Selecting the best zombie movies of all time is a serious task that raises a number of key questions. Do fast zombies count? Do they all have to be scary? Are the undead not in themselves absurdly comic creations that can have records thrown at them? And most importantly, how much Romero can one list take?
UPDATE: It's been revealed that the sequel to the fantastic Train to Busan will be out in the US in August and will be a home streaming exclusive fro Shudder in 2021. Officially called Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula, the movie is set four years after the events of Busan, following a troop of soldiers that stumble upon some survivors from the train. This isn't the first spin-off from Busan - an animated prequel, Seoul Station was released in 2016. Train To Busan is, quite rightly, in our best zombie movies list.
This selection then is a buffet of undead flesh. A literal finger food offering of genuinely unsettling horror, disturbing imagery, and, of course, some all-important zombie comedy.
Here you’ll find white knuckle-inducing found footage with lethal use of night vision, a very British approach to the apocalypse with a trip to the pub, and, of course, bucket loads of viscera and gore. Pack your survival kit for the 10 best zombie movies to watch right now.
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Best Zombie Movies
1. 28 Days Later (2002)
It might star the controversial speedy ‘infected’ rather than Romero’s more traditional staggering undead but don’t hold that against 28 Days Later. Indeed, these ‘Rage’ packed hordes are part of the reason Danny Boyle’s zombie movie is so terrifying. A combination of animalistic fury and tense soundtrack make for a constantly unsettling experience as Cillian Murphy’s Jim makes his way through a spectacular abandoned London. With some agonising tension and real heart, this is up there with the best of British horror.
2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Edgar Wright’s frenetic rom-zom-com - yep, there’s a combination of words you’d like to forget again from the early noughties - works so well not just because of its, errr, infectious British humour, but because it’s actually a zombie movie. A splattery, gory, hungry zombie movie full of the shuffling, relentless undead that pose a genuine risk to life and limb. That Simon Pegg’s Shaun can make you cry as well as laugh is a true achievement. Oh, and can you spot Cate Blanchett?
3. Zombieland (2009)
With a sequel on the way this year, aptly titled Double Tap, Zombieland ticks all the right walking corpse boxes. Jesse Eisenberg provides a multi-step guide to surviving the apocalypse, while Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee’s quest for Twinkies makes us all wonder which fast food we’d miss the most when the end of the world comes. With brilliant turns from Emma Stone and young Abigail Breslin, Zombieland manages to be both sweet and hilarious. And yes, there’s one of the best movie cameos potentially ever.
4. Train to Busan (2016)
And you thought snakes on a plane were a problem. So good that it’s predictably already down for a US remake produced by James Wan, the South Korean Train to Busan is ready to absolutely ruin your morning commute with a new mental zombie survival drill. How would you block that middle aisle? Would luggage actually work as a barrier? Great characters, knife-edge tension, and spectacular zombie sequences await. Plus, the last train home might not feel as bad in comparison.
5. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Hey, remember when Zack Snyder made a great horror film? It may sound sacrilegious to put this remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead here instead of the original, but it deserves a nod for its terrifying opener alone. Despite the fact we’ve all watched and played the humans vs the undead in a shopping mall conceit for decades now, it’s a testament to Romero that we’re still not bored yet. Snyder’s offering is slick and gory helping of horror that shouldn’t be ignored.
6. Night of the Living Dead
The original and best, Romero’s classic zombie movie still holds up today with its, often literally, bleeding edge social commentary. The king of undead cinema refined his horde over the years but Night of the Living Dead still holds a true sense of disturbing horror. The production might now seem as unsteady as its titular monsters but the understated tone of the movie is still drenched in dread. No-one says the word zombie in the movie. This is fresh terrifying ground. And still packs a punch.
7. Rec (2007)
When it comes to the scariest found footage horror, The Blair Witch Project is the scream-packed judder-fest that springs to mind for most people. Rec will change that for you. This trip to a Spanish apartment block as a daytime TV presenter joins a team of firefighters is genuinely one of the most terrifying zombie movies of the 21st century. Ignore its subpar American remake Quarantine, turn out the lights and prepare to be afraid.
8. The Girl with all the Gifts (2016)
Based on the novel of the same name, The Girl with all the Gifts is rather different to the other titles on this list. This is a world where ‘the hungries’ have already taken over and survivors are holed up in fortified army bases. To avoid spoilers, it’s in one of these that we meet Melanie, an entirely unique little girl. Great performances from Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, and Glenn Close make this a fresh and heartbreaking British apocalypse.
9. Dead Snow (2009)
Two words. Zombie Nazis. Surely that’s all you need to know? Dead Snow - complete with the tagline Ein, Zwei, Die - is the Norwegian zombie movie you didn’t know you actually needed. If it’s not clear, it’s not terribly serious. A stack of attractive students head up into the mountains for a skiing holiday and find a little more undead SS on the piste than expected. Yes, it’s high concept but there’s no questioning its execution. A definite guilty pleasure.
10. Planet Terror (2007)
The better half of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double bill, Planet Terror is positively dripping with schlock. This is, of course, a movie where Rose McGowan has her leg chopped off and replaced with a machine gun, so set your narrative expectations at that unique bar. It’s big, stupid and has seriously wince-inducing gore as the inhabitants of a town attempt to survive an unleashed infection, but there’s something ludicrously entertaining about the nastiness at work.