Romero’s genre-defining trilogy is the benchmark to which all other zombie films compare themselves. Night is a low-budget black & white exercise in taught and tight terror, Dawn (considered the best), a full on horror/suspense zombie...
10 .28 Days Later (2002) Although suffering from a weak second-half, the first section of Danny Boyle’s apocalyptical Brit-zombie DV film is superbly edgy and brutal, most notably the early morning shots of a deserted London, and the quick and deadly ‘contaminated’. The film plays on our fears of isolation, viruses (infected by Rage) and social paranoia, with heavy debt to Romero.
9 .Versus (2000) From Japan comes this insane Japanese martial arts / Highlander / zombie film. Set in one location (The Forest of Resurrection) the film is a subtle blend of myth (themes such as reincarnation and destiny) and non-stop action. Sure, it’s as silly as hell, but the terrific camerawork and fast editing more than compensate for the script’s shortcomings.
8 .Wild Zero (2000) Rock’n’Roll! Also from Japan, this cult film follows the rock band Guitar Wolf as they rock hard, and defend the world from alien-invading zombies. “There are no boundaries in love! There are no boundaries in Rock’n’Roll!” Forget Rocky Horror, this is the greatest ‘punk-rock-action-horror-comedy-zombie-midnight-movie’ ever made.
7 .Dellamorte Dellamore (The Cemetery Man) (1994) This criminally under seen movie is from Michele Soavi, understudy of fellow Italian horror master Dario Argento. Rupert Everett (in laid-back James Bond mode) is the caretaker of a cemetery where the dead don’t stay dead. Surreal, comical, romantic, tragic and magic all at once and made with a real passion and affection for the genre. Oh, and Anna Falchi is a babe.
6 .Braindead (1992) Braindead is when ‘Lord of the Hobbits’ director Peter Jackson really hit his stride. This period set (late 50s) zombie splatstick film gives us Lionel (Timothy Balme) as a weak nerdy anti-hero, slaying a horde of undead to save his true love Paquita (Diana Panalver). Tons of gore featuring rat-monkeys, karate-kicking priests and a brilliant Lawnmower Massacre ending.
5 .Re-Animator (1985) Two great straight turns from Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West (who creates a serum capable of bringing the dead back to life - sort of), and the late David Gale as the maniacal Dr Carl Hill lift this film with the help of director Stuart Gordon to cult classic comedy gorefest. Try and get hold of the uncut version, (Region 1) the scene with the severed head is hilarious stuff indeed.
4 .Return of the Living Dead (1984) Dan O'Bannon, writer of Alien, breaks the rules of the traditional slow, shuffling zombie, instead giving the undead a boost of speed and a punk soundtrack in this 1986 gory horror comedy spoof of the classic dead trilogy, featuring supercool victims/heroes Bert’n’Ernie. Deliciously vicious, but more importantly gut-munchingly funny. “MORE BRAINS!”
3 .Zombie Flesh Eaters (Zombi 2) (1979) A Italian spaghetti-zombie classic from Lucio Fulci. On a voodoo island the living dead massacre everyone before turning their attention on New York. Particularly remembered for its ultra-gore (including a skewered eyeball and a graphic throat slit) it’s also notable for it’s bizarre underwater fight scene with a topless female diver, a zombie and a shark.
2 .The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974) Borrowing heavily from NOTLD, this ‘filmed in lake District’ zombie flick from the mid 70s is both nightmarishly bleak and sinister. Arthur Kennedy is the American-English policeman investigating experimental pesticides which seem to be having unexpected effects at the local cemetery. Genuinely creepy with an unrelenting tension.
1 .Trilogy of the Dead George Romero’s genre-defining trilogy is the benchmark to which all other zombie films compare themselves. Night is a low-budget black & white exercise in taught and tight terror, Dawn (considered the best), a full on horror/suspense zombie assault, whilst Day provides a fitting end to the series with a superbly pitch black comedy/gore sign-off.