Top 25 zombie movies of all time

by yassin_99 | created - 20 Jun 2013 | updated - 20 Jun 2013 | Public

The zombies have taken over. As "World War Z" hits theaters as the most expensive zombie flick ever made, we take a look at the best zombie movies of all-time. By "zombie movies" we mean the films that deal with the dead returning to life, with a couple of exceptions. As such, we're not counting movies about demonic possession ("Evil Dead" franchise), vampire-like creatures ("Omega Man"/"I Am Legend"), or doctor-aided resurrections ("Frankenstein"/ "Re-Animator").

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1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror

89 Metascore

A ragtag group of Pennsylvanians barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monsters who are ravaging the East Coast of the United States.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman

Votes: 108,096 | Gross: $0.09M

"They're coming to get you, Barbara," jokes Johnny to his sister at the beginning of George Romero's classic, which pretty much created the entire genre. Little does Johnny know that they're coming for him too, as he becomes the first zombie attack victim.

Although it has been remade twice (the decent 1990 version and the horrible 2006 debacle in 3D), the original is just as chilling as anything that has come from the genre since. This movie forces you to think about every possible stronghold, weak point, and escape route in your house.

2. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Unrated | 127 min | Horror, Thriller

71 Metascore

Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross

Votes: 105,485 | Gross: $5.10M

Romero took the reins of the genre he created with "Night of the Living Dead" and followed it up with "Dawn of the Dead" — the greatest zombie flick of all time. The film's immediate focus is the action inside a suburban mall, where a band of survivors try to keep swarms of undead at bay. However, it's the setup to the zombie apocalypse at the beginning of the film - where the world tried to make sense of it all - that really makes it resonate. The world is forced to cope with the inevitability of a slow, plodding, violent end. And yet there is still hope.

3. Dead Alive (1992)

R | 104 min | Comedy, Horror

54 Metascore

A young man's mother is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey. She gets sick and dies, at which time she comes back to life, killing and eating dogs, nurses, friends, and neighbors.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody, Ian Watkin

Votes: 87,800 | Gross: $0.24M

Peter Jackson's blood-splattered comedic masterpiece may be the goriest film on the list, but it's so over-the-top that it's actually funny. This movie will do two things to you: Make you squeamish about eating soup and give you grand fantasies of fighting the undead every time you mow the lawn.

4. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

R | 91 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

66 Metascore

When two bumbling employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to rise again as zombies.

Director: Dan O'Bannon | Stars: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews

Votes: 50,721 | Gross: $14.24M

Although Romero purists will marginalize John Russo's post-Night-of-the-Living-Dead impact on the zombie movie genre, "The Return of the Living Dead" had an indelible impact in two ways. First, it featured fast-moving zombies decades before they became mainstream in modern day zombie movies. Second, it introduced the zombie call-to-arms, "Braaaains!"

5. 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: 480,975 | Gross: $13.54M

The top modern zombie movie (post-2000), "Shaun of the Dead" incorporates the best of zombie comedy films - with realistic walking dead, ample gore, and fun use of everyday items to fight off zombies (like the famous record-throwing scene) - without getting too silly. Plus, the scene where the survivors "play dead" can serve as a educational film for zombie walk newbies everywhere.

6. Zombie (1979)

R | 91 min | Horror

Strangers searching for a young woman's missing father arrive at a tropical island where a doctor desperately seeks the cause and cure of a recent epidemic of the undead.

Director: Lucio Fulci | Stars: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver

Votes: 23,774

The best of the Italian zombie factory of the late '70s and '80s, director Lucio Fulci's film is probably best known for its underwater encounter between a zombie and a shark. But it also had the most gruesome scene ever filmed featuring an eyeball - that is until 2005's Hostel trumped it. Another memorable moment features a great sequence of the living dead rising from the earth - Michael Jackson's Thriller had nothing on Fulci in that department.

7. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

R | 101 min | Action, Horror

59 Metascore

A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman, and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall.

Director: Zack Snyder | Stars: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, Jake Weber

Votes: 223,840 | Gross: $59.02M

It's somewhat unfortunate that this film had to take place in a shopping mall and serve as a remake of Romero's classic, as aside from the setting it is a completely different movie - and a good one at that. If you're a Romero purist who is willing to suspend belief in the idea that zombies can't run, just imagine this film is called "Plague of the Quick" or something, and enjoy the thrills. Among some great scenes, this film provides answers to such burning questions as, "What happens if a pregnant woman becomes a zombie?" The DVD gets bonus points for its extra featurette following the gun shop owner's video diary of his daily survival.

8. 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: 352,333 | Gross: $45.06M

Purists will likely argue against this movie on the technicality that the "zombies" are not really the living dead, but rather virus-plagued monsters. "28 Days Later" nonetheless deserves a spot on the list because of it's huge influence on the nature of zombie films that followed it. The movie not only popularized the fast-running zombie of many modern films, but was also a good post-apocalyptic survival story to boot.

9. Day of the Dead (1985)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror, Thriller

60 Metascore

A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy

Votes: 59,440 | Gross: $5.80M

Part three of what was once George Romero's zombie trilogy (he's made two more since), "Day" initially received tepid reception because it doesn't quite match the impact of the previous two movies ("Dawn" and "Night"). Nevertheless, time makes the heart grow fonder, and "Day" has stood up to be one of the genre's best films over the years. It is especially useful for one of the main characters' scientific examination of the zombies' physiology and psychology, providing more insight than any other film into what makes zombies tick.

10. Zombieland (2009)

R | 88 min | Adventure, Comedy, Horror

73 Metascore

A shy student trying to reach his family in Ohio, a gun-toting tough guy trying to find the last Twinkie, and a pair of sisters trying to get to an amusement park join forces to travel across a zombie-filled America.

Director: Ruben Fleischer | Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin

Votes: 482,195 | Gross: $75.59M

This film really translates the unabashed glee that comes from battling hordes of zombies in a video game. Taking its cues from games like Dead Rising and books like Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide, Zombieland is all about finding new and ridiculous ways to take down the living dead. Woody Harrelson plays the video-game-character-like role, while Jesse Eisenberg does his best Michael Cera impersonation. Although the actual theme park setting arrives a little late in the movie, it serves as a perfect playground for zombie battles. The movie also has one of the best cameos in recent memory.

11. Fido (2006)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Drama, Horror

70 Metascore

Space radiation turns dead into Zombies. Zomcon fights zombies and finds ways to pacify and use them. On preteen Timmy's 1950s suburban street, all have a zombie doing menial chores. Timmy's zombie becomes his pet/friend and is named Fido.

Director: Andrew Currie | Stars: Kesun Loder, Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Kaye

Votes: 27,379 | Gross: $0.30M

If you've ever fantasized about having your own zombie pet, zombie bodyguard, or zombie housekeeper, then "Fido" is your kind of movie. It's been described as a cross between "Night of the Living Dead" and "Lassie," although it is clearly a comedy film. Fido is a house-broken zombie thanks to a collar that renders him harmless and obedient - most of the time. Billy Connelly plays the title character, and offers probably the best acting job done by anyone portraying the living dead.

12. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

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

78 Metascore

Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes according to plan.

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo | Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, Robert Carlyle, Harold Perrineau

Votes: 245,702 | Gross: $28.64M

Picking up six months after the rage virus wiped out most of the population, the U.S. Army has come to London to help fortify an area for repopulation. That’s when the virus makes a comeback. Jeremy Renner and Rose Byrne are great but it definitely doesn’t surpass the original.

13. 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: 6,747

A straight-up zombie film for the zombie film lover. "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie" has fantastic and realistic zombies of the "freshly dead" variety. It also features some graphic and long sequences of them chowing down on human flesh like they're at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

14. 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: 235,461 | Gross: $40.12M

To date, Resident Evil has stood as practically the only example of a good -- or at least, an enjoyable -- movie based on a video game, making Uwe Boll's career seem all the more pointless in retrospect. It combines traditional zombie thrills with slick video game action that, despite a couple of silly moments (flying kick of a zombie Doberman Pinscher), doesn't undermine the horror elements.

15. I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Approved | 69 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Frances Dee, Tom Conway, James Ellison, Edith Barrett

Votes: 10,132

Gorgeous little thriller from famed producer Val Lewton, filled with creepy black-and-white atmosphere and featuring Carrefour, the best zombie in any movie that you don't actually see gnawing on human gristle. Get past the formulaic romantic setup and the reward is riveting, quiet terror — 1940s style. The walk through the cornfield as the titular zombie is pulled toward the secret voodoo ceremony is good stuff.

16. Warm Bodies (2013)

PG-13 | 98 min | Comedy, Horror, Romance

60 Metascore

After a highly unusual zombie saves a still-living girl from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion events that might transform the entire lifeless world.

Director: Jonathan Levine | Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Analeigh Tipton

Votes: 211,238 | Gross: $66.38M

A zombie romance movie? Yep. While its premise reminds a bit the nonsensical and annoying living/dead lovefest of the "Twilight" series, this film works because it doesn't take itself nearly as seriously -- it's much more self aware. A fun tale set in a post-apocalypic Ameriscape, Warm Bodies creates its own rules for what zombies are, and what they can be come.

17. Versus (II) (2000)

R | 119 min | Action, Comedy, Drama

There are 666 portals that connect this world to the other side. These are concealed from all human beings. Somewhere in Japan exists the 444th portal.... The forest of resurrection.

Director: Ryûhei Kitamura | Stars: Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, Kenji Matsuda

Votes: 12,057

Can't get enough of martial arts movies? Have an undying love for zombies? Then look no further. The only Asian zombie film on the list, "Versus" is worth watching for the fast-paced Samurai-style battles between the living and the dead. Plus, there's a bad guy who looks and acts like a Japanese version of Benicio Del Toro.

18. Land of the Dead (2005)

R | 93 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

71 Metascore

The living dead have taken over the world, and the last humans live in a walled city to protect themselves as they come to grips with the situation.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: John Leguizamo, Asia Argento, Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper

Votes: 88,282 | Gross: $20.70M

After two decades of waiting, many George Romero fans were somewhat disappointed in the horror icon's fourth installment in his zombie series. While it's true that it doesn't stack up to the previous three, "Land" nonetheless is a top quality zombie flick. Despite some disappointing performances by Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo, the movie still packs in the thrills. Most notable: the ultimate zombie killing machine, Dead Reckoning.

19. Planet Terror (2007)

Not Rated | 105 min | Action, Comedy, Horror

After an experimental bio-weapon is released, turning thousands into zombie-like creatures, it's up to a rag-tag group of survivors to stop the infected and those behind its release.

Director: Robert Rodriguez | Stars: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodríguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton

Votes: 192,134

While "Planet Terror" didn't receive as much praise from the moviegoing public as its Grindhouse double-feature partner "Death Proof," Robert Rodriguez's over-the-top homage to the genre was still an entertaining ride. Though it doesn't really break any new ground, it does have some memorable moments... Hello, Rose McGowan's machine-gun leg! Nice to meet you, Quentin Tarantino's leprous body parts! Also top-notch: the use of a helicopter as a zombie-killing weapon.

20. Dead Snow (2009)

Not Rated | 91 min | Comedy, Horror

61 Metascore

A ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students, as they find themselves confronted by an unimaginable menace: Nazi zombies.

Director: Tommy Wirkola | Stars: Jeppe Beck Laursen, Charlotte Frogner, Jenny Skavlan, Vegar Hoel

Votes: 61,702 | Gross: $0.04M

The best Nazi Zombie movie ever made. Granted, there are only two others, but this one's the best.

"Dead Snow" is a pretty straightforward modern zombie flick with equal parts gore and humor. It's like a twisted combination of the video games Resident Evil and Wolfenstein, with a dash of the movie "Evil Dead II" thrown in, and served over a bed of virgin Norwegian snow.

21. Night of the Living Dead (1990)

R | 92 min | Horror

54 Metascore

The unburied dead return to life and seek human victims.

Director: Tom Savini | Stars: Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Tom Towles, McKee Anderson

Votes: 36,670 | Gross: $5.84M

This is the first remake of the classic, directed by gore effects maestro Tom Savini (probably best known as playing the role of Sex Machine in "From Dusk Till Dawn"). While this film stays true to the original script through much of the film, it does not stand up to the original. But given that the original is one of the all-time greats, this remake is still a solid zombie film when judged on it's own merits. The changes in character and plot along the way lead to an entertaining twist in the ending. Plus, you get to see Tony Todd killing zombies in his pre-"Candyman" days.

22. Dance of the Dead (2008)

R | 87 min | Comedy, Horror

On the night of the big High-School Prom, the dead rise to eat the living, and the only people who can stop them are the losers who couldn't get dates to the dance.

Director: Gregg Bishop | Stars: Jared Kusnitz, Greyson Chadwick, Chandler Darby, Carissa Capobianco

Votes: 10,976

John Hughes meets George Romero in this entertaining low-budget horror-comedy about a group of high school outcasts who vow to save their prom from zombies spawned by pollution from the nearby nuclear power plant. Funny, fast-paced and screaming for a sequel.

23. Diary of the Dead (2007)

R | 95 min | Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi

66 Metascore

A group of young film students run into real-life zombies while filming a horror movie of their own.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: Michelle Morgan, Joshua Close, Shawn Roberts, Todd Schroeder

Votes: 44,656 | Gross: $0.96M

George A. goes to the handheld camera in this 2007 flick. A definite change to his traditional style of zombie films, "Diary" may not be his strongest piece but is still a fun ride with likeable characters.

24. Pontypool (2008)

Not Rated | 93 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

54 Metascore

A radio host interprets the possible outbreak of a deadly virus which infects the small Ontario town he is stationed in.

Director: Bruce McDonald | Stars: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Hrant Alianak

Votes: 27,407 | Gross: $0.00M

Most people will really like 75% of "Pontypool." The ominous tone set from watching a small radio crew piece together a zombie apocalypse from small bits of information from the outside world is quite enthralling. Unfortunately, after that, the movie takes such a bizarre turn you’ll wonder if it’s still the same movie. Points for originality but maybe next time make sure we’re in the car before you slam down the pedal.

25. Night of the Creeps (1986)

R | 88 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

Alien brain parasites, entering humans through the mouth, turn their host into a killing zombie. Some teenagers start to fight against them.

Director: Fred Dekker | Stars: Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow

Votes: 18,950 | Gross: $0.59M

Night of the Creeps isn't really about zombies- alien slugs posses people, turning them into mostly mindless cannibal freaks- but they're zombies by any other name.

A frequently hilarious, campy, blood-soaked 80's flick, Night of the Creeps walks that thin line between being a good B-movie, and being a good spoof of B movies, which is harder to do then it looks. You have to balance just the right degree of self-aware smugness, whilst still delivering a film that is more then in jokes and nods.

Though it itself has a few nods back to Cronenbergs debut Shivers, Night of the Creeps references pop in to nearly everything. It's well loved and often name checked for a reason- and that's because it's simply a lot of fun.

Yeah, it's got blood, and a smattering of smarmy social commentary, and a few pretty good gore effects, but honestly it's just really entertaining.



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