With their uneven gait, rotting faces, and appetite for human flesh, it’s easy to see why zombies have endured over decades as iconic cinematic monsters. They represent the idea that humans can find ways to survive against all odds, pitting bleak storylines against optimistic themes. Zombies also represent contemporary fears and anxieties, frequently providing a window into modern unease, from the hollow commercialism represented in shopping malls to shambling through wastelands of environmental disaster.
While the undead are primarily associated with horror films (especially George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead" franchise, which popularized the modern idea of zombies), the creatures have range: They’ve also appeared in memorable comedies like “Shaun of the Dead” and “Re-Animator,” and action blockbusters like “World War Z” and “Train to Busan.”
While not every zombie movie has made a huge mark on filmmaking, it’s important to identify key films in the genre to understand how it's maintained its lasting cultural influence.
So, Stacker dove into zombie film history through the decades, choosing 20 films that marked a major moment in the development of the genre. We then provided context to unpack the influence each film had as a whole. Films are presented in chronological order. So sit back, try not to get bitten, and enjoy this list of notable zombie films—if you dare.
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