Few horror movie monsters are as popular as the zombie. Part of their popularity is because they are so versatile – zombies can be slow, fast, scary, funny, one-dimensional or three dimensional. Here are the best zombie horror films for you to watch this Halloween.
‘Night of the Living Dead’
Night of the Living Dead exerted a profound influence on every zombie movie that came out. Previous cinematic zombies were usually the result of voodoo or other supernatural forces. Here, the zombies are implied to be the result of radiation. The film also influence the modern archetype of the zombie as a slow-moving, mindless creature that consumes human flesh.
Even if this movie wasn’t influential, it would still be great. The film is tensely directed and features a claustrophobic setting that makes it much more terrifying than it might otherwise be. Duane Jones gives the performance of a lifetime as Ben, and the film’s ending will haunt you for years. The film has slipped into the public domain, so it is widely and legally available for viewing on YouTube and similar sites. If you don’t have Netflix, this is the perfect Halloween horror movie.
Here’s a good example of the funny side of zombies. Re-Animator takes the central mythos of Frankenstein and turns it on its head in a darkly funny tale about a mad scientist who brings the dead back to life and has to hide his creatures from everyone around him. The film has talking severed heads, angry undead cats, and so much gore that it almost stops being scary and becomes ridiculous.
Jeffrey Combs, the lead actor in the film, manages to play it largely straight, which is much funnier than if he winked at the audience. The film also boasts some pretty awesome 1980s special effects despite its modern budget. This is a perfect film for audiences who want to dip their toe in horror movies without getting too disturbed.
‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’
Here’s another funny zombie movie – it just wasn’t intended to be funny. Edward D. Wood Jr. is often considered the worst director in the history of cinema. His most (in)famous movie is Plan 9 from Outer Space, the epitome of cheesy 1950s science fiction cinema.
The film is a cavalcade of bad special effects, unnatural dialogue, amateurish performances, and nonsensical plotting – and that’s precisely why so many people love it. The problems compound on Plan 9 and the movie becomes an unintentional comedy of errors. Like many of the worst B-movies of its era, the film is almost an accidental surrealist film, making it perfect viewing for both lovers of bad movies and high art.
‘Dawn of the Dead’
A follow-up to Night of the Living Dead from the same director, George A. Romero, Dawn of the Dead has a bigger budget and more adventure than the original. It focuses on a group of people during a zombie apocalypse who find their way to an abandoned shopping mall to try to eke out a quiet existence.
They are surrounded by zombies, but initially find a way to keep the flesh-eaters at bay. The film has some great spooky visuals and a cast of characters who are far more developed than your average teenager from a Friday the 13th sequel.