cult movies I have loved: my favorite zombie movies
What is it about zombies? They generally lack the personality of your other assorted horror movie monsters, and yet for my money they are far more entertaining than your average everyday ghost, werewolf, or run-of-the-mill vampire.
What they lack in personality they usually make up for in sheer numbers and perhaps that is part of the answer to the question of their allure. Modern day zombies almost never show up alone. If you have zombies on your hands it is almost always part of a larger epidemic of some kind. It doesn’t matter that they might shuffle slowly toward their prey since there are probably a couple hundred of them doing it at the same time.
Also the whole undead metaphor is ripe with possibility. That helps to make these movies that much more perverse. The dead rising from the grave is a miraculous thing, but here it is an unholy miracle. When the dead rise from the grave the sanctity of life goes right out the window along with having respect for the dead. Basically, all bets are off.
Here then, in no particular order, are my personal all time favorite zombie movies:
This classic marks the beginning of the modern zombie mythos. Prior to this film, zombies were usually of the Voo-Doo variety. With this George Romero masterpiece you get most all the updates to the zombie motif that we have come to recognize as the template for the genre. They attack in crowds. They eat the flesh of the living.
Romero has a special talent for social commentary, and this movie can be viewed as a reflection of the paranoia and upheaval of the time. That the “hero” for most of the movie is a black man is somewhat remarkable, and the character’s eventual fate seems to echo something of the American experience during the civil rights movement.
This movie stands the test of time and retains it’s ability to give you the creeps.
This movie revived the genre with great effects, a horror/comedy mix, and a punk/metal soundtrack. Also, by now we learn that zombies really go for brains.
The plot of this movie is especially tight and manages to both explain the zombie phenomenon and also neatly imply a sequel zombie invasion yet to come at the end when things come full circle.
You could dismiss this film as a spoof if it were not so entertaining. Lots of gore, inside-jokes, one liners, and a cast who clearly had fun making the movie combine to make the premise fresh and new again.
Highly entertaining. If you’ve never seen this movie you owe it to yourself to check it out. Both a loving tribute to the zombie movies that came before, and an updating of the genre.
While not particularly scary, this movie does a nice job of building atmosphere and gives you obnoxious human characters that you can’t wait to see die.
The zombies are the remains of an experiment to create a nazi super weapon. That’s right: Nazi Zombies. They are pretty well preserved, being less decomposed and more pickled. They wear their nazi uniforms and rise from their watery grave in formation. They never say a word and much of the time they are underwater which also lends them an ominous detached sort of dignity.
Keep in mind when you watch this that the movie was made by a first-time director and first-time screenwriters. All and all they did a fairly decent job. It isn’t Shakespeare, but it isn’t a total train wreck either. Not bad zombies considering they hired them by taking out an ad in a local paper while filming on location in Florida.
I can’t really say enough good things about this awesome Japanese zombie movie. Great music, great zombies, and even some unexpected plot points. Loads of disgusting bursting zombie heads, loud rock and roll, and yes, even romance (both for the living and the dead). What is perhaps most remarkable about this film is the way it manages to be both offensive and ridiculous while also delivering a few touching character-driven moments.
This movie is gory, hilarious, and totally over the top. I could try to give you a plot summary, but best not to get too bogged down in the details and just let this movie wash over you.
I highly recommend this movie if you have never seen it.
I had a conversation with a friend about the writing of this blog entry and he could not believe I was not including Shawn of the Dead on the list. True, a hilarious film. But that was recent enough and popular enough that it probably doesn’t need my help to promote it. I consider this a strictly partial list. Perhaps I’ll do a “part 2” of this topic later on down the road.
I have seen a lot of zombie movies. I had something of a fixation for awhile.
If you want a really good resource check out The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia by Peter Dendle (2001). Anybody with more than a passing interest in the genre will find it a valuable reference guide. I sought out and watched several of the movies he profiles in the book. I hope that he plans on coming out with an updated volume two that will cover the years since his first publication.