Zombies are all over the place nowadays.
Commercials, kids shows, videogames, mainstream television… often considered a reflection of consumerism itself, it’s really no surprise zombies are bigger than ever.
It’s not news to anyone currently alive in 2016, but The Walking Dead is one of the largest television shows on the air and there’s no end in sight. It’s amassed a fandom paralleled to the likes of Harry Potter, Twilight, or Doctor Who.
However, legit, old school zombies are gnarly.
Not just TV-14 Are You Afraid of the Dark gnarly, but OHMYGODKILLITWITHFIRE gnarly.
I’m of the mind that practical effects reign supreme and, while I’m not the biggest TWD fan, god bless ‘em for utilizing some SFX. And I’ll have you know, I’ve had zombies on the brain for decades now. (I imagine someday I’ll go to prison for puns á la Fahrenheit 451).
For you, my beloved, I’ve compiled some of the best zombies ever in modern cinema to date.
These ten zombies will gross you out, make you gag and cause you to shift in your chair. Just like they’re supposed to.
So, go on, fill up on this sweet amalgam of juicy, gory information because, you know, after all, you are what you eat.
Or so I’m told.
Although he’s on screen for less than a minute, Dr. Tongue is one of the most recognizable zombies to date. His creator, Tom Savini, nicknamed this puppet Dr. Tongue for his… well, you know.
It isn’t for 100% certain whether he was shot in the jaw or if he was partially eaten by zombies before his untimely demise. I like to imagine he done got shot. But, I feel that’s part of the fun. Definite facts become regurgitated by fans over and over again. Dr. Tongue is a great subject of dialogue because he’s open to interpretation, a fantastic tool for keeping films relevant.
Dawn of the Dead
I was in my early teens when I first saw Dawn of the Dead.
It literally changed my life. Romero did such a wonderful job creating dynamic characters you can’t help but see yourself in. That’s why when Flyboy meets his maker in a Monroeville Mall elevator, his grisly appearance was met with shock and wonder by fans.
And, my god, I still find myself gripped by David Emge’s performance as the posthumous Flyboy. Upon exiting the elevator, he puts so much weight on his ankle, it looks legitimately broken. Perhaps one of the best actors to take on the role of zombie… in my eyes, David Emge is truly king.
28 Days Later
First off, can we real talk about how 28 Days Later is FOURTEEN years old? (Cue exasperated grandma emoji). Yeah, let’s just pretend that we all aren’t racing towards our own mortality.
Private Mailer is a unique zombie/infected person. Why? He’s rabid, he’s fast, and most importantly, he’s an emotional rollercoaster. Mailer is a graphic and astounding character in that he strikes fear into viewers while simultaneously inspiring pity. Chained in a courtyard as a military “experiment.”
Later in the film, he becomes a weapon and attacks those he used to protect with his life. Mailer eventually and rightfully gets his cake. And, of course, eats it, too.
One of the more infamous zombies on this list is this yummy little wonder.
Maybe the most famous Italian zombie (with a close second going to Shark Fighting Zombie), Worm-Eyed Zombie/Conquistador Zombie (which are, yes, both of his formal names) is a practical effects dream come true. Or nightmare, if you aren’t a horror fan. He is only featured in this one scene below, which I consider a cinematic treat that will endure for decades to come.
Cult favorite Creepshow is known for its dozens of famous actors, talented crew and directors… but, Nathan Grantham takes the proverbial cake.
Romero’s wonderboy, John Amplas, can be recognized from Martin, Day of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead… lordy, the list goes on and on. But, Amplas’ most notorious screen presence was his portrayal of Grantham, a devious, money grubbing father figure.
In an interview with www.terrortrap.com, Amplas stated, that he “just loved working on that. Savini called me to play the dead Nathan Grantham that comes from the grave to get his birthday cake. He needed a physically slight actor who would fit under the makeup of a corpse. I weighed in at about 125 pounds in those days.
But it was great. I got to meet Stephen King. And work with the late great Viveca Lindfors. And also Carrie Nye. As well as a very much still alive Ed Harris (again).”
John Amplas is just a delight and will forever be one of the great character actors in the horror genre.
Shaun of the Dead
Okay, so, Ed’s not dead most of the movie. But, his reveal at the end of the film (Does this even qualify as a spoiler alert? Tell me you’ve seen this by now) is utterly stupendous. It’s a wonderful plot mechanic and his makeup is both endearing and gruesome.
This occasion is one of the few times in modern cinema where the audience is actually happy to see one of the main characters turn into the undead.
I like to imagine Shaun and Ed are still out in the shed playing video games, even ten plus years later.
Return of the Living Dead
I’m biased as all get out, but ROTLD is my favorite zombie film ever. It’s punk, it’s funny, it’s terrifying, and sexy to boot. That also kind of sounds like the description of an ideal date.
Maybe save for the terrifying bit. Tarman, portrayed by Allan Trautman, is a juicy, nimble, hungry zombie. He also has a unique feature… he’s able to speak! But, this fellas only got one thing on his mind… brains, brains, and more brains!
Night of the Living Dead
Karen Cooper, played by Kyra Schon, is a pivotal figure in horror. Juvenile, female, dead… she is truly a trailblazer.
The infamous image of a dark, young woman staring through her brow directly into the camera, featured above, is one of the most memorable images in film. Period.
The scene where she murders her mother with a garden spade is chill inducing at the least and maybe one of the most jarring scenes in zombiedom.
She’s hot as hell and she’s mad. Why? Because her cute, new boyfriend shot her… before she was infected. She is a multifaceted character as she come back from the dead repeatedly and via a zeitgeist of reincarnations.
Although Cemetery Man stars Rupert Everett, She, played by the drop dead gorgeous Anna Falchi, steals the show anytime she’s on screen.
The film itself is enthralling, gory, nasty, and wanders in and out of the Cemetery Man’s meta existence. I’m certain Cemetery Man wouldn’t be the cult classic it is today had She been cast as anyone else.
Day of the Dead
You can’t have a zombie list without Bub. I’m pretty sure I’d be stoned to death, in the not fun way, if I neglected to mention him. Cultivated by the nefarious Dr. Logan, Bub is smarter than your average dead guy. Bub’s resume includes being able to shave, bark out simple phrases, and shoot dickhead military jerks.
Bub, named after Dr. Logan’s father, is distinctive in that he never actually attacks any living humans. Perhaps there’s more to Bub than meets the eye. But, you know, you can’t expect him to live on beef treats forever, right?
I’ll end this list with a little extra treat for you, my friend.
While Bill Murray was NOT a zombie in Zombieland, he made quite the impression on audiences when he poked fun at himself by jiving to the Ghostbusters theme song, donning an awful wig, and ultimately being such a convincing zombie… he actually gets shot.
Of course, we hope the real Bill Murray lives forever and ever, but this scene is absolutely worthy of its place on this list.
We here at FOG! would love to hear your favorite zombies! Are they Italian? Norwegian? Swedish?
Give us a shout and share your gory, undead faves!