×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The best zombie movies you've never heard of

As a species that involuntarily associates adrenaline with an awesome time, it's probably fair to say that most of us love a good scare. From the shadowy things that go bump in the night to Stephen King-concocted supervillains living in sewer drains, there's been no shortage of freaks in films since film first came to be, and they've scared and stirred us for decades. Even an everyday object turned viciously sentient (lookin' at you, spooky mirror from Oculus) can give audiences the heebie-jeebies when properly portrayed onscreen. But what's scarier to humans than, well, humans? Or, at least, creatures that once were human. That's right, we're talkin' zombies.

Tales of living humans being infected by reanimated corpses have long existed in entertainment, even dating as far back as when oral stories were all the rage (and the only method of sharing mythologies). With the current rise in popularity of the zombie genre (hello, The Walking Dead!), it's hard to deny the special magnetism of a good zombie movie. But what happens when you've blazed through 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, and Zombieland? Look no further: we've got you covered with the ultimate list of zombie movies you've (probably) never heard of.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Beyond

Let's start things off with a bang, shall we? Italian horror aficionado and staunch supporter of all things gory Lucio Fulci concocts a spellbindingly sick film with The Beyond. (Seriously, some scenes are so graphic, they had to be censored upon its 1983 release in the States.) Fulci's other movies have boomed with zombie lovers around the world, particularly 1979's Zombi 2, the off-kilter bloodbath of a love letter to American filmmaker George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. But what Fulci does with this 1981 flick puts it in a league entirely its own. Granted, it's a murder-filled, head-exploding league, but hey, it's still special.

Set in 1920s Louisiana, The Beyond follows New York native and all-around beauty Liza as she relocates to the Bayou State, inherits a dilapidated hotel, meets a blind woman, hits the town for some casual shopping—oh yeah, and accidentally opens one of the seven (yes, seven) portals to Hell. What unravels from there is a visceral, relentless outpouring of bloodied wounds, guts falling out of acid-burnt flesh, and lots of ravenous zombie goodness. The Beyond is beyond odd, but it's undoubtedly one of the best underrated zombie films out there—and Fulci's best to date.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Versus

We're cheating just a tiny bit with this 2000 film. The Ryuhei Kitamura-directed indie is two parts action thriller, one part zombie, but it's the way the zombies are tied into the film's story that landed it on our list.

The boys of Versus aren't the greatest guys: they're criminals on the run who find themselves in the ironically-named Forest of Resurrection (which just so happens to be one of the portals to "the other side") deep in the Japanese wilderness. There, they encounter a pack of Yakuza (think of them like the Japanese equivalent of mobsters) who've taken a young girl against her will. When the film's main character, Prisoner KSC2-303, attempts to take out a Yakuza in order to help protect the girl, a zombie outbreak begins. Sound absurd? Well, that's kind of the point.

Versus nails the off-the-walls brand of Japanese horror, introducing the core trouble of the film quite early on without too much context, then spirals it out in big ribbons to take the audience on a wacky, maniac zombie adventure. While the film is, admittedly, a little thin on the actual undead, skirting around them more than a traditional zombie movie would, it makes up for it by the bushelful with insane martial arts stunts, heart-stopping sword battles, some young Keanu Reeves-style trenchcoats, and a generous dash of humor for good measure. Overall, Versus is a film that doesn't take itself too seriously, and in doing so, makes for one hell of an entertaining watch.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Dellamorte Dellamore

The Italians sure do know their horror, with this next film coming straight from the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. Dellamorte Dellamore, also known as Cemetery Man, may superficially appear like a stock zombie genre film, but in reality, it's far more. Directed by Milan-born filmmaker Michele Soavi, this 1994 flick is deeply (and unexpectedly) philosophical, richly romantic, and super spooky. Dellamorte Dellamore combines these elements together in a beautifully bizarre wedding, toeing the line between funny and frightful, and boasts standout performances from leads Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, and Anna Falchi. The film's unapologetic attitude toward sex, sin, and the normalization of corpses come back to life saw it gain a generous cult following—and the admiration of one Martin Scorcese, who believed it to be one of the greatest Italian films to come out of the '90s. (Now you really don't have an excuse for not seeing it.)

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Roost

Next up to bat is Ti West's The Roost, which is fitting, since the film centers on rotting zombies and demonic bats bent on terrorizing an abandoned farm. A more standard zombie movie, this 2005 foray into the non-living was actually the director's very first film ever, but you'd never know by watching it. The Roost carries with it a fine-tuned, veneered '70s vibe that any retro horror fan will love: you've got the subtle but stereotypical storyline featuring a group of teens stuck in a desolate place on Halloween night; the goofy secondary force of evil to fight; and the dramatics turned up just enough to make the scarier scenes seem silly. West's film is arguably the film on this list that most bears in mind its genre, but that works to its benefit. The Roost feels like both a zombie film that can hold its own and an homage to the classics of yesteryear, with its unique cinematography, hammy script, and truly shiver-inducing zombies.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Dance of the Dead

What do you get when you combine high school geeks and freaks, a band of guitar-strumming teenage stoners, a detonator gone rogue in a bowl of chips, and a ton of creepy cadavers? Gregg Bishop's campy creation Dance of the Dead. Where pop zombie films like World War Z and Dawn of the Dead paint a more harrowing look at what happens post-post-mortem, the 2008 indie offers up a hilarious romp through zombie slayage among kids you'd rather actually be dead than hang out with.

Dance of the Dead's undead guys and gals are wreaking havoc on a small Georgia town, and the lead team of misfits are determined to put an end to it—even if that means putting an end to their senior prom (and some of its attendees) in the process. The film ditches the more overt darkness in favor of cheeky humor typical to a teen comedy of its time, less intimidating monsters, and characters with whom audiences may really connect, an element usually missing from mainstream zombie flicks. With its interesting take on the genre—and a final prom scene with so much blood, Carrie herself would be proud—Dance of the Dead isn't one to miss.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Fido

Wondrously weird, Andrew Currie's 2006 film Fido is unlike any other movie in the zombie canon thus far, and something tells us it'll remain the only one of its kind for quite some time. Living in a post "Zombie Wars" world, the Robinsons take in a revived human corpse to keep as a pet, fit with collar and all. Unfortunately for the sweet-as-pie family, they experience some rough patches with their new canine-esque cadaver as he goes on a feeding frenzy, wiping out half the neighborhood in the process. (Talk about a bad dog.)

Fido is a little bit slice-of-life with its '50s-inspired view of suburbia, but it's a lot weirder on basically every other front. Essentially, it's the lovechild of the equally strange Disney show Dog with a Blog and a slightly tamer version of The Walking Dead: something you'll just have to see to believe.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Pontypool

Minding your language has never been so literal. Based off Tony Burgess's novel Pontypool Changes Everything, this surprisingly smart zombie film, directed by Canadian wunderkind Bruce McDonald, stitches together clean camerawork with down-and-dirty zombie fights. Looking back, this 2008 release seems a few years ahead of its time, with its clever, make-you-think-twice theme reminiscent of 2014's horror hit It Follows.

Where other films infect the unwitting through gruesome bites or full-body attacks, Pontypool's victims are dragged to the other side with the flick of a tongue: certain words trigger the spread of the all-consuming virus, and the only way to protect yourself from it is to seal your lips shut. Which is what our DJ lead Grant Mazzy (played by a stellar Stephen McHattie) does from the confines of his tiny radio studio. In all, Pontypool is intimate and inquisitive, with a healthy dose of undead dread and a dollop of disruption to shake up your notions on what a zombie film can be.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Make-Out with Violence

The Deagol Brothers make quite the directorial debut with this coming-of-age film that just so happens to feature zombies. Make-Out with Violence is a festival baby through and through, playing at 2009's South by Southwest Film Festival, 2008's Atlanta Film Festival, and the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, among many others. And the critics' response? A resounding, "Yes, please."

Applauded for its quirky charm and deftness in navigating heartache beyond the grave, Make-Out with Violence's strengths truly do rest in its delicacy. It's wholly the result of an interesting story, the Deagol Brothers-penned script, and a ton of undeniably relatable moments where unrequited love seems all but crushing. Make-Out with Violence is far more than a generic zombie film; rather, it's one whose understated tension makes it so very special.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Outpost

If your 2017 resolution is to slay more Nazi zombies (hey, we don't judge the loftiness of your goals here), English director and screenwriter Steve Barker's Outpost is the perfect first step. This 2008 action-horror movie is an Alan Seeger-like rendezvous with death, as the Marine-slash-mercenary lead takes on hordes of rotted zombie villains. Centered around the horrifying discovery of an old SS lab (and an entire throng of Nazi corpses come back to life), Outpost is as blood-soaked as it is stylish, captivating its viewers along the script's wild and eventually harrowing rollercoaster. An absolute must-see if you're even a slight zombie fan.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Night of the Creeps

We can practically hear the devout horror heads cheering: finally, we're diving into a film straight from the era that spawned countless remakes and rehashings. Fred Dekker's 1986 film Night of the Creeps has gotten a ton of love for its hodgepodge mix of sci-fi and scares, but has remained generally under the radar. Perhaps that's down to its screwball story or its charmingly air-headed dialogue, but we think those are the very reasons it should be launched into the spotlight.

As with many of the films on this list, Dekker's university-set slimy slasher has no shortage of cheesy jokes and character tropes done right amidst all the action of normal college kids devolving into flesh-hungry zombies. Funny and fresh despite its timestamp, Night of the Creeps is a well-held-up film you won't want to hold out waiting to see.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Midnight Hour

Zombies and vampires and a before-the-fame Levar Burton Jr., oh my! This 1985 bite of zombie fun is kind of iconic, despite not getting much time in the limelight or praise from critics, who often discredit it as unbearably lame or beneath some unwritten zombie-film standard. The Midnight Hour features none other than Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge (you know, before he was the badass helmsman of the USS Enterprise-D) himself in a main role prior to his Star Trek fame. The film also marks the very beginning of former child star Macaulay Culkin's screen career, as he appears as a young trick-or-treater.

The made-for-TV film sticks to a pretty standard formula, hitting all the basic checkpoints that make up campy '80s horror. Group of befuddled teenagers? Check. Mysterious, unexplainable events happening on Halloween night? Double check. Undead cheerleaders, a creepy ancient witch, and the uninvited undead going unnoticed at a costume party? Yep, looks like everything's covered. The Midnight Hour is an easy-to-watch zombie film that's even easier to love, a statement that its cult following can attest to with (you saw it coming) a lot of ease.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

[REC]

While this found-footage-type film saw some pretty noteworthy success with international audiences, it failed to find its footing on American ground other than in an underwhelming remake entitled Quarantine. Co-directed by filmmakers Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, [REC] is a spooky Spanish delight, filled with raw reveals (that will have any watcher wincing) and seriously gross zombies. Not unlike other horror films that exude a homemade/based-on-a-true-story aura, [REC] delivers some shaky camerawork, a smattering of jump scares, and enough tension to leave anxiety-induced sweat rings around your shirt.

The accessibility and true-to-life feel of the film extends beyond its composition and into its story. [REC] grabs the audience by the hand and forces them to follow what happens to a well-meaning reporter and her cameraman as they take on waves of oozy zombies. Spoiler: Bad things, that's what happens. Easily the scariest film on this list, we recommend you watch this one in the middle of the day… with all the lights on… with some friends and a zombie prep kit. (You can never be too prepared.)

An honorable mention goes to the film's sequel, [REC] 2, which is somehow even more disturbing and disgusting than the original. Bravo, Balaguero and Plaza.

×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Flight of the Living Dead

Finishing off our list is a B movie that holds no bars. With a premise that practically begs parodied takes on Samuel L. Jackson's well-quoted Snakes on a Plane bit, Flight of the Living Dead might be written off as entirely too silly to be given anything other than a passing glance mid-laughter, but the direct-to-video film is zippy, zany, and incredibly self-aware. Its up-in-the-air action and plot (not to mention the surprisingly well-crafted zombies) pull it high above other films in the genre. Even though it's technically a less refined flick, it's still severely underrated.