Every year a plethora of zombie films hit the big screen. Most are relegated by their quality to undead limbo, seen only by diehard horror fans and ignored by most moviegoers. Some, however, rise above the pack and become popular and even critically acclaimed. What constitutes a zombie is often a subject of controversy, as from film to film the explanation for conversion to zombie-hood ranges from the supernatural to the scientific. Basically, zombies are evil creatures, often already dead, who hunt humans for sustenance, and whose victims often turn into zombies themselves. Here are some of the best zombie movies from recent years:
World War Z
“World War Z,” starring Brad Pitt, was one of the summer blockbuster hits of 2013. Based on the book of the same name by Max Brooks, it concerns a globetrotting investigator seeking a solution to a zombie pandemic. The zombie plague is attributed to a virus for which a cure must be found. The movie was a success world wide and generally fared well with critics, who considered it entertaining, tightly paced, and well acted.
“Zombieland” is a horror comedy starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin. Until “World War Z,” it was the most commercially successful zombie film in the United States. Part of the hilarity has to do with a set of rules for survival in a zombie-infested world that Eisenberg’s character comes up with, and how the rules are implemented as the mismatched travelers journey across America searching for a safe haven and a Hostess Twinkie for Harrelson. Though there is some graphic gore from time to time, this is a movie that even those who are not zombie film fans find appealing.
“Dead Snow” is a Norwegian film about a group of students who are attacked by Nazi zombies in the mountains of Norway. This half-serious, half-comedic gore-fest premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the United States and was afterward picked up for limited distribution. It is considered one of the best zombie films of the decade by horror fans, and a sequel entitled “War of the Dead” is currently in development.
Diary of the Dead
“Diary of the Dead” is the fifth film in George A. Romero’s “Dead” series, which began with “The Night of the Living Dead” back in 1968. A sixth film, “Survival of the Dead,” got negative reviews and was a box office failure. “Diary of the Dead,” however, received generally favorable reviews and was lauded for its innovative story. It concerns a group of people making a horror film at the time of a genuine zombie outbreak. They decide to film the horrors around them documentary-style and end up being hunted by the zombies.
“Planet Terror,” a horror film by Robert Rodriguez, was released with the Quentin Tarantino film “Deathproof” as the “Grindhouse” double feature presentation. This film about a group of people trying to evade zombies contains over-the-top effects, such as a heroine with a missing leg replaced with a machine gun. To simulate original grindhouse theater footage, the film is deliberately made to appear damaged through the use of special effects and stock footage. The film, though extremely violent and over the top, received mainly positive reviews.
The film industry is currently riding on a wave of zombie popularity, and several of these films have sequels in the works. If you haven’t seen these films yet, give them a try for some exceptional zombie film fare.
Kerry Potter is a freelance writer based in San Diego, CA. Not only do zombies make for entertaining movie characters, they also make for great Halloween costume ideas; if you’re thinking about instigating your own zombie invasion next Halloween it’s advised you visit buycostumes.com.
Image credit goes to Cine Fanatico.