The best zombie movies, waiting for Coupez, the opening film of Cannes 2022


I walked with a zombie

A classic of the genre, filmed in 1943 by Jacques Tourneur. We are very far from the zombie movies we are used to today, because it is not an unknown virus or the bite of an undead “colleague” that turns the unfortunate Jessica into the living dead: zombies are still linked to black magic and rituals voodoo. To take care of the woman, residing on the tropical island of San Sebastian with her husband and his half-brother, is called the nurse Betsy, who will gradually discover the terrible truth about her.

Year: 1943

Director: Jacques Tourneur

Cast: Frances Dee, James Ellison, Edith Barrett, James Bell, Tom Conway

Welcome to Zombieland

In the ranking of the best zombie movies there is also… a road movie. Yes, because the four protagonists of Welcome to Zombieland (played by Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson and the young Abigail Breslin) must cross the United States to try to reach an amusement park on the Californian coast, which would appear to be one of the few places in the country that is still safe from the dead living. Obviously, this is not quite the case. The cameo by Bill Murray in a zombie version is a cult one.

Year: 2009

Director: Reuben Fleischer

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin, Bill Murray, Amber Heard

Splatters – The splatters

Before becoming the “king of fantasy” with his trilogy de The Lord of the Rings, the New Zealand director Peter Jackson enjoyed venting his splatter soul in films full of blood, guts and – as the grotesque Italian title of the film suggests – brains. The film in question is a real gore gem bordering on the insane, in which a boy finds himself having to manage her mother, who has become a hungry zombie after being bitten by an unlikely mouse-monkey. And when the undead to “administer” will become more than one, the situation can only get out of hand.

Year: 1992

Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Timothy Balme, Elizabeth Moody, Diane Penalver, Stuart Devenie, Jed Brophy

The House

Literally shot on the cheap, the cult movie that launched Sam Raimi’s career takes the liberty of laughing at the living dead, spilling blood and guts with a light heart and even throwing the legendary Necronomicon invented by Howard Phillips Lovecraft (or at least its reinterpretation). Bruce Campbell, for the first time in the role of Ash, finds himself spending a weekend in a cottage in the woods, in the company of his girlfriend and three friends. But when a voice recorded on a magnetic tape awakens the dead, things start to get … complicated.

Year: 1981

Director: Sam Raimi

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Betsy Baker, Richard Demanicor, Theresa Tilly, Ellen Sandweiss

Zombies 2

There is also a bit of Italy in the ranking of the best zombie films, with Lucio Fulci’s first foray into the world of splatter horror, perhaps a little slyly titled Zombies 2 to refer to the Italian title of Dawn of the Dead by Romero. Famous for the many gruesome scenes and gruesome special effects, the film, devoid of any subtext of social criticism and more related to the “classic films” of the genre in which voodoo resurrects the dead, focuses on the character of pure zombie movie entertainment. To search for her missing father, a woman goes with a journalist to an island in the Caribbean: instead of a tropical paradise, however, they will find a hell populated by monstrous beings.

Year: 1979

Director: Lucius Fulci

Cast: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Al Cliver, Richard Johnson, Auretta Gay, Olda Karlatos

The Army of Darkness

Third chapter of the saga de The House created by Sam Raimi, who this time mixes horror and fantasy, as always seasoning everything with a good dose of irony. The result is a film that goes a bit beyond the zombie genre, but which in its own way expands its boundaries. As always in the role of Ash there is Bruce Campbell, projected back in time, directly in a Middle Ages undermined by an army of undead. In the annals, the scene in which the protagonist has to recite the magic formula “Klaatu barada nikto” (a quote from the science fiction classic Ultimatum to the Earth).

Year: 1992

Director: Sam Raimi

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Bridget Fonda, Ian Abercrombie

Shaun of the Dead

A real surprise (in spite of the unattractive Italian title, which tries in some way to translate the play on words between Shaun of the Dead And Dawn of the Dead). The film that inaugurates the so-called Cornet Trilogy by Edgar Wright, which continues with Hot fuzz And The end of the world, doesn’t limit itself to parodying zombie movies, but fits fully into the tradition, while distorting it and revisiting it in a humorous key. Simon Pegg is Shaun, a disgruntled salesman in a relationship on the verge of crisis, who always carries his idle friend Ed (Nick Frost) with him. Although it takes the two some time before they realize that there is “something wrong”, they will soon find themselves having to face a full-blown Zombie Apocalypse.

Year: 2004

Director: Edgar Wright

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran

Night of the Living Dead

On the podium of the best zombie films we could only find the legendary film by George A. Romero, who contributed to revolutionizing and codifying the genre at the same time. A group of people barricades themselves in a farm to escape the dead who for some mysterious reason are resurrecting to feed on the living and “infect” them in turn. Beyond the horror atmospheres, many social issues that, according to various interpretations, would be touched by the film.

Year: 1968

Director: George A. Romero

Cast: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Keith Wayne, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman

28 days later

Danny Boyle, a director accustomed to playing with cinematographic genres, disturbs the cards on the table and gives new life to zombie movies. This time it’s a rabies-like virus that turns people into the walking dead. The film is also the first to introduce so-called “fast zombies”, a far cry from the classic walking corpses that waddle along in most films of this type. 28 days after a group of animal rights activists release a chimpanzee inoculated with an experimental virus, England is at the mercy of the undead. It is in this context that Jim wakes up from a coma, unaware of the events that have decimated the population of the island.

Year: 2002

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, Noah Huntley


Dawn of the Deadreleased in Italy with a much “flat” title Zombies, is the second exploit in the decomposed world of the living dead for George A. Romero, who even manages to surpass himself. The United States is in chaos following a real zombie apocalypse. A group of survivors barricades themselves inside a shopping center (a symbol of unbridled consumerism) to escape the carnage. Here they will find sufficient resources to survive for a long time, but the precarious balance is soon destined to break. Realized with the help of Dario Argento and produced by his brother Claudio, the film can count on Goblin’s music in its international version.

Year: 1978

Director: George Romero

Cast: Ken Foree, David Emge, Gaylen Ross, Scott H. Reiniger, David Crawford

The dead don’t die

Something strange is happening in the town of Centerville: the moon is shining in the sky, the hours of light are no longer predictable, the animals show unusual behaviors. There is great concern among scholars and ordinary people.

But what is most frightening is that the dead stop dying: they come out of their graves to hunt down men and thus feed themselves. It is a fight for survival, the one narrated by “The dead don’t die”, a new horror film signed by Jim Jarmusch with a respectable cast.

Year: 2019

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Cast: Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi

Zombieland: Double Tap

Sequel to 2009’s “Zombieland,” “Zombieland: Double Tap” follows the wacky, blood-free family group from Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock. The four live in an abandoned White House, and from here they continue to fight the zombies, divided into three groups: the stupid Homers, the intelligent Hawkings and the deadly Ninjas.

Everything changes when Little Rock runs away with a stranger, and the others will have to track him down by dealing with what happens when a family grows and evolves.

Year: 2019

Director: Reuben Fleischer

Cast: Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson


Year: 2019

Director: Reuben Fleischer

Cast: Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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