Ten must-see zombie films

Brad Pitt is carrying the torch for a new breed of zombie film, based on Max Brooks’ best-selling novel, World War Z.

The movie will be released in June 2013, but here’s a primer list of 10 must-see films. Grab a pen, some paper and make notes for the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

Zombie Rating: 3 body parts out of 5

Why: Wes Craven loosely based this Haitian-voodoo horror film off of ethnobotanist Wade Davis’ book on the reported zombie case of Clairvius Narcisse. Bill Pullman plays an ethnobotanist named Dennis Alan who travels to Haiti in search of a new drug to be used as an anesthetic in Boston. While it’s not a zombie film in the tradition 21st century sense, it’s more faithful to the voodoo zombie, albeit Hollywood faithful.

Pontypool (2008)

Zombie Rating: 4 body parts out of 5

Why: How about a little Canadian content during your undead steeplechase? Canadian actor Stephen McHattie plays a radio jock in Pontypool, Ontario who ends up being locked in the sound booth of his station while a virus takes hold of its victims, and makes them repeat terms of endearment. Though director Bruce McDonald denies it’s a zombie film in the traditional sense, it has elements of the genre. Namely the disoriented hordes that attack anything that moves.

[Rec] (2007)

Zombie Rating: 4 body parts out of 5

Why: Spain became the successor to Japan for original horror movie ideas at the end of the Aughts. The film Rec, redone in the U.S. as Quarantine, was the beginning of a new horror-movie franchise that saw a pathogen-related zombie infest the Spanish populous. Without giving too much away, a television show hostess follows firefighters out on a call that goes horribly wrong. Though it’s done in the found-footage format, the film received plenty of accolades.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Zombie Rating: 3.5 body parts out of 5

Why: Humour always makes the terrifying even more terrifying. Why else would Shakespeare have a drunken man urinate in the middle of MacBeth’s most dramatic scene? Leave it the British to continue this tradition through the work of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Shaun of the Dead is a tale of a man trying to get his girlfriend back while battling the undead.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Zombie Rating: 4 body parts out of 5

Why: “When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth” is one of this films most memorable lines. Dawn of the Dead was the second film in George A. Romero’s Living Dead franchise. It was hailed as one of the best films of the year, and Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Tribune gave it four out of five stars. If that’s not enough, the film goes full gore on the blood and entrails.

Dead Snow (2009)

Zombie Rating: 5 body parts – full gore

Why: At first blush, one would think a film about zombie Nazis was a German production. Wrong. Norwegian filmmakers played on their Scandinavian folklore, the story of draugr, an undead monster that protects its spoils, to bring a troupe of Nazis back to life. In this case, German SS troops who came to Norway during the war, are the undead hordes. Seven university students visit the snowy region on Easter vacation only to have a hell of a time with the locals after they uncover the draugrs’ loot.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Zombie Rating: 4 body parts out of 5

Why: It was the first film that popularized the modern zombie mythos. George A. Romero’s 1968 film has been preserved in the National Film Registry. It’s cultural significance is not just rooted in its horror genre, but in the fact its lead protagonist, Ben, was portrayed by an African American in a predominantly white cast.

White Zombie (1932)

Zombie Raiting 3 body parts out of 5

Why: White Zombie, starring the legendary Bela Lugosi, is considered to be the first full-length zombie movie. It’s approach to the zombie lore was that of the Haitian voodoo lore. Lugosi plays Murder Legendre, a man hell-bent on luring the woman he loves away from her fiancé. But instead of her becoming his wife, she becomes a zombie slave.

28 Days Later (2002)

Zombie Rating: 4 body parts out of 5

Why: Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, reinvented the zombie movie in a way that destroyed the shambling, mindless creature. These zombies ran … fast. Boyle also tied the zombie rage in with a pathogen, spread to human by apes in a laboratory. It also introduced Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris to the world before their Batman and James Bond movie roles.

Fido (2006)

Zombie Rating: 3.5 body parts out of 5

Why: The zomedy sub-genre might have started with films like Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II (1987) and Peter Jackson’s Braindead (1992) but it was brought to the forefront by the flicks Shaun of the Dead and Canadian-made gem, Fido. Scottish comedian Billy Connolly plays a young boy’s pet zombie, who inadvertently eats the neighbour. It’s also set in a 1950s Leave It To Beaver community, which adds to the hilarity.

Originally posted on QMI’s Sun newspaper sites and Canoe.

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