Top 10 Zombie Apocalypse Films

Let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time before the dead rise and feast on the living. If it’s not experimental government farm machinery or a space probe returning from Venus, it’s going to be some ungodly Warlock opening the gates of Hell that’ll send them shuffling forth. And when that time comes, I don’t intend to have my brains eaten. No, siree. So these ten films are shown on a continual loop in my underground bunker, where I have enough canned food and bottled water to see me through the inevitable apocalypse. If you want to survive too, you’d better make yourself familiar with the following. In reverse order:

It doesn’t make an awful lot of sense a lot of the time, but Jorge Grau’s extension on Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD builds up to a nice spooky climax in a Manchester hospital. Arthur Kennedy plays the most intolerant policeman you’re ever likely to encounter, which makes for some unintended humour. Why don’t the zombies show up on photographs though?
Likelihood of becoming a reality: the dead arise thanks to new gadgetry to kill insects. Doesn’t sound too likely, but you never know.

Hong Kong’s take on DAWN OF THE DEAD, the twist being that the zombies are confined to the mall, and the survivors inside are trying to get out. The first half is almost totally played for laughs, which makes the later scenes all the more effective. Fantastic performances all round, with a wonderfully villainous Wayne Lai.
Likelihood of becoming a reality: the infestation’s due to a genetically engineered bio-weapon, so it’s quite plausible. Although I doubt people would carry it about in an old Lucozade bottle.
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Sprinting zombies (sorry, “Infected”) seem a little unsporting if you ask me, but you can’t fault Danny Boyle’s terror trip. Opens with some fantastic footage of a deserted London and ends in the kind of brutality the Infected can’t hope to match. The scene where our heroes are performing an emergency tyre change in a tunnel is one of the most intensely scary scenes I’ve ever witnessed.
Likelihood of becoming a reality: it’s more a question of when, not if.

Lucio Fulci’s THE BEYOND goes from standard horror into a surreal nightmare. A hotel is conveniently placed on a doorway to Hell, which is opened by a Warlock. This lets all manner of nasties into the world, including a bunch of giant spiders and…you guessed it…zombies. Nasty stuff.
Likelihood of becoming a reality: I’m not putting any money on it.

Michele Soavi created a thinking man’s zombie film here, with heaps of black comedy thrown into the mix. Rupert Everett plays a cemetery janitor who, at no extra cost, keeps the residents suppressed when they invariably return to life after seven days. The strain of this and his permanently jinxed relationship with a pair of women (played by Anna Falchi) send him mental. Or is he the only sane one left?
Likelihood of becoming a reality: this is a complete wild card. Not enough is known, which makes it worth a flutter if you’re a betting man.

Underrated by fans and the general public alike, Romero’s third instalment of his Dead series is still a great zombie flick, this time set in a military bunker. Needless to say, the zombies get in and have a party. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Bub…
Likelihood of becoming a reality: the Dead series seem to blame a space probe returning from Venus with some kind of plague. Not a chance.

Another Fulci film, this time directly attempting to cash in on DAWN OF THE DEAD’s surprise box-office success. Never mind though, because the film’s great. Here we have a whole tropical island infested by zombies. The film’s synth score is a highlight, as is the scene where the dead rise out of their graves. Oh, and there’s an underwater fight between a shark and a zombie. My money’s on the shark.
Likelihood of becoming a reality: nope, don’t think so.

The crisis from 28 DAYS LATER is over and Britain is being re-populated…and re-Infected. Shocking, brutal and unmissable, especially the bit where that bloke from Lost hacks up an army of the Infected with the rotor blades of his chopper. Nice!
Likelihood of becoming a reality: USA intervening and taking over? Where have I seen that before? Yep, this could happen here.

“They’re coming for you Barbara!” And you know what? They are – right from the start! The Granddaddy of them all kicks off in fine form and never lets up. Surprisingly nihilistic coming a year after the Summer of Love, this is the antidote to love and peace. A bunch of survivors take refuge in an old farmhouse and when the dead rise, they find they just don’t get on very well. You’ve got to admire the claustrophobic setting (it basically all takes place inside the house) and the wide range of characters – some heroic, some not. And the zombies? They’re dead…they’re all messed up.
Likelihood of becoming a reality: it’s that pesky space probe again.

1. DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)
It wasn’t really in doubt, but Romero’s masterpiece of satire on consumerism is utterly without equal. Who hasn’t, at some point in their life, thought how great it would be to have an entire shopping complex to yourself? A group of four survivors inhabit a shopping mall, where all their retailing needs are satisfied. With characters that develop and you can feel empathy with, the Sequel to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD makes you feel part of what’s going on. It’s unflinchingly graphic but always retains a believable core, and doesn’t let the viewer off the hook at any time with an ill-placed quip or over-blown action scene. The score by Italian prog-rockers Goblin is also pretty hard to shake off once you’ve heard it. And remember, when there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth.
Likelihood of becoming a reality: vacant expressions in the shopping mall? People wandering brainlessly around on instinct alone while muzak is pumped out at them? How far-fetched is that?

So remember, when the apocalypse takes place, always go for the head. Fire works too. Don’t be fooled by the slow, jerky gait of the undead – there are more of them than there are of you, and they will always get you. And if they do take a bite out of you, try not to come back!


Written and compiled by “Heroes of the East” editor M O’Callaghan.
For the latest “Heroes of the East” reviews CLICK HERE.

Heroes of the East is a comprehensive introduction to east Asian cinema with reviews of 100s of films from Hong Kong, China, Japan, and South Korea. The site also includes features and special-interest articles including the popular “A Beginner’s Guide to Kung Fu Films”.

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Discover More:
Trioxin – Guide to Zombie Horror and Horror Films in general – looks at 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, The Descent – 20 Best Zombie Films

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Ross McG Reply

    you had me at ‘Warning’
    great list
    would have liked to have seen the Dawn of the Dead remake in there though, it really is a great film, way better than the overcooked other stuff Zack Synder has put out

  2. Avatar
    Andy Reply

    Great list, can’t argue with the top two although I would love to see some The Evil Dead in there too. Great to see 28 Days/weeks later made the list; I know purists refuse to call it a zombie film (as you allude to). My one complaint, I think 28 days later is far superior to its sequel so I would have put them the other way around.

    Other suggestions, of recent films, I really liked [rec] and classics, I walked with a Zombie.

  3. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    I also liked [Rec], I may check out the english language remake Quarantine one of these days.

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    Anonymous Reply

    My top 5 favorite zombie films in no particular order are Dawn of the Dead (1978 original), Fulci’s Zombie, Revenge of the Loving Dead, Dead Snow, and Zombie Holocaust. As you can tell, I’m a fan of Italian horror. Love the classic 80s gut munchers. Day of the Dead (again, the original!) is one of my favorites too.

  5. Avatar
    Mr Spontaneous Reply

    I Love you list and I do agree that dawn and day should be at the top spot. But I think the remakes are really good too. To be fair they aren’t really remakes. But I loved them as well.

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    Manikandan Reply

    I love the List. Especially Dawn of the dead and 28 days later. Cheers 🙂

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    Novroz Reply

    Great list Dan. 28 days later is one of my favorite zombie movies.
    You don’t include comedy zombie here.
    I just posted my comparison of 2 funny zombie movies 🙂

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    George Reply

    good list mate but where is the dawn of the dead remake land of the dead, survival of the dead or diary of the dead them 4 should have been in the list best zombie movies ever

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    ashley Beolens Reply

    I Agree you have some great films listed here, don’t think 28 weeks later was a patch on 28 days but there you go (still own both) and I agree with others that REC should be in there somewhere, a modern Zombie classic, but I think the more comedy based zombie films also need a mention, Shaun of the dead is the greatest film ever made!! (maybe I’m alone in that but hey.) and Zombie land has to earn a mention.

    There are some great short films as well Zomblies is worth watching (would have been a great full length film) made with a £10000 budget but really good concept and surprisingly well written, acted, and effects are really good (especially when you consider the budget).

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    Dead Reply

    I didn’t think 28 Weeks Later was worthy of being on any “best of” list, let alone above the original and so many other classic films.

    And that’s only considering the quality, not the fact that it isn’t even a zombie movie and doesn’t really belong on this list anyway.

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