Watching Brad Pitt take on the zombie apocalypse in World War Z reminds me of scenes that are good enough to cause nightmares – and keep them coming for weeks. For example: that moment in World War Z in which jet-passenger zombies in coach attack the humans luxuriating in first class. First you laugh, then you scream – love that combo. Here are 10 clips that have a similar effect.
There are millions of Resident Evil movies – OK, four of them – but I prefer the video game, which made its debut on PlayStation in 1996. This scene practically vibrates with danger and menace. And I love the way the zombie looks right at you.
The Return of the Living Dead
"Come in, dispatch – send more paramedics," says a flesh crawler, using an Ah-nuld voice as he hilariously radios for help after chowing down on a dude in a yellow rain slicker. Director Dan O'Bannon's debut film never gets the critical loves it deserves. Watch this scene and become a convert.
Infamously known as the "finding the key" moment, this hand-held sequence is a no-joke, no-bull frightfest. And just wait 'till the damsel in distress takes to the stairs.
Nazi zombies? Who doesn't want to sign up for that, especially as they feed on oversexed medical students vacationing in the Norwegian Alps! Among the vacationers is a movie junkie (Jeppe Beck Laursen) who points out the flaws in other horror flicks. Love it. Check out this scene – the blood looks crazy creepy in the snow.
Even zombies need a break, and this movie provides a theme park for the undead. Director Reuben Fleischer mixes fright and slapstick with bloody glee, especially in this blowout sequence. "Whee!" is a totally apt response.
Watch the lawnmower! I'll say no more, except that before Peter Jackson became the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbits and the Oscars, he wasn't above making a zombie cheapie. Dead Alive features Timothy Balme as Lionel, a mama's boy who hits a gory peak when he goes on a slice-and-dice offensive with a garden tool.
28 Days Later
World War Z took some pointers from this one. Six years before Danny Boyle won the Oscar for directing Slumdog Millionaire, he made an ass-kicking zombie movie that ranks with the best of them. For those of you who insist it's not a real zombie movie, get a life: Boyle told me he thinks it is, which is good enough for me. The scene that sticks with me is this early one, set in – of all places – a church, in which the walking dead move like sprinters, running as if someone stuck a live wire up their asses. Terrifying.
Shaun of the Dead
Leave it to the Brits to find the joke in being gobbled by zombies. Simon Pegg plays Shaun, a twentyish bloke who regularly drinks himself into a stupor. When the living dead attack, Shaun and his mates head to the local pub to make their last stand. But to get through the ghoul-clogged streets, they have to pass as zombies. No problem – they look just like them. It's a scene for the zombie movie time capsule.
Dawn of the Dead
Marauding zombies attack a Pittsburgh shopping mall in this living color sequel to George Romero's black-and-white Night of the Living Dead. Watching zombies shop and feel up the cheap merchandise is both a satire of consumerist America and a scare scene that gets you where you live. Man of Steel director Zack Snyder did a more than respectable 2004 remake in a Milwaukee mall, but Romero got there first.
Night of the Living Dead
The king daddy of zombie movies, no contest. World War Z, AMC's The Walking Dead and every other "dead" epic owes it all to George Romero's 1968 groundbreaker. Every scene works, but the cemetery opener, shot in broad daylight, remains an irresistible invitation to scream your bloody head off.