It’s less than a week until the premiere of the fourth season of The Walking Dead. Waiting for the show to premiere on October 13th, 2013 may leave you in such a zombified state, that you start to believe you’re turning. If you can’t find any bites, then you’re probably suffering from Walking Dead withdrawal. This means that a lack of AMC’s hit post-apocolyptic show has left you cold, confused, and wandering aimlessly around. Stop the infection before it spreads any further, and get your zombie fix with the following cult classics.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
George Romero’s first entry in the Dead series is my personal favorite of the group, because it’s the first film that laid out the rules for modern day zombies. They eat human flesh, you have to destroy their brains to kill them, and executing a loved ones’s undead life is nearly impossible.
If Romero is the father of zombie movies, then Fulci is a distant relative. His film Zombie is the unofficial sequel to Dawn of the Dead, so it’s sometimes referred to as Zombi2, because Zombie was the original title for Dawn of the Dead. Besides this unqiue connection, Zombie is a special film because it contains one of the best scenes in horror movie history: zombie vs. shark. Not only is this an inventive interpretation of the zombie phenomenon, but it’s really fucking cool to watch. Not to mention, the practical effects are blissfully gruesome.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
This spoof on zombie pictures remains one of the best horror comedies to this day because it’s done with love. Instead of the usual spiteful parody, Shaun of the Dead glorifies scary movies, while pointing out its cliches with light-hearted humor and clever nods to the classics. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s chemistry makes them a hilarious duo to watch, and allows them to pull off some serious drama in such a comedic feature.
Day of the Dead (1985)
The third film in Romero’s Dead series focuses on the prolonged effects of a zombie apocalypse. This addition to the trilogy doesn’t get as much love as the others, but it definitely deserves a watch (or two!) for a few reasons: 1) the gore is despicably enthralling, thanks to Tom Savini, the master behind some of the greatest movie effects of all time, including many Romero titles 2) the abuse of power by the military in the end of times was a pivotal point in genre film history, and 3) the unique idea of zombies being trained by science to live among us was proposed, bringing a new area of debate to horror fans for years to come.
This fun little horror comedy exceeded expectations with the help of an outstanding cast, featuring Jessie Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray. This film contains some big laughs, and walks the line between cheesy and slapstick gracefully, due largely in part to the crazy amount of blood and guts that fly from every direction.
Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Setting the bar for horror comedies to come, and proving that curiosity killed the stock boy, Return of the Living Dead contains some of the best scenes in horror in all time. From Trash’s dance, to an upper torso begging for brains, to the Tar Man, this cult classic showcases pure 1980s punk insanity from start to finish.
Dead Alive (1992)
Most know Peter Jackson as the famous director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but back in the day, Jackson was a gore hound like the rest of us. His film Dead Alive, also known as Braindead, is arguably one of the bloodiest movies of all time. This comedy about a momma’s boy who just can’t let go of the one that gave him life serves as a warning sign to all those kids out there who refuse to grow up: if you don’t become independent, sooner or later, a Sumatran rat monkey will turn your parent into a vicious, nasty zombie, hellbent on destroying every aspect of your life.
White Zombie (1932)
George Romero is usually credited for the first use of zombies in films, but it was actually director Victor Halperin who gave the genre its initial portrayal. Starring Bela Lugosi, this story tells the tale of a man who uses the aid of a witch doctor to claim the woman he loves for himself, but accidentally winds up turning her into a lifeless vessel. The film is not only extremely influential for horror filmmakers everywhere, but even musicians, as Rob Zombie and his friends named their 1990s grunge band after the feature.
The Serpent and the Rainbow
Instead of the usual zombie bite infection, Wes Craven’s flick takes the Haitian magic approach, and reaches back into an era where zombies were created through the use of voodoo. The dream sequences alone are creepy enough to give this one a viewing.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
You can’t go wrong with Romero. The thing that’s interesting about this zombie flick is the slow process by which Romero shows how people deal with the plague once it spreads across the world. People have been introduced to the zombies already in Night of the Living Dead, and now, the focus is on people’s reactions. Some say that there is still life within the undead, while others say that once a person is bitten, he or she is gone for good. Some people want to take the time to learn more about the disease, while others just want to take out as many people as possible. It’s a slow burn, which feels real, especially if it were compared to today’s way of life, with our gross use of technology, and the way we are always connected, but spend more time talking than taking action.