10 Zombie Films To Watch Before Seeing ‘World War Z’
Whether they stumble and groan like a hungover student, or run faster than Usain Bolt with an unquenchable bloodthirsty rage, zombies are one of the most popular monsters of choice for horror films. The upcoming film World War Z, starring Brad Pitt, is set to be a tense and exciting zombie thriller that sees one man take on an international army of zombies in order to protect his family. It is available to see in IMAX 3D and RealD 3D from the 21st of June 2013, and if the trailer is an accurate indication of the amount of action and shocking scenarios, it will no doubt earn a place on the Top Ten Zombie Films list itself.
Whilst zombie films are accessible and enjoyable to even the most uninformed of watchers, the vast amount of interpretations have created some incredible and essential films for fans of the undead. Watching these top ten zombie films will not only prepare you for the release of World War Z, but could ensure your survival if the re-animated corpse of your neighbour starts bashing on your door any time soon.
10. La Horde (The Horde, English Dubbed version) (2009)
This French film is as much of an action film as it is a zombie film, with an interesting exploration into the way a zombie apocalypse can affect relationships. Directed by Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher, La Horde follows the actions of a French police group as they attempt to neutralise a gang and avenge the death of a colleague. However, after the police officers are captured, both sides reluctantly work together to stay alive amongst the breakout of a zombie apocalypse.
The greatness of this film lies in the exciting plot and scenes of intense close combat with the zombies. There is less time actually spent with the zombies on camera, but their presence makes for a very interesting struggle between duty and survival for both the police and the gang. The zombies themselves are shambling, but their sheer number in the confined spaces of an apartment building makes them a formidable threat and La Horde an engrossing film, despite the unsatisfying ending.
9. In The Flesh (2013)
Whilst this is not a film, In The Flesh, focusses on a rarely explored and highly interesting topic in the area of zombies: the aftermath of a zombie uprising. The three-part drama series, which was created and written by Dominic Mitchell, creates a scenario wherein the undead are able to control their basic instincts via medication and normalise their appearance with make-up and contact lenses. Whilst this would normally bring happiness to families who are reunited with loved ones, in the location of a small village in Lancashire where prejudice and a local anti-zombie volunteer force are in control, the reception is less than welcoming.
What makes the series even more interesting is that the main character, teenager Kieran Walker, comes back from the dead after committing suicide to parents with repressed anger and sadness, as well as hostility from his sister, a member of the anti-zombie group. The series does not use zombies in their traditional violent sense, but takes a look at the societal and moral aspects of encountering a re-animated family member and their rehabilitation into society. As a result of this there is very little gore or post-apocalyptic scenarios, but In The Flesh provides a thought-provoking addition to the morality of zombies.
8. Død snø (Dead Snow, English Dubbed version) (2009)
Perhaps the one thing more terrifying than zombies, is Nazi zombies. Dead Snow is a Norwegian film directed by Tommy Wirkola, and tells the slightly clichéd tale of 5 students who go on a skiing holiday in Austria, only to come under attack by evil Nazi zombies who died in the mountains near the groups cabin.
Whilst Dead Snow still has a definite horror aspect, the more successful part of the film is the comical over-exaggeration of blood and gore. The zombies are stereotypical with regards to their slow movements and pack mentality, but the fact that they are Nazi zombies allows for a kind of army ranking system, making the zombies a focussed danger. When one of the character’s arms gets chopped off, it proceeds to spurt blood for a hilariously unrealistic amount of time, highlighting the films great balance between fear and comedy. The reason that it is not higher on the list is that it that the eccentricity does slightly ruin the fear factor of zombies, but the interesting plot redeems Dead Snow.
7. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
One of the classics in zombie films is Dawn of the Dead, and the remake directed by Zack Snyder builds on the original with areas to be both praised and criticised. The zombies are fast and agile, unlike the originals’ slow and lumbering movements, but Snyder’s undead, with their disgusting baring of teeth and rabid nature, give a true sense of the anger associated with zombies in films.
There is continuous suspense at watching how long the group of apocalypse survivors will survive in their chosen refuge, a shopping mall. With zombies being heavily featured as both a present and distant threat in this film, the tension between characters through clashes in personality is heightened, making for a complex set of relationships with interesting developments.
Dawn of the Dead is a great film to watch before seeing World War Z, as the zombies share the same characteristics and the fast paced filming gives a sense of the same kind of action as you can expect from World War Z, but with much more gore.
6. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
The second instalment of the Resident Evil film series falls short when compared to the others, especially in terms of the plot, seeming far too much like a remake of the first film, and sticking a little bit too close to the plot of the pre-created video game. The use of clichés in zombie films is now of questionable etiquette, but Resident Evil: Apocalypse does the expected in a befitting and enjoyable way.
Despite the slow pace even for a zombie film, the action sequences in Resident Evil: Apocalypse seem to be in a similar style to those in upcoming World War Z. With Resident Evil’s slightly more corporate and political themes, watching Apocalypse will prepare you for the business side of zombies, and the darkness that spreads from unholy risings which is bound to occur in World War Z.
5. Quarantine (2008)
A news crew gets some shocking footage in this honestly scary film while following the actions of an American fire department. Quarantine is by far one of the most jumpy on the Top Ten list, using the news crew’s camera to increase the feeling of imminent danger for the audience and the close quarters of a quarantined apartment building to create tense scenes in the darkness of stone stairwells and heavy doors. The events in Quarantine are made all the more scary by the kind of rabies infection that feels more likely than the rising of the undead, with enraged destruction their aim as opposed to the often unexplained craving of human flesh.
The kind of zombies are similar to those seen in 28 Days Later and to be seen in World War Z, with a lack of pain felt by the infected making for some eye-watering and awing scenes of mass zombie movements. The only failures of this film are the predictability, as it is an American re-make (but then nowadays, what horror films aren’t re-makes) of the Spanish ‘Rec’, and the clichéd whiny female character that screams her lungs pink at the breaking of a glass, but neither of these are enough to ruin the thrills of Quarantine.
4. Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead, English Subbed version) (2010)
Taking its unlikely heroic character from Shaun of the Dead, this Spanish-Cuban zombie film shows an unlikely reaction to a zombie apocalypse. The film’s main character, the lazy 40-year old Juan, who has devoted his life to doing nothing with his friend and even bigger lay-about Lazaro, sees a zombie apocalypse as a business oppportunity. He creates a zombie killers for hire service, with the rather blunt slogan, “Juan of the Dead: we kill your loved ones. How can we help you today?”. The zombies are spectacularly gory with some of the most amazingly disgusting detail shown in zombie films.
Another thing that sets Juan of the Dead apart from other zombie films is the more intelligent inclusion of political jibes at Cuba, whose people take a very sceptical view on zombies, and it is this inclusion of political themes that makes it a great aide to World War Z.
3. The Crazies (2010)
The zombies seen in The Crazies are not your average brain and flesh-cravers. They follow a similar principle to Dr. Jekyll’s Mr. Hyde, whilst they are still concious and hold normal appetites, their sense of morals and value for the lives of others is warped beyond repair, with scenes of the infected burning their families alive. The lack of self-control in the infected victims is quite scary, and their difference in behaviour compared to the average zombie makes The Crazies a stand-out film. The location is a stereotypical modern farming town in America, whose small location allows for real character development and a strong understanding of their relationships.
Despite being a remake, the direction by Breck Eisner has created a tense, unlikely success of a horror film, that whilst recieving criticism for the changes from the original, is still worth watching as a modern horror film. Again a strong point for this film when preparing to watch World War Z is the similar levels of military involvement. The Crazies shows the focus of the military on stopping the spread of the infection, involving some rather inhumane actions, and providing one of many times when you will be decidedly creeped-out.
2. 28 Days Later (2002)
28 Days Later not only exists as a great zombie film, but also as a great British film. Directed by the world renowned Danny Boyle, it shows the devastating effect of zombies in the packed area of London, and a small group of survivors’ struggle to find family members, obtain supplies, and reach the supposed cure for the rage virus that has left Great Britain quarantined and crumbling. As one of the first films to show the infected in a primal and agile interpretation, 28 Days Later is a film with a great balance of swift horror and touching beauty.
The tragic and personal moments such as when the main character, a bicycle courier named Jim, finds that his parents have committed peaceful suicide whilst he was in a coma are a harsh contrast to the violent actions of the infected, such as the attack on Jim and his allies when the zombies realise that they are in the house. As can be expected in World War Z, 28 Days Later shows the intimate and dutiful relationships that are born out of hardship, and focusses on small groups against the masses of infected, highlighting the greatness of surviving against a faster, stronger and raging forms of ourselves.
1. Resident Evil (2002)
The first in a long franchise of films, and arguably one of the most successful zombie films out there, Resident Evil tells the story of a large and sinister biomedical corporation and possibly the worst conceivable scientific accident. The introduction of the T-virus, a murderous and re-animating bio-weapon, into the scientific research centre’s ventilation system sparks a zombie outbreak and the death of all the workers in the scientific centre. The characters, who take on the personalities of ones adequately equipped for a zombie apocalypse, in their own way, are much more likeable than the scared, naive characters so often featured in zombie films. The plot allows for the necessary character development that has made Resident Evil such a great film series.
The futuristic nature of Resident Evil coupled with the high quality of the zombies makes it an interesting alternative scenario to place zombies in. This film, too, is a rare phenomenon in that it has a great balance between action and horror, something that can be expected in the upcoming World War Z.
A great zombie film isn’t just about the grossness of the make-up or the amount of fake guts spilt, it takes an interesting plot with adaptable characters and a complex set of relationships to make something worth watching. The highly anticipated World War Z ticks all the boxes and then some, with interesting political themes and the exploration of the emotional bonds between parent and child making it a highlight of summer films with the thrills of a Halloween epic.
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