Zombie films have been on screens since the 1930s, and ever since then, the number of undead monstrosity fans has grown at an exponential rate. It was George A. Romero‘s 1962 film Night of the Living Dead that propelled the genre into the stratosphere. Since then, the mainstream media has gone out of there way to bring audiences amazing stories involving those that come back from the dead for delicious juicy brains. Some would argue that the screens are oversaturated with zombie content and that most of it lack any substance. They might as well be identical copies of each other.
But rest assured this is not the case, and several titles flip the script when it comes to the zombie genre. Whether it’s a different perspective, culture, or premise than what’s usually seen in the run of the mill cannibal corpse film, many of the alternatives should not be missed. Of all the cinematic tales to bring viewers the authentic experience of dealing with the walking dead, here are ten titles that any zombie fan needs to see before they are digging out of their graves.
1 Overlord (2018)
The film Overlord is an excellent action-horror hybrid that takes place during the turbulent time of World War II. Paratroopers attempt to drop into enemy Nazi territory undetected. But what was supposed to be a simple military operation has turned into something much more sinister. In a remote village, Third Reich was discovered to have been conducting experiments that have resulted in bringing people back from the dead, Well, sort of. That’s right. The allies had to also fight zombies in their efforts to stop the Axis powers. This leads to violent brawls, next-level showdowns, and all kinds of excellent shoot ’em up action.
This has all the makings of a unique take on the zombie genre. There is nothing more fun than watching evil Nazis get blown to smithereens in some goretastic severe fashion. Seeing all the fan-favorite war movie tropes combined with the signature zombie thriller formula is an occasion any zombie fan should not miss. All in all, Overlord has two things anyone can get behind, which is killing Nazi’s and Zombies. And the only thing better than killing a Nazi is killing him again as an ugly undead cannibal corpse.
2 28 Days Later (2002)
28 Days Later starts with a group of activists attempting to liberate chimpanzees used for experiments. Unfortunately, these chimps got infected with something called The Rage virus that turns people into undead savages that relentlessly rain down violence and mayhem on whomever they encounter. Its almost as if all the worlds hate manifested into a deadly parasite. Soon after the exposure, London falls, and a bike courier wakes up 28 days after it began. He soon realizes it’s not safe anywhere and the infected are everywhere. Through his travels, he meets other survivors and soon finds out that the infected aren’t the only ones to fear.
It is no exaggeration to state that 28 Days Later is one of, if not the most unique film about the walking dead than anything ever released before it. It feels so grounded in reality. If one didn’t know any better, they would assume that this is a film based on actual events. Director Danny Boyle did a phenomenal job of bringing this game-changing story to life to revamp and reinvigorate the zombie genre. The film eventually received a sequel titled 28 Weeks Later which showcases the Rage ‘Virus’s durability as it survives and spreads once again across Europe after it was thought to be contained.
3 It Comes At Night (2017)
At first glance, most people wouldn’t consider It Comes at Night a zombie film. But that is only because it is a much different type of zombie movie. Instead of a ragtag group of survivors shooting and slicing their way through waves of undead mayhem to either escape or survive, the film does almost the opposite. The apocalypse already happened in this one, and the story follows a family making life work in the woods, presumably far away from the outbreak. Through flashbacks of a family member dying, audiences see the effects of the plague, all of which resemble the early stages of becoming a member of the living dead.
The film does a fantastic job of pushing fear of the unknown to a whole other level. That fact that viewers never see the biters is one of the best parts of the film, which in turn makes the tension so palpable. The fear of the unknown sets this one apart and is a genuinely terrifying experience. It’s a fantastic portrayal that it shows what most other films in the genre do not, what happens after you survive the zombie apocalypse? The short answer is there is no time for a victory lap. Watch the movie for a more in-depth answer to that question.
4 Train to Busan (2016)
Nobody enjoys taking public transportation, and there are a lot of reasons that support that thought process. But one thing people do not expect when taking the bus or train is to be attacked by a wave of hungry cannibal corpses. Most individuals on these rides seem like they are undead, but that’s just because they’re depressed they have to be in this situation. So when a zombie apocalypse breaks out and the passengers on a train to Busan must survive this devastating outbreak, things get a little out of hand. This film is an absolutely wild ride from start to finish that will have audiences anxiously on the edge of their seats until the credits roll.
Train to Busan was hailed as one of the best horrors of the year and has since become a critically acclaimed experience that moviegoers do not want to miss. The film not only serves as an action zombie thriller but also as a parable of class rebellion as well as moral polarization. This public transportation nightmare movie with a hefty side portion of class warfare is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and a thought-provoking must watch for both horror and zombie fans alike.
5 Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Zack Snyder might not understand Batman at all or be able to come up with anything original, but the one thing, for whatever reason, the director is very good at is the zombie genre. This is very evident in the 2004 remake of George A. Romero‘s classic Dawn of the Dead. This modern-day take on the infamous classic sees a group of zombie apocalypse survivors make their way to a shopping mall where they hold up until help arrives. For a while, it seems like paradise, having everything they need in this giant place and then some. But when supplies start to dwindle, and an ally across the way is in need they begin prepping to make a run for it. After some makeshift weaponry and zombie-proof customization of their the only vehicle, things start to get crazy.
This is a film that trades in darkness for action and defiantly proves to be a fun experience for any moviegoer. The zombies and gore are right on point, the performances are great, and the overall feel of the movie is one that leaves anyone who has witnessed it very satisfied. This film has some substantial replay value, which is hard to say when most of these motion picture’s feel like carbon copies of one another.
6 Shaun of the Dead (2002)
Contrary to popular belief, no rule exists that states every zombie movie has to be a serious affair. Laughter and comedy have their place within the genre, and this was proven exceptionally well with 2002’s Shaun of the Dead. No one does visual comedy quite like director Edgar Wright. The man known for such hits as Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World got his start creating the funniest take to date on the cannibal corpse motion picture. He brings his signature style and tone which sets this film apart from the rest of the genre as well as surpassing basic standards one would expect from a decently made comedy film. The usual tropes and signature elements of a living dead flick are demonstrated uniquely within the comedic narrative.
The story follows Simon Pegg as Shaun, who’s day-to-day feels pretty repetitive and dull. His love life is in absolute shambles, and he might as well be the walking dead. When things seem like they couldn’t get any worse, a zombie apocalypse occurs right under his nose. So Shaun and his best friend must arm themselves with whatever they can find and rescue his mom, ex-girlfriend, her friends he doesn’t care for and his stepdad whom he doesn’t particularly like. They find themselves in some tricky situations finding some funny ways to escape becoming the very monsters they’re trying to survive.
7 Cargo (2017)
Cargo is a 2017 Australian post-apocalyptic drama thriller film that debuted exclusively on the popular streaming service Netflix and is unlike anything audiences have ever seen when dealing with the living dead on the big screen. The story revolves around an infected father and his daughter, who is stranded in Australia after a violent pandemic breaks out. The father desperately searches for a haven and new home for his infant child. He also must find a means to protect her from what he will inevitably become.
This zombie movie is very different then what most fans are used to, mostly due to the lack of gore and guts that the genre is notoriously known for doing. As far as zombie flicks go, Cargo is a more character-driven story relying on the dominant performance by actor Martin Freeman. The fact that the father-daughter journey is the core of this story and by using horror tropes of the genre solely to impede them, the directors have made an original, highly satisfying film. In the end, when viewers stream this hidden gem, they’ll get a slow burn zombie apocalypse drama featuring a story rich in humanism at its core that makes the whole thing seem very meaningful.
8 Zombieland (2015)
While violent and crude, Zombieland is also great fun. After a virus turns people into zombies, the world’s surviving humans remain locked in an ongoing battle against the hungry undead. A cowardly nerd teams up with a reckless cowboy and a pair of tough, lovely ladies to make their way to a rumored safe zone on the West coast. To get by, there are a set of rules that one must follow which the film graciously explains in vivid detail on how to survive the undead apocalypse. This zombie comedy film does a fantastic job of balancing the traditional tropes along with hilarious jokes and tons of fun action.
Zombieland is an over the top laugh-fest that has plenty of gory zombies getting their heads bashed in all sorts of incredible ways. This cannibal corpse motion picture contains some great performances from a stellar cast which includes Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone. These gifted performers make the dirty job of taking out the living dead look like it would be an absolute blast given the opportunity. It is wise if everyone takes any chance, they get to check this one out.
9 World War Z (2013)
The novel World War Z by Max Brooks, is a magnificent tale of zombie action and mayhem. Some even argue that it’s the most grounded and realistic take on what an actual zombie apocalypse might look like. Luckily for moviegoers, the book was turned into a feature-length film starring acting powerhouse Brad Pitt. Pitt plays a former UN investigator, pulled back in to figure out how this undead pandemic started and how to stop it. He does this as a means to ensure his family is protected by whatever limited government is left.
And if one was expecting to see the traditional slow-walking biters, think again — this zombie flick’s infected are lightning-quick, bloodthirsty cannibal corpses that rove in hordes. There is an epic scene that is probably one the best in all films of the genre where a massive army of modern zombies pile on top of each other to get over a giant wall, proving that once the infection spreads, there is very little escaping it. Armed with a ton of great action, performances, and a killer twist, World War Z is one zombie fans want to reach the grave without seeing.
10 The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)
There is no shortage of zombie movies out there, but The Girl With All The Gifts does a stable job of toying with some fresh ideas to liven the genre up a bit. This British book-to-movie zombie horror film is based on the book of the same name written by M.R. Carey, who also served as the screenwriter for the film. The story takes place in the future. A strange fungus changes almost everyone into a flesh-eating monster. After searching for possible youths for candidates to help create a potential cure or vaccine, the action kicks off when a scientist and a teacher find a girl who seems to be immune to the fungus. This leads them all on a journey to save humanity.
This film is unique, gripping, and reliably gory for those old school fans out there. A refreshing twist on a genre that could use it from time to time, The Girl With All the Gifts is an excellent motion picture with a solid cast that includes the likes of Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close. It goes without saying, like every other film on this list, it is one a true, dedicated zombie fan does not want to miss.