10 Zombie Films To Watch Before Seeing ‘World War Z’

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)

La Horde posterThis 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)

luke_newberryWhilst 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)

dead-snow posterPerhaps 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)

-dawn-of-the-dead-posterOne 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)

Resident_Evil_Apocalypse_PosterThe 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)

QuarantineposterA 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)

Juan_of_the_DeadTaking 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)

Crazies_1-sheetmech_121509.inddThe 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 (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)

Resident_evil_ver4The 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.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Dale Barham

    Personally I would have included Rec over Quarantine and one of the earlier zombie films like Return of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead is by far the best Zombie film in recent years and could have been higher in my opinion. Can’t say I agree with Resident Evil being at the top but it does indeed share similarities with WWZ. Great article though I enjoyed it very much!

    • Louise Egan

      I see your point about Rec, but seeing as it is in Spanish and I had a few other foreign speaking films, I thought for ease of watching I would include Quarantine, as it is in English. Resident Evil is one of the best known serious zombie films, and sharing its political themes and style with World War Z, it seemed most apt to watch in preparation, however it is all down to opinion, and I wouldn’t say it was my favourite. Thank you very much for reading it, I’m glad you enjoyed 🙂

      • Amanda Gostomski

        Rec 2 is actually really good as well. Like the whole series is better.

        • Dale Barham

          Rec 2 was a bizarre film. I loved some aspects, but hated others. Did you notice how whoever was holding the camera stopped shooting first-person style and shot it like a more conventional film at some points?

        • Spencer

          Does it follow on from the first Rec? Admittedly I was too frightened by Rec in the first place to even think about the second..

          • I know I’m like a year too late to reply to this, but however..

            Hannah, REC 2 follows on DIRECTLY after REC, I think it’s set like literally an hour or so after the ending of REC. REC3 was… a bit more of a comedy, definitely not as good as the first 2, but it did add more to the REC mythos. I’m yet to see REC4 (If it’s been made?)

  2. Alejandro Boone

    I find the best way to look at a zombie TV show or movie is too take zombies out of it. This may sound stupid but if zombies could be replaced with something else like robots or your unkle, and the show still works, then its a good sign. The reason The Walking Dead works so well is because it focuses on the relationships between humans and if there we’re no zombies and most of humanity was wiped out by a bomb or giant space octopus, the show would remain just as good. So basically what I’m saying is the mark of a good zombie film or TV show is if it doesn’t need zombies.

    Would I have personally put Resident Evil as the best choice to watch? Absolutely, ABSOLUTELY, not. It remains the first and only movie that I shut it down two thirds into it and watched it years later – remained as bad. I like some of your other choices though =)

    • Louise Egan

      I have never been able to properly enjoy The Walking Dead for that very reason I am afraid: When I sit down to watch a zombie film or TV show, I expect to be grossed out or scared by zombies rather than watch a group of people exchange tense words. If you are able to take the zombies out of the film and it still works then I would say it is a bad zombie film, as they don’t play an integral part in the plot, which they really should do to be called a zombie film in the first place.

      I would not say Resident Evil is the best zombie film I agree, but it shares many themes and has a similar style to World War Z, so seemed the best to watch in preparation for World War Z.

  3. I love zombies, I love killing zombies and I love zombie films, but I haven’t actually seen that many! Will give some of these a go 🙂
    I have watched In The Flesh and I hated it, the idea behind it was good, but i found the storyline very boring. Not a Walking Dead fan I see?

    Cant wait for World W Z, looking amazing.

    • Louise Egan

      That’s great, a lot of these are worth watching even if not before World War Z 🙂
      I can understand that, but it was a nice alternative take on zombies, perhaps gave them a more vulnerable side.
      Hah oh gosh no, no matter how hard I try xD

      • Yeah it was something different, but I feel as if it could of been a lot better with a few tweaks of the storyline!

        The first season of The Walking Dead was amazing, but its slowly declined in greatness over the other two. It focuses a lot more on the characters rather than the zombies…and can sometimes be a little dull. (Don’t get me started on season 2!)So I can see why some people dislike it .

        Also wondering why I Am Legend didn’t make the bill? 🙁 amazing film, one of my favorites, as for Shaun of the Dead but seeming as its a piss take of Dawn of the Dead its understandable why it isn’t up here haha.

        • Louise Egan

          I Am Legend is actually about vampires, however if it had been zombies it would have been way up on the list.

          Yeah, plus Shaun of the Dead wouldn’t really make watching World War Z any more enjoyable or understandable, it’s just a funny film with a great comedy duo 🙂

  4. Vic Millar

    Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead remain my two favorite zombie movies. But I do love 28 Days Later, and I think 28 Weeks Later is actually pretty underrated. Nice list.

    • Louise Egan

      Thanks 🙂 Those are both very good, there was once a time where my day consisted of quoting Shaun of the Dead with my friends because we loved it so much. That’s very true,28 Weeks Later is just as good as 28 Days Later with an arguably better plot-line.

  5. Nicholas Devin

    I like the list. Some really good movies added in there, but I just feel that George Romero’s zombie films needed to be included. They influenced many of the zombie films made today and I think he has become forgotten in today’s age of horror directors. But in saying that, great job writing the list. World War Z looks great.

  6. Adrienne B

    There’s been so much problems behind the scenes in WWZ, it is crazy. Very doubtful that this will turn out to be a good movie. All of these are probably better than what WWZ will be. We’ll see.

  7. Robbie Cochrane

    I have a massive problem with Zombie films in general. Not to mention series’. none of them ever seem to satisfy my ‘zombie needs’ and I am pining for something that comes as close to Romero’s Dawn of The Dead; which was close, but not quite hitting the spot for my ‘inner tormented adolescent self’.

    For me The Walking Dead (series) had great potential and although it satisfies some of my needs it doesn’t hit the nail on the head. The latest season for example – all of a sudden the zombies offer no threat, they are merely tools. None of the characters are remotely likable with the exception of perhaps, at a push, Daryl. I just want to bang their heads together and shout ‘there’s a zombie apocalypse going on out there stop being so melodramatic’.

    In the same breath I’m massively shocked that there is no Dawn of The Dead in there – and I also thoroughly enjoyed Zombieland (perhaps this is just due to Murray stealing the show) – but at least it doesn’t try to be something it isn’t.

    Yet, when all said and done – you have made me aware of a couple of films that I will definitely check out – particularly Dead Snow which looks interesting. And In The Flesh which has been on my ‘to watch’ list for a long time.

    Good luck World War Z – I’m praying for you!!!

    Cheers for the tips and nice article!

  8. Ben Harper

    Nice article, Louise, but count me in as another who feels the absence of any George Romero films a bit surprising/disappointing. World War Z would have never even been written if it wasn’t for his work.

    Besides that, the film itself looks interesting, though I feel it may be a clumsy final product, much like ‘War of The Worlds’ (remake) or ‘I Am Legend’; great potential with excellent beginnings, only to be undone and become overall mediocre via confusion of trying to be unique but remain a broad appeal, tent pole blockbuster. Something that is VERY hard to achieve, even for a genre film.

  9. dubbed versions? seriously?

  10. I know that I Am Legend isn’t exactly a zombie movie, however I feel that it would/should fit into this category and hopefully be placed at or near the top. Two of my favorite movies are I Am Legend and World War Z, and I feel that they share similar plot and face unique but similar difficulties.

  11. prashanth

    Pls add 28 weeks later,maggie & pride prejudice and zombies.And finally your list of zombie movies are amazing.If possible pls add download or watch online link,it would be very useful 😎👌😊❤

  12. Resident Evil movies shouldn’t be here. I know it’s zombies but you’re recommending a bad movie.

  13. Haven’t heard of a couple of these. Interesting.

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