Welcome to our first post in our Summer of the Zombies!!! Today we have horror/zombie author Devan Sagliani telling us about his top 10 zombie movies!!! I have to say we have a very similar top ten lists!! I’d probably swap Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland in position though. There are some new to me movies on this list that I am looking forward to watching too!
Top 10 Zombie Movies
When Contagious Reads asked me to blog about my Top 10 Zombie movies for the Summer of Zombie I jumped at the chance. Horror cinema, at least in its current form, is quickly being eclipsed by the rise of episodic long format series on cable television and streaming services. Zombies seem to be impervious to this new trend. In fact the undead seem to thrive in all forms of entertainment, from comics to novels to video games to television to the big screen. It’s almost as if we simply cannot wait for the apocalypse to begin. Whether they shamble at a deliberate pace to corner and devour us or run at superhuman speed like the ghouls in World War Z, zombies still thrill and excite us on the big screen and I suspect they always will. In many ways zombie movies bring with them a sense of comforting nostalgia as well, since they reinforce our deep seated belief that the world is simply out of control and, as the poet Jim Morrison crooned, the end is always near.
So without further delay here is my Top 10 List of Zombie Movies:
1 – Zombieland
There has never been a better zombie movie than Zombieland and in all likelihood there never will be. First of all – Bill Murray plays himself. That alone makes this movie worthy of endless encomia. Twinkies, Woody Harrelson, cool graphics, and above all else great kills. Plus Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg were both (relatively) new actors to ‘Big Hollywood Fame’ when this movie came out. That means she was still precocious in a modern day Winona Ryder kind of way and he hadn’t yet developed his overly smug persona that’s propelled him to Lex Luther heights. The movie is just plain fun, even if it isn’t all that scary.
2 – 28 Days Later
A big hit with both critics and fans, it is no wonder that this extraordinary piece of film is often credited with reinvigorating the zombie genre of horror movies. Written by English author Alex Garland (who also wrote The Beach with DiCaprio), 28 Days Later went on to inspire not just a compelling sequel but also a graphic novel and a comic book series as well.
And why not? What’s not to love about a tale about a plucky gang of political activists protesting against vivisection by liberating lab monkeys infected with RAGE? Or how this secret government weapons grade biological agent causes the entire United Kingdom to be quarantined as its surviving population waits for the afflicted to simply starve to death? So much of how the world might one day look is painted in stark and explicit terms, right down to armed thugs setting up their own territories and systemizing rape, torture, and murder.
3 – Dawn of the Dead (2004 remake)
Written by genius James Gunn, this movie isn’t just a zombie classic, it’s a fat slice of steaming Americana as well with a slice of cheese melted over it for good measure. This amazing remake was Zack Snyder’s feature film directorial debut and what a debut it was – like a shotgun kick to the gut! The pacing is perfect, the gore sublime, and above all else the bulk of the action takes place at a mall in Wisconsin. Ving Rhames was my favorite part. That bad ass attitude he had in Pulp Fiction just stuck with him. I definitely want him on my side when the apocalypse finally arrives. The movie did fairly well and they even considered doing a sequel. Thankfully for fans they didn’t. Sometimes it’s best to just make something great and walk away.
4 – Planet Terror
Wild man director Robert Rodriguez’s contribution to the Quentin Tarrantino movie Grindhouse has all the elements a memorable B movie needs to be unforgettable and so much more. I don’t think any of us would be surprised if the rise of the zombies starts in rural Texas, or if strippers, military madmen, or crazy doctors are involved. Rodriguez elevates things with the addition of a bisexual anesthesiologist, a mind blowing performance by Bruce Willis, and Rose McGowan’s machine gun amputee leg – which instantly became seared into our memories the moment we first saw it spraying bullets. He’s either crazier than Gary Busey or a full blown genius…or both? Either way this zombie-themed offering tops my list for sheer ingenuity.
5 – World War Z
Say what you will about the differences between the book and the movie and I will agree with most of your complaints, but when you’re done let’s admit that World War Z was a bad ass movie on its own merits even if it shared little to nothing with Max Brooks bestseller. Brad Pitt’s star power didn’t hurt either, giving guys everywhere the chance to flip the script on their girlfriends and wives and drag them to see something that wasn’t a romantic comedy.
The speed, ferocity, and unrelenting hunger these hell spawned demons possess leave little hope for humanity and provide the kind of thrills, chills, and raw terror the genre deserves. Not only did it top box offices when it came out but it gave an entire new generation of fans their first taste of a big budget undead thriller.
6 – Shaun of the Dead –
You can’t go making a Top 10 Zombies anything list and forget to mention this beloved buddy comedy about an electronic shop employee with no direction in life who chooses the zombie apocalypse as his moment to bloom. The movie is rife with one liners and pithy dialogue exchanges that bring an air of comedic levity to watching people get literally torn into snacks for Satan’s lapdogs, like Shaun’s breakdown of the plan for the rest of the day-
“Take car. Go to Mum’s. Kill Phil – “Sorry.” – grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?”
Rumor has it they considered doing a sequel, maybe even switching monsters, but decided against it in the end. That was the smart move. Don’t go messing with a classic, especially one with a 91% approval rating from fans!
Okay so it’s not technically your old fashioned zombie movie. You got me there. But since the good doctor is able to bring back to life several corpses who later turn on human beings and tear them to bloody pieces I’d say it well qualifies. The talking dismembered head scene is the stuff of kitschy nightmares and goes a long way towards explain the cult popularity of this epic take on H. P. Lovecraft’s story “Herbert West–Reanimator.”
8 – REC
This Spanish horror film blew everyone’s mind when it came out in 2007. Co-written and directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, REC follows a television reporter and her lovable cameraman Pablo, as they film a fictitious documentary covering fire stations. A call about an old woman trapped in her apartment turns into a rampant zombie outbreak when she starts biting her rescuers. Soon infected residents threaten to spread the madness while the cops try to convince our unbitten protagonists to please for the love of Christ stop filming the epidemic.
I know after the Blair Witch movie the idea of using a documentary format for horror has been beaten into the ground (especially by the Paranormal Activity series) but this is done in a fresh and inspiring way that won fans bloody hearts and continues to inspire sequels. Definitely one not to miss!
9 – Cabin in the Woods
Admittedly this is less of a zombie movie overall and more of a bizarro journey into the mind of Joss Whedon, but since the method for sacrifice chosen turns out to be Hillbilly Torture Freak Zombies I’m going to say it qualifies. As a big fan of Buffy (and Angel, and then also Firefly) I’m always fascinated to see how Joss will take what we know and turn it upside down on us. He does a fantastic job in Cabin of doing just that, putting a fresh spin on horror and genres at the same time. Kristen Connolly absolutely kills in this movie as well. She deserves to be way more famous by now.
10 – HVZ: Humans Versus Zombies
You didn’t really think I’d write a top 10 list of zombie movies and then not include one that I wrote, did you? What started out as a fascination for zombie ants on Youtube grew into a full story about government conspiracies, biological warfare, and the fight a plucky band of survivors faces as they battle hordes of undead monsters down in Texas.
Madison Burge was hands down my favorite part of how the movie turned out. Her performance is mesmerizing right up to the last scene of the movie. I wasn’t surprised to see her later on Dexter as a recurring character either. She’s just crazy talented.
You can read Devan’s first zombie novel ZOMBIE ATTACK: RISE OF THE HORDE right now, for only .99 cents!!! I read and reviewed this book shortly after came it out and LOVED it! You can find my original review HERE! And I still stand my stance that Devan is cool!!
You can find Devan hanging out in these places: