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Published on October 3rd, 2009 | by Darren & Lottie

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Two Sheets to the Wind: Top 5 Zombie Movies

It’s October, Halloween is just around the corner. So, what better time to resurrect Darren and Lottie’s Two Sheets to the Wind and remind you all that we haven’t taken a chainsaw to The Top Fives. Over the next few weeks we’ll be slashing our way through the swamp of horrors to deliver you our favourite movies that go bump in the night. We’ll open Dracula’s coffin, unmask the masked psycho killer and get our teeth into the torture movies, but first we’re going to use our delicious brains to introduce our Top Five Zombie Movies. Mmmm…braaaaains….

Darren’s Top Five Zombie Movies

It’s no secret that horror is by far and away my favourite movie genre. From a very early age I was addicted to the fear factor. I remember cowering behind the sitting room door as Billy’s mom jammed the Gremlin into the microwave. I still cringe all these years later at the now rather innnocent Arachnophobia (I still can’t believe it was only a PG Certificate film). Of course, even when I was still a child I progressed onto the adult horrors – staying in my Granny’s house every weekend allowed me to stay up until 3 in the morning watching Dark Night of The Scarecrow, The Omen, Child’s Play, IT and, of course, A Nightmare on Elm Street. The classics such as The Exorsist, The Shining, Psycho, Halloween, The Birds and Children of the Corn, I discovered in my teens and it was only in my late teens that I developed a taste for Zombies.

Resident Evil5. Resident Evil (2002)

You’re all going to die down here.

Granted, Resident Evil, a movie based on a computer game, may not seem like the most obvious choice for inclusion in my Top Five Zombie Movies, but I loved this film and have watched it a ridiculous amount of times. The viceral, high speed horror combined with a solid plot hook (Alice’s memory loss and gradual realisation of what is going on) made for a gripping 100 minutes. Other Zombie movies such as the hilarious Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead and The Evil Dead which fall outsdie the Top Five just don’t give me the same feeling.

4. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

How do you think your God will judge you? Well friends, now we know. When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.

Abandoning the subtext and subtle character development of the original. Dispensing with the moody, slow-moving zombies, this is a remake that should not work at all. And yet, it’s a very clever, fun action movie, with all the thrills and scares you expect from a decent horror. Though 2 dimensional, the characters are fun and funny, engaging even. The effects and set pieces are probably the best off all Zombie movies on the list. It brought the genre completely up to date, turning it into something cool and bringing it to the mainstream. Brilliant.

3. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

They’re after the place. They don’t know why, they just remember. Remember that they want to be in here.

With its genius take on brainless consumerism, unique atmosphere, brilliant direction from George Romero and groundbreaking effects from Tom Savini, this is the film responsible for making people respect the genre. Set in a mall, it’s the perfect venue to set up a series of sequenses designed to make the most of the slow moving zombie killing. Overall, the original Dawn Of The Dead is proof that a gore-fest can be thought-provoking and work on multiple levels.

2. Day of the Dead (1985)

But is he alive or dead? Well, that’s the question nowadays isn’t it?

Underrated, and possibly Romero’s best Zombie movie, Day of the Dead observes a microcosm of society – how a lack of human communication leads to society’s total breakdown. It is less a Zombie move and more a film about the mad scientist vs the insane military captain, with everyone else stuck in the middle. Tom Savini’s effects reach a pinnacle with some of the most realistic zombie dismemberments – all without CGI.While 1978’s Dawn brought the Zombie Movie back to the fore – Day showed how good it could be. It’s the Exorcist of Zombie movies.

1. 28 Days Later (2002)

Repent. The end is extremely fucking nigh.

[SPOILER ALERT – DON’T READ IF YOU HAVE YET TO SEE 28 DAYS LATER]

Realism is what puts this film in top place. Directed by Danny Boyle, he set about making the best Zombie movie ever…and he succeeded. He created characters that you truly cared about – the moment Brendan Gleeson’s character, Frank, turns is one of the most heartbreaking film moments in horror movie history. I have never screamed out loud at a horror movie from instant sadness rather than fear. From the opening sequences, where Jim (Cillian Murphy) stares across a desolated London, this film is beautifully shot.  I adore this film. It’s a drama and a horror; it’s scary and funny; it’s heartbreaking and extremely smart. This is not only the best Zombie movie, it stands miles ahead of all the others. It sets a standard that will never be beaten.

Lottie’s Top Five Zombie Movies

I Am Legend5. I Am Legend (2007)

What the hell are you doing out here, Fred? Fred, if you’re real, you better tell me right now!

Now I know I Am Legend doesn’t initially spring to mind as a zombie movie but it is a post-apocalyptic tale of the aftermath of a raging biological virus which essentially turns humans into flesh eating zombies.  In fact the movie I Am Legend is an adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic vampire survival novel.  The movie however featured creatures that looked more like zombies than vampires – and acted that way, too.

The thing that makes Zombie movies work for me is tension and I Am Legend had that by the shed load. Smith manages the awesome feat of carrying the movie on his own back and the all-to-easily stereotyped story of one man and his dog is beautifully moving and hardly clichéd at all.

Trivia fact: Apparently Smith grew so fond of the Alsatian Abbey that he tried to adopt her when the shooting was finished, but the dog’s trainer could not be persuaded to give her up. Everyone say “Awwww”.

4. Pet Semetary (1989)

Sometimes dead is better.

Again, I’m thinking outside the box here. Stephen King’s tale of a unnatural burial ground which brings the dead back to life but not quite as they were.

Not convinced? Well Bruce Campbell was first choice to play Louis in the movie and George A Romero was originally set to direct but had to drop out due to delays in filming. Happy now?

3. Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Look, he’s a twitcher.

I concede that the 1978 movie is probably the better movie but the 2004 film was more my pace. Whereas 28 Days Later revived the Zombie genre, creating a whole new animal, Dawn of The Dead (2004) paid homage to the original concept while being bigger, meaner and more slick than it’s predecessor.

2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

We’re coming to get you, Barbara!

A veritable ode to the Zombie genre with references flying left right and center as fast as dismembered body parts.  Humour is a  staple of the Zombie movie and no better team to tackle that hurdle are Frost and Pegg under the direction of Edgar Wright.  

Shaun of the Dead brilliantly melds slap-stick comedy with intelligent humour and gore with truly heart-wrenching sentiment.

1. 28 Days Later (2002)

A man walks into a bar with a giraffe.
(Hey! Darren stole my quote!)

Ding ding ding, we have a winner! Have we ever agreed on a #1 before?

The thing about this movie is that it makes you take a step back and think “Shit, that could happen”. As Darren says, it’s all about the realism. I’m sure that there was an earlier movie that used fast paced Zombies but I haven’t seen it and for me,  that is what brought 28 Days Later to a whole new level. It upped the ante, made Zombies terrifying. Instead of the slow lumbering unfortunates now they were uber fast paced face eating creatures! WTF!

So whether you have a taste for the agile or a true believer in the church of of the slow shuffling Zombie, it seems that Zombie movies are here to stay.

Of course, as Zombieland comes out in Ireland next week this list could be open to amendment and by the looks of the trailer, I think that is very likely.

They’re after the place. They don’t know why, they just remember. Remember that they want to be in here.

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About the Author

The couple that blogs together, stays together. Check out here and here for other posts by Darren. Click here and here for posts by Lottie.



11 Responses to Two Sheets to the Wind: Top 5 Zombie Movies

  1. Seamus says:

    Will have to check out 28 Days Later.
    Not into horror, but thought of Omega Man, and have read that it was based on the book ‘I am Legend’ .. have not watched that film yet although a Will Smith fan.

  2. Peter says:

    Ooooh one of my favourite Genres – and one of my even more favourite sub Genre.

    Both quite ‘new’ lists with the exception of Pet cemetry and the Romero films. Both very solid as well. While generally hating remakes I have to say I liked the 2004 Dawn of the Dead – but def the original is the better movie taken in ontext of the times they were released.

    But quite frankly I am DISGUSTED there is no Evil Dead. Hardly a mention. Lottie wins in my book simply for mentioning Bruce Campbell.

    So in homage to my favourite actor of all times – and also inluding print media, and games here we have my Top 5 Evil Dead movie/books/games of all time (ok I admit doesn’t have the same ring as your title)

    5. Game – Evil Dead: Regeneration
    A PS2 Game – The game runs on the premise – What if Ash didn’t get transported back in time at the end of Evil Dead 2? The basic storyline follows Ash and his half-Deadite partner Sam through the game as he tries to stop the mad Dr. Reinhard from using the Necronomicon to unleash an unstoppable army of Deadites across the Earth. As you would expect lots of fighting inluding using the obligitory chainsaw and shotgun and also the option to kick Sam at shambling foes to pop their heads off – NICE! Lots of fun and the cut-scenes are a laugh too.

    4. Comic – Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash
    A six-issue comic series released in 2007 this story a sequel to Freddy vs. Jason and The Evil Dead trilogy. I am a sucker for the cross-over idea so this one rocks for me! It’s silly, it’s incredibly dorey and it’s as cool as it gets. Ash is working at the new Crystal Lake S-Mart to train his team of teenage slacker employees. This just coincides with the end of Jason Vs Freddy the movie. Let the carnage begin….

    3. Film – Army of Darkness
    The Third in the film series of the Evil Dead – this startys with the end of Evil Dead 2 with Ash transported back in time to the 14th century. Ash must find the Necronomicon, which contains a formula to send him back to his own time. Ash, not being the brightest of heroes, misspeaks an important incantation while retrieving the book, inadvertently resurrecting an army of the dead, led by his own alter ego, Evil Ash. It’s an over the top performance by Campbell – clearly enjoying himself – which makes this film work. This is also the best film in the series for quotable lines. ‘Hail tot he king baby’ and ‘Give me some sugar baby’ being my favs!

    2. Comic – Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness
    A five-issue 2007 comic book limited series. I loved Marvel Zombies so much – take all your marvel heroes – turn them into Zombies and see what happens. What could be better? Add Ash Williams to the mix of course!! The actually are quite clever in mixing these 2 story line and seperate universes. See a zombie Howard the Duk eat Ash’s brains – how much more clever can you get?!
    I do especially love Ash making a pass at both Dazzler and the Scarlet Witch.

    1. Film – Evil Dead 2
    One film I can wath over and over and over again. Sam Raimi basically re-played the first Evil Dead film in the first 10 mins of the film (re-shot due to ownership issues of the original film) and then just went crazy. Very clever in going from pure horror of the first movie to horror/comedy in the 2nd. On a low budget this movie shows what an accomplished director Raimi is and what ingenuity the man has. Scary and about ass gorey as it gets it also mixes this with genuine laugh out loud moments.
    This is Bruce Campbells defining role and him in top form.
    Yes it’s completely over the top, yes its makes no sense most of the time, and yes it has a load of production and editing errors, but that isn’t always a bad thing. Too much thinking and scrutiny about this movie just does it a disservice. Fans of the more ‘Modern’ horro movies may deride this gem but put in the context of when it came out (the late 80’s), and the amount of competition it had (Re-Animator and The Return of the Living Dead), it still stands up as one of the best of its era and genre.

  3. rubot says:

    Eeeepppp..

    I thought the Dawn of the Dead remake was utter poo. I generally hate fast zombies..although i liked 28 Days Later. But yeah, the modern Dawn was just horrible.

    Also, I Am Legend was poo too. The Omega Man is MUCH better. Definitely recommend it.

    My top 5?
    5. Night of the Living Dead.
    4. 28 Days Later
    3. The Omega Man
    2. Shaun of the Dead
    1. Dawn of the Dead (original)

  4. My favourite!!!

    My top 5:
    5. Rec
    4. Dead Alive (Brain Dead)
    3. Shaun of the Dead
    2. Zombi 2 (Zombie)
    1. Dawn of the Dead

    Recommend that you see Dead Alive if you haven’t already. It’s Peter Jackson at his gorey best :-).

  5. Anthony McG says:

    Shocked to see that ‘Shaun…’ doesn’t feature in Dar’s Top 5.

  6. Mark says:

    Gah! 28 Days Later is not a Zombie film. The Infected are not the walking dead but are still perfectly alive if ultimately doomed to die by the Rage virus.

    Simon Pegg commented on this when reviewing Dead set for the Guardain last year.

    Danny Boyle and Alex Garland were developing their own end-of-the-world fable, 28 Days Later, an excellent film misconstrued by the media as a zombie flick. Boyle and Garland never set out to make a zombie film per se. They drew instead on John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids, as well as Matheson and Romero’s work, to fashion a new strain of survival horror, featuring a London beset by rabid propagators of a virus known as “rage”.

  7. Peter says:

    @ Mark – An intersting post on this sepcific question here:

    http://blogs.cjonline.com/index.php?entry=3148

    Me – I still put it in my Zombie section!

  8. Niall says:

    My Top 5 (without 28 Days Later, and picking 1 per series) would be:
    Re-Animator
    Shaun of the Dead
    BrianDead
    Night of the Living Dead
    Evil Dead 2

    Otherwise it’d be:
    Army of Darkness
    Dawn of the Dead (1978)
    28 Days Later
    Night of the Living Dead
    Evil Dead 2

    Hail to the king baby!!

  9. Darren Byrne says:

    @Seamus You have to see it. It’s a serious drama as much as a horror.

    @Peter Great list as always. You’re obviously a bit of a zombie nut. Get your thinking hat on for Vampire Movies next.

    @rubot I actually have The Omega Man downloaded, but haven’t watched it yet. Also – the Dawn of the Dead remake is a very exciting, gruesome film. How can you hate it?

    @Venn You told me about Rec before – I’ll have to check it out.

    @Anto It’s just outside the Top Five. I love it but as far as Zombie movies go, the others have to come before it.

    @Mark Shurrup! Ok, it may be a different type of zombie, but the walking dead in Resident Evil and 28 Days Later are definitely zombies.

    @Niall The Re-Animator? Really?

  10. Lottie says:

    Evil Dead did nothing for me and @Mark – pish posh 28 Days is totally a Zombie movie!

  11. Brilliant lists! Love 28 Days/Months and I’ve just downloaded Evil Dead 2 & Army of Darkness which I cannot wait to watch!!

    And by god if I see Twilight anywhere on either of your ‘Vampire Movies’ list theres gonna be some serious brain-eating…. 😛

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