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Top 5 Must Own Zombie Movies

Surviving, Learning and Growing in Zombieland

By Robert T. Trate     September 29, 2009


Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Kate Ashfield in Shaun of the Dead recently released on Blu-ray
© Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

 

Zombies have really grown into their own from the very beginning with Bela Lugosi in White Zombie (1932) to birthing their own genre with George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). Every other year it seems that there is a least one interpretation of a Zombie holocaust and this year we have been supplied with Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland. Zombie movies are always fun as each and every writer and director tries to put a spin on it so that the audience sees something it hasn’t before. This can be anything from survival tactics, a Zombie’s allegory or a different type of Zombie. Here is the DVD Shopping Bag’s Top 5 Must Own Zombie Movies.
 
5. Zombi 2(1979)
Lucio Fulci’s unofficial follow up to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) is a twisted, scary and fun romp in the Zombie genre. After a sailboat shows up in New York harbor with the undead on it Anne (Tisa Farrow) and Peter (Ian McCulloch) go looking for the boat’s owner. Their journey takes them to Matul Island where a mad man is bringing the dead back to life. Part voodoo and part science this shocking tale reveals the dangers when one person decides to play God. The film has a realistic nightmare quality to it as if somewhere this might have actually happened. To get anyone to watch the film all you have to say is “Zombie vs. Shark” (seen here on Youtube) and you’re there.
 
4. Night of the Living Dead(1968)
George Romero’s original film breaks down a lot of social barriers when it comes to its cast of characters. Many film fans are quick to note that Duane Jones’s Ben, a black man and savior to all those involved is ground breaking for 1968. Film historians take note of this but also know that Romero stated he was simply the best actor for the role. Night of Living Dead gives us that first microcosm of the world in a Zombie flick. The Zombies quickly take a back seat to the desires and disagreements of the surviving humans. This creates the real conflict as the will to survive becomes the strongest desire of all. 
 
3. 28 Days Later(2002)
Danny Boyle kick started the genre again with running Zombies. It might seem like a small thing but his “infected” become terrifying for the first time since 1968. By setting the film in England, Boyle gave American audiences a different spin on the genre. There were no rednecks with guns running wild. Here the survivors had to bash Zombies over the head to survive. To do so ran the risk of becoming infected. The film, shot on digital video was raw and unrelenting. The infected take second chair as we see the birth of a family of survivors and how they deal with the surrounding world. When the father figure falls one character has to break from his shell and become the new head of the family. Boyle redefined the genre and changed Zombie films forever.
The version to buy: 28 Days Later on Blu-ray
 
2. Shaun of the Dead(2004)
Edgar Wright’s Zombie Romantic Comedy not only broke away from the genre but paid homage to it time and time again. Shaun (Simon Pegg) is your basic working “zombie” walking through life and not really growing as a person. His job is going nowhere and his relationship with Liz (Kate Ashfield) has also ceased to grow. It is only after the Zombie Holocaust, beautifully brought to life by Wright, that Shaun emerges from his state and realizes that the one thing worth fighting for is Liz. Shaun of the Dead not only pokes fun at the genre but teaches us that life is still worth living long after the world has ended.
The version to buy: Shaun of the Dead on Blu-ray (released last week)
 
1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Romero returned ten years later and gave his survivors a bigger and well supplied place in which to stay, a mall. Initially the film is all about surviving in a Zombie wasteland. Stephen, Peter, Francine and Roger seem to have it all as they come across a deserted mall. They have food, weapons and entertainment. Slowly though one turns into a Zombie and there Romero’s allegory’s take place. The mall has become their cage and the survivors stop living and just exist. It is only after the introduction of a third party, not the Zombies, that they find the will and desire to fight for their lives. Romero gave his characters and the audience an incredible fantasy only to show them the nightmare it would become. 
 
 
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
 
Behind Stone Walls ~ Eddie Nugent
 
Bill Cody Double Feature: Six Gun Justice (1936) / Texas Rambler (1935) ~ Bill Cody
 
Billy Jack [Blu-ray] ~ Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor, Clark Howat, and Howard Hesseman
 
Cowboy Rarities Of The 30s: Code of the Fearless (1939) / Songs and Saddles (1938) ~ Fred Scott
 
Enigma ~ Kate Winslet, Dougray Scott, Jeremy Northam, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
 
Fallen Angels - Director's Cut
 
Fermat's Room ~ Alejo Sauras, Lluis Homar, and Santi Millan
 
Feud of the Range ~ Bob Steele
 
Les Milles ~ Ticky Holgado, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Philippe Noiret, and Francois Perrot
 
Lies & Illusions ~ Jr. Cuba Gooding, Christian Slater, Lochlyn Munro, and Christa Campbell
 
The Living Coffin ~ Carlos Ancira, Maria Duval, Gaston Santos, and Pedro de Aguillon
 
Mafia Connection ~ Florinda Bolkan, Peter Carsten, Antonio Sabato, and Lee Burton
Omen ~ Apichej Kittikornjaroen, Woravej Danuwong, and Kavee Tanjararak
 
Phantom of Santa Fe ~ Norman Kerry
 
Range Busters: Land of Hunted Men ~ Ray Corrigan, Max Terhune, and Dennis Moore
 
Roy Rogers Double Feature: Ridin' Down the Canyon (1942) / On the Old Spanish Trail (1939) ~ Roy Rogers
 
Sea Racketeers ~ J. Carroll Naish, Penny Singleton, Lane Chandler, and Syd Saylor
 
Snakes on a Plane [Blu-ray] ~ Samuel L. Jackson, Julianna Margulies, and Nathan Phillips
 
Terrifying Girls' High School ~ Nobuo Kaneko, Kenji Imai, Reiko Ike, and Miki Sugimoto
 
Texas Ranger Double Feature: Marked for Murder (1945) / Bad Men of Thunder Gap (1943) ~ Dave O'Brien, Tex Ritter, and James Newill
 
Thundering Gun Slingers ~ Buster Crabbe
 
ANIME
 
Big Windup: Part 2
 
Black Lagoon: The Complete Series Set
Blade of the Immortal Volume 1 ~ Rina Satou
 
Burst Angel: The Complete Collection (includes OVA) [Blu-ray]
 
Ergo Proxy: The Complete Series Box Set (Viridian Collection)
 
Green Green-Complete LiteBox
 
Heat Guy J: The Complete Series Box Set
 
Huntik Seekers and Secrets Volume 1 ~ Yuri Lowenthal
 
Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Season 1, Part 2 (Limited Edition)
 
Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Season 1, Part 3
 
Naruto Shippuden, Vol. 1
 
Negima!: The Complete Series Box Set (Viridian Collection)
 
One Piece: Season Two, Third Voyage
 
Pokemon Elements, Vol. 3: Water
 
Pokemon Elements, Vol. 4: Electric
 
Princess
 
Sola: Anime Legends
 
CARTOONS
 
A Very Brave Witch...and more Halloween stories
 
Disney Animation Collection 7: Mickey's Christmas Carol ~ Edward Brophy, Ruth Clifford, Pinto Colvig, and Dessie Flynn
 
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Complete Series ~ Cam Clarke, Brian Dobson, Nicole Oliver, and Gabe Khouth
 
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Origins
 
The Littles: Christmas Special
 
Monsters vs. Aliens ~ Seth Rogen, Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, and Will Arnett
 
Monsters vs. Aliens [Blu-ray]
 
Monsters vs. Aliens/B.O.B.'s Big Break in Monster 3D: Ginormous Double Pack
 
The Real Ghostbusters: Complete Collection
 
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (Two-Disc Special Edition) ~ Eric Bauza, Xander Berkeley, Clancy Brown, and Corey Burton
 
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [Blu-ray]
 
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (Single-Disc Edition)
 
COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style
 
Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa ~ Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowski, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg
 
HORROR
 
42nd Street Forever 5: Alamo Drafthouse Edition ~ Charlton Heston, Sonny Chiba, Franco Nero, and Robert Englund
 
Bangkok Haunted ~ Pimsiree Pimsee
 
The Black Pit of Dr. M ~ Rafael Bertrand, Gaston Santos, Mapita Cortes, and Mapy Cortes
 
Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf ~ Lily Franky
 
Bloodwine ~ Melissa Johnson, Lora Meins, Vanessa Leinani, and Heather Whitsell
 
Brainiac ~ Rosa Maria Gallardo, Mauricio Garces, Carmen Montejo, and Ariadne Welter
 
Burke and Hare ~ Harry Andrews, Stewart Bevan, John Carney, and Noel Coleman
 
Daughter of Darkness ~ Honor Blackman, Anne Crawford, Siobhan McKenna, and George Merritt
 
Dinner With a Vampire ~ George Hilton, Patrizia Pellegrino, Isabel Russinova, and Valeria Milillo
 
Dracula's Fiancee ~ Brigitte Lahaie, Jacques Regis, Thomas Desfosse, and Cyrille Iste
 
Farmhouse
 
Flesh, TX ~ Joe Estevez, Kathleen Benner, Jose Rosete, and Dale Denton
 
The Hanging Woman ~ Paul Naschy
Haunting of Winchester House ~ Lira Kellerman, Michael Holmes, Patty Roberts, and Tomas Boykin
 
The Hills Run Red ~ William Sadler, Sophie Monk, Tad Hilgenbrink, and Janet Montgomery
 
The Horror Vault, Vols. 1 & 2 ~ Heather Tom, Claire Ross-Brown, Kim Sønderholm, and Jonathon Trent
 
Lucifera: Demon Lover ~ Sara (Rosalba Neri) Bay, Robert Wood, and Edmund Purdom
The Man and the Monster ~ José Chavez, Ofelia Guilmain, Enrique Rambal, and Martha Roth
 
New York Ripper, The (Special Edition) ~ Jack Hedley, Almanta Keller, Howard Ross, and Andrea Occhipinti
 
Nightmare ~ Jason Scott Campbell
 
No Through Road ~ George Shevtsov, Sam Barrett, James Helm, and Megan Palinkas
Screwed ~ Nijiko Kiyokawa, Hideo Sunazuka, Kaoru Mizuki, and Tadanobu Asano
 
Shortcut ~ Shannon Woodward, Dave Franco, and Drew Seeley
 
Stepfather II (DVD Special Edition) ~ Terry O'Quinn, Jonathan Brandis, Meg Foster, and Caroline Williams
 
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) [Blu-ray] ~ Jessica Biel
 
Tokyo Psycho ~ Seiji Chihara, Sachiko Kokubu, and Yuka Hayashi
 
Trauma (2004) (Steelbook) ~ Mena Suvari
 
The Uninvited ~ Park Shin-yang
 
The Vampire Collection ~ Abel Salazar
The Witch's Mirror ~ Rosita Arenas, Armando Calvo, Isabela Corona, and Dina de Marco
 
SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY
 
The Dark Crystal [Blu-ray]
 
Decoder ~ William S. Burroughs, Matthias Fuchs, Bill Rice, and Ralf Richter
 
Grindhouse Double Feature: Zontar, The Thing From Venus (1966) / In The Year 2889 (1967) ~ John Agar
 
In a Spiral State ~ Bianca Barnett, Lizzy Strain, Juliana Fine, and Mae Moreno
 
Labyrinth [Blu-ray] ~ David Bowie
 
The Storm Riders ~ Sonny Chiba, Anthony Wong, Roy Cheung, and Aaron Kwok
 
The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition) ~ Judy Garland, Billie Burke, Ray Bolger, and Jack Haley
 
The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition with Digital Copy and Amazon Exclusive Set of 4 Collectible 8x10 Character Posters) [Blu-ray]
 
The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition with Digital Copy and Amazon Exclusive Set of 4 Collectible 8x10 Character Posters)
 
TV LAND
 
Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet, Volume 15 ~ Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Nelson, David Nelson, and Ricky Nelson
 
Adventures of Robin Hood, Volume 20 ~ Richard Greene
 
All in the Family: Fan Favorites ~ Carroll O'Connor
 
Barney Miller: Fan Favorites ~ Max Gail, Ron Glass, Hal Linden, and Steve Landesberg
 
Bewitched: Fan Favorites ~ Richard Sargent
 
Cagney & Lacey: The Return ~ Sharon Gless, Tyne Daly, John Karlen, and Susan Anspach
Cagney & Lacey: The Menopause Years (Box Set)
 
Cobra: The Complete Series ~ Michael Dudikoff, Allison Hossack, and James Tolkan
 
CSI NY: The Complete Fifth Season ~ Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes, Carmine Giovinazzo, and Anna Belknap
 
Daybreak: The Complete Series ~ Taye Diggs, Moon Bloodgood, and Victoria Pratt
 
Diff'rent Strokes: Fan Favorites ~ Conrad Bain, Todd Bridges, and Gary Coleman
 
Good Times: Fan Favorites
 
The Guild: Seasons 1 & 2 ~ Felicia Day, Jeff Lewis, and Sandeep Parikh
 
How I Met Your Mother: Season Four ~ Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, and Neil Patrick Harris
 
How I Met Your Mother: Season Four [Blu-ray]
 
I Dream of Jeannie: Fan Favorites ~ Larry Hagman, Bill Daily, and Hayden Rorke
 
The Jeffersons: Fan Favorites ~ Sherman Hemsley
 
Kings - Season One ~ Ian McShane, Christopher Egan, Susanna Thompson, and Allison Miller
 
The King of Queens: Fan Favorites ~ Kevin James, Jerry Stiller, Patton Oswalt, and Victor Williams
 
Life on Mars: The Complete Series ~ Jason O'Mara, Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli, and Gretchen Mol
 
Married... With Children: Fan Favorites ~ Ed O'Neill
 
The Patty Duke Show: Season One ~ Patty Duke, Jean Byron, William Schallert, and Paul O'Keefe
 
Sanford and Son: Fan Favorites ~ Redd Foxx, Whitman Mayo, Nathaniel Taylor, and Demond Wilson
 
Traffik ~ Bill Paterson, Lindsay Duncan, Jamal Shah, and Talat Hussain
 
Ultraman: The Complete Series ~ Akiji Kobayashi, Susumo Kurobe, Akihiko Hirata, and Masanari Nihei
 
The Unit: Season Four ~ Dennis Haysbert, Regina Taylor, Audrey Marie Anderson, and Robert Patrick
 
The Unit: Season Four [Blu-ray]
 
The Unit: The Complete Giftset ~ Dennis Haysbert, Max Martini, and Robert Patrick
 
BOX SETS
 
Johnny Mack Brown Western Classics (Desert Phantom (1936) / Guns In The Dark (1937) / Everyman's Law (1936) / Between Men (1935) / Under Cover Man (1936)) (5-DVD) ~ Johnny Mack Brown
 
Lee PowellCollection: Trigger Pals (1939) / Texas Manhunt (1942) / Lone Ranger (Lost Chapter) ~ Lee Powell
 
Sam Elliott Western Collection (Rough Riders / You Know My Name / The Desperate Trail) ~ Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott, Gary Busey, and Brad Johnson
 
Tom Selleck Western Collection (Monte Walsh / Last Stand at Saber River / Crossfire Trail) ~ Tom Selleck, Virginia Madsen, Wilford Brimley, and David O'Hara
 
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com.
 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 31
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Chopsaki 9/29/2009 3:59:03 AM

The opening scene of 28 weeks latter was was truly horrifying. I loved how they tried to make Robert Carlyle look guilty for leaving his wife even though the reality of the situation was pretty hopeless.

Thorn 9/29/2009 5:10:41 AM

I saw Zombieland last night. Awesome in every way, hilarious.

Must-see!!

EagleManiac 9/29/2009 5:26:23 AM

Zombi 2 is still one of the goriest films ever made. There are scenes in that film that today are very disturbing and very "gross out" in nature! I, of course, have the DVD, but it's sometimes hard to watch. I highly recommend it to any gore-hound and Zombi Film fanatic!

jedibanner 9/29/2009 6:34:17 AM

Zombie 2 is so good it's unbelivable. That shark scene.....crazy.

Although I was under the impression from different sources that 28 days later was not about zombies but rather just a virus that infected living people. They could still be shot anywhere and die just  like regular humans but the virus was like a cold or something and was pretty fast. Which is why they could run fast and all that because they weren't dead. The concept of freaks running fast was established here but the first zombies running were introduced in the remake of Dawn of the Dead.

EagleManiac 9/29/2009 6:48:09 AM

I actually kinda liked the remake of Dawn of the Dead. It wasn't great, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. The scene on the mall roof where they picked Zombies that looked like certain celebs to have that guy shoot from across the street was classic, though! "Hey, Rosie! Do Rosie!" BAM! Great scene!

ChadDerdowski 9/29/2009 7:33:22 AM

EagleManiac - I was just relating that scene to a friend of mine the other day.  Priceless!  I'm in the same boat as you - the Dawn of the Dead remake wasn't exactly what I'd call a great movie, but it entertained me quite a bit.  Nothing wrong with that.

jedibanner - You're right: the infected of 28 Days Later aren't zombies in the traditional sense.  But I think they fall under the jurisdiction of "close enough".  They aren't really zombies the way we know zombies, but it's a catch-all term and it fits.

Great list, Mr. Trate.  I'm glad to see Zombi 2 made it.  It's gory as hell and one of the few films in which the zombies actually freak me out.  And my god... that shark scene.  So good.

invisioner 9/29/2009 8:55:28 AM

 I will probably get blasted for saying this, but one of the first zombie films I truly enjoyed as a kid as I sneaked into the TV room to watch it when the folks were asleep, was Return of the Living Dead. It was so cheesy it was great! I watched it again on A&E (of all places) a few months ago and still enjoyed it. In its 1980's way, just as much fun as Shaun of the Dead. And hey, all that nudity....

 

 

MrOptimusPrime 9/29/2009 9:54:09 AM

This is a great list of Zombie movies, which I absolutely love, and I have to agree with invisioner Return of the Living Dead is a great one too.  It probably just got left out of this list (maybe??) going up against such heavyweights of the genre.  My Mom took me and my sister to see RotLD and I was 14 and she was 12 but we had already been introduced to zombie movies with George Romero's 1968 original and 1978 follow up a few years before.  She said there were great social lessons to be learned from those movies.....we just wanted to see some zombies kill and get killed!!!  

ManiaHasIssues 9/29/2009 1:15:53 PM

wow.  rather then mention the big genre release of superman/batman in the article, mania goes on to squeeze out another numbered list.  and I'm sure someone from mania will say "oh but just look at our review over here or our interview over there," but all the same they dont mention it in the one weekly article thats INTENDED for mentioning it at the top. I hope all the mania writers realize that when they look for other work and they submit these numbered lists as their samples that they will be dismissed out of turn.  the way this article is setup, theres no connection between the editorial and the dvd releases this week.  why aren't they broken up into seperate articles like they do with the comic books and its three different sections? 

Cheesey1 9/29/2009 1:47:07 PM

C2F, you cannot be serious, no Evil Dead?   

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