Why are these 12 zombie movies the best ever?

It's hard to think of "Dawn of the Dead" director Zack Snyder as the same person who made the "Justice League" #SnyderCut, the far-too-faithful "Watchmen" adaptation, and the "300" and "Sucker Punch" movies where style was more important than plot.

This is not to suggest that Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of George Romero's 1978 film The Walking Dead is aesthetically pleasing. This film's opening title sequence is among the best in the history of the genre, and its first twelve minutes serve as a prologue for his career. Since "Dawn of the Dead" has been compared to "28 Days Later" by Danny Boyle, mostly due to the presence of "quick" zombies, this prologue serves as a terrific dynamic counterpoint to that film.

Despite the fact that the rest of "Dawn of the Dead" fails to live up to the promise shown in the first few minutes, James Gunn (who later directed "Guardians of the Galaxy") keeps things interesting throughout his script. Avoiding Romero's social criticism allowed Snyder to carve out his own niche in the cinematic zombie realm, despite the fact that duplicating a classic is a prescription for catastrophe (something Snyder would again court when taking on the work of Alan Moore and the whole DC universe).

He hopes to return to this genre area in 2021 with Netflix's "Army of the Dead."

The story unfolds in a dystopian future when the strange street drug "Natas" has turned the population into zombies. As the story progresses, we follow one guy as he hunts down Flesh Eaters, both for fun and atonement, and to escape his own history.

Following his collision with a small group of survivors who are rapidly running out of supplies, he makes the decision to help. A sudden assault by the flesh-eating Flesh Eaters forces them to flee and tests the Hunter's abilities.

The trailer for Zombie Hunter seems to be the kind of gruesome B-movie fun that everyone would enjoy. We're interested to see how filmmaker K. King manages to pay respect to the grindhouse aesthetic of films like Machete and Planet Terror. The marketing team did an outstanding job with the eye-catching poster.



Lupita Nyong'o's Little Monsters is an unexpected dramatic film. She's having a blast as a kindergarten teacher whose class meets zombies on a field trip. The 2019 picture was the actress' second horror attempt (after Jordan Peele's "Us").

But I'm certain she'll be able to manage it. "Dedicated to all the kindergarten instructors who encourage children to study, instill confidence in them, and rescue them from being devoured by zombies," according to the official press materials. And I believe that's all there is to it. In "Little Monsters," Alexander England plays an effete, has-been musician in love (or maybe lust) with Lupita Nyong'o, and Josh Gad plays an obnoxious, well-known child entertainer.

So, what you get is a strange mix of horror and romantic comedy that makes both genres more interesting.

Since then, zombies have showed no signs of abating. (Some have even learned how to run.) The Walking Dead is an easy giant to point to, but zombies have also appeared in discovered footage ([REC]), rom-coms (Warm Bodies), and grindhouse throwbacks (Planet Terror).

Meanwhile, in reaction to Romero's works, a global subgenre emerged.

Lucio Fulci, a prominent figure in Italian horror, continued with the concept in his sequel Zombi (also known as Zombi) and later in his experimental and wildly surreal "Gates of Hell" trilogy.

Fans of Romero's work who built upon his foundation, such as filmmakers Dan O'Bannon, Fred Dekker, and Stuart Gordon, toyed with the genre's constructs, exploring and broadening what a zombie film might be. The popularity of zombies thereafter decreased precipitously.

The undead had become a mainstay of horror movies, but now they only show up in sequels (like Return of the Living Dead and Zombie) and cheap B-movies (like My Boyfriend's Back, Cemetery Man, and Dead Alive).

Is there somewhere else to begin? White Zombie was the first movie to popularize the idea of Haitian voodoo zombies. This was decades before the classic George Romero ghoul.

You can now watch White Zombie on YouTube, and you can also find it in almost any cheap collection of zombie movies. Bela Lugosi plays a witch doctor who is called "Murder" by the studio, which was still a few years away from understanding nuance. After his role in Dracula, Lugosi was well-known as one of Universal's go-to horror actors. This was just a year ago.

The Svengali-like Lugosi ends up zombifying a young woman who is engaged to be married, attempting to bend her to the will of a cruel plantation owner, and... well, it's fairly dry, wooden stuff. Lugosi is, predictably, the finest part, but I guess you had to start somewhere. White Zombie was followed by a slew of additional voodoo zombie films from Hollywood, the most of which are now freely accessible online.

Of course, the film also influenced Rob Zombie's musical effort. It appears prominently on several "greatest zombie movie" lists, but let's be honest: this isn't a film that most audience members would enjoy viewing today 2016. It is ranked #50 almost entirely on historical importance.

Planet Terror is the better half of their Grindhouse double film, directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-written by Quentin Tarantino. The story follows a go-go dancer, a botched bioweapon, and the transformation of the residents of a tiny Texas hamlet into shuffling, pustulous monsters. The exploding tongue of Planet Terror is firmly planted in its rotten cheek as it embraces its B-movie roots with missing reels, sloppy editing, and hammy overdubbed dialogue.

In an outrageously exciting conclusion with over-the-top gore and oozing effects, Rose McGowan's hero Cherry Darling has her severed arm replaced with a machine gun. Gather 'round, people: I'd want to eat your knowledge in order to grow mine.

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead seems to include some of the hallmarks of a Troma picture. It'll be a heap of junk. It's going to be bloody. There will be no restrictions or regard for aesthetics. The real question, like with every other Troma film, is whether you find it boring. In this scenario, the correct answer is "absolutely not."

It's billed as a "zom-com musical," and it's even a little bit witty in its social satire of consumer society — you know, in zombie movies an obvious kind of way. But does it really explain why you're seeing a movie about zombie chickens that come to life in a KFC-style restaurant that was constructed on top of an old Native American burial ground? It didn't seem likely to me. When you see a movie made by Troma, you should be prepared to enjoy some thoughtless narrative along with the gore, scatological comedy, and cheap production qualities that come along with it.

So, Poultrygeist is just 103 minutes of filthy, rude, and raunchy madness.

Even though zombie movies have been around for more than 80 years (White Zombie came out in 1932, and I Walked With a Zombie came out in 1943), Night of the Living Dead by George A. Romero in 1968 is generally seen as the start of the subgenre as we know it today.

Night, a low-budget indie film, captivated viewers with its cryptic narrative, stunning gore, progressive casting and social criticism, and, of course, the iconic hordes of the gaunt, ravenous undead. Romero was dubbed the "Godfather of Zombies" and went on to make five additional Dead films, the greatest of which are included in this book, including Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead.

In spite of Night of the Living Dead's impact, it took some time for the picture to percolate and develop clout in the public's mind before a slew of notable American zombie films emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Shock Waves may have been the first of all the "Nazi zombie" films, arriving just before Dawn of the Dead massively enhanced the appeal of zombies as horror adversaries.

It follows a party of lost boaters who wind themselves on a remote island where a submerged SS submarine has abandoned its crew of zombies, a Nazi experiment, and it's honestly a gloomy, slow-paced picture for the most of its time. In the same year that he was sneering at Princess Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Hammer Horror great Peter Cushing appears as a poorly miscast and addled-looking SS Commander. It's hard to believe, yet A New Hope exists!

I think there have been at least 16 Nazi zombie movies since this one, which is probably more than people realize. This one is notable at least for being the first to combine two great movie villains into one.

Films such as the Dead Snow trilogy owe everything to Shock Waves.

It's not easy to develop a new take on the zombie picture, but Colm McCarthy's The Girl With All The Gifts, based on a book by Mike Carey, succeeds in doing so while also providing some satisfying genre thrills.

Similar to the sickness that wiped out mankind in The Last of Us, a fungal infection is responsible for this epidemic of zombieism. The narrative revolves on Melanie, a young girl educated in an unconventional manner by Gemma Arterton's character, Helen, in a very guarded facility.

Melanie is a "second-generation" hungry; she desires human flesh but is also capable of intellect and emotion, and her mere existence might hold the key to survival.

This gore-fest gives the classic zombie a Nordic twist by including features of the Draugr, an undead monster from Scandinavian legend that ferociously guards its treasure hoard. In the case of Dead Snow, these draugr are former SS troops that harassed a Norwegian hamlet and stole its possessions, only to be killed or driven into the frigid mountains by the locals.

This definitely earns marks for Dead Snow in the category of creativity. It is also an extremely amusing, nasty, and satisfyingly violent movie with aspects of Evil Dead and "teen sex/slasher" films interspersed throughout. Overall, the movie is quite entertaining. And if you like it, the original story continues in the sequel titled Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead.

It's one of those rare instances when the backstory behind a movie is perhaps more intriguing than the movie itself, and that's the case with The Dead Next Door: It was produced by Sam Raimi, who used some of the money he'd gained from Evil Dead II in order to give his buddy J. R. Bookwalter the opportunity to create the low-budget zombie epic of his dreams. Raimi, for whatever reason, is credited as an executive producer under the name "The Master Cylinder," while Evil Dead's Bruce Campbell pulls double duty—not on screen, but as a voiceover for not one, but two characters, because the entirety of the film appears to have been redubbed in post-production. It should not come as a surprise that this gives The Dead Next Door a sense of dreamlike unreality, and that is before we have even brought up the fact that this movie was shot entirely on super 8 rather than 32 mm film.

What you have in The Dead Next Door, then, is an original take on the zombie apocalypse: A low-budget zombie action-drama with both cringeworthy amateur acting and unexpectedly polished sequences.

You're not watching this film for the plot; you're watching it for the gore. The Dead Next Door sometimes resembles a low-budget attempt to imitate Peter Jackson's insane bloodletting in Dead Alive, but with gags so blatant that they're frightening. Who is this Dr. Savini character, anyway? May I address you as "Officer Raimi"? Commander Carpenter?

All of them are in a zombie movie that seems like it was only meant for the director's family to watch. Still, there's something oddly charming about how close they are.

Incredible to see is the growth in popularity of zombie flicks. Long ago, monsters mostly lived in the worlds of Voodoo mythology, radioactive humanoids, and E.C. comics' distinctive iconography. When they existed, zombies were not the cannibalistic, flesh-hungry monsters we know and love today.

Cemetery Man (also known as Dellamorte Dellamore) is a weird, psychedelic head trip directed by Dario Argento disciple Michele Soavi that presents the undead as more of an irritation than a dangerous threat. In Cemetery Man, a cinematic version of the comic book series Dylan Dog, Everett portrays Francesco Dellamorte, a misanthropic gravedigger who would rather be among the dead than with living people. Why wouldn't he, you could ask? The living are idiots for promoting the myth that he is infertile.

The only catch is that the deceased will not remain buried in his cemetery. Dellamorte falls head over heels with a lovely widow (Falchi) at her husband's funeral, pursues her in the gloomy hallways of his ossuary, and before you know it, they're stripped naked and steaming it up on top of her dead husband's grave. That's just the beginning of the strangeness.

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