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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sneak peek of Reel Fives' zombie pre-launch movie rankings (based on almost 150 published lists)

This is a sneak peek of our pre-launch rankings of zombie film. We have collected information from almost 150 zombie movie rankings lists found online (as of today) and using our top five rating system to aggregate across them to identify the top zombie movies of all time.  While there is significant interest in the zombie genre and in identifying the top zombie movies of all time, as indicated by the substantial amount of rankings list of top zombie movies, the evolution of the zombie film genre makes it difficult.  For this reason, below, we provide a discussion the zombie film genre and below that a sneak peek via an UNRANKED list of the top zombie movies we have. In the coming days we will release our official pre-launch top five zombie movies as well as our pre-launch zombie movie rankings.  

The genre of zombie film is one of the more complex existing film genres due to the evolution of the zombie concept.  One can try to give it identifying zombie and zombie film features such as living dead, consumption of human flesh, apocalyptic setting, and contagion, and find movies considered by some as zombie movies that don’t fit one or several of these expected characteristics. While there are many discussion on the topic of what constitutes a zombie movie, we take an all-encompassing approach and use the broadest definitions of the zombie and zombie movie concepts.  However, we are able to use stricter zombie definitions for our discussion and rankings of zombie movie sub-genres.

Victor Halperin’s White Zombie (1932) starring early horror titan Bela Lugosi is agreed by most people, experts and fans alike, to be the first feature length zombie film. The original concept of a zombie was borrowed from Haitian folklore. In French creole the word zonbi refers to an animated corpse revived using spiritual or magical means, such as by a witch or sorcerer. For a more extended discussion on the historical origins of the zombie concept we suggest reading the Zombie Myth chapter of Ethology of Zombies (2014) by Eugene Krivoruchko, found here. Starting with White Zombie (1932) movies applied their interpretation of this. However, in the decades following White Zombie (1932) the zombie archetype began to evolve. Generally zombies were mindless slow-moving humans that had risen from the dead or come under the control of some entity or person. For example, Ed Wood’s Plan 9  ties in a science fiction element in his film Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)  in which aliens resurrect corpses and control them through the stimulation of pituitary and pineal glands in attempts to, eventually, destroy mankind. In a similar fashion, combining science fiction and zombies, Jerry Warren’s Teenage Zombies (1959) is about a mad scientist who is trying to take over the United States by transforming everyone into zombies.  Teenage Zombies (1959) complies with zombies being slow moving and under control but does not incorporate corpse reanimation or a supernatural element.

George Romero’s Night of the living dead (1968) pushed the envelope, redefined the zombie movie genre, and introduced the concept of the modern zombie. The vast influence Night of the living dead (1968) meant the end of classic zombie movies and the beginning of modern zombie movies.  In the documentary Doc of the Dead (2014) George Romero notes that he did not deliberately make a zombie movie with Night of the living dead (1968).  He went on to say that he thought of hordes of flesh-eating walking dead as ghouls and was largely influenced by Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I am legend, which was more closely linked to vampirism. In this sense, George Romero created the modern zombie by combining the elements the classic zombie with vampires.  Two additional concepts that have been extremely influential in the zombie movie genre that were brought on by Romero’s Night of the living dead (1968) are the zombie apocalypse and the contagion aspect of becoming a zombie.  Modern zombie movies have added and subtracted elements from the Romero zombie archetype and universally, in some fashion, follow the Romero zombie myth.

 One of the most influential zombie movies in the modern zombie genre is Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead (1985). The Return of the Living Dead (1985) introduced several zombie features that were departures from the Romero zombies and which are frequently used in zombie movies today. These include a returned emphasis on the scientific view by focusing on the contagion side and presenting zombism as a virus.  O’Bannon’s film’s departures also included zombies as infected humans rather than walking dead (reanimated corpses) and fast aggressive zombies in contrast to the slow moving mindless Romero zombies. For a discussion on The Return of the Living Dead’s contributions to the modern zombie genre we suggest reading Matthew Belinkie’s article on the topic in Overthinking.com, found here.

In appreciation for this complex genre here is our UNRANKED list of top zombie movies.  The movies below were all included in the top five zombie movies for at least one of the nearly 150 zombie movie rankings lists we have found online. Enjoy!

            The top ranked zombie movies of all time
28 Days Later (2002)
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Army Of Darkness (1992)
Bio-Zombie (1998)
Black Sheep (2006)
Cemetery Man (1994)
Children Of The Living Dead (2002)
Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972)
Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)
Dance Of the dead (2008)
Dawn of the dead (1978)
Dawn of the dead (2004)
Day Of the Dead (1985)
Day Of the Dead (2008)
Dead Alive (Braindead) (1992)
Dead Heat (1988)
Dead Set (2008)
Dead Snow (2009)
Diary Of The Dead (2007)
Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Fido (2006)
Hell Of The Living Dead (1980)
I Am Legend (2007)
I Walked With A Zombie (1943)
Juan of the dead (2011)
Land Of The Dead (2005)
Let Sleeping Corpse Lie (1974)
Life After Beth (2014)
Night Of The Creeps (1986)
Night of the living dead (1968)
Night of the living dead (1990)
ParaNorman (2012)
Pet Sematary (1989)
Plague Of The Zombies (1966)
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Planet Terror (2007)
Pontypool (2009)
Rammbock: Berlin Undead (2010)
Re-Animator (1985)
REC (2007)
REC 2 (2009)
Resident Evil (2002)
Resident Evil Afterlife (2010)
Shaun of the dead (2004)
Slither (2006)
The Battery (2012)
The Beyond (1981)
The Dead (2010)
The Dead Next Door (1988)
The Evil Dead (1981)
The living dead at manchester morgue (1974)
The Return of the living dead (1985)
The Roost (2005)
The serpent and the rainbow (1988)
Versus (2000)
Warm Bodies (2013)
White Zombie (1932)
World War Z (2013)
Zombie (1979)
Zombie 2 (1980)
Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)
Zombieland (2009)

Identifying the top movies is our mission.

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