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Best Zombie Thriller

author
Paul Gonzalez
• Friday, 15 January, 2021
• 10 min read

A ragtag group of Pennsylvanians barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monsters who are ravaging the East Coast of the United States. “They're coming to get you, Barbara,” jokes Johnny to his sister at the beginning of George Romero's classic, which pretty much created the entire genre.

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Contents

Although it has been remade twice (the decent 1990 version and the horrible 2006 debacle in 3D), the original is just as chilling as anything that has come from the genre since. Team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.

The film's immediate focus is the action inside a suburban mall, where a band of survivors tries to keep swarms of undead at bay. She gets sick and dies, at which time she comes back to life, killing and eating dogs, nurses, friends, and neighbors.

Peter Jackson's blood-splattered comedic masterpiece may be the goriest film on the list, but it's so over-the-top that it's actually funny. This movie will do two things to you: Make you squeamish about eating soup and give you grand fantasies of fighting the undead every time you mow the lawn.

Plus, the scene where the survivors “play dead” can serve as an educational film for zombie walk newbies everywhere. Strangers searching for a young woman's missing father arrive at a tropical island where a doctor desperately seeks the cause and cure of a recent epidemic of the undead.

Among some great scenes, this film provides answers to such burning questions as, “What happens if a pregnant woman becomes a zombie ?” The DVD gets bonus points for its extra featured following the gun shop owner's video diary of his daily survival.

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Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary. “28 Days Later” nonetheless deserves a spot on the list because of its huge influence on the nature of zombie films that followed it.

The movie not only popularized the fast-running zombie of many modern films, but was also a good post-apocalyptic survival story to boot. A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.

Part three of what was once George Romero's zombie trilogy (he's made two more since), “Day” initially received tepid reception because it doesn't quite match the impact of the previous two movies (“Dawn” and “Night”). Nevertheless, time makes the heart grow fonder, and “Day” has stood up to be one of the genre's best films over the years.

A shy student trying to reach his family in Ohio, a gun-toting tough guy trying to find the last Twinkle, and a pair of sisters trying to get to an amusement park join forces traveling across a zombie -filled America. This film really translates the unabashed glee that comes from battling hordes of zombies in a video game.

Woody Harrelson plays the video-game-character-like role, while Jesse Eisenberg does his best Michael Era impersonation. Although the actual theme park setting arrives a little late in the movie, it serves as a perfect playground for zombie battles.

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Timmy's zombie becomes his pet and friend, and is named Fido (Sir Billy Connolly). Billy Connelly plays the title character, and offers probably the best acting job done by anyone portraying the living dead.

Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. Picking up six months after the rage virus wiped out most of the population, the U.S. Army has come to London to help fortify an area for depopulation.

Jeremy Runner and Rose Byrne are great, but it definitely doesn’t surpass the original. A cop chases two hippies suspected of a series of Manson family-like murders; unbeknownst to him, the real culprits are the living dead, brought to life with a hunger for human flesh by ultrasonic radiation being used for pest control.

“Let Sleeping Corpses Lie” has fantastic and realistic zombies of the “freshly dead” variety. A special military unit fights a powerful, out-of-control supercomputer and hundreds of scientists who have mutated into flesh-eating creatures after a laboratory accident.

To date, Resident Evil has stood as practically the only example of a good -- or at least, an enjoyable -- movie based on a video game, making We Boll's career seem all the more pointless in retrospect. A nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island.

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The walk through the cornfield as the titular zombie is pulled toward the secret voodoo ceremony is good stuff. After a highly unusual zombie saves a still-living girl from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion events that might transform the entire lifeless world.

While its premise reminds a bit the nonsensical and annoying living/dead love fest of the “Twilight” series, this film works because it doesn't take itself nearly as seriously -- it's much more self-aware. A fun tale set in a post-apocalyptic American, Warm Bodies creates its own rules for what zombies are, and what they can become.

The only Asian zombie film on the list, “Versus” is worth watching for the fast-paced Samurai-style battles between the living and the dead. After two decades of waiting, many George Romero fans were somewhat disappointed in the horror icon's fourth installment in his zombie series.

While it's true that it doesn't stack up to the previous three, “Land” nonetheless is a top quality zombie flick. Despite some disappointing performances by Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo, the movie still packs in the thrills.

While “Planet Terror” didn't receive as much praise from the movie going public as its Grind house double-feature partner “Death Proof,” Robert Rodriguez's over-the-top homage to the genre was still an entertaining ride. A ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students, as they find themselves confronted by an unimaginable menace: Nazi zombies.

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“Dead Snow” is a pretty straightforward modern zombie flick with equal parts gore and humor. This is the first remake of the classic, directed by gore effects maestro Tom Saving (probably best known as playing the role of Sex Machine in “From Dusk Till Dawn”).

On the night of the big High-School Prom, the dead rise to eat the living, and the only people who can stop them are the losers who couldn't get dates to the dance. John Hughes meets George Romero in this entertaining low-budget horror-comedy about a group of high school outcasts who vow to save their prom from zombies spawned by pollution from the nearby nuclear power plant.

A definite change to his traditional style of zombie films, “Diary” may not be his strongest piece but is still a fun ride with likeable characters. A radio host interprets the possible outbreak of a deadly virus which infects the small Ontario town he is stationed in.

Alien brain parasites, entering humans through the mouth, turn their host into a killing zombie. Night of the Creeps isn't really about zombies- alien slugs posses people, turning them into mostly mindless cannibal freaks- but they're zombies by any other name.

Though it itself has a few nods back to Rosenberg debut Shivers, Night of the Creeps references pop in to nearly everything. Yeah, it's got blood, and a smattering of smarmy social commentary, and a few pretty good gore effects, but honestly it's just really entertaining.

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However, Patient Zero as a book had me glued from start to finish, thanks to a strong cast of characters and well-written action scenes. I think fans of military-themed zombie apocalypse books will fully enjoy author Jonathan Mayberry’s release.

The plot centers on the legendary Joe Ledger, a hardened Baltimore detective, who joins a secret response team to stop terrorists. The mission: prevent the baddies from infecting people with a terrible bio-weapon that, essentially, turns them into zombies.

As an anthropologist, I really appreciate author Sophie Little field’s attention to underlying cultural themes, explored amid the bleak setting of a zombie apocalypse. She’s a mother who awakens to find herself as a zombie that’s mysteriously turned back human.

Class then embarks on a dangerous search for her daughter, seeking help in a world filled with flesh-hungry Beaters (i.e. zombies). Interestingly, I first met author Rhiannon Crater online many years ago on an obscure forum for horror fans.

Fast-forward a decade later and Rhiannon is now an accomplished author being published by Tor Books. Among her most celebrated releases is the As The World Dies zombie apocalypse trilogy, beginning with The First Days.

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On the other, it doesn’t hold back in fleshing out the gruesome impact of a full-blown zombie apocalypse. And, yes, there are sections in the book where author Mira Grant veers too deep into the technical aspects of online journalism.

The Newsflash series offers plenty of character and emotional depth, wrapped up by a largely satisfying ending. From Extinction Horizon and beyond, author Nicholas Smith feeds you an exquisite serving of frenzied zombie action.

This military story follows Master Sergeant Reed Beckham who, as leader of his Delta Force Team, has lived through his fair share of nightmarish missions. An epic catastrophe soon unfolds when they discover that infected zombies have started to spread across cities, threatening human extinction.

While coming across as a back-to-basics thriller, you’ll be surprised to find a host of intriguing characters woven into an addictive narrative fabric. The plot brims with solid dialogue, coupled with attention to military & scientific detail.

The series even offers a plausible explanation for the zombie apocalypse, which is always a welcomed perk. Michael making the entire zombie apocalypse an imaginative ‘game’ for Patrick is both endearing and smartly used as a plot device for creating real tension.

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This opens her eyes to the outside world for the first time; an existence plagued by a zombie apocalypse within which, unbeknownst to her, she has a role to play. A zombie book less about in-your-face action and more focused on fostering a genuinely creepy atmosphere.

Older than most books on this list, The Rising treks a father’s journey through a zombie apocalypse in an effort to rescue his son. The plot centers on a group of students who find themselves trapped in school, with a zombie horde pounding to get in.

In addition, characters go through a lot of existential struggles, pivoting between hope and hopelessness. What begins as a possible cure for lung cancer goes terribly wrong, and soon, we have a full-blown undead catastrophe on our hands.

However, I think the strong plot and surprisingly charming characters will definitely find an audience with adults alike. However, as far as zombie novels go, The Briefing seems to be a hugely overlooked gem for the genre (based on the many five-star reviews I’ve read).

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3 www.readingvine.com - https://www.readingvine.com/passages/the-shepherd-boy-and-the-wolf
4 www.english-for-students.com - http://www.english-for-students.com/The-Shepherd-Boy-and-The-Wolf.html
5 www.washingtonpost.com - https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1985/04/21/the-mystery-of-the-wolf-boy/4c729f3c-3617-4cae-8008-361f32c074b1/