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50 Best Zombie Movies Of All Time

Audiences will forever be divided between fans of fast zombies and fans of slow zombies, but we're going to proudly defend the middle ground and say that both versions of the undead have their charms. And zombie speed isn't the only division running — or shambling — through the genre. The films of the living dead have a long and varied history that includes charged politics, fierce social criticism, self-parody, terror, creeping dread, offbeat romance, manic camp, gooey gore, and more. They've chosen supernatural explanations or scientific ones, and they've said the "z" word outright or kept it hush-hush. They've done the apocalyptic, and they've done the up-close-and-personal tales of a single bad resurrection.

The best films of the genre include all of the above, and they range from flicks with microscopic budgets to major studio projects. And if want to know which ones are really worth biting into, check out our list, and you'll see which zombie movies — like zombies themselves — just won't stay dead.

Updated on September 20, 2021: We're constantly scanning the horizon for the approaching undead ... or at least for movies starring them. And when iconic new flesh-eating, brain-munching movies come out, we want you to know about it, so we'll keep this list up-to-date to reflect what's going on in one of our all-time favorite corners of horror.

Night of the Living Dead

George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" is the indispensable zombie movie. Made on a shoestring budget with shadowy black-and-white cinematography, the film covers a tense day and night as the dead begin coming back to shambling life. A group of survivors — most notably the nearly catatonic Barbra, who only wanted to visit her father's grave, and the calm and resourceful Ben — hole up in a farmhouse, trying to stay alive and make sense of what's happening even as they're being constantly besieged by "ghouls." The film also comes with a gut-punch of an ending that's one of the most memorable in the whole genre.

  • Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Marilyn Eastman

  • Director: George A. Romero

  • Year: 1968

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Zombi 2

You haven't missed anything: There is no "Zombi 1." Not really, anyway. "Zombi" was the Italian title for "Night of the Living Dead," and when the film proved successful, Italian students cashed in with this unofficial sequel that's actually harrowing in its own right. Disturbing and gruesome, "Zombi 2" (or "Zombie Flesh-Eaters") offers up a supernatural rather than scientific explanation for the rising dead and sends its characters on a quest to a Caribbean island. All the lurid gore and a bit of a preference for style over substance meant "Zombi 2" got an uneven critical reception, but it's a cult classic for many horror fans. And don't forget to note the exemplary score.

  • Starring: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson

  • Director: Lucio Fulci

  • Year: 1979

  • Runtime: 110 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 42%

Deathdream

"Deathdream" (aka "Dead of Night") combines zombie tropes — a listless undead man who must inject fresh blood to keep himself from rotting away completely — with a nuanced look at PTSD and family trauma in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. A grieving mother, in denial about her son's death overseas, almost wills him back into existence ... but the Andy who returns is a shadow of the one who left. He's distant, strange, and prone to outbursts of violence. All too quickly, it's easy to connect him with the string of murders around town. This riff on the classic story "The Monkey's Paw" is as thoughtful as it is haunting.

  • Starring: Richard Backus, John Marley, Lynn Carlin

  • Director: Bob Clark

  • Year: 1974

  • Runtime: 88 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Dawn of the Dead

George Romero ups both the satire and horror for "Dawn of the Dead," the second movie in his "Dead" series. Even more visceral and more openly political than its predecessor, "Dawn of the Dead" takes place after the world has accepted that society is crumbling: It's no longer the first night of the apocalypse. Some of the characters have been participating in horrific "clean-up" attempts, but they're so disillusioned that they ultimately all retreat. And where do they go? The mall, of course. It offers shelter from the zombie hordes — and every consumerist satisfaction they could want. But with the world burning outside, there's only so much hedonism can do.

  • Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger

  • Director: George A. Romero

  • Year: 1978

  • Runtime: 126 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

The Fog

Set in a small coastal town in Northern California, "The Fog" is an atmospheric combination of zombie horror and old-fashioned sea ghost stories. It was 100 years ago that a ship sank to the bottom of Antonio Bay, killing all the leprous passengers board. The dead have moldered in the sea for a century, but now they're back on a mission of revenge, besieging the town — and turning some of its own dead against it — until they can claim six lives, a number that's connected to their dark and watery fates. With John Carpenter behind the camera, "The Fog" is a tense, enjoyable chiller.

  • Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Houseman

  • Director: John Carpenter

  • Year: 1980

  • Runtime: 89 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Night of the Comet

In horror, comets tend to be bad news. Exhibit A: "Night of the Comet," where a rare astronomical phenomenon triggers the apocalypse, either reducing people to zombies or wiping them out completely. The movie centers on a handful of surviving teenagers who were accidentally shielded from the comet's effects and who now have to figure out what to do in the dangerous aftermath. But while the plot sounds serious, "Night of the Comet" keeps everything witty and fun, satirizing the genre's tropes even as it fulfills them. Fans of goofy older horror and science fiction will get a kick out of this gentle skewering.

  • Starring: Robert Beltran, Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney

  • Director: Thom Eberhardt

  • Year: 1984

  • Runtime: 93 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

Day of the Dead

"Day of the Dead" continues George A. Romero's "Dead" cycle, giving us a world where the zombies vastly outnumber the humans, and the situation is taking a psychological toll on the survivors. Most of the film takes place at a heavily guarded underground lab, where tension rise between the scientists — led by Dr. Logan, who believes the zombies can eventually be made harmless — and the soldiers — now led by the maniacal Captain Rhodes, who essentially wants to make their small fort a military dictatorship. The biggest twist "Day of the Dead" offers is the tame zombie Bub, who has had a little bit of his humanity restored. The grim scenario and high conflict are also considerable draws.

  • Starring: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joe Pilato

  • Director: George A. Romero

  • Year: 1985

  • Runtime: 102 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Dead Alive

Before Peter Jackson ever took on Middle-earth, he made the funny and wildly bloody zombie comedy "Dead Alive," also known as "Braindead." And if you like splashy, over-the-top horror fun, this one's for you. The zombie virus hits the world when a human is bitten by a Sumatran "rat-monkey," and it all quickly leads to comedic family dysfunction and jaw-droppingly, surreally brilliant concepts like fighting zombies with blenders and lawnmowers. Often grotesque, never in what you'd call good taste, and always enjoying itself, "Dead Alive" is as cheerful a gore-fest as you could possibly want.

  • Starring: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody

  • Director: Peter Jackson

  • Year: 1992

  • Runtime: 101 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Pet Sematary

The bleak moral at the heart of "Pet Sematary" is that "sometimes, dead is better." Louis Creed learns that hard lesson when he finds out his new rural Maine home is close to the town's "pet sematary" ... and the ancient burial ground behind it. When his daughter's beloved cat is hit by a car, Louis takes his neighbor's advice and buries the cat in the back part of the cemetery. It comes back — but it's not the same. It should serve as a warning, but when someone close to Louis is killed on the same highway, can he possibly resist the temptation to bring them back again? "Pet Sematary" has a slightly campy vibe that might lessen the terror, but it supplies some great atmosphere and powerful storytelling. Reviews were uneven, but time has proved the movie's charms.

  • Starring: Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby

  • Director: Mary Lambert

  • Year: 1989

  • Runtime: 99 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51%

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things

Like many cult classics, "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things" has a lot of rough edges and some bad reviews. But this unusual little flick definitely has its fans. Its appeal starts off with a comically off-the-wall premise: A megalomaniacal theater troupe director forces his poor actors to participate in a ritual to raise the dead. It doesn't seem to work — but no worries, he can still be a domineering party host at this isolated cemetery, and he can still desecrate a corpse. But as the night goes on, the dead really do come back, making this a head-to-head battle between a supernatural evil and an all-too-human awfulness, with everyone else caught in the middle.

  • Starring: Alan Ormsby, Valerie Mamches, Jeff Gillen

  • Director: Bob Clark

  • Year: 1972

  • Runtime: 85 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 42%

Land of the Dead

George A. Romero continues to move his zombie apocalypse into the future with "Land of the Dead," a movie that provides plenty of grim zombie carnage even as it skewers the massive divide between the rich and the poor. Some of the surviving humans have it all. Protected in the luxurious settlement of Fiddler's Green, they can afford to watch the world burn. Others aren't so lucky. And outside the barricades, the zombies — having slowly reached a kind of sentience and borderline humanity — aren't exactly happy about the situation. Anger and intelligence combine to make this another memorable installment in the series.

  • Starring: Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento

  • Director: George A. Romero

  • Year: 2005

  • Runtime: 93 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

World War Z

Zombies get an epic, action-filled movie that spans the globe in "World War Z." One-time United Nations agent Gerry Lane serves as the point man for this apocalyptic story, as the responsibility of keeping his family safe intersects with old UN connections who want his help in the crisis. Ranging from the United States, South Korea, Israel, Wales, Nova Scotia, to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Gerry and his allies work to find the origins of the zombie plague — which may be their only hope of ever creating a vaccine. Suspenseful and adventurous, "World War Z" benefits from its international perspective.

  • Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale

  • Director: Marc Forster

  • Year: 2013

  • Runtime: 115 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%

Dead Snow

"Dead Snow" is a great blend of camp and campfire tale. College students vacationing in Norway learn a familiar horror lesson — never stay in an out-of-the-way cabin — in an unfamiliar way when vengeful undead Nazis rise up from their snowy graves to protect their cache of stolen treasures. It's over-the-top, and the movie leans into the comedy. But it's also atmospheric and effective, and its original approach is enough to get any jaded viewer's attention. And the film smartly deploys its connection to real Norwegian history to create an intriguing story.

  • Starring: Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henriksen, Charlotte Frogner

  • Director: Tommy Wirkola

  • Year: 2009

  • Runtime: 88 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%

Diary of the Dead

The long-running "Dead" series jumps back in time with the found-footage movie "Diary of the Dead," which follows several film students during the early days of the zombie apocalypse. They stop filming their horror movie and start filming the horror around them, documenting the confusion and despair of a world in chaos. "Diary of the Dead" has a bracing cynicism to it, not hesitating to show people becoming opportunistic and uncaring. Several of its set pieces are downright grim. That can make the movie feel blunt, but it can also give it real power. And in its focus on crowdsourced, internet-delivered info and live video of unfolding events, it still feels current.

  • Starring: Michelle Morgan, Josh Close, Shawn Roberts

  • Director: George A. Romero

  • Year: 2007

  • Runtime: 95 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%

The Beyond

Trippy and lurid, "The Beyond" is often confusing but always unforgettable. This Italian horror film — set in Louisiana — tells the story of Liza Merrill, whose plans to restore her recently inherited hotel get fatally hung up. On top of all the usual fixer-upper problems, there's the hotel's history of dark arts and mob justice, its cursed painting, and the bodies in the basement. But those are all just offshoots of the real problem, which is a doozy. Liza's new hotel is a gate to hell. And it has a penchant for distorting perceptions (and reality), summoning spiders, slaughtering its inhabitants, and raising the dead. This is a messy but sumptuous film that contains some spectacularly disturbing images.

  • Starring: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale

  • Director: Lucio Fulci

  • Year: 1981

  • Runtime: 80 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

Black Sheep

"Black Sheep" lets you know what you're in for right from the tagline: "Get ready for the violence of the lambs." And if you like that, you'll almost certainly like the wild and woolly zombie-sheep movie that follows. Brothers Angus and Henry Oldfield grow up together on a sheep farm, but when their father dies, let's just say they grieve differently. Henry becomes terrified of sheep, and Angus devotes his life to turning them into ravening, flesh-eating beasts whose bite will change humans into sheep-human hybrid zombies. Toss in some environmental activists for additional conflict and add in a lot of entertaining gore and body horror, and you're in for a treat.

  • Starring: Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Peter Feeney

  • Director: Jonathan King

  • Year: 2006

  • Runtime: 86 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%

Re-Animator

The goofy and colorful "Re-Animator" gives horror fans one of the best mad scientist antiheroes around — Jeffrey Combs' immortal Herbert West, a would-be medical student who's less interested in his studies than he is his goal of developing a chemical reagent that will bring the dead back to life. Teaming up with his everyman roommate, Dan, Herbert tries to prove himself ... and chaos ensues, especially once he resurrects his nemesis, the charismatic Dr. Hill, who's savvy and powerful even as a talking severed head. "Re-Animator" is one of the best and weirdest horror-comedies around, flawlessly engaging from start to finish.

  • Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton

  • Director: Stuart Gordon

  • Year: 1985

  • Runtime: 86 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

#Alive

Joon-woo is just an ordinary gamer who happens to be at home when the zombie apocalypse (the rage-virus kind) strikes. Suddenly, he's barricaded into his family's apartment — helpless, separated from everyone he loves, and just trying to survive. As communication networks go down, water gets cut off, and his food supply is ruined, Joon-woo gets more and more reasons to despair. Then, unexpectedly, he finds out that he's not as alone as he thought. Connecting with another survivor, Yoo-bin, gives him hope and a reason to fight. "#Alive" is a strong, well-crafted, and universally relatable story of an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation.

  • Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Park Shin-hye, Jeon Bae-soo

  • Director: Cho Il-hyung

  • Year: 2020

  • Runtime: 98 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Dead & Buried

A dark, strange, and genuinely creepy zombie mystery, "Dead & Buried" takes us to the small town of Potters Bluff, where out-of-town visitors tend to get brutally murdered, leaving the overwhelmed sheriff both horrified and confused. As Sheriff Gillis struggles to put together what's happening in his little town — and as he discovers it's something far more than a string of serial killings — he seeks help from Potters Bluff's helpful coroner, who may know more than he's letting on. "Dead & Buried" delivers real ghoulish shocks alongside its haunting setup.

  • Starring: James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson

  • Director: Gary Sherman

  • Year: 1981

  • Runtime: 92 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

I Sell the Dead

An energetic historical horror-comedy film with a fine cast, "I Sell the Dead" brings two professional graverobbers face to face with the supernatural. When Willie and Arthur make the mistake of removing a garlic wreath and wooden stake from a corpse, they open up a new world of horror and financial opportunity. They've discovered the existence of the undead, and they're going to use it to their advantage. But there's a wrench in the works — the House of Murphy, a family of rival grave-robbers. Competition, terror, and twists then combine to bring "I Sell the Dead" to a strong finish.

  • Starring: Dominic Monaghan, Larry Fessenden, Ron Perlman

  • Director: Glenn McQuaid

  • Year: 2008

  • Runtime: 85 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%

28 Days Later

Pity poor Jim, who falls into a coma and finally wakes up to find out that there's a zombie apocalypse outside. He falls in with a group of hardy survivors — who can at least tell him what's going on — but that doesn't mean the chaos and horror are over. There's always the omnipresent danger of being attacked by the infected, and even a single drop of blood can make you lose your mind. Their best hope seems to be a military installation in Manchester, but getting there will be dangerous. And not all of their fellow survivors are trustworthy. "28 Days Later" combines a grim world with a dash of hope and strong acting and characterization.

  • Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston

  • Director: Danny Boyle

  • Year: 2002

  • Runtime: 112 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Warm Bodies

Sometimes the power of love can even overcome the urge to eat brains. That's the lesson in "Warm Bodies," a sweet and definitely unusual romantic comedy where a zombie named R. (he doesn't remember the rest) falls in love with a living girl named Julie. The attraction R. feels seems to be bringing him back to life — restoring his heartbeat and a little bit of his language — but it's not all adorable since the movie doesn't shy away from the inconvenient fact that R.'s feelings for Julie stem partly from the fact that he ate her boyfriend's brain. Cute but not toothless, "Warm Bodies" combines some original worldbuilding with nice performances.

  • Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry

  • Director: Jonathan Levine

  • Year: 2013

  • Runtime: 98 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Bride of Re-Animator

Good news, "Re-Animator" fans: Herbert West, Dan Cain, and Dr. Carl Hill are all back in this gleeful sequel. "Bride of Re-Animator" plunges into a new and gothic plot, as Herbert works to construct a woman out of undead flesh — with the heart of Dan's former fiancée, Megan, animating it. It would be a bad idea at the best of times, but it's an even worse one with the undead Dr. Hill once more on the loose, building up his own little army of hypnotized zombies. It's a lot to juggle, and it all builds towards a climax that's as gruesomely powerful as it is darkly comedic. "Bride of Re-Animator" doesn't quite live up to its predecessor, but its lackluster reviews didn't stop it from ensnaring plenty of fans.

  • Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Claude Earl Jones

  • Director: Brian Yuzna

  • Year: 1990

  • Runtime: 97 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%

Cemetery Man

It's hard to find love, and it's even harder when you're Francesco Dellamorte, town pariah and caretaker of a cemetery where the dead sometimes come back to life. "Cemetery Man" is the pitch-black comedy of Dellamorte's longing, despair, and eventual disconnection from reality, as all his attempts at romance fail horrifically. A passionate connection with a young widow ends when her undead husband emerges and fatally bites her, but Dellamorte is still tormented by seeing her everywhere, with the same actress recurring in multiple roles. And that's far from his only problem. When he slides into confusion and indiscriminate murder, we almost understand. The surreal and dark "Cemetery Man" is really one of a kind.

  • Starring: Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi

  • Director: Michele Soavi

  • Year: 1994

  • Runtime: 100 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 60%

I Walked with a Zombie

In this unsettling early zombie film, the shambling, blank-faced zombie is possibly the product of a voodoo (more accurately Vodou). Betsy Connell is hired to nurse the supposedly helpless wife of a sugar plantation owner, but she soon discovers that her patient's condition may not stem from anything as mundane as a damaged spinal cord. Instead, the afflicted Jessica Holland may be a zombie under a curse. Betsy tries to find the answers and cure her, but this means stepping into a complex and fraught mystery of colonialism, secret love affairs, and deceptions. "I Walked with a Zombie" is thoughtful, unsettling, and — especially for the time — surprisingly sensitive about the culture it depicts. Fans of classic black-and-white horror should definitely check it out.

  • Starring: James Ellison, Frances Dee, Tom Conway

  • Director: Jacques Tourneur

  • Year: 1943

  • Runtime: 69 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

28 Weeks Later

The sharp, brutal, and adrenaline-fueled "28 Weeks Later" is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor. Most of its action takes place later in the rage zombie apocalypse and centers on one troubled family. In a crucial moment, Don abandoned his wife, and while he found safety in a heavily protected safe zone sector, he's haunted by what happened — and when his adult children show up, he can't bring himself to tell them the whole truth. Against the rules, they go looking for closure, hoping only for some family photos. Instead, they find their mother, apparently still human after all ... but is everything as it seems? And could this family's choices have global ramifications?

  • Starring: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner

  • Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

  • Year: 2007

  • Runtime: 110 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

The Girl with All the Gifts

"The Girl with All the Gifts" is a smart and fearless look at the zombie apocalypse. This time, it's caused by a parasitic fungus that turns the afflicted into "hungries" irresistibly drawn to tear the living apart. But there are children like Melanie who have humanity alongside their cravings, so the government is obsessed with studying them to find out if their in-between status means there could be a cure. And when Melanie and some of the adults from her strict facility — including her beloved teacher, Helen Justineau — are forced to flee, they finally start finding answers after all. But they may not be the ones the facility has been hoping for. Great characterization and genuinely science fictional plotting combine perfectly here.

  • Starring: Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close

  • Director: Colm McCarthy

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 111 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Fido

Once humanity gets used to zombies, anything could happen, and in "Fido," we've managed to turn them into domestic servants. With their control collars on to manage their hunger, the undead in this bright, "Leave It to Beaver"-style world make great additions to any household ... aside from a few accidental murders. Little Timmy names his family's new zombie Fido, and the two form a close bond — not unlike a boy and his dog — in the middle of a lively plot about resumed outbreaks and the overzealous ZomCon corporation. This is a gentle satire with a surprising amount of heart and just the right amount of bloodletting.

  • Starring: Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly, Dylan Baker

  • Director: Andrew Currie

  • Year: 2006

  • Runtime: 91 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%

Night of the Creeps

"Night of the Creeps" throws any pretense of realism out the window to make a loving spoof on — and homage to — multiple horror subgenres. This is one by and for the fans, with characters sporting the same last names as famous horror directors like Romero, Cronenberg, Craven, Raimi, Hooper, Bava, and Landis. The film pits its cast — especially sweet college students Chris, J.C., and Cynthia and Detective Cameron, a cop with a dark secret — against violent "zombies" possessed by alien brain-slugs, forcing them to scramble to contain the pending apocalypse once it's been unleashed. The film is splashy B-movie fun that winks at the audience and gives them exactly what they want.

  • Starring: Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow

  • Director: Fred Dekker

  • Year: 1986

  • Runtime: 85 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Planet Terror

Part of the gleefully over-the-top homage double-feature "Grindhouse," Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" deals with grotesque, biochemically altered zombies on the loose in small town Texas ... and soon, the world! The movie splits its charms between its colorful characters — especially the tough and sultry Cherry Darling, who winds up using a gun as a prosthetic leg — and its gruesome and sometimes off-the-wall storytelling. (Wait for that bin Laden revelation because it's a doozy.) Rodriguez is mimicking old-school exploitation movies, so don't be surprised by all the adult content, but do enjoy this mash-up of familiar tropes and bonkers execution.

  • Starring: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Michael Biehn

  • Director: Robert Rodriguez

  • Year: 2007

  • Runtime: 86 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

Rabid

No one does body horror better than David Cronenberg. With "Rabid," he brings that sickening combination of morphing flesh and sexual queasiness to the zombie tale. When Rose is in a bad accident, her injuries are repaired via an experimental technique with horrific unforeseen consequences. Now, she has a new stinger and has to feed on human blood to survive. And the people she drinks from? They become infected with a rabies-like illness that drives them to brutal attacks, and the disease is sweeping the country. "Rabid" is an uneasy and sickening look at outbreaks, contagion, and what it's like to be a particularly horrific kind of Typhoid Mary.

  • Starring: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver

  • Director: David Cronenberg

  • Year: 1977

  • Runtime: 91 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

The Serpent and the Rainbow

In "The Serpent and the Rainbow," a pharmaceutical company sends anthropologist Dennis Alan to Haiti, hoping that he can get a sample of the "zombie" drug used in certain rituals. This is a bad idea, and everyone Alan meets in Haiti tells him to leave while he still can, especially since the country is in the middle of political upheaval. But Alan doesn't listen, and his actions stir up both an opportunist and a true practitioner of the brainwashing and soul-stealing zombie process. "The Serpent and the Rainbow" is a deft look at a man completely over his head, and it's particularly effective at evoking the terror of being buried alive.

  • Starring: Bill Pullman, Cathy Tyson, Zakes Mokae

  • Director: Wes Craven

  • Year: 1988

  • Runtime: 98 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

Zombieland

In this shattered, post-zombie society, you're supposed to only look out for yourself. To avoid attachments, people even tend to avoid giving out their names or learning anyone else's. They go by the names of their hometowns instead, which means we're following a college student named Columbus, who teams up with a hard-edged, Twinkie-loving gunslinger called Tallahassee. Despite all the "rules," the two turn into partners, and from there, it's just a short step to connecting with tough sisters Wichita and Little Rock. Survival is still the name of the game, but "Zombieland" becomes as much about forging a family — against all odds — as it is about zombie vs. human action.

Little Monsters

In the funny and surprisingly sunny "Little Monsters," escaped experimental zombies make a beeline for a kindergarten class field trip. Somebody needs to swing into action to protect the kids, so luckily, we have adult characters as well. Meet Miss Audrey Caroline, their teacher, and failed musician Dave, the down-on-his-luck uncle of one of the boys. They have a pending possible romance, but the zombies — and ridiculous, secretly sleazy children's TV presenter Teddy McGiggle — sort of get in the way. Between musical performances and slaying the undead, however, they might just make it work. "Little Monsters" stands out for its different milieu and light touch.

  • Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Alexander England, Kat Stewart

  • Director: Abe Forsythe

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 94 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

The Return of the Living Dead

It's zombies vs. punks in this fresh and funny movie that subverts a lot of the classic zombie tropes even as it added a few more to the pile. When human error leads to a toxic and zombifying rain, a group of friends — with nicknames like Spider, Trash, and Suicide — band together with some of the factory workers who accidentally released the toxins. They're all just trying to stay alive, but in this darkly entertaining zombie film, no happy endings are guaranteed even for the toughest and most resourceful. "The Return of the Living Dead" plays off "Night of the Living Dead," becoming a meta delight that skillfully juggles grimness and glee.

  • Starring: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa

  • Director: Dan O'Bannon

  • Year: 1985

  • Runtime: 91 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

ParaNorman

Kids deserve their zombie movies too, and for that, there's no better flick than the charmingly spooky "ParaNorman." Poor Norman is a sweet kid who's ostracized and bullied at school. It's hard to be normal when you can talk to the dead and even your own family can be a little wary of you. But when an unfulfilled ritual unleashes zombies and the spirit of a wrongfully accused witch on the town, Norman is the only one who can come to the rescue, and saving everyone will require all his empathy, as well as all his pint-sized heroism. This is a children's movie that even adults can happily settle down with, full of moving moments, good characterization, and gorgeous stop-motion animation.

  • Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Anna Kendrick

  • Directors: Sam Fell and Chris Butler

  • Year: 2012

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: PG

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Zombieland: Double Tap

"Zombieland: Double Tap" picks up a few years after the original film, with our familiar zombie apocalypse survivors having ensconced themselves in the White House. But tensions and uncertainties are running just beneath the surface, and soon, sisters Wichita and Little Rock (now itching to find some kind of companionship her own age) have taken off, leaving behind Tallahassee and a heartbroken Columbus. But while new people drift into their lives, the original duo still snap into action when they hear that Little Rock might need their help. It's back to another funny, well-cast road trip through a zombie-clogged landscape, as the team rolls through both Graceland and a hippie commune in an effort to reunite and solidify their offbeat family.

  • Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin

  • Director: Ruben Fleischer

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 99 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%

Zombi Child

Every now and then, a zombie movie will delve into the Haitian stories of zombification, but few have done it as well as the sophisticated and thoughtful "Zombi Child." In this film, Haitian history — as ancient as belief and as recent as the 2010 earthquake — hits France, as teenage Fanny befriends a Haitian immigrant named Mélissa. Fanny wants to use Mélissa's family's knowledge of Vodou to heal her broken heart, but the attempt plunges her into the nastily horrific legacy of colonialism that the movie depicts with chilling matter-of-factness. This is a zombie drama as much as a horror movie, one that's deeply interested in looking at the psychological effects of all the ways one person — or culture — can overwhelm and control another.

  • Starring: Louise Labeque, Wislanda Louimat, Adilé David

  • Director: Bertrand Bonello

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 103 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Blood Quantum

Indigenous people prove immune to a zombie virus — but not to the violence and social upheaval that comes with it hitting the planet — in the sharply original "Blood Quantum." The residents of the Red Crow Indian Reservation are faced with the tough choice of which outsiders to let in and which to keep out, knowing that they'll face bloody consequences if any of these new, non-Indigenous arrivals are secretly harboring the virus. It's a moral question that, in the grand tradition of zombie movies, comes down to some grisly fighting and a lot of uncertainty.

  • Starring: Michael Greyeyes, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Forrest Goodluck

  • Director: Jeff Barnaby

  • Year: 2019

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

The Crazies

A contaminated water supply brings a plague of violence to the small town of Ogden Falls. The infected turn hyper-aggressive, even killing those closest to them, and the effects can set in slowly enough to give you time to realize what's happening to you. In the midst of all this are David and Judy Dutton, a sheriff and doctor who are expecting their first child. They soon discover that as bad as the toxic influence is, the government containment efforts may be even more dangerous — and even more ruthless. This sharply written, suspenseful, and well-cast film is one of the few remakes that outshines its source material.

Dance of the Dead

It's losers to the rescue when zombies attack the prom in this warmhearted, enthusiastically nerdy horror-comedy that blends high school movie tropes with the undead. "Dance of the Dead" deals with some familiar character types — the geeky sci-fi club, the bully, the second-tier garage band, the perky overachiever — but gives them all a lot of heart and characterization, taking time to set up its big ensemble and get everyone swinging into action to rescue their classmates at the prom. The movie stays likable without soft-pedaling its horror.

  • Starring: Jared Kusnitz, Greyson Chadwick, Chandler Darby

  • Director: Gregg Bishop

  • Year: 2008

  • Runtime: 95 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

The Wailing

An infectious rage spreads through the Korean countryside in "The Wailing," where family love meets the inexplicable. Jong-gu — a well-meaning but not especially skilled or experienced detective — gets saddled with the task of investigating a sudden rash of brutal homicides ... ones where the perpetrators all sport disturbing physical symptoms. Soon, Jong-gu's own daughter is infected. It may all come back to a new arrival to the area, a Japanese man. Or it may, terrifyingly, come back to the devil himself. "The Wailing" is a wild crisscross of possessions, religious horror, chaos, and rage zombies, and it packs a huge punch.

  • Starring: Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jung-min, Chun Woo-hee

  • Director: Na Hong-jin

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 156 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

Dawn of the Dead

Zack Snyder made his directorial debut with this remake of George A. Romero's zombie classic. And while that's a hard film to follow, the 2004 "Dawn of the Dead" makes the smart choice to go its own way, opting for original characters, fast and vicious zombies, and a different initial setup. (Seeing the start of the apocalypse here adds some nice eeriness.) We still have survivors holed up in a mall and having to plot a potential escape, but the new execution makes this feel fresh. The film also benefits from a strong sense of dread — especially in the early scenes — great action, and a well-chosen cast. Fans will have to let the two movies duke it out because it's legitimately hard to pick a favorite "Dawn" take.

  • Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber

  • Director: Zack Snyder

  • Year: 2004

  • Runtime: 110 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

Mulberry Street

As if a hot New York summer isn't bad enough, the darkly creative film "Mulberry Street" adds zombies into the mix, crafting a grotesque, urban gothic atmosphere. Sewer rats are biting Manhattan residents, spreading a plague that makes its victims turn rat-like — and zombie-like — themselves. It's a crowded city, and suddenly, everyone is a threat. And for main character Clutch, his daughter Casey, and the people in his overwhelmed apartment building, any help on the way may not come until it's too late.

  • Starring: Nick Damici, Kim Blair, Ron Brice

  • Director: Jim Mickle

  • Year: 2006

  • Runtime: 85 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

One Cut of the Dead

Clever and uproariously funny, "One Cut of the Dead" has to be seen to be believed. It stars off as a slightly meta zombie movie. A Japanese film crew is making an undead horror flick that's interrupted by an actual zombie attack, instigated by an out-of-control director aiming for exciting realism. But then, the movie throws a delightful curveball ... and we can't say much more than that without spoiling it. However, we will say that the second half of the movie sheds new light on everything that goes down in the first half, giving us one of the very best and most inventive zombie movies of all time. 

  • Starring: Takayuki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama, Kazuaki Nagaya

  • Director: Shin'ichirō Ueda

  • Year: 2017

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Army of the Dead

"Army of the Dead" brings a dash of cross-genre fun to the table, giving us possibly the world's first zombie-heist movie. A zombie-infested Vegas is about to get permanently wiped off the map, so someone offers down-on-his-luck veteran Scott Ward a deal: Get past the quarantine protocols and past all the zombies, and break into a casino vault containing $200 million. It's an opportunity Ward's not going to pass up. "Army of the Dead" combines all the traditional heist movie satisfactions — especially the thrill of getting a crack team together — with all your zombie needs, and Ward's arc with his estranged daughter provides some real heart.

Rec

The superb zombie found footage movie "Rec" chronicles the terrifying events that unfold as an emergency team (and accompanying reporters) find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly quarantined inside an apartment building where a zombie infection has broken out. Journalist Ángela and cameraman Pablo search for information and an escape as the night quickly turns deadly. "Rec" gets bonus points for the clever use of the found-footage style and for an interesting zombie origin, but the biggest appeal here is the claustrophobic setting, which makes the film simultaneously grueling and thrilling.

  • Starring: Manuela Velasco, Pablo Rosso, Ferrán Terraza

  • Directors: Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza

  • Year: 2007

  • Runtime: 78 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Pontypool

"Pontypool" keeps its zombie scares intimate and chilling. Radio host Grant Mazzy finds himself reporting on more news than he ever thought possible in the small town of Pontypool, Ontario. There are violent, cannibalistic rioters outside, and the folks at the radio station have just received a message in French. Translating it warns them that the virus is spread linguistically ... and unfortunately, it terminates with, "Do not translate this message." Too late. The radio station itself is now in danger, along with Grant and his station manager. "Pontypool" may move too slowly for some, but its subtle chills, unusual approach, and persistent unease reward patient viewers.

  • Starring: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly

  • Director: Bruce McDonald

  • Year: 2008

  • Runtime: 96 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Shaun of the Dead

Slacker Shaun just can't seem to get his life into gear. He can't even remember to make reservations for the big date night that'll save his relationships with girlfriend Liz. But when the zombie apocalypse hits, he'll have to become a hero — even if "heroism" still might look like trying to get to the pub with his lovable loser best mate, Ed. (It's a defensible location!) "Shaun of the Dead" helped perfect the zombie-comedy formula with pitch-perfect genre spoofing, a marvelous cast, sharp cinematography, genuine stakes and scares, and even some scenes that will break your heart. It doesn't get much better than this.

  • Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield

  • Director: Edgar Wright

  • Year: 2004

  • Runtime: 97 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Train to Busan

"Train to Busan" ups the ante on its zombie action by setting almost the whole movie on a train. It's like a thrilling combination of "Snowpiercer" and "Dawn of the Dead." Seok-woo is trying to relieve his guilt over accidentally neglecting his daughter by getting her to Busan so she can celebrate her birthday with her mother, but this father-daughter venture takes a sharp turn when a zombie infection starts to spread. One of the infected is even on the train, forcing the disparate passengers to band together to try to protect themselves in the face of overwhelming odds.

  • Starring: Gong Yoo, Kim Su-an, Ma Dong-seok

  • Director: Yeon Sang-ho

  • Year: 2016

  • Runtime: 118 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%