by Maria Ramos
With Halloween coming up fast this season, there’s no time like the present to celebrate one of the most-loved movie monsters in history: the zombie. Zombies have been around for almost a century in classic horror films, but only in recent years have they become a popular trend on TV shows and movies like The Walking Dead and World War Z. If you’re looking to revisit the classics this year, here are five zombie films that will creep you out in the best way.
White Zombie (1932)
White Zombie is known as the movie that introduced zombies to horror fans. This is the first appearance of zombies as bug-eyed, stalking monsters who aren’t quite human anymore, though their origins differ from the well-known zombie mythology of today. Instead of being disease-ridden corpses, the zombies from this 1932 film are victims of voodoo, turned into mindless servants after their untimely deaths. Though this film isn’t as scary or gory as modern zombie movies, it has a creepy, eerie atmosphere that will keep even the bravest audience members at their edge of their seats. White Zombie is available to watch on Netflix.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
If White Zombie marked the first appearance of zombie-like undead monsters, George A. Romero’s 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead is known as the first traditional zombie film. Romero singlehandedly created the zombie as we know it: a mindless, flesh-eating, shuffling, groaning monster who is bitten, dies, then comes back. Not only is Night of the Living Dead a horror masterpiece of its time (it is way more violent and explicit than any other film of the era), it had great social impact as well. The protagonists were a black man and a white woman, and their partnership was never seen as odd. The only important thing was survival. This classic can be streamed online at Fandor or rented on Amazon.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
By the time Shaun of the Dead hit theaters all over the world, zombies were a fixture in popular culture. They’d already appeared in dozens of films and terrorized millions of horror fans. Even though audiences still loved them, they were falling into stereotypical story roles and becoming pretty predictable. But Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s 2004 horror-comedy film Shaun of the Dead made the creatures fresh again with self-aware humor and new ways to survive the zombie apocalypse. This zombie comedy is still available to watch through Vudu or DirecTV.
While zombies took a comedic turn for a little bit, they came back with full force fear in 2008’s Pontypool, adapted from Tony Burgess’ 1995 novel Pontypool Changes Everything. These zombies represent the chaos of a world that can no longer organize, use language, or contain its rage, sending a once-civilized society into madness. While zombies have represented many things and have stood in as metaphors many times, they don’t get much more frightening (or realistic) than in Pontypool. You can watch this unique take on zombies on Netflix.
One of the most popular zombie movies of the past ten years, Zombieland, deftly blends horror and comedy in ways that fans of both genres love. There are plenty of gory, gruesome kills shots and heart-pounding zombie chases, but there’s also a heart to the film, bringing zombie movies to the next level of cinema. Much like Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland acknowledges longtime zombie fans while welcoming those who might be new to the genre. You can digitally rent Zombieland through Amazon, Apple, or Vudu.
Zombies definitely aren’t going anywhere, but as long as they stay scary and entertaining, we’ll keep watching!