For some horror fans, including this demented author, choosing the best scenes in zombie movie history is a daunting endeavor—kind of like trying to decide what exactly makes pop rocks so awesome. But here at Mania, we don’t shy away from challenges. We savor them. In fact, we’re mindlessly driven to satisfy our craving–you know, kind of like zombies. Enter the following five movie clips. The glorious filth contained within them is proof positive of the entertainment industry’s ongoing fascination with the undead. Moreover, for legions of sick people (again, your author included), these scenes offer valuable survival tips for the day the real zombie apocalypse begins.
5. Undead (2003)
Scene: Intro to Marion
While the following scene may seem ill fitted for this list, it serves as the introduction to one of the coolest zombie hunters to grace the big screen. Marion, a redneck from Down Under, goes on from here to kill more zombies than most college grads in America can count. As a bonus, the scene perfectly encapsulates the crafty genius of Aussie brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, who’ve given us one of the freshest takes on the zombie sub-genre since Russell Crowe’s Oscar winning turn in A Beautiful Mind, which contrary to popular belief was not intended to be a zombie film.
(Start at about 3:35)
4. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Scene: Celebrity head shots
In the half century or so of iconic zombie movie moments, killing zombies has become a veritable art form. Savages that we are, humans enjoy watching zombies die because it’s just like watching people die, except—since zombies are almost always bent on eating all of mankind—without all the guilt. In this worthy update to the 1978 classic of the same name, Zach Snyder takes shooting zombies to a new comedic level, while simultaneously satisfying our bizarre but ever-present compulsion to tear down famous people. Social commentary side note: after watching this movie in the theater I turned to a teenaged couple sitting in my row and said, “You guys know that was based on a true story, right?” Their genuine reply: “Really?”
(Start at 6:20)
3. Dead Alive (1992)
Scene: The lawnmower
I read somewhere that Peter Jackson used more than 1,000 gallons of dyed chocolate syrup during the filming of this slapstick horror classic. Trust me, it shows. Aside from the obvious—using a lawnmower to kill so many zombies that the floor becomes a bloody KY Jelly wrestling ring—this scene is required on this list as evidence that the more depraved and out of control the zombie mayhem gets, the more hilarious it becomes. To fully understand the depth of that statement, you have to watch the entire film to its gory, oedipal conclusion. .
2. Day of the Dead (1984)
Scene: Captain Rhodes’ demise
As the longest sequence on the list, this climactic scene from the third and final act in George Romero’s Dead trilogy has several interesting elements at play. Namely, the fact that the movie’s human antagonist, Captain Rhodes, is chased by a domesticated zombie named Bub who’s a crack shot with a pistol in hand (seriously). But it’s deeper than that. Rhodes killed Bub’s “mentor” Dr. Logan, and the vengeance-minded zombie is looking for something more fulfilling than lunch. For the rest of Bub’s undead compatriots, however, Rhodes’ death quickly becomes the onscreen equivalent of the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Hotel Rio. The fact that the victim spent the first 70 minutes of the film being an insufferable dickwad is an extra helping of turkey gravy.
(Start at about 1:45)
1. Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1980)
Scene: Zombie vs. Shark
There are actually several scenes in this masterpiece of gore that could have qualified for a zombie best-of list. (Two words: eyeball scene.) However, most viewers walk away from this exploitative wonderland of butchery impressed by director Lucio Fulci’s audacity to go where no man had gone before on celluloid—an underwater fight scene pitting zombie vs. shark. Presumably attempting to outdo Spielberg and Romero in one fell swoop, Fulci at least triumphed in stretching stupidity to the brink of awesomeness. A true zombie gem.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Scene: The cemetery zombie
Yes, I cheated. Adding this scene makes six. But how can one compile a zombie list without including something from the mother of all zombie flicks? Let’s put it this way: when you’re 10 years old and you sit down all by yourself to watch a black and white movie with this title, the opening scene leaves an indelible mark on your soul…and one to match it in your underwear.
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