A recurring theme with modern zombie movies is not taking the zombie apocalypse all that seriously, which is exactly the charm of the Spanish-Cuban Juan of the Dead. After the undead outbreak, the chosen Juan decides to start up his own ethically unsound zombie-killing business with differing results.
Equal parts slapstick comedy and political allegory, this is a smart and heartfelt effort, which isn’t too bad a result considering it’s viewed as the first Cuban zombie film ever made.
Based on the manga of the same name, I Am A Hero is an unusual movie in that it is completely unapologetic about its weirdness. Its zombies are infected with ZQN and are able to talk and even jump really high, but it all depends on what they were like in their normal life.
It’s certainly an unconventional time, but not one that you will struggle to be endeared by. I Am A Hero is one of the best Japanese horror imports in years, so it’s such a shame that it’s so hard to find in the West, the UK in particular.
I don’t know whether I loathe or love The Girl With All the Gifts; I tend to flit between both depending on my mood. When I’m in a good mood, I appreciate its performances and the constant tension, but while I’m in a bad mood, its awful final third tries its best to make me smash my head through a window. Still, its first third is a masterclass in suspense and mystery that reveals that not is all as it seems.
12. Cargo (2017)
Director(s): Yolanda Ramke, Ben Howling
The slow-burn and lack of buckets of blood may turn some zombie movie fans away from Cargo, but it really shouldn’t. It feels like the evolution of Maggie: a look at the dynamic between a father and daughter with the same arid landscape as The Dead and the hook of Colin to boot.
If that sounds convoluted, Cargo is anything but. It’s a simple story of love and sacrifice beautifully told that you shouldn’t overlook on Netflix.
11. Ravenous (Les Affamés) (2017)
Director: Robin Aubert
By all accounts, the zombie craze is over. Mention a new undead movie in passing to someone and the best you can hope for is an eyeroll. It was a big surprise, then, that Ravenous somehow managed to make zombies feel like a threat again.
Admittedly, a lot of the added tension might have come from reading the subtitles while also trying to keep an eye out for the jumpscares, but this is still a taut and highly enjoyable trip to Canada that’s minimalism leaves a lasting impact.
A German horror that might have flown under the radar for many, Rammbock is a tense yet mercifully brisk affair that sees a jilted boyfriend trying to reconnect with his ex, only to become embroiled in the outbreak of a rage virus.
Set in an apartment block, our unlikely hero must remain calm – literally. The virus takes over quicker if people become enraged, which gives Marvin Kren’s movie a welcome and interesting twist.
If the words “zombie musical set at Christmas” make you feel uneasy, Anna and the Apocalypse really may not be for you. That being said, you try to listen to just a few of its songs and not bop your head along to it without a care in the world after the third or fourth listen.
While its final third definitely lets it down after such a promising start, Anna and the Apocalypse is another novel twist on the zombie subgenre that has plenty of heart, laughs, and one or two guts to show. Expect the lead, Ella Hunt, to be a big name within the next few years.
Continuing the trend of smart, exciting foreign zombie movies comes Dead Snow, or Død Snø in its native Norwegian. When you combine Nazis, zombies and a dash of comedy for good measure, you will only ever been onto a winner and that’s exactly the case here. Dead Snow is smartly shot, fantastically paced and doesn’t fall into the same old tropes that hamper so many similar films.
One Cut of the Dead is one of those modern zombie movies that you just want to talk and talk about, but to do so beyond the basics would be to inevitably spoil what makes it so special.
When a film crew’s B movie production is suddenly overcome by actual zombies, a crazed director compels his cast to utilise the situation for better performances. A funny, unusual zombie yarn, One Cut of the Dead is worth a Shudder subscription all on its own.
The sequel to Danny Boyle’s cult classic found itself in a similar status shortly after release. 28 Weeks Later may not be quite as essential as the movie which helped to reignite the interest in the genre, but where it lacks in brains it more than makes up for it with a serious amount of blood and guts.
That helicopter scene is every gorehound’s dream, plus Jeremy Renner steals the show.
A film which I cannot espouse enough, The Battery appeared in a period of fantastical, ridiculous zombie movies to do something that so many simply fail to do: tell a story.
As a low-budget affair, this allows first-time director Jeremy Gardner to explore the mental toil of a zombie apocalypse on two begrudging baseball players who were thrown together through necessity rather than choice when the world went to shit. Essential viewing.
It would almost be easier to just copy and paste a load of memorable quotes from Edgar Wright’s now famous romzomcom than to actually write anything about it. If you haven’t seen Shaun of the Dead yet, get your life together and turn on ITV2 right now because the zombie comedy will invariably be playing on there as we speak.
A film that I make an effort to watch at least once a year, Zack Snyder’s remake of the classic original is a breathless action film which only shares the location (a shopping mall) with its source material.
It’s not the thinking man’s zombie movie, but I will be damned if it isn’t the most entertaining, set up perfectly by a relentless opening sequence. There may be too much stupidity from people for you to handle, though.
From the outside looking in, Train To Busan may just come across like a Korean version of 28 Days Later. Look closer, however, and you will find that it’s much more than that, delivering its blood and gore with just as much heart.
Set, weirdly enough, on a train going to one of the last vestiges of safety after an outbreak wipes out civilisation, it’s a breathless and exhilarating movie that should really be the first of the best zombie movies on this list that you check off your watchlist.
UPDATE (05/03/17): The Dead, Wyrmwood, The Rezort enter the list. UPDATE (03/11/17): 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Train To Busan, Rammbock, Resident Evil, Diary of the Dead enter UPDATE (01/01/17): Here Alone, The Girl With All the Gifts enter UPDATE (04/03/18): Ravenous builds a weird tower to make it onto our list. UPDATE (12/04/18): Warm Bodies, World War Z, and Bong of the Living Dead enter. UPDATE (22/05/18): Cargo drops in. UPDATE (13/11/18): I Am A Hero high jumps its way into our hearts. UPDATE (11/04/19): Anna and the Apocalypse has a song to sing. </em