Tuesday, 2 December 2014


Last weekend saw the mid-season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead over in the US. I imagine this is going to leave quite a lot of people wanting a decent Zombie fix until the show returns in early 2015.
‘But Hickey,’ I hear you say, ‘We’ve already watched George Romero’s classic Dead trilogy. There’s nothing else worth watching!’
WRONG. Read on for six genuinely great zombie films that big George didn’t sit in the director’s chair for.
PS As much as I love The Evil Dead and 28 Days Later, they aren’t zombies. The Deadites and Infected are entirely different adversaries to the ghouls of the films below. Sorry, but they are disqualified.

(Dan O’Bannon, 1985)

After Night of the Living Dead, George A Romero and John A Russo had a bit of a falling out. As such, they decided to make their own sequels to the runaway smash. George created the amazing Dawn of the Dead, while John wrote the cult classic Return of the Living Dead. Thoroughly 80s in feel, this film is brilliant. A group of unlikeable punks (including the very bonkers and very naked Linnea Quigley) break into a cemetery for a party at the same time a canister containing a zombie is breached. Cue some excellent moments including the first time I saw running zombies, the birth of the trademark zombie quote: ‘BRAAAAIIIINNNNNS!’ and arguably my favourite zombie ever, The Tar Man.

(Edgar Wright, 2004)

I loved the tv show Spaced. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and the gang were already well and truly loved by me before Shaun of the Dead propelled them into superstardom. But the first ever zom-rom-com is a genuine masterpiece. Packed full of fantastic quotes, irreverent British humour and loving homages to classic zombie films of the past (‘We’re coming to get you, Barbara!’), even the team’s follow-up efforts Hot Fuzz and World’s End haven’t reached the dizzying heights of this film. A legitimate classic.

(Lucio Fulci, 1979)

This unofficial prequel to Dawn of the Dead (released as Zombi in Europe) is marvellous. A hot, sweaty island setting, brilliant gore effects and a jaw-dropping Zombie vs Shark fight scene effectively crowned Fulci one of the masters of splatter. The film is grim, gory (it’s all about THAT eyeball scene!) and extremely watchable. It may have started off as a cynical cash-in on the zombie trend, but Zombie Flesh Eaters is today quite rightly regarded as one of the finest examples of the genre. Plus the film has received one of the greatest release packages in the Arrow Special Edition DVD. You need to watch it.   

(Zack Snyder, 2004)

OK, this remake may have been based on Romero’s seminal achievement in filmmaking, but he did not helm it. The directorial debut of Zack Snyder who has since gone on to film The 300, Man of Steel and Watchmen, written by James Gunn who has since been propelled into the A-List after his work on Guardians of the Galaxy, this film is far better than it has any right to be. A sterling cast (fleshed out with a host of cameos from the original), amazing effects work and high-octane editing make this a horror-action hybrid along the same lines as Aliens. The sequence in which Sarah Polley’s Ana attempts to flee her home alone makes this film worthy of your time.

(Ruben Fleischer, 2009)

The most recent film on this list, the riotously funny and surprisingly visceral Zombieland follows teenaged Columbus as he makes his away across a post-zombie holocaust United States. His hilarious but very effective rules act as a veritable Surviving a Zombie Holocaust for Dummies and serve as a great running gag throughout the film. Yet as likeable as Eisenberg and as toughly resourceful as his love interest Wichita (Emma Stone) are, it is Woody Harrelson's batshit redneck badass Tallahassee that completely steals the show. His posturing and comic timing are side-splittingly funny and his no-holds-barred, rough and tumble action sequences are fantastic. The film boasts a sterling cast, brilliant effects, the most hideous zombie clown ever committed to film and easily the greatest cameo in a horror film in history. Excellent.

(Victor Halperin, 1932)

From the most recent film on this list to the oldest - in fact, this is arguably the oldest full-length zombie film ever, produced during the pre-code era and predating Ronero's Night by more than 40 years. The film stars horror legend Bela Lugosi as Haitian voodoo practitioner Murder Legemdre (now THAT's a proper villain's name, right there!). The nefarious Legendre uses his evil powers to turn leading lady Madge Bellamy into a slave to join his growing zombie horde while the men who love her fight back to free her from his spell. The film is a little cheesy by today's standards but it deserves a place on this list for its historical value. This is the first, it introduced the vacant stare and shuffling gait, it introduced the concept of going for the head to bring them down and it was undoubtedly an influence for a host of other zombie classics, including Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur’s brilliant I Walked With A Zombie (a film which was very, very close to making this list). And did I mention that Bela Lugosi plays a villain called Murder Legendre? 

So, any thoughts on the list? Can you think of any I’ve missed?
Feel free to drop any comments below. I may even get enough for a second list!

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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