the very rare voodoo zombie.

    And while it is a TV mini-series, rather than a film, how about Dead Set? Charlie Brooker's zombie apocalypse v Big Brother, with Davina McCall getting zombified.

    1. I'm not a fan of the Resident Evil movies. Not really sure why, they just don't tick my own zombie boxes. As to the Dawn of the Dead remake, that wasn't a remake, but more a re-imagining of the original I was unsure of including it. Yeah so it has a pregnant zombie and running zombies... but I just couldn't get on with it. And I really honestly didn't mind the fact that it had the same name as one of the all time classics as I'm more than willing to judge it on its own merits.

      Oh yeah and the Dead Snow comment was an attempt at irony. :P

      As to Planet Terror, I know a lot of people don't like it, and I can see why. But for me I think it's made of win. I like Death Proof too, but the best thing about the grindhouse films is that the faux trailer for Machete was eventually made into arguably the best film EVER!!! I love it.

    2. Ah. I think I may have more time for the Resident Weevil films cos I completed REs 2 and 3 on a console somewhere.

      And I reckon I don't get on with Planet Terror (or Machete) cos I like my films an stuff with a bit more grit, rather than OTT gore and craziness. There are exceptions, like Starship Troopers or the Expendables, which are just about the right side of the line in my head, but that's also why I'd have given Braindead an honourable mention rather than putting it in the main list (Bad Taste was the better film, but that's not a zombie film).

      I want to break out a zombie related game now. My local games club did All Things Zombie last week, but my car's been fubar, so I couldn't go. Just have to settle for reinstalling Left 4 Dead 2 and adding a pick from your games reviews to the wanted list.

    3. Dawn of the Dead remake, I think I got on with the more realistic unpleasantness than the original has, plus, Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, The Man Comes Around, and Richard Cheese. It's got its flaws (why do they wait til dark to go rescue the lass who went after the dog?), but it's one of my go-to films.

    4. My good man, I've completed EVERY Resident Evil game ever released in the West, including some all of the bizarre spin-offs and remakes. I've also played them on the hardest setting... but I just can't get on with the films.

      I too like my films with grit, as witnessed by my recent Skyfall review, but every now and then you can't beat a good gore fest or comedy send up. I think there is something inherently 'funny' about zombies, probably dating back to the origins of the zombie film genre and how bad the make up and special effects were. If you get a chance to play All things Zombie you'll have to let me know what you think.

    5. You should perhaps keep an eye out the for the much delayed Exit Humanity, a zombie film I've wanted to get the chance to watch for nearly two fricking years now.

  3. wow... That is almost, movie for movie, the same list as I would have made (Barring Planet Terror, which I would replace with Return of the Living dead). Absolutely Fantastic sir!

    1. I'd imagine that my list of zombie films would be fairly similar to most people list actually, with only one or two changes at most.

  4. Have you seen Cockneys vs Zombies? It is worth a watch. I found it alright, just one of those films where you can imagine stuff being done differently to much better effect.

    1. Funny you should mention Cockneys vs Zombies actually, we were going to rent that tonight but my On Demand TV service was on the blink again.

  5. Nice to see you have exemplary taste in zombie movies. A good list indeed.

    1. Cheers... but what zombie films float your boat Dai?

  6. Anyone who complains about Shaun of the Dead requiring too much zombie film knowledge must have missed Kernkraft 400 starting to play when they start the car first. It's not just film knowledge that you need, you've got to be up on your German techno and be able to speak Hindi to get it all. IE: they did the research.

    On the subject of unmentioned films, the point in 28 Weeks Later when I realised the rooftop cover snipers switched from shooting zombies to putting the few lone survivors out of their misery amongst the horde was one of those moments in film that just make your stomach sink.

    1. You know what? I've never actually seen 28 Weeks later. I keep meaning to, but honestly just never managed to get round to it. I'll have to make time and sit down with it soon.

    2. Protip: watch Hot Fuzz first, and THEN 38 Weeks Later straight afterwards. You'll know why when you see it.

  7. you've missed Zombie Strippers! I guess the title says something about the main attractions, but it is rather funny. It is actually the only film my >video< gang (yes, we've been at it a loong time) has seen twice....

    Dead snow - I predicted every death in the right order, which is was made it such a fun film.


    1. You know what... I've never seen Zombie Strippers... I guess from the title I'm not missing the Battleship Potemkin of zombie films! :P

      You are 100% right about Dead Snow as well. Oddly it's predictability is what made it so much fun to watch. Genuinely a good film because it does every zombie film cliche so well.