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Zombies have taken over cinema by the horde. With the popularity of movies like Zombieland and TV shows like The Walking Dead, the demand for zombie movies is at an all-time high. With Halloween right around the corner, people are firing up their search engines in search of the best zombie movies out there.
Well, we’ve done a lot of the work for you and compiled some of the best films out there into a list at your disposal. But before we get into which movies you should stream right away, let’s take a look into this subsection of the horror genre itself for a minute and see what zombie movies are really all about.
What Are Zombie Movies?
A zombie, in the simplest terms, is a reanimated body of a person who has died. The term was actually introduced to the American public in 1929 as a Haitian Creole word for a corpse reanimated by voodoo. Soon after, the motion picture industry adopted it as a subject in an array of horror films.
Early movie zombies kept relatively true to the Haitian tradition. The “living dead” tended to be animated by a voodoo spell and usually used as servants to the master who raised them. The zombies were similar in appearance to that of a living person, except with more ashen skin and larger dark eyes. Typically, they were mute and slow moving, mindlessly following their master’s orders.
By the 1950s, filmmakers began to play with established zombie concepts. Voodoo spells eventually faded away in favor of pandemic causes, and it was only a matter of time before the zombie became a single-minded killing machine: a role that would feed into the next generation of living dead.
In the 21st century, filmmakers have increasingly toyed with zombie movie conventions, creating many different subgenres within the genre itself. Many still rely on contagious diseases as a platform for infection. But as some movies are traditionally written and filmed to be serious, other producers and directors have played around with comedic horror and even the “found footage” format that watches much like a home movie would.
Characteristics of an Amazing Zombie Movie
Modern zombie movies are vastly different from earlier takes on the concept, thanks in part to filmmaker George A Romero who was inspired by the apocalyptic scenario of a planet overrun by murderous zombies in movies like The Last Man on Earth and Invisible Invaders.
In 1968, Romero released his directorial debut, Night of the Living Dead which would go on to revolutionize zombie movies as we know them.
One major difference from the earliest forms of zombie lore was the shift away from voodoo. Other elements that weren’t necessarily originated by Romero but became a part of the Romero-esque zombie tradition include slow, unbalanced movements; an apocalyptic nihilism where the mere survival of an individual is a victory; and the concept of a “zombie plague” that spreads in epidemic proportions.
Romero created certain behaviors and rules that would act as a model for zombie movies for the next three decades. His concept of the living dead has four main components that now serve as the foundation for an amazing zombie movie.
First, zombies are driven by an insatiable hunger to eat the living. Second, zombie attacks are shown in explicit detail, ushering in an era of heightened cinematic gore. Third, zombies can be killed only by damage to the brain. Fourth, zombiism is contagious and can be spread by a bite.
So without further ado let’s dive into the best zombie movies currently on Netflix.
1. V/H/S 2
In this film, the viewer gets to witness a zombie outbreak via helmet-mounted GoPro cameras, which give us a perspective that newer to the horror genre. Plus, there are little bonuses for people in the know (so don’t immediately close the movie after the final scene).
There’s a short that follows called “Safe Haven” and, it’s safe to say, it’s a real nightmare.
2. Burying the Ex
Not only is this a gem of a zombie flick, but it also doubles as a dark romantic comedy for those who like grim tales for date night. It centers around Max, who is afraid of how his girlfriend will handle his desire to break up.
After her accidental death, Max believes he’s dodged a bullet, that is, she returns from the grave.
“Evil Dead” meets Animal Planet in this campy horror film. It’s a film about toxic waste-spawned zombie beavers and is just ridiculously cheesy enough that it gets good. Just when you thought you knew everything about zombies, here come non-human zombies to throw you for a loop.
Not for the faint at heart, Condemned flaunts gore and horror more than many other films on this list. The story follows Maya, who moves in with her boyfriend in a squat in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in order to escape her rich, overbearing parents.
At first, she worries about their neighbor. But after a toxic cloud emerges and turns people into zombies, she worries about her interactions with just about everyone.
Falling into the horror-comedy category, Deathgasm is a cautionary tale of what happens when you mix stoners with black magic. When Brodie and Zakk accidentally unleash a dark force trapped inside a piece of sheet music, it’s not long before the whole town is possessed and it’s up to them to save it from a horde of living dead.
6. Night of the Living Deb
The walk of shame is brought to the next level in Night of the Living Deb. Waking up in Ryan’s apartment with no recollection of the night before, Deb realizes upon leaving that the entire world has ended and the awkward pair must seek refuge from the world of zombies outside.
With such a small budget, a film is doomed to obscurity right? Wrong. With such solid performances by the cast, Re-Kill is a grim satire that reminds us what a good zombie film looks like. The movie centers around a fake TV show based on a SWAT unit whose purpose is hunting down and eliminating “reanimated dead.”
A real must see!
8. What We Become
What We Become a tight-knit family drama with zombies following a single family unit trapped inside their home by the living dead outside. It’s well-shot and handles its minimal story effectively, mirroring common tropes of many indie flicks that gives an interesting spin on a popular topic.
A category all its own, What We Become is a film that rises up above the clichés of many modern-day zombie movies. Its prolonged silences, hopelessness, and tension make it one of the most somber films on this list.
9. Train to Busan
This film out of South Korea is a real record breaker. A train is about to depart when a woman climbs on last-minute, nursing a bite wound on her leg. It doesn’t take her long to turn into a zombie, putting all the passengers in danger.
Train to Busan explores modern class issues on a highly gory level.
When their town is suddenly quarantined, and their parents locked out, sisters Emma and Stacey decide it the perfect night to throw a party at their parents’ house. But once Stacey gets sick, Emma finds herself having to decide which lives are worth saving, and which lives aren’t.
11. Night of the Living Dead
One of the most iconic zombie movies of all time is Night of the Living Dead. It is an American horror film that changed the way we think about zombies and set the standard for zombie movies ever since. The story follows a group of survivors trapped in a farmhouse with zombies, and while it doesn’t live up to its modern standards, the original is still a great watch.
Films that are based on the zombie mythos have tended to lack character development and plot. Some are straight-up gore fests, while others try to incorporate a sense of humor and humour into the story. Other movies combine elements of different genres to create new and interesting stories.
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, a remake of Night of the Living Dead, is a great example of this.
In the ’80s, there was a plethora of zombie movies. The most iconic stand outs from this genre to this day. Almost every movie on this list has received a remake or reboot. Its influence can be felt well beyond horror culture. These movies have become classics, with references to them abounding.
That’s a testament to their power to influence our society and pop culture.
The original Night of the Living Dead was one of the first zombie movies, and is still one of the most popular. With its emphasis on the exploitation of modern society, it changed the definition of zombies. The zombies in Night of the Living Dead were no longer regarded as evil and were considered “good” people. They were more human than their human counterparts. The film even incorporated elements of 1960s violence.
12. Dawn of the Dead remake
Despite its numerous flaws, the Dawn of the Dead remake is a solid zombie movie. It focuses on a group of survivors who seek shelter in a mall. They join forces with security guards, and use the shopping center as a haven from the zombies.
Though the film’s story relies heavily on cliche themes, the characters are well-developed and it is every bit a character-driven drama.
The remake isn’t exactly a “remake,” but rather a reference to Romero’s original. While Snyder did not intentionally reverse the storylines in the original, this action helped set the film apart from the original. It made a huge difference in the finished horror film’s overall effectiveness.
In short, the remake has more of an impact on fans than on its predecessor. However, it is still a worthy watch for fans of the original film.
Unlike the original film, the remake focuses on the social aspects of the zombies, a key theme of the original. This film is set in a shopping mall, and the scenes depicting a police raid are largely unnecessary. It also does not have a great deal of the mordant humor that Romero infused the original film with. Romero’s film aimed to poke fun at consumer society, and this new film seems to be in line with that.
13. The Cabin in the Woods
The Cabin in the Woods is a classic horror film that follows many of the rules of the genre and also mocks them at the same time. Joss Whedon wrote the script for The Cabin in the Woods over the course of a weekend, but it isn’t just a horror parody. The film is one of the most original and entertaining genre movies of the decade.
While not a traditional zombie film, this 2012 horror film is still one of the best. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, and Bradley Whitford. It follows a group of college students and the zombies that inhabit it. The storyline follows a group of students as they attempt to survive a mysterious house invasion and a series of terrifying events.
One of the reasons that The Cabin in the Woods is one the best zombie movies is that it plays with the tropes of the genre well. The film, which is a deconstructive horror movie, uses clever dissection to create a compelling storyline. It’s about a group of teenagers who are staying at a remote cabin and being attacked by a band of undead monsters.
The film’s third act is absolutely brilliant, and those who have seen it, will instantly understand why.
14. The Girl With All the Gifts
The Girl With All the Gifts is a zombie film that evokes a sense of ambiguity and individuality. Adapted from a novel by Colm McCarthy and Mike Carey, it draws on zombie mythology and the eventual collapse of civilization. Although it uses zombies as an eerie metaphor for humanity’s demise, it also avoids needless exposition.
The film has strong zombie thrills, but it also manages to offer a surprisingly realistic love story. A mother and her child are a couple and one of the adult characters, Melanie, wants to protect her child. However, her efforts to keep her child safe are met with difficulties and challenges. After all, zombies aren’t the only creatures living among us.
The film’s ending suggests that the zombie virus is only a temporary fright.
The premise of this British dystopian horror film is interesting and original. The zombies have invaded the world and turned people into ravenous, mutated humans. While the adults are out to eat everyone, children are immune to the fungus. A thirteen-year-old girl named Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is a good example.
Melanie’s kindness and compassion will be tested as the movie progresses.
Although the zombie genre isn’t exactly a genre that usually draws a crowd, the zombie genre is a popular one for horror films. While most zombie films are overdone and lack creativity, the Girl With All the Gifts is a refreshing exception. Its fresh approach to the genre makes this a more entertaining zombie film than most others.
15. Day of the Dead: Bloodline
In this zombie-infested world, a small group of military personnel must seek a cure for the disease. As the world falls into zombie apocalypse, these heroes must find the cure to survive. The world is in chaos, and there are few survivors. In the dark, twisted world of Day of the Dead: Bloodline, a small group of military personnel resides in an underground bunker.
The movie opens with a hyperactive scene in which a medical professional, Zoe (Sophie Skelton), a young woman who works in a hospital, must scurry through a zombie-infested environment. However, despite being an excellent character, Zoe’s story ultimately falls flat.
This is the only problem with the movie. It fails to make the social commentary it should.
16. Shaun of the Dead
“Shaun of the Dead” is a satirical homage to the zombie genre. The story begins when Shaun learns of vicious attacks in London, with newscasters telling us to stay indoors. The resulting chaos prompts Shaun to devise a plan to protect himself, and win back his ex-girlfriend.
What’s more, zombies are a fun way to add a sense of realism to the story.
The zombie-themed romantic comedy Shaun of the Dead is a great choice for zombie fans. With Simon Pegg and Nick Frost leading the cast, this movie is a hilarious and heartwarming satire of the zombie genre. The film is shot in beautiful HD and features active surround sound, ensuring an aural assault that will knock your socks off.
Shaun of the Dead is a must-see movie!
The film is an instant classic, thanks to the hilarious cast. Nick Frost and Simon Pegg play clueless layabouts, which makes for an acerbic comedy. Wright delivers on this theme in the movie’s early scenes. A funny scene is when Shaun and Ed use old records to decapitate zombies. Shaun and Ed argue over which ones are worth throwing. In a movie about zombies, Wright’s flair is the key.
17. Night of the Creeps
In its own right, Night of the Creeps is a horror comedy that takes the zombie apocalypse and adds a bit of comedic violence into the mix. But what makes this film so great is the way it combines a number of genres. In addition to the zombie apocalypse, it also features other undead themes. It’s the perfect zombie movie for a family night out.
The film features an overly-increasingly chaotic plot. A crashed extraterrestrial canister unleashes parasitic slugs that turn their hosts into zombies. Added to this is an axe murderer who decides to go on a rampage in the dead of night. The film also involves flashbacks to 1959 and 1986. The film embraces every cliche in the book and the genre.
This film is best enjoyed in the theater. This is because of its pacing and college-age silliness. The movie’s slow-motion opening sequences and letters sliding over each other are memorable, and the special effects are fantastic. But it does have a few flaws. Its final scene, however, is the weakest part.
It has a few memorable scenes, but overall, it’s an okay zombie movie.
Today, zombies are more popular than ever, inspiring endless merchandise opportunities like t-shirts, toys, and video games that flood the market. Recent years have even proved that zombies could support a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster. And a successful one at that- earning over $200 million in the US and more than $500 million worldwide.
Zombie movies aren’t just a phenomenon in the US either, with films coming out of Australia, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Scandinavia, France, and Japan just to name a few.
Whether you’re a hardcore fan looking for a new movie, you’ve never come across, or a newbie looking to dabble and see what the fuss is about, this list is a great tool to get you started. While most people are of the idea that zombie movies all follow the same trend and once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, that is absolutely not true.
As you will see for yourself, these movies explore the world of zombies from many different angles. Whether you like cerebral horror, psychological thrillers, blood and gore, horror-comedy, or something with an eeriness that will stick with you for nights to come, there is zombie subgenre for everyone.
The form and function of cinematic zombies have taken on many forms throughout the years, but the zombie movie has held a presence within the horror genre, and been a steady force at that, since the early ’30s. Some may think it’s a fad, but whether or not its popularity wanes over the years, it’s safe to say filmmakers will be making zombie movies for years to come.