Z-portal is back!!!
20. Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror (1981)
While I highly doubt that this film would make too many other lists, I just had to throw this one on here for the scene where some lady gets her titty bitten off by her zombie son!!! (Who she was trying to breastfeed at the time...) In what has to be the strangest scene of any zombie film I've seen, a 12 year old kid with an Oedipus complex tries to grab his mom's boobs and is slapped for it. A zombie gets to him after he runs away in embarrassment and he is turned without the mom knowing. When she sees him again, she's so relieved that she willingly indulges him and whips out a titty to try to breastfeed him.... you can probably guess what happens next...
19. Zombi 2 (1979)
Yes, more Italian exploitation goodness as this pseudo sequel to George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead rocks the house with a mellow 80's synthesizer beat and features an underwater fight between a zombie and a shark!!! Directed by horror maestro Lucio Fulci, who is often referred to as the "Godfather of Gore", this film also features the infamous cringeworthy splinter-through-the-eye scene. I must admit that the dated effects, low budget, and slow burn moments won't appeal to most of today's audiences... but I have to say that I absolutely LOVE throwing this on when I have company over and watching everyone squirm during the disturbing scenes.
(Note: This film was released in Italy as an "unofficial" sequel to the European version of Dawn of the Dead, that's why this movie is called Zombi 2 despite what the cover says. The US renamed the film when we brought it over here.)
18. Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies (2001)
I know I'm going to get a lot of shit for even having this movie on the list, but I felt like this movie had its charm. Filled with giggling Japanese schoolgirls and blatant references to other films in the genre, I enjoy this film as a mind-numbing guilty pleasure. (Believe me, your mind WILL go a little numb after being assaulted by the non-stop giggling that fills this movie) I'm not even sure what it is about this movie that I enjoy so much. There's not even a good amount of nudity, it's just silly and makes me want to laugh every time I watch it. (Maybe the giggling brainwashes you into a giggling buffoon??) Either way, don't go too far out of your way to see this movie. Unless you can borrow a copy or find it at the bottom of some bargain bin.
17. SARS Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis (2004)
Now, here's a movie that I felt like I had to throw in here for the title alone. Capitalizing off of the media headlines about the SARS virus, this Thai zomcom (zombie comedy) features references to major films in the genre as well as Star Wars, Matrix, and other popular films. You really have to put your brain on pause for this one as the film takes all logic and throws it into a blender, adds a dash of Ladyboys for flavor, then combines it with silly Thai humor before shitting out a mind-melting mess that leaves you laughing at the sheer outrageousness of the images on screen. Lightsabers don't work because the batteries are dead, a giant snake that swallows a cat and a radio meows when it attacks while playing music from its belly, and there's even a guy who bites back when a zombies try to eat him! If you're looking for some truly mindless entertainment, look no further than SARS Wars.
(Note: it helps to be intoxicated to some degree while enjoying this film, in order to "enhance" your overall viewing experience.)
16. Zom-B-Movie [segment from Chillerama] (2011)
Okay, I must admit that I cheated a little with this one. I assume that no one would get this movie only to watch a single segment from it, so I felt like this film as a whole was an added bonus for the list. (Also, I have a total hard-on for anthology films) The film begins with a man digging a grave and burying a woman that we conclude is his wife. After he urinates on her corpse, she rises from the grave and bites his pecker off. He splatters blue goop everywhere (in Troma-esque fashion) and cue the title for our latest anthology film that throwsback to old Drive-In movies and is representative of the different decades in the genre. (50's-80's?) The zombie segment is at the end and sandwiches the film with the first segment, Wadzilla. These were probably my two favorite segments in the film as I laughed the hardest at these. I enjoyed the film as a whole but doubt any of these segments could stand alone as an individual film. So this film as a whole earns a spot on my list.
15. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)
For anyone who has followed me from the beginning, I think my second post on this blog (and my first attempt at a movie review) was about Poultrygeist. I feel that Troma films, in general, represent what this blog is all about!! Bad taste, messy splatter effects, and PLENTY of nudity to keep everyone happy. We're not here to read serious reviews about a bunch of politically correct bullshit... we're all here cause we're looking for something different. Our sense of humor is subversive, our tastes stray from the social norm, and we want to see things that are more outrageous and creative than big budget Hollywood spectacles that try to lure you in with flashy effects while neglecting the basic elements such as the STORY!!! Movies are primarily a visual experience, I accept that, but bloated budgets and stricter studio limitations sometimes cause Hollywood filmmakers to forget that they're actually storytellers. With the impressive visuals and heart-pounding soundtrack, there should still be a story unfolding. I don't always expect a grand story that causes me to think deeply and alters my perceptions every time I watch a movie, I just expect to be entertained. Part of being entertained is being able to be surprised at what happens next. If I can already guess the ending because the Prince always "lives happily ever after" with the Princess, then you've just lost the element of surprise. Another part of being entertained is being drawn into what's happening. If the movie is good, you stop trying to guess what happens next and you just sit back and enjoy it. To me, if you're "aware" enough to be trying to guess what happens next in the movie... then you're just getting restless because you're no longer engrossed in the film itself and just want to get on with the development of the story. Troma productions are always low budget but always manage to keep me entertained. Meaning that my mind shuts off and I'm just along for the ride. That's not to say that Troma scripts are award-winning material. Just that there is a lot of outrageous humor and, when there isn't, there's always a pair or two of boobies to keep you busy...
14. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
And now, we get into some serious zombie fun! Return of the Living Dead was a laugh riot the first time I saw it and was the first movie to introduce the concept of zombies eating brains. Any zombie fan will tell you that watching all these films, reading the books, and playing the games all prepare you for a major zombie outbreak. Also, fans will always "size up" a zombie threat to see if they would be able to handle that particular outbreak. This one is different though. Not only do they talk, but the #1 rule for killing zombies (shoot them in the head) doesn't work with these zombies!!! You have to cut them up into little pieces and burn them. Not to mention that these things talk and seem to be relatively intelligent. I remember almost shitting myself when the zombies ambush a cop car and use the radio to call for "backup" then they would devour the help that arrived. Zombies that set traps? That's almost like the knife-throwing zombie in Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror.
My favorite scene has to be the one where the naked cadaver runs amok when released from the freezer after the zombie gas brings all the dead things back to life. A naked dude screaming and running then tackling someone is usually pretty funny, unless it happens to you....
13. Deadgirl (2008)
Now things start to get REALLY weird. I mentioned this movie briefly when I was still doing my "WTF?! Wednesdays" and that's because that's the first thing that came out of my mouth when the movie was over. So, the movie is about two high school boys who cut class and go hang out at an abandoned hospital. (Yeah, cause that's totally where high school kids would hang. Not at the skatepark or mall... but at an old abandoned hospital) They make their way into a sealed off room only to find a girl chained to a bed. At this point, they don't know that she's supposed to be a zombie... but two curious high school boys do what any high school boy would do if they found a woman covered in blood and chained to a bed... they fuck her!! As if that concept wasn't disturbing enough, one of the boys actually moves OUT of his house and starts living with this girl. (So he can tap that 24/7) The girl doesn't talk or cry out for help, all she does is try to bite. They finally realize she's a zombie when the boy physically assaults her but she doesn't die. Realizing that she can't die or feel pain, they start inviting their friends over to pimp out the zombie girl. One of the more bizarre zombie movies I've ever seen, this one's more about keeping a zombie as a sex slave than an all out zombie outbreak. As disturbing as this movie was, I couldn't look away. How do you even convince your friends to have sex with a zombie?! The reason this movie makes my list though is the strange feeling of disgust and arousal you get when you're done watching the movie. Leaves me a little confused about how I should be feeling because she's still a girl afterall, just undead and gross.
12. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
You want to talk about zombies and arousal? We HAVE to talk about Resident Evil: Apocalypse. I've heard this movie bashed repeatedly for disappointing fans of the game by stealing cut scenes from the games and mixing them up with characters from the movie. I didn't much care for the first Resident Evil movie, even though Michelle Rodriguez was hot, this movie was more entertaining. I understand that the Resident Evil movie franchise hasn't exactly been faithful to the video game series, and I know that can be a big disappointment, but Milla Jovovich and Sienna Guillory are absolutely GORGEOUS. Nemesis from RE3 is in the movie and we get to see two hotties competing for screen time. What's not to like? Sure, there are more mutants than there are zombies... but I love watching hot chicks with big guns shoot at mutant freaks of any kind. I had fun with this movie and it still has been my favorite in the movie franchise to this day.
11. Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)
Finally, the last movie where I'll mention the words "zombie", "hot", and "arousal" all in the same sentence. Return of the Living Dead 3 is basically why I think zombies can be hot. Melinda Clarke plays the girlfriend of a boy whose father is in the military. Because of this, they have to move around a lot but he doesn't want to go this time. They decide to runaway together but when they get into a horrible accident that kills her, the boy brings her to the base and exposes her to the zombie gas. This brings her back to life but now she's entirely different. She complains of an overwhelming hunger that nothing seems to satisfy. When a bunch of thugs try to mess with them, that's when she realizes what she's been craving this whole time. Trying her best not to eat people, she finds that cutting herself and causing physical pains subsides the hunger. This all culminates to a scene where they're being chased but she can no longer stop the hunger. She locks herself in a room and, right when it seems her boyfriend's going to get his ass kick, she emerges with pieces of metal and glass protruding from her body. She's revamped as a sexy zombie chick with all these sharp object sticking into her skin. As odd as this may sound, I think she looked WAY hotter with all the shit in her skin than she did before it. (Although Melinda Clarke is pretty hot in general) This was the first time that I saw a "hot" zombie. I mean, I prefer my women... ya know... living but this was definitely a situation where I thought she was hotter as a zombie girl. As long as she doesn't have any glass up her cooter, we could probably make it work....
That's just wrong...
10. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
And now, we break into the Top 10!!! To kick this off, we have a movie that I've reviewed before. Of all the zombie movies I've mentioned so far, they were all of the undead variety. This is the one rare instance where a zombie movie means literally just that. Zombie. By definition, zombies can be anyone who wanders around mindlessly and is being controlled by another person. This movie delves into the mysticism surrounding Haitian Voodoo and centers around a botanist who was sent to Haiti to investigate a drug that turns people into "zombies". While digging too deep for his own good, he finds himself the target of angered Voodoo priest!! Based on a book by the same name, the idea that you can be far away from home when someone suddenly blows some poison powder in your face that paralyzes your body but leaves you conscious while you're being buried alive is an absolutely terrifying thought. This movie is scary for a different reason than worrying about an undead monster gnawing away at your flesh.
9. [REC] (2007)
A common way to explain the outbreak of "back from the dead" zombies is that it is the result of an unknown viral infection. Scary to think that a virus can bring people back from the dead, especially if you aren't sure how it spreads. (That seems to be the case in most of these zombie movies!) This one takes it a step further and places the victims in an apartment building that's on a quarantine lockdown. One of the things about a zombie outbreak is that you usually have ample room to move, usually traveling from one city to another. Tons of things to hide behind and anything can be turned into a weapon. This movie, however, starts with a spunky reporter who happens to be doing a news program on firefighters when they receive a call. She goes for a ride-along to an emergency call and ends up locked in the building with the firemen, a policeman, and the tenants living in the building. We watch the events unfold as if the video tape was found after the outbreak is over and we're reviewing the footage on the tape. This Spanish language film had many legitimately creepy scenes that the US remake found ways to totally fuck up. Despite being a shot-for-shot remake, the US version (Quarantine) with Jennifer Carpenter manages to dull and lacks the atmosphere of the original. One of my favorite foreign horror movies in recent memory. The ending in the original was WAY creepier in my opinion.
8. Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Yes, the one that started it all. The movie that completely redefined the word "zombie". But wait, what's this? I chose the remake over the original? BLASPHEMY!!!!! I'm sure to catch a lot of heat from die hard horror and zombie movie fans for picking the remake but let's be honest, the black and white 1968 version isn't going to scare anybody nowadays. That's not to say that I don't have mondo respect for the original, I've got to give credit where credit is due. The original film is a part of movie history and its influence is absolutely undeniable. With that said, this remake is a perfect update to an outdated classic. Directed by legendary special effects artist Tom Savini, who did the effects for Romero's follow up films Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, this movie not only shows how a remake can be done properly but updates a classic horror gem in the process. There were subtle changes to the characters and stories but remained largely faithful to the original. Despite my personal preference for the remake, props still go to George A. Romero (the Godfather of all Zombies) for creating a timeless classic that spawned an entire subculture to follow in its footsteps.
7. Day of the Dead (1985)
Now, when I think of zombie movies, one movie in particular stands out above the rest when it comes to special effects. From the mind of evil genius Tom Savini, this movie features what HAS to be the most realistic special effects in any zombie... no, scratch that... in any horror movie I've ever seen. The zombie bites have realistic spurts of blood and you can see strands of flesh stretching and tearing away from the wound. The intestines in the movie don't just look like sausages covered in red food coloring, they look like somebody's guts just spilled out onto the floor. I must admit that this film took multiple viewings before it grew on me but once it did, the feeling of uneasiness and claustrophobia start to set in. The movie takes place underground in a military base, where the last few survivors are trapped trying to find a cure for the plague despite diminishing resources. You really get a feeling of being trapped and confined as there is little scenery other than the halls and walls of an underground mine. Top notch special effects from Savini make this a most memorable movie, the only reason it didn't place any higher on this list is due to the places where the story drags a bit. This is a definitely a slow burn type of film that builds up to a fantastic ending, but you have to have a love for this kind of movie or else it might be pretty hard to sit through.
6. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Now, for something a little more lighthearted for all you hopeless romantics out there. This is probably the first commercially successful ZomRomCom and let me just say, this movie is Laugh Out Loud HILARIOUS!!!! This movie had me in stitches the first time I saw it... and the second... and the third.... the fourth... fuck, well, EVERY time I've seen it. This is a movie that I can literally watch a thousand times over and never tire of it. If you haven't seen this movie yet, do yourself a favor and go buy it ASAP. This movie is just so clever with such great dialogue that you'll find yourself quoting from it like some sort of weird Tourette's syndrome. The story that the everyman can relate to, getting dumped by your girlfriend for being too immature and irresponsible only to give up everything you love in this world to step up and be the man to save her from impending zombie doom. Okay, maybe not that last part but definitely the first part. This isn't a story about people with superhuman abilities fighting legions of the undead, it's just your average joe and his dimwitted buddy doing whatever they can to stay alive during a crisis. The relationship between the characters has a very real and genuine feel to them. Which makes you care THAT much more when something happens to them. Great movie that I think everyone should see at least one time, preferably on a date with a girl who's already very jumpy to begin with. Just tell her you're putting on a "Romantic Comedy".... (and don't do the "air quotes"!)
5. Bio Zombie (1998)
I first picked up this movie from an Amoeba record store on VHS when I was looking for some cheap entertainment with a buddy of mine. We hopped on the bus back to my place and ordered a pizza. We popped this baby in and laughed our asses off, nearly choking on the pizza we were scarfing down. (major munchies!) Jordan Chan, (who plays Master Chicken in one of my favorite gangster movie series of all time, Young and Dangerous) plays as the main character Woody Invincible. He and his buddy, Crazy Bee, are a couple of lackey gangsters that run a bootleg movie store for their "boss" when a zombie outbreak occurs and leaves them stuck in the mall. (Gee, why does that sound so familiar?) They are joined by the very sexy Angela Tong, a nerdy little sushi chef whose real name is Emotion Cheung, and a couple of other survivors. This movie really tickles my funny bone and, since I have such fond memories of it, provides a bit of nostalgic value in addition to how much I really enjoyed the film overall. One of my favorite scenes is when the sushi chef (after he's turned into a zombie) tries to distract a group of zombies by serving up an order of finger rolls. (Literally, pieces of sushi with fingers on top!) Highly recommended for fans of Chinese cinema and those who don't mind watching a Dawn of the Dead knockoff
On a hilarious side note: the DVD features several language and subtitle options including Engrish subtitles!!!! These were the original, poorly translated, English subs that the VHS version had. I fuckin love this movie....
4. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
For more shopping mall goodness, we've got the Dawn of the Dead remake. I was SO stoked for this movie to come out and had a blast watching it in theaters. This movie was one of the first to feature running zombies, (as opposed to the original shambling zombie archetype) a concept that has recently taken the zombie world by storm!!! Sarah Polley (whom you might remember from my review of the movie Go) plays a nurse who comes home from a long night only to awaken the next day in a world overrun by zombies!!! I don't feel the need to talk about this movie too much because it feels like this was one of the more popular zombie flicks in recent memory. This made such a big splash when it first came out, I'd be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't seen it. For years after this movie's release, it was THE zombie movie to watch. I've seen this movie so many times since it's release, it's ridiculous! Just as Night of the Living Dead (1968) redefined the term "zombies", this film reinvented the zombie for the new generation. We've got plenty of other films and video games that are based around running zombies now. There is a great cast of characters who share an interesting chemistry together. (Ving Rhames is as bad ass as he always is!) They aren't at each others throats like the group in NOTL, they mostly get along except for the dude who's harboring an infected wife carrying a zombie baby in her belly. (There's always got to be someone hiding the fact that they're infected, putting the entire group in danger)
3. Planet Terror (2007)
For those of you who missed this in theaters (BIG mistake) Planet Terror was released in a double feature with Death Proof under the banner title, Grindhouse. Even though I'm a big fan of these kinds of movies, I wasn't old enough to attend double features, drive-ins, etc. This was the first time in my life where I could pay one movie ticket price and watch two movies! (Without theater hopping anyway) This was one of those movies where the experience of watching it in a theater full of people is almost as important as the movie itself. This recreated the experience of watching a double feature grindhouse film, for a newer generation, complete with fake trailers sandwiched in between. (Funny enough, some of these "fake" trailers were actually turned into full length feature films!) There was a lot of star power behind this movie, including Bruce Willis who makes a brief cameo, it's nice to see that so much support went into the making of this film. The concept for the double feature was great but even as a standalone zombie film, this segment was wildly entertaining. Who else, but Tom Savini, would be providing effects for such a superb film? As expected with Savini's name attached, there are plenty of ooey gooey effects such as the geyser-like blood splatters whenever the zombies are shot. There are some truly disgusting effects in this movie (don't watch when eating!) and the film is just so much fun that you can't help but have a good time watching it. This is without a doubt, another one of my favorite movies of all time and I could watch it over a thousand times without tiring of it. In fact, there are plenty of times where I just throw it into the DVD player when I have some extra time to kill.
(Note: From what I hear, the Blu-Ray release of Grindhouse includes both movies as well as all the "fake" trailers in between. I wouldn't mind getting my hands on a copy of that!)
2. Zombieland (2009)
This is one of the best, if not THE best, zombie movie to come out in recent history. I know that a lot of people liked 28 Days Later and there are some other really good ones out there too. This one is just plain awesome though, from beginning to end. From the fantastic slow motion title sequence set to Metallica's For Whom the Bell Tolls to the final stand at an amusement park. The onscreen chemistry between Woody Harrelson's eccentric, loud, and sometimes obnoxious character blends perfectly with Jesse Eisenberg's softspoken, cautious, and wimpy personality, making for an explosively hilarious relationship. The contrast between the two setup some of the best gags in the movie!! Super hottie Emma Stone co-stars and Bill Murray makes a surprising yet hilarious cameo. The timing of the jokes are perfect, there's rarely a dull moment, and there was nothing to complain about when it came to the zombies. This film did everything right and as a result, produces a solid movie that anyone can enjoy whether you're into zombies or not. The only thing I can see people complaining about were the product placements for Twinkies, but I like Twinkies so I don't care. Besides, I'm sure a Twinkie would be a delicacy if the zombie apocalypse really happened. I know that movie made me want some afterwards!! Everyone just wants to be all health conscious and shit. I say fuck that. Go grab yourself a box of Twinkies, kick back with a couple buddies, and have an awesome movie night.
1. Dead Alive [a.k.a Braindead] (1992)
Finally, we've made it to my #1 favorite zombie movie of all time. Not surprisingly, it's touted at the "goriest movie of all time". Steeped heavily in the horror/comedy genre, this zombie film is the early work of none other than Peter Jackson!!! (Those of you who only know him for Lord of the Rings and the King Kong remake should really check out his earlier work to see what the man can really do with a smaller budget!) This movie tops my list for having some of the grossest gags, memorable lines, and most unrelenting torrents of blood (and other bodily fluids) to wash it all down. Whether it's the priest who exclaims that he "kicks ass for the lord" or the park scene where the main character is beating up a baby, it's a pretty funny throughout. I'm really a sucker for practical effects, versus CGI, so I enjoy this movie for pulling it all off without computers. In fact, the intro is done with miniatures which I found pretty interesting. As for gross gags, this movie is FILLED with them. From the moment the mom is first bitten to the unbelievable ending where she's actually the "final boss", this movie is a super gross out splatter comedy that anyone with a strong stomach would enjoy. I've actually had to stop the movie for a couple people I've shown it to because they said they were going to throw up. Definitely not for the squeamish or anyone with a weak constitution....
As I mentioned before, this is not an "official" list of any sort. I'm not saying these are in order of "best" zombie movies, just the ones that I enjoyed the most. If I had to list ALL my favorites, that list could go on forever. Plus, there are some movies that I haven't seen yet like Survival of the Dead, Dance of the Dead, or Tokyo Zombie. I was going to put up honorable mentions, but I feel like that would've turned into another list of its own. So I'll leave that up to you guys... I'm curious, zombie fans, what are some of your favorite zombie movies?