Just when you thought you’ve finished them off, they get up and rise again. Zombie films and television series are just like their fundead counterparts. Do they ever truly die?
Ever since zombies made their debut on the big screen, these flesh-eating creatures have taken over horror films and have managed to sink their teeth into other genres such as drama, comedy, and even popular rom-coms.
Here's a personal recommendation of some of the best zombie flicks from intense and gory thrillers to lighhearted takes on the walking dead, including several you can watch this weekend on Netflix. The films are listed by the year of their release.
Night of the Living Dead (1968 and 1990)
The independent horror film written, directed, photographed and edited by George A. Romero, basically invented the modern zombie flick we know and love today.
The first of Romero's cult classic film series features seven people under attack who hole up in a rural farmhouse against a group of cannibalistic, undead corpses. They're coming to get you, Barbara!
While the zombies (and pacing) in this film would be considered slow by today’s standards, it's considered watching for any zombie afficionado. The film has even been preserved in the National Film Registry for its cultural contribution to society.
Five subsequent films between 1978 and 2009 were also directed by Romero. A 1990 remake of the black and white film directed by Tom Savini that is considered very close to the original is currently on Netflix.
28 Days Later (2002)
This critically-acclaimed British post-apocalyptic horror drama film, directed by Danny Boyle and starring Cillian Murphy, depicts the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus.
The story follows four survivors as they struggle to cope with the rapidly spreading zombie outbreak and with the destruction of the life they once knew.
This film has been credited with reinvigorating the whole zombie horror genre and popularizing fast-moving zombies who sprint to chase their prey over the original shambling type zombies.
The running zombies have brought a whole new level of terror and tension to the big screen in subsequent films. The film’s sequel, 28 Weeks Later (2007), is currently on Netflix.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
This 2004 action horor film directed by Zack Snyder remakes George Romero's 1978 film in the Night of the Living Dead series.
Starring Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, and Mekhi Phifer, this film focuses on a handful of human survivors taking refuge in a suburban Midwestern shopping mall who are surrounded by swarms of flesh-eating zombies.
Snyder’s film directorial debut pays homage to the original film, but puts it own terrifying spin on the story of human survivors versus zombies. This is definitely a classic and offers one of the best introductions to the zombie world!
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Those who want to take a break from the usual action and suspense can check out this horror comedy drama film, directed by Edgar Wright starring Simon Pegg who plays Shaun.
Along with friend Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun is caught unaware by the zombie outbreak when it hits London. The best friends attempt to take refuge in a local pub with their loved ones to ride out the apocalypse.
The witty film manages to combine the best laughs with some good old-fashioned zombie blood and gore.
This Spanish horror film that follows a news reporter and her crew at the center of a zombie outbreak in an apartment complex is considered one of the best films in the found footage genre.
It depicts a very up-close-and-personal take on the situation that escalates after some of the building's occupants are infected and begin to show animalistic behavior.
REC’s Hollywood remake, Quarantine (2008), is currently streaming on Netflix.
Zombieland (2009) and Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)
Zombieland is a post-apocalyptic zombie comedy film directed by Ruben Fleischer starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin.
The film follows a nerdy college student who finds himself on an extended road trip with three other survivors during a zombie apocalypse. The group makes their way across the Southwestern United States in an attempt to find a zombie-free sanctuary. There are a lot of running gags, gore, and even romance thrown into this lighthearted film. We also get one of the most iconic celebrity movie cameos of all time.
The original cast reprised their roles as Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock in the sequel set 10 years after.
Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) didn’t capture the same magic as the first film, but both are still fun to watch back-to-back and are currently streaming on Netflix.
World War Z (2013)
This action horror film directed by Marc Foster stars Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former United Nations investigator who must travel the world to find a way to stop the rapid spread of a zombie pandemic.
The film was based on the bestselling novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006) by Max Brooks which collated individual accounts narrated by an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission, following the devastating global conflict against the zombie plague.
Despite the lack of faithfullness to the source material, the thrilling and intense apocalyptic action film was a box office success and became one of the highest-grossing zombie films of all time. World War Z is currently streaming on Netflix.
Warm Bodies (2013)
For those who prefer rom-coms to suspense and horror films, Warm Bodies offers a fun romp into the zombie world featuring a pair of star-crossed lovers.
Based on a novel of the same name (which itself was inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet), this offbeat film focuses on the unique relationship between a zombie named "R" (Nicholas Hoult) and a young woman (Teresa Palmer). The film also features a killer soundtrack.
The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
This British post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film is a thought-provoking and horror-packed take on a dystopian future in which most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection.
The story focuses on a gifted young girl, Melanie, who is immune to the disease. She travels with a group and goes against the infected, referred to as "hungries," who lose their mental powers and feed on the flesh of healthy humans.
The film, which is based on a 2014 novel by M. R. Carey, manages to stay true to the spirit of the book as the screenplay was written by the author himself. It’s a fascinating film loaded with social commentary and moral dilemmas that will haunt you years after you’ve watched it.
Train to Busan (2016)
This South Korean action-thriller that mostly takes place on a speeding train as a zombie apocalypse breaks out is considered by many as one of the best zombie movies ever.
Train to Busan is an exhilarating, intense, and emotional ride in one of the most unique takes on the genre.
The character-driven story, claustrophobic setting, and fast-paced action sequences make this film a standout success. The film, directed by Yeon Sang-ho, stars Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, and Ma Dong-seok. In case you haven’t seen it yet (or just want to rewatch it for the nth time), it’s currently available on Netflix.
Kingdom is a 2019 South Korean political period, horror thriller, web television series written by Kim Eun-hee and directed by Kim Seong-hun. It's not a standalone film like the rest on this list, but its accessibility on streaming service Netflix like most of those on here warrants its inclusion.
Kingdom is Netflix's first original Korean series, adapted from the webcomic series The Kingdom of the Gods, which was authored by Kim Eun-hee and drawn by Yang Kyung-il.
Set during Korea's Joseon period, three years after the Japanese invasions of Korea, the first season depicts the story of Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), who stumbles across a life-threatening political conspiracy while investigating the spread of a mysterious plague.
The second season continues to depict Lee Chang's struggle to save his people from the spread of the plague, which has mysteriously adapted to winter.
This period drama series is one of the most creative and refreshing additions to the zombie landscape in recent years. The series manages to blend political intrigue and feudal drama with fast-paced action scenes of blood and terror with amazing cinematography to boot.
Season 1 and 2 of Kingdom are currently streaming on Netflix.
Block Z (2020)
Block Z is a Philippine zombie film directed by Mikhail Red and starring Julia Barretto, Dimples Romana, Yves Flores, Myrtle Sarrosa, Maris Racal, McCoy de Leon, Ian Veneracion, Ina Raymundo, and Joshua Garcia which was released theatrically in January 2020.
The film follows a group of university students who try to survive the undead during a deadly viral outbreak. As far as the plotline goes, Block Z isn’t the most memorable or original.
Overall, it’s pretty standard and makes use of typical tropes seen in most zombie films and series. But it’s a great start for Philippine cinema. Pinoy moviegoers who want to see their favorite stars in action and get a distinct Filipino take on the zombie genre can check this film out.
#Alive is a 2020 South Korean zombie film directed by Cho Il-hyung starring Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye, based on the 2019 script Alone by Matt Naylor.
The film revolves around a video game live streamer's struggle for survival as he is forced to stay alone at his apartment in Seoul during a zombie apocalypse. This film was released in South Korea on June 24, 2020 and and globally via Netflix last month.
What makes this film stand out is how the characters use modern technology such as drone cameras and social media in interacting with one another, which has resonated with the millennial viewers living in quarantine.
#Alive is currently streaming on Netflix.