British zombie filmsby 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
A man's uneventful life is disrupted by the zombie apocalypse.
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.
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.
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.
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" 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 »
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.
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.
An interesting mix of voodoo zombies and Romero zombies, showing the sub-genre was still in flux so soon after NotLD.
9. Horror Express (1972)
R | 88 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
In 1906, in China, a British anthropologist discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train.
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 »
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 »
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.
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.
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.
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.
17. Lifeforce (1985)
R | 101 min | Action, Horror, Mystery
A race of space vampires arrives in London and infects the populace, beginning an apocalyptic descent into chaos.
Votes: 19,754 | Gross: $11.60M
Space vampires arrive in orbit, but there are zombies thrown into the mix too.
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".
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 »
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.
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?
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.
26. The Twitching Dead (2000)
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.
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
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
Votes: 343,487 | Gross: $45.06M
29. Resident Evil (2002)
R | 100 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
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.
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.
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.
36. Zombie Harvest (2003)
11 min | Short, Action, Comedy
37. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
R | 99 min | Comedy, Horror
A man's uneventful life is disrupted by the zombie apocalypse.
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
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.
Votes: 174,428 | Gross: $51.20M
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 »
48. The Veil (2005 Video)
Not Rated | 150 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy