Best Zombie Movies: From 'Night of the Living Dead' to 'Zombieland' - Rolling Stone
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The 10 Best Zombie Movies

Undead flicks that matter, from ‘Night of the Living Dead’ to ‘Zombieland’

Best Zombie Movies

With AMC’s The Walking Dead burning up TV screens and Brad Pitt’s World War Z heading for the multiplex, zombies are hot again. Well, actually they’re cold and dead. But you know what I mean. Freaks for vampires are always bitching that zombies, being rotting corpses, can’t ever exert the sexual allure of Rob Pattinson’s Edward Cullen in the Twilight series or Ian Somerhalder’s Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries. The hell with that. Let’s hear it for the best zombie movies, the creepy-crawly ones that have their own way of keeping us up at night.

By Peter Travers

'Dawn of the Dead' (2004)

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection


‘Dawn of the Dead’ (2004)

Here's a surprise. A big, glossy remake from director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) that pays tribute to the spirit of George Romero's zombiefest and then takes off at its own bloody speed. Snyder also sets the film — his first — in a shopping mall (Milwaukee, this time, not Pittsburgh), but his living dead are no staggering slowpokes. They race around like sprinters. Whatever the film lacks in originality (plenty), it makes up for in zesty humor and nonstop gut-ripping. And make sure to watch the epilogue.

'Dawn of the Dead' (1978)

Laurel Group/Ronald Grant Archive/Mary Evans/Everett Collection


‘Dawn of the Dead’ (1978)

This living color sequel to George Romero's black-and-white Night of the Living Dead focuses on a TV reporter (Gaylen Ross), her traffic pilot boyfriend (David Emge) and two SWAT cops (Ken Foree and Scott Reiniger) who hole up in a Pittsburgh shopping mall to protect themselves (Ha!) from marauding zombies. Watching zombies shop is a scene for the time capsule. Besides scares, the movie gives Romero a platform for a scathing satire of the malling of a sexist, racist America.

'Night of the Living Dead' (1968)

Courtesy Everett Collection


‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968)

Not only the best flesh-eating zombie movie shot in Pittsburgh, it's the best flesh-eating zombie movie anywhere. Everything zombie, right up to AMC's ab fab Walking Dead, owes a debt to this baby. Director George Romero's haunting black-and-white imagery sneaks up in all its ragged glory as a group of live ones hole up in a farmhouse as the dead come up to chow down. Duane Jones, playing one of the first black heroes in the horror genre, must talk and sometimes slap sense into this panicky herd. The cemetery opener in daylight always gets me. The Dead have never been livelier or scarier than they are here when Romero built the mold.

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