British zombie films

by Mighty_Emperor | created - 18 Sep 2012 | updated - 1 month ago | Public

Films that generally fall into the "zombie" category, which for this list I'm keeping pretty loose, so as well as your classic zombie movies, it includes what I'm calling contagious violence, like the 28 X Later films, and the vengeful dead.

The British zombie movie is important in the history of the genre because they helped keep the flame alive and would, in turn, influence George Romero who was inspired by them (and many others movies) when coming up with Night of the Living Dead, as explained by Jennnifer Dotson in her Ma thesis:

In the fifties, science fiction had surpassed horror in popularity in Hollywood, and Gothic monsters such as vampire, werewolves, and mummies were traded in for giant insects, killer vegetables, and alien invaders. After the influx of poorly constructed zombie-themed films in the 1950s failed at the box office, most Hollywood producers abandoned the zombie altogether. When it seemed the living dead were indeed a dying breed in Hollywood, the zombie film was given a new life abroad. As a result of Hollywood's cold shoulder, the zombie was relocated and began to flourish in other countries, particularly in Great Britain and Mexico. British films like Doctor Blood's Coffin (1960) and The Earth Dies Screaming (196), although low budget, helped the zombie genre gain popularity in Great Britain during a horror revival there in the 1960s. Hammer Studios, the leading producer of horror films in Great Britain, released a zombie film in 1966 called Plague of the Zombies. Although the film is not well know, having been overshadowed by more successful Hammer endeavours, it is notable for giving the zombie an international stage.

Given the fact that there was a small homegrown tradition of such films before NotLD, it is odd that it took so long for we Brits to get in on the trend, once the game changed and the sub-genre too off, as outlined by British horror historian MJ Simpson:

it took a long time for zombie films to take hold in the UK. If we skip over the 'walking dead' in the Terence Fisher sci-fi opus The Earth Dies Screaming and those in Hammer's pre-Romero The Plague of the Zombies, we find (unless we're prepared to really bend the definition) a complete dearth of the living dead in British film-making until Andrew Parkinson's I, Zombie: The Chronicles of Pain in 1998. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s there were zombie films made in the USA and Europe but the closest we got to British zombies was Jorg Grau and his Manchester Morgue, which was shot in the UK but is, in real terms, a Spanish film. It just never occurred to anyone making British horror features - at any level - to try to put Romero-esque zombies into British genre culture.

He then goes on to touch on the two key British "zombie" movies:

after that brace of indie undead, it was two much bigger studio productions which really established the UK as a suitable home for zombies. 28 Days Later was released in 2002; Shaun of the Dead two years later - yet even at this short remove they seem to have appeared together, solidly establishing the United Kingdom as a place where the dead walk.

They weren't just locally important but would help revitalise the whole sub-genre and are a vital part of the push that helped make zombies mainstream and now almost ubiquitous.

Links: UK films at the Zombie Movie List

See also: The British horror renaissance - there were zombie films before this but the recent upsurge in Brit horror has seen an explosion in the number of zombie movies. Asian zombie films is another regional breakdown of these kinds of movies.

Comments: As I don't have a Facebook account I cannot interact with the new comments system, so have switched it off and replaced it with a thread on the message board.

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1. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

R | 99 min | Comedy, Horror

76 Metascore

A man's uneventful life is disrupted by the zombie apocalypse.

Director: Edgar Wright | Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis

Votes: 466,262 | Gross: $13.54M

Here to provide a thumbnail graphic, the list proper begins below:

2. The Woman Eater (1958)

Not Rated | 70 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A mad scientist captures women and feeds them to a flesh-eating tree, which in turn gives him a serum that helps bring the dead back to life.

Director: Charles Saunders | Stars: George Coulouris, Robert MacKenzie, Norman Claridge, Marpessa Dawn

Votes: 426

3. Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961)

Unrated | 92 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

People are mysteriously disappearing near a remote Cornish village, where a scientist is experimenting with reviving the dead.

Director: Sidney J. Furie | Stars: Kieron Moore, Hazel Court, Ian Hunter, Kenneth J. Warren

Votes: 625

4. The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)

Approved | 62 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

In Britain, a group of survivors fights off a deadly alien invasion that uses robots and a poisonous gas to take over the Earth.

Director: Terence Fisher | Stars: Willard Parker, Virginia Field, Dennis Price, Thorley Walters

Votes: 1,198

Although I'm pretty sure they weren't zombies by any of my definitions above I am including it here because American Zombie Gothic says "Such films as Cahn's Invisible Invaders and Fisher's The Earth Does Screaming depict hoards of reanimated human corpses used as armies by alien forces to invade and subjugate the human race,, and they present obvious sources of visual inspiration for Romero[19]" Unless I missed something in TEDS, then "reanimated human corpses" only refers to Invisible Invaders, but the mind-enslaved "zombies" here do definitely look like a the undead from Night of the Living Dead and, as explained above, it is a key stage in the evolution of the sub-genre.

5. The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

Approved | 90 min | Horror

Young workers are dying because of a mysterious epidemic in a little village in Cornwall. Doctor Thompson is helpless and asks professor James Forbes for help. The professor and his ... See full summary »

Director: John Gilling | Stars: André Morell, Diane Clare, Brook Williams, Jacqueline Pearce

Votes: 3,973

Intriguing pre-Romero zombie outing, it does draw on the voodoo zombie ideas, but visually they are definitely corpses returned from the grave.

6. The Frozen Dead (1966)

Unrated | 95 min | Sci-Fi, Horror

A crazed scientist keeps the heads of Nazi war criminals alive until he can find appropriate bodies on which to attach them so he can revive the Third Reich.

Director: Herbert J. Leder | Stars: Dana Andrews, Anna Palk, Philip Gilbert, Kathleen Breck

Votes: 628

7. The Oblong Box (1969)

R | 96 min | Horror

Aristocrat Julian Markham keeps his disfigured brother, Sir Edward, locked in a tower of his house. Sir Edward occasionally escapes and causes havoc around the town.

Director: Gordon Hessler | Stars: Vincent Price, Alister Williamson, Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies

Votes: 2,596

An interesting mix of voodoo zombies and Romero zombies, showing the sub-genre was still in flux so soon after NotLD.

8. Tales from the Crypt (1972)

PG | 92 min | Horror

Five strangers get lost in a crypt and, after meeting the mysterious Crypt Keeper, receive visions of how they will die.

Director: Freddie Francis | Stars: Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Ralph Richardson, Geoffrey Bayldon

Votes: 8,387

9. Horror Express (1972)

R | 88 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

68 Metascore

In 1906, in China, a British anthropologist discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train.

Director: Eugenio Martín | Stars: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto de Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa

Votes: 7,806

10. Dead of Night (1974)

PG | 88 min | Horror

A young soldier killed in Vietnam inexplicably shows up to his family home one night.

Director: Bob Clark | Stars: John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Richard Backus, Henderson Forsythe

Votes: 3,792

11. The Death Wheelers (1973)

PG | 85 min | Adventure, Horror

A gang of young people call themselves the Living Dead. They terrorize the population from their small town. After an agreement with the devil, if they kill themselves firmly believing in ... See full summary »

Director: Don Sharp | Stars: Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Ann Michelle, Roy Holder

Votes: 2,124

Undead bikers back from the grave to cause mayhem. Fits more with the vengeful dead than classic zombies. Still it is a nice slice of period British horror.

12. Horror Hospital (1973)

R | 90 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

Jason, a member of a 1960's pop group, decides he needs a break at a country retreat. On the train he meets Judy, niece of Aunt Harris who owns the place with her husband Dr Storm and who ... See full summary »

Director: Antony Balch | Stars: Michael Gough, Robin Askwith, Vanessa Shaw, Ellen Pollock

Votes: 1,094

Possibly a stretch as they are lobotomised patients.

13. The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)

R | 83 min | Action, Horror

While lecturing in China, Van Helsing agrees to help seven kung fu trained siblings reclaim their ancestral mountain village, now the domain of seven powerful vampires and their army of undead slaves.

Directors: Roy Ward Baker, Cheh Chang | Stars: Peter Cushing, David Chiang, Julie Ege, Han Chen Wang

Votes: 3,323

A Hammer/Shaw Brothers co-production but, despite being co-directed by Chang Cheh (one of the leading kung-fu directors of the time) it was rather a clunky, but watchable, effort. It didn't have much impact on British horror movies (which is a pity as this could have been made to work) but did give a big boost to the home-grown Hong Kong horror films, which led to some classic films.

14. From Beyond the Grave (1974)

PG | 97 min | Fantasy, Horror

An anthology of four short horror stories revolving around a British antique shop and its mysterious owner.

Director: Kevin Connor | Stars: Peter Cushing, Ian Bannen, Ian Carmichael, Diana Dors

Votes: 3,213

15. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)

R | 93 min | Horror

A cop chases two hippies suspected of a series of Manson family-like murders; unbeknownst to him, the real culprits are the living dead, brought to life with a thirst for human flesh by chemical pesticides being used by area farmers.

Director: Jorge Grau | Stars: Cristina Galbó, Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy, Aldo Massasso

Votes: 6,553

aka The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue and Let Sleeping Corpses Lie

A Spanish/Italian co-production largely filmed in the UK (mainly the NW), which is why it is in here especially as it is one of the first where we get to see recognisable living dead in the British countryside (although Plague of the Zombies got there first, this post-dates NotLD).

16. Evil Heritage (1976)

R | 86 min | Horror

A young girl is caught up in a devil cult run by her evil uncle and cousin. She can trust no one and even people she thought were dead comes back to haunt her.

Director: Norman J. Warren | Stars: Michael Gough, Martin Potter, Candace Glendenning, Barbara Kellerman

Votes: 1,208

17. Lifeforce (1985)

R | 101 min | Action, Horror, Mystery

50 Metascore

A race of space vampires arrives in London and infects the populace, beginning an apocalyptic descent into chaos.

Director: Tobe Hooper | Stars: Steve Railsback, Mathilda May, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay

Votes: 19,754 | Gross: $11.60M

Space vampires arrive in orbit, but there are zombies thrown into the mix too.

18. Nightmare Weekend (1986)

R | 85 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A female scientist performs experiments on three college girls that turn them into drooling, murderous mutants.

Director: Henri Sala | Stars: Debbie Laster, Dale Midkiff, Debra Hunter, Lori Lewis

Votes: 517

19. Death Run (1987)

70 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

A scientist places her son and his girlfriend into a cryogenic sleep so they can survive the coming apocalypse. They wake 25 years later in a world dominated by neo-Nazi like ruler, called the Messiah who holds the "Death Run".

Director: Michael J. Murphy | Stars: Rob Bartlett, Wendy Parsons, Debbi Stevens, Eddie Kirby

Votes: 118

A post-apocalyptic dystopia in a wasteland full of mutant cannibals.

20. Twisted Souls (1992)

75 min | Comedy, Horror

In England in 1992, there is recession under the Conservative Government. Mr. Cooper runs a coffin factory, and times are tough. With only two staff, who conveniently also work as ... See full summary »

Director: R.N. Millward | Stars: David Clarke, Michael Dexter, Nathan Fawke, Mike Flight

22. I Zombie: The Chronicles of Pain (1998)

79 min | Drama, Horror

A young man gets infected and gradually starts turning into a zombie.

Director: Andrew Parkinson | Stars: Giles Aspen, Ellen Softley, Dean Sipling, Claire Griffin

Votes: 668

23. Nightmare of the Living Dead (1998)

78 min | Horror

At the end of the 20th Century, a deadly virus is set loose in England, it reanimates the dead after the hosted dies, can anyone survive.

Director: Jonathon Ash | Stars: Jonathon Ash, Steven Ash, Bob Note, Tracey Robinson

24. Zombie Toxin (1996 Video)

68 min | Comedy, Horror

Set in England, a man and his servant unwittingly release a zombie-producing toxin into the countryside. A roller coaster of mishaps and adventures ensue, ultimately resulting in a fantastic showdown between good and evil.

Director: Thomas J. Moose | Stars: Thomas J. Moose, Adrian Ottiwell, Lee Simpson, Robert Taylor

Votes: 40

25. AWOL to Horror (1998)

30 min | Short, Action, Horror

1969 Vietnam, a soldier separated from his platoon deep within the dangerous terrain of the Vietnamese jungle. After running the gauntlet with numerous enemy soldiers he discovers a deserted building. What horrors lurk within the walls?

Director: Shaun Robert Smith | Stars: James Cook, Mark Davies, Daniel Dolby, Shaun Robert Smith

This student short would lead to "The Soldier" and eventually the concept would be reworked into The 4th Reich - all listed below. All falling into the general war/horror field.

This seems never to have been released but is connected with other films on this list, according to the production company:

In 1998 Shaun Robert Smith directed a short film called ’AWOL to horror’ a story of zombies in Vietnam. The year later Shaun penned the sequel, ’The Twitching Dead’, a feature film. The film was 75% complete before some of the film stock was destroyed! This closed the film down completely and all that remains is an extended trailer. In 2005 Shaun and fellow Smudge company director Simon Rippin decided to pick the project up and re-write the whole thing. The re-write will include scenes from ’AWOL to horror’, and will be very dark. ... We decided to give the world a taster of whats to come, so we produced the idea as a 10 minute short called ’The Soldier’.

It is unclear if this rewritten film ever appeared or if it morphed into The 4th Reich.

27. Dead Creatures (2001 Video)

R | 95 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A group of women afflicted with a horrible disease (which forces them to cannibalism) try to support one another.

Director: Andrew Parkinson | Stars: Beverley Wilson, Antonia Beamish, Brendan Gregory, Anna Swift

Votes: 313

A sequel of sorts to I, Zombie.

It follows the story of some seemingly normal young woman and their day-to-day existence as the cannibalistically contaminated: trying to secure fresh man-meat, dodging zombie hunters and slowly transforming into something less easy on the eye. It is an unsettling portrayal as they more sympathetic than the raging infected we'd come to know very well the following year, almost like a social realist take on drug-addicted prostitutes interspersed with gory cannibalism.

28. 28 Days Later... (2002)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

73 Metascore

Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Alex Palmer

Votes: 343,487 | Gross: $45.06M

29. Resident Evil (2002)

R | 100 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

33 Metascore

A special military unit fights a powerful, out-of-control supercomputer and hundreds of scientists who have mutated into flesh-eating creatures after a laboratory accident.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson | Stars: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Ryan McCluskey, Oscar Pearce

Votes: 230,472 | Gross: $40.12M

I know, a bit of a surprise but it is a UK co-production.

30. Until Death (2002)

R | 80 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

Young artist is torn between her male best friend, who's secretly obsessed with her, and her jealous abusive ex who died in a car crash and now apparently haunts her.

Director: Charles Buchanan | Stars: Clemency Burton-Hill, Jamie Bower, Gyuri Sarossy, Margaret Tyzack

Votes: 42

31. The Forgotten Ground (2002)

50 min | Horror

In 1878 a whole township were murdered by a neighboring town. Their bodies were buried in what's known as 'The Forgotten Ground'. Only the spilt blood of a virgin could bring them back to seek revenge on those who took their lives.

Director: Shaun Robert Smith | Stars: Daniel Dolby, Nicola Creasey, Shaun Robert Smith, Andy Monaghan

Vengeful dead

32. Zombie Ferox Zero (2002)

61 min | Horror

After escaping from the police, Doctor Fogger finds a new building belonging to the Toliman Corps and returns to bring the dead back to life.

Director: Jonathon Ash | Stars: Kimberly Kensington, Steven Ash, Jonathon Ash

33. Zombie Ferox (2002 Video)

70 min | Horror

From deep inside Hell house, Doctor Fogger Medical Deviate has his staff on the look out for fresh corpses for his new zombie army.

Director: Jonathon Ash | Stars: Jimmy Alder, Gavin Ash, Jonathon Ash, Steven Ash

In The Ultimate Zombie Feast collection, along with others listed below.

Watch on the official site

37. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

R | 99 min | Comedy, Horror

76 Metascore

A man's uneventful life is disrupted by the zombie apocalypse.

Director: Edgar Wright | Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis

Votes: 466,262 | Gross: $13.54M

It doesn't need me to tell you how good this is - it really raised by bar for horror comedy and British zombie films.

38. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

R | 94 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

35 Metascore

Alice wakes up in Racoon city hospital after the city has been overrun by zombies. Alice must now make it out of the city before a mucilage bomb is dropped on the city.

Director: Alexander Witt | Stars: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Eric Mabius, Oded Fehr

Votes: 174,428 | Gross: $51.20M

39. Zombie Graveyard (2004)

90 min | Horror

Campers run into nut-case killers and zombies, Two convicts help stranded kids fend off the Living Dead.

Director: Jonathon Ash | Stars: Jonathon Ash, Paul Fletcher, Bob Note

40. Angry and Moist: An Undead Chronicle (2004)

24 min | Horror, Short, Comedy

Herbert West's half brother continues his bid to conquer brain death.

Director: James Raynor | Stars: Scarlett Victoria Carson, Dom Wynter, Alex Eamonson, Nick Thompson

Votes: 48

41. Fun Dead (2004 Video)

1 min | Short, Comedy, Game-Show

An excerpt from a fictional television series titled "Fun Dead" set in the world of Shaun Of The Dead.

Director: Edgar Wright | Star: Keith Chegwin

Votes: 142

42. Zombies in the Wood (2004)

Not Rated | 10 min | Short, Horror

A deal has gone wrong which leads to a hitman on the hunt for a conrad who heads deep into the woods only to discover a zombie out break in which he must stand his ground and fight the living dead to the death.

Director: Jason Impey | Stars: Ken Dirke, Peter Watson, Jason Impey

Votes: 18

Later part of the Tales of Terror compilation (the first one).

Watch Tales of Terror on YouTube

43. Danger! 50,000 Zombies! (2004)

25 min | Short, Comedy, Horror

Nick Frost presents a special spoof edition of his documentary "Danger! 50,000 Volts!" purely on the subject of the living dead.

Director: Jon Riley | Stars: Tony Bowden, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Peter Rnic

Votes: 646

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg's zombie-hunting short.

44. Zombie Village (2004)

40 min | Short, Horror

Zombie Village tells the story of a crazy person who has to stop the living dead from devouring his precious little village, but is he worse than the zombies.

Director: Jason Impey | Stars: Ken Dirke, Colette Green, Peter Watson, Daniel Mitchell

Votes: 18

45. Boy Eats Girl (2005)

R | 80 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

A boy declares his love for his girlfriend, only to die the same night. He is brought back to life by his mother as a flesh-craving zombie, who sires more teen undead while trying to control his, er, appetite for his beloved.

Director: Stephen Bradley | Stars: Samantha Mumba, David Leon, Tadhg Murphy, Laurence Kinlan

Votes: 3,644

46. TrashHouse (2005)

82 min | Comedy, Horror

Monsters. Zombies. Chainsaws. Somebody Doesn't Love Lucy...

Director: Pat Higgins | Stars: Amber Moelter, Tom Wontner, Hannah Speller, Richard Collins

Votes: 301

47. Cold and Dark (2005)

R | 94 min | Crime, Horror, Thriller

When Detective Mortimer Shade is somehow killed in a freezer, a parasite called a grail possesses his body, revives him, but he needs blood to stay alive. His partner John Dark accepts the ... See full summary »

Director: Andrew Goth | Stars: Luke Goss, Kevin Howarth, Matt Lucas, Carly Turnbull

Votes: 919

48. The Veil (2005 Video)

Not Rated | 150 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy