Friday, August 17, 2007

Top 10 Zombie Movies

Occasionally I like to do fun little countdown lists. I'm currently working on my top 100 most thrilling movies, but in the meantime, here's my top 10 zombie movies.

10. Zombi 2 (1979)
This is not even all that great of a movie. It's Italian, and Italians love their Zombie movies, and Lucio Fulci did not disappoint. A yacht floats into New York Harbor abandoned. The ship owner's daughter and a journalist venture off to a South Pacific Island to discover a hot-bed of zombie activity. Even for a zombie movie this film is pretty bad. It's on this list for two scenes. One of the most squeamish scenes ever put on film- the infamous long drawn out impalement of a women on splintered wood through her eye ball (you think it's going to cut away, but it just doesn't). And a fantastic scene with a zombie fighting a shark.

9. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
This Wes Craven directed movie is barely a zombie movie, but it's a such a good movie in general that I had to put it on the list. It involves an anthropologist who visits Haiti to investigate rumors of zombies. Here he finds a cult using drugs to induce a death like state. It's so effective that it fools doctors into declaring people dead, who are later dug up and turned into slaves. This isn't so much a straight up zombie movie, but it is super creepy, with a terribly disturbing and foreboding ending.

8. Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetary Man) (1994)
Italian director Michele Soavi contributes the #8 movie on my list. This one stars Rupert Everett as a cemetery guard, who must kill the dead again- as they rise within a few days of being buried. He has gained a stoic acceptance of this role, until he falls in love with a widow who had come to visit her husband. Soon she dies as well, but of course, she won't be dead for long.

7. Army of Darkness (1993)
Saim Raimi's genius finish to the Evil Dead trilogy. This takes the comedy and the absurdity of the first two (which are actually kind of the same movie) and expands it to a new extreme. Bruce Campbell's Ash is transported back in time to fight an army of skeletons trying to get the Necronomicon. With chainsaw and shotgun in hand (I do mean "hand" because he's short on a second one) he goes to work on this army of the undead.

6. 28 Days Later (2003)
This movie changed the whole game of zombies. They were no longer the undead, but instead were infecting by some sort of virus. This results in fast moving pissed off zombies looking to kill anything they can. The opening scenes with Cillian Murphey wandering around an abandoned London are incredibly creepy and powerful. Danny Boyle took a genre I had thought to be dead, and made it undead again.

5. White Zombie (1932)
This is the movie that truly started it all. Most credit Night of the Living Dead, but as you can see, this one came 35 years earlier. It stars Bela Lugosi as Monsieur Beaumont, who tries to win the love of his life, but inadvertently turns her into a zombie. This has none of the brain eating and gore that became a standard in zombie movies. White Zombie deals strictly with a emotional ramifications of what happens when someone becomes lifeless.

4. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
This is the birth of the modern zombie. These zombies were violent and thirsted after human blood. Most of the movie takes place in a single farmhouse that a group of survivors has barricaded themselves in. Much of the tension comes not just from the zombie hordes awaiting outside, but from the turmoil and conflict that arises between the characters inside. In an ahead of its time idea, it features an African American as the hero, which is one of the causes of tension inside the house.

3. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
This is George Romero's sequel to Night of the Living Dead. It takes the claustrophobia of a single farmhouse, and brings greater scope. Now the whole world is affected, and the survivors hide in a shopping mall- again in a nearly hopeless situation. This couples with the terror, some brilliant social commentary on blind consumerism. The zombies, despite being dead, gravitate towards the shopping mall. It functions as a haven for the survivors, and a lure for the zombies. You don't get much more scathing commentary than that.

2. Dead Alive (A.K.A Braindead) (1992)
Peter Jackson's early movies were all violent, and completely outlandish. This is perhaps the most wild of them all (except possibly Meet the Feebles which featured an all puppet slaughter fest). This movie is about Lionel, a dedicated son to an oppressive mother. When she gets infected by a disease and dies, she comes back to life. Lionel does everything to protect her, even when it means turning half the town into zombies. Everyone in the movie suffers incredibly violent deaths, and it is rumored that it used more fake blood than any other movie in history. The final scene alone used 300 liters. At its heart, it's just about a simple son learning his independence (ha).

1. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
This movie is perfect in every way. The heroes in this movie actually act like real people would. If I saw a zombie for the first time, I'd think it was just drunk too. Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost make this a genius comedic movie. It skewers Zombie movies, while paying homage to them. It's done by a group of people who genuinely love the genre. Everything about this movie is just perfect.

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