Brain Waves
Brain Waves
Top Ten Zombie Films

surfzombie Fellow movie critic Goatdog and I were having a discussion about the top ten zombie movies of all time, and we had some disagreements. Even after agreeing on most of the members of the top ten zombie films, we still quibbled about the ranking, so we decided that the best solution was to each concoct our own top ten list, and then present the collaborative effort at some later point. Movies are chosen both for entertainment value (corresponding more or less to my ranking) and for their contribution to the genre.

10. White Zombie.--The one that started it all. This classic horror is eerie, inventive, and suspenseful, without one gut being munched. It set the mythos for zombie films for years to come.

9. Bio Zombie.--This movie has action, horror, and suspense, but I think what really made it for me was the heroes. The fact that Woody and Bee are so funny together and that their dialog is so great (at least, their translated dialog) is what raises this film above others of its kind.

8. Braindead.--Peter Jackson has a flair for gore, and he makes full use of it in this movie, but the gore is just a backdrop to the engaging storyline of a mild-mannered man who has to wade through a host of zombies to find love. Add in several truly original and bizarre ideas, and you have this classic.

7. Shaun of the Dead.--This is the same kind of film as Braindead (combining horror and intelligent humor), but the storyline was even more interesting, and it's in a more classic zombie film style.

6. Zombieland.--This movie was creative, vibrant, and funny, and made me leave the theater smiling. Despite being set in a post–zombie apocalypse world, it's almost cheerful, and excellently done.

5. 28 Days Later.--This movie kept me on the edge of my seat when I thought that I had become desensitized to zombie movies. After watching it for the second time at a friend's house, as I was leaving I managed to partially convince myself that there was an enraged zombie waiting quietly for me in the dark of the stairwell. A scary, engrossing movie.

4. Army of Darkness.--Raimi improves on the straight slapstick of Evil Dead II by adding an epic adventure, Ash-style, and more ways for Ash to harm himself. Campbell also perfects his smarmy portrayal of the hero.

3. Dawn of the Dead (1978).--I think it's because Romero manages so well to convey the sense of acopalypse that his movies have such an impact. There is a desperation underlying everything that does not let up, and so an already well-written action/horror becomes even more gripping. This movie, as opposed to Night of the Living Dead, spawned many "sequels" in Italy, and the idea of being trapped in a large building (mall, warehouse, etc.) seemed to catch on much more than the idea of being trapped in a farmhouse.

2. Dellamorte Dellamore.--I once summarized the plot of this movie to a friend in the following way: "First there's some sex and arty stuff, and then it gets down to the zombies." This was an unjust simplification of a complex and interesting movie, which at the same time, on the surface, is a thoroughly enjoyable zombie flick. I probably still haven't figured out everything that's going on in it.

1. Night of the Living Dead (1968).--Although some of the ideas from Dawn of the Dead may have caught on more readily, Night of the Living Dead was first, and its impact on the world of zombie films is unquestionable. Eerie, tense, and imaginative, it is still a great film to this day.

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