Zombie movies are a dime a dozen. Because they’re usually the most effective with any budget, lots of horror makers rely on this genre to tell a good horror story– but not everyone succeeds. To make this list, a film had to have “Of the Dead” in its title (otherwise I’d be here all day) and, most importantly, not suck.
As hard as I looked to find interesting films to fill this list, unfortunately most of the ones worthwhile were directed by George A. Romero. So while I wanted a variety for the list, I have to give credit where it’s due.
Here are Corpsefeed’s Top 6 “Of the Dead” Movies.
6) Day of the Dead
Bringing Romero’s famous trilogy to an end, Day of the Dead is a film that isn’t quite as good as it predecessors but still is quite good nonetheless. Showing that even the highest levels of society and military are just humans like us, even the final film in the trilogy is laced with the same type of hopelessness Romero’s films became famous for. Couple that with interesting additions like Bub and the happy ending, it’s a fine film to end a trilogy with, and a fine film to start this list.
5) Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The most famous of Romero’s original “Of the Dead” trilogy, Dawn of the Dead set the tone for many later zombie films to come. Drawing attention to the parallels between commercialism and the undead horde, this is the first film to really hammer home the devastation of a lost society. While Night of the Living Dead tackled social issues like race, this sequel expanded the importance of human connection to the world at large. Also, there’s an alternate ending where everyone gives up and commits suicide– and that’s pretty boss.
4) Juan of the Dead
To put it bluntly, there aren’t enough Latinx culture inspired horror films. Juan of the Dead takes the casual, humorous tone of Shaun of the Dead and exaggerates it. The Cuban film follows Juan, a guy who’s spent his life intentionally being lazy, as an obvious zombie apocalypse occurs. As he attributes it to capitalist tension, he decides to run a business where he kills people’s loved ones for a price. Although the comedic tone berates Juan for his mistakes, it’s still a worthwhile zombie film. The death count alone shouldn’t be ignored.
3) Night of the Living Dead
As the film that started it all, Night of the Living Dead deserves all the credit it gets. A shaded human thriller about tensions between people under duress, the film was one of the first to argue “humanity is the true monster.” It’s the film which laid the groundwork for an entire genre of horror, so it stands to reason that it’s good. Some of it didn’t age well (which is why it’s not higher on the list), but its themes still ring true today.
2) Dawn of the Dead (2004)
You’re probably wondering why Zack Snyder’s version of Dawn of the Dead is higher on this list than the original, but honestly it’s that much better. Look at it this way, Snyder’s directorial debut was so successful, it’s basically the reason why he’s overseeing Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ Justice League movies. While not as thematically resonant as the original, this highly stylized film revitalized the zombie genre. When the genre grew stale in the early ‘00s, Snyder redefined zombies just as Romero did decades before. A faster, meaner type of zombie generated genuine horror in a genre that fell off for a while. We’re still waiting on the next evolution of the zombie, but until then, this reboot still is the king of the reboots.
1) Shaun of the Dead
George A. Romero may be the one who gave us this genre, but his fans have taken his ideals to much greater lengths. The best example of this is Shaun of the Dead, the best “Of the Dead” film, and best zombie film overall. As mentioned earlier, the film’s casual and humorous tone never once eliminates the horror. While Shaun and Nick may at times act nonchalant, there’s always an underlying tension permeating throughout. On top of the film’s strong editing, writing, and gore, choosing this film to top the list was a no-brainer. //Nick Valdez