Zombi 2 (released in the US as Zombie) is Lucio Fulci’s watershed zombie movie, and is largely responsible for the zombie mania that engulfed Europe. Despite appearing to be related to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead — which was titled Zombi in European releases — the film was actually written before Dawn of the Dead and was not an official sequel. It can be presumed that the title was meant to cash in on Romero’s success. Nevertheless, it is heralded as a classic of the genre, and is packed with Fulci’s signature gore — as well as an underwater zombie vs. shark fight (see below…really).
7. Day of the Dead (film)
The third of Romero’s series, Day of the Dead was described by the director as a “tragedy about how a lack of human communication causes chaos and collapse even in [a] small little pie slice of society.” The film takes place as the zombie apocalypse reaches its peak. The few remaining survivors, a group of soldiers, scientists, and civilians, have retreated to an underground military bunker where they enter into a nihilistic struggle to determine how best to spend their days in a devastated world. Though it wasn’t as well received as Romero’s other films — partially because it was scaled back after a huge budget cut — few would say that it was an overall failure, and some fans swear by the film’s darker, more cynical direction.
6. Shaun of the Dead (film)
Shaun of the Dead is the best zombie parody ever, no contest. In fact, Romero himself was so stricken by the film that he gave its creators, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, cameos in Land of the Dead (they insisted on being zombies) — an unbelievable honor for zombie aficionados. Besides classic horror, the film references several videogames, including Resident Evil (which has been praised by Simon Pegg as an influence), TimeSplitters 2, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors.
5. Left 4 Dead (game)
Valve made a zombie game — nothing more, nothing less. Four survivors, one path to safety, and horde of writhing infected in the way. They took everything great about zombie flicks and stuffed it into a cooperative experience that wholly lives up to Valve’s record of delivering impeccable packages. It has an armory of classic zombie killin’ guns, a cast of typically gruff, hard-as-nails characters, and B-movie posters with taglines like “No hope. No cure. No problem.” — what more could you possibly ask for? Other than Left 4 Dead 2, maybe:
4. Land of the Dead (film)
In terms of grossed revenue, Romero’s fourth film (released in 2005) is the second most successful film in the series, just behind Dawn of the Dead. Land of the Dead, like Day of the Dead, takes place well after the zombie outbreak began. The film is set in Pittsburg, which has been transformed into a feudal colony of survivors, and chronicles the class struggle between the rich — who live in the center of the city on “Fiddler’s Green” — and the poor. To complicate things, the zombies have begun to act more intelligently, communicating with each other, and returning to some of the activities they did when they were alive.
3. Resident Evil (game series)
Of course it’s here — one of the greatest zombie anythings ever, Resident Evil has influenced the whole of videogames and pop culture, and continues to be one of the most beloved and entertaining game series ever.
2. Dawn of the Dead (film)
Every zombie film, videogame, and book made after 1978 took inspiration from
this movie and its predecessor, Night of the Living Dead. Dawn of the Dead is the zombie movie. It’s the reason Dead Rising takes place in a mall. It was the inspiration for Leon’s SWAT armor in Resident Evil 2. It’s why the hearses in Grand Theft Auto are called “Romeros.” Its title has been repeated in popular culture so many times that it has become a cliche — and some aren’t even aware it’s a film. Well, it is, and it’s worth several viewings.
1. Night of the Living Dead (film)
George Romero’s first zombie flick created a genre. It wasn’t the first zombie movie, and it isn’t the best, but it was the first wholly-realized apocalyptic zombie outbreak scenario, and that makes it very special. It weathered some harsh criticism when it was released, but as time passed it became to zombies what The Lord of the Rings is to fantasy, and film historians have recast it as a bold statement on racism, the Vietnam war, and other issues prevalent in ’60s culture and politics. If you haven’t seen it, well, that’s absurd, because not only is it a must-see, it’s public domain (unfortunately, a mix-up with the copyrighting screwed Romero), and can be downloaded just about anywhere videos are served. Hell, watch it right now:
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