It’s a lot easier – and, admittedly, a lot more fun – to break down the best movies of all time by way of a particular genre than it is to lump them together onto one single Top 10 list.
I’d have no problem picking my 10 favorite sci-fi flicks, gangster movies, romantic comedies, musicals, and so forth. But trying to pick my favorite zombie thrillers of all time? Not so easy, as it turns out.
In fact, my brain hurts just thinking about it…
10) “Resident Evil” (2002) – The zombie movie as an action-packed video game, and supermodel Milla Jovovich gave new meaning to the words “drop-dead gorgeous.”
9) “Evil Dead: Army of Darkness” (1992) – The most thrilling and outrageous of Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” installments found the great Bruce Campbell – with tongue planted firmly in cheek – battling the minions of darkness during medieval times.
8) “Dawn of the Dead” (2004) – Run, zombies, run! Though it lacked the moral impact of George Romero’s 1978 milestone, Zack Snyder’s exciting remake gave the genre a 21st Century facelift with strong performances, top-notch production values, a harrowing zombie birthing scene and the visceral thrill of the running dead.
7) “Zombieland” (2009) – Stylish and loads of fun, thanks to a game cast that included Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and a brilliant scene-stealing cameo from former Ghostbuster Bill Murray.
6) “Return of the Living Dead” (1985) – Silly and very entertaining, “Return” is the “Airplane” of zombie movies. Send more brains!
5) “ParaNorman” (2012) – A stop-motion animation zombie fairy tale that will bring a tear to your eye? Yes, it’s true. Released just in time to make this list, this delightful, funny, clever and imaginative gem from the makers of 2009’s “Coraline” is remarkably effective as both a zombie thriller and as a message about the effects of bullying.
4) “28 Days Later” (2002) – The documentary-style feel of Danny Boyle’s zombie thriller makes it one of the scariest and most terrifying of them all. It all starts with a dazed Cillian Murphy wandering the streets of a deserted London, and then it’s downhill from there.
3) “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) – And now for something completely different: a loving tribute to the best of Romero’s zombie classics that balanced the expected amount of blood, gore and suspense with a sharp, witty, snappy screenplay.
2) “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) – One of the best sequels of all time, period. In what I consider to be the “Empire Strikes Back” of zombie movies, Romero took his original concept to a whole new level, accentuating the social commentary (look, we’re worse than the zombies!) and the bloody gore in the same process.
1) “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) – Shot in black-and-white for pennies in a west Pennsylvania cemetery, Romero’s trailblazing classic is the “Citizen Kane” of zombie movies. While 1978’s “Dawn” is technically a better film, where would that be without the big daddy that started them all? They’re STILL coming to get you, Barbara!
-- Scott Mantz