It seems that zombies can be found almost everywhere lately. From films and television to video games and flash mobs, they have staggered their way into every nook and cranny of our culture. Over the past few years, AMC has capitalized on the zombie phenomenon with its hit cable television show, The Walking Dead.
Meanwhile, major Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt have further popularized the genre with big-budget films like World War Z. While this horror subgenre can be dated back to at least the 1930s with classics like White Zombie, starring Béla Lugosi, the modern film portrayal of zombies was first brought to life by George Romero’s 1968 masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead.
Although the “walking dead” in Romero’s movie are never referred to as zombies, Night of the Living Dead provided the template for zombie behavior in many subsequent films in the genre. While some zombie flick aficionados might argue that the horror provoked by Night of the Living Dead will never be topped, here are five other zombie flicks that will keep you up at night.
1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Dawn of the Dead is the first — and some would argue the best — of George Romero’s many follow-ups to his highly successful Night of the Living Dead. The film is set in a shopping mall where survivors of the spreading zombie plague have taken refuge as the world outside becomes increasingly chaotic. Unlike the low-budget black-and-white original that had few special effects and simple makeup, Dawn of the Dead featured impressive amounts of gore, courtesy of renowned special effects artist Tom Savini.
Much like he did in his original film, Romero used Dawn of the Dead as a vehicle for critiquing society’s contemporary problems. Many critics have interpreted the scenes featuring zombies staggering through a shopping mall as a not-so-subtle critique of mindless American consumerism. Although Romero would go on to create four more sequels, many zombie film buffs consider Dawn of the Dead the strongest of the series. The film recently gained a new generation of fans when Dawn of the Dead was remade by director Zack Snyder in 2004.