My Top 5 Favorite Zombie Movies
By Shawn Chesser, author of the Best Selling Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse series.
As we all know by now zombies are hugely popular. Turn on the television and start channel surfing and you’re bound to come across a commercial using them to sell BMWs or Sprint cellular service or Doritos. Hell, even a commercial hawking the latest incarnation of Microsoft Windows features Romero type shamblers.
Currently in theaters is Maggie, a film about a dad and his zombie daughter, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. And coming in July is an offering I’m waiting with bated breath to devour—Robert Kirkman’s Fear the Walking Dead, a spin-off of his mega-successful The Walking Dead of which season six is set to start filming soon.
So as I sat in my living room and wracked my brain over what my guest piece for Armand Rosamilia’s hugely successful Summer of Zombie 2015 Blog Tour would be, my gaze was drawn to the entertainment center and the stacks of blue plastic DVD cases there, many of which housed—you guessed it—zombie flicks.
Since I’ve been writing in the genre my collection has multiplied like those little furry Tribbles of Star Trek fame. Did I buy them with the idea of writing them off as research material? Nope. I’m just a sucker for things I don’t really need that just so happen to be placed strategically at eye level behind the express checkout at the Safeway.
Suddenly sidetracked from my blog topic search, I started rifling through the sapphire cases and ended up with a short stack I aimed to get to as soon as life allowed. Then it hit me as I stared at the DVDs sitting on my coffee table … I’ll list my five favorites and then sit back and wait for the inevitable chorus of ‘They’re not zombies, they’re infected!’ or ‘That piece of celluloid dung made your top five … what are you, on crack?’ followed by ‘That remake pales in comparison to the original. Chesser … you do realize that the Zs in that work of blasphemy are fast, not slow like in the original.
So lock and load, because I do realize that as the old saying goes: Opinions are like assholes—everybody’s got one, and they all stink … even mine. Yeah, I always screw that one up.
So without further adieu, here they be.
- Night of the Living Dead
No surprise here, George Romero’s first low-budget zombie film tops my list. For one it was released in 1968, the year I was born. Secondly, it was the first horror movie my mom allowed me to watch at age twelve. Funny thing is, as I look back on the experience now, that it was filmed in black and white didn’t even register on my give-a-shit radar—because it transcended anything I’d seen up to that point. In fact I still remember not being able to sit still while hiding behind a pillow when the shamblers breached the old farmhouse. They’re coming to get you, Barbara … the tension neck ache I got from watching that masterpiece of horror lingered all night and the hook that was set then still holds fast today. Thank you mom!!
- Dawn of the Dead (2004)
This remake of Romero’s 1978 classic grabbed me from the intro when the first couple of chords of Johnny Cash’s classic The Man Comes Around began playing over a frantic video montage showing the whole world going to hell.
The fact that these zombies were not true to Romero’s second installment of the Dead series also failed to make a blip on my aforementioned give-a-shit radar. From the little neighbor girl’s introduction early on, the ravenous and speedily persistent Zs kept the tension ratcheting up throughout the flick’s entire gore splashed 101 minute run. Another thing that really stood out for me was the baby. If you have no idea what I’m speaking of, you’ve got to watch this one ASAP.
3: World War Z
Yeah, I just went there. In fact I went there (the theater) knowing full well this movie was not representative of Max Brooks’ book of the same name, which I also enjoyed.
The first time I watched the preview with the scene where Gerry Hall (played by Brad Pitt) is ordered to get back inside his Volvo by a motorcycle cop—who gets pasted a second later by an out-of-control garbage truck—I knew WWZ would be my kind of zompoc movie.
The harrowing rooftop scene where Hall and family meet the helicopter that is to take them to safety gets repeated play at my house. I must admit, Hall doing his countdown on the ledge caught me flatfooted the first time. I especially like how the helo rises up over the parapet and the Special Forces operators pile out to engage and finally stave off the zombies (infected) that are launching themselves off the rooftop at the hovering chopper.
All in all, a few plot holes be damned, the accurate portrayal of the military when coupled with the awesome makeup and CGI special effects helped earn WWZ a solid 3 in my top 5.
4: 28 Days Later
I nearly crapped in my pants a dozen times and spilled my popcorn half as many when I first watched this one in the theater. The fast Zs (infected) and total lack of firearms as a result of the UK setting had the peril meter ratcheted up to ten for me from the get-go. Throw in the rapid rate-of-turn after infection and some rogue soldiers as additional protagonists and you’ve got one hell of a zombie (infected) flick.
5: Day of the Dead
George Romero’s third zombie film was the first I had the privilege to see on the big screen. Set in Florida in an underground facility, this one has the military component I like, scientists run amok, and my favorite zombie of all time, Bub, a seemingly harmless undead specimen who remembers snippets of his past life and can perform rudimentary tasks.
Something about the thought of being trapped in an underground bunker along with a butt load of zombies has forever etched this one in my memory. I guess that’s why it made the top five.
Lastly, as I wrap this up, I hope some of you who are reading this agree with a couple of my choices. However, I know and accept that I’m going to catch flack for lumping infected in with zombies. So, as a proactive amends, I offer up my all time favorite zombie short. Please Google search ‘Cargo’ and watch all seven minutes of it. It has the human element I strive to offer in my STZA series and is a very poignant piece of filmmaking featuring real zombies. I’m certain it will not disappoint.
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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!
Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!
#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!