5 zombie movies to help you cope with 'Walking Dead' withdrawal
From 'World War Z' to 'Night of the Living Dead,' get your ghoul on with these post-apocalyptic zombie thrillers.
That collective groan you heard Sunday evening in TV land? No, not another zombie herd, but millions of fans who tuned into the Season 6 finale of "The Walking Dead" and watched as one of the world's most-watched dramas ended with yet another cliffhanger.
In lieu of no more Rick and the gang until "The Walking Dead" returns in October, we thought it would be a great time to use these next few months to catch up on some classic zombie films. So pull up Amazon Video or Netflix, and check out these fine undead recommendations.
'28 Days Later'
Directed by British filmmaker Danny Boyle, "28 Days Later" is a 2002 post-apocalyptic drama that's widely credited with not only reinvigorating the undead genre, but also introducing the idea of "fast, sprinting zombies." Starring Irish actor Cillian Murphy and British star Naomie Harris, the film tells the story of a man who awakens from a coma to find London in the grips of a zombie pandemic. To pull off the desolate scenes of the normally bustling city, the production crew typically shot on Sundays just after dawn, relying on a mobile police roadblock to slow down traffic. While effective, the crew had only minutes to film the scene before people and traffic would start invading the shot.
Critical reviews were overwhelmingly positive, with the film joining the ranks of several "scariest ever" lists. In his review for Empire Magazine, American critic Ken Newman called it the "best purely British horror/science-fiction film in decades. And the first great apocalypse movie of the new millennium."
'World War Z'
Based on the best-selling book by American horror author Max Brooks, "World War Z" revolves around the spread of a worldwide zombie virus and the former United Nations investigator tasked with stopping it. The film, directed by German filmmaker Marc Forster, stars American actor Brad Pitt, Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz, and South African actor Fana Mokoena.
"I wanted to make it global. I wanted to make it about the world," Brooks told From The Grapevine about his idea for the zombie pandemic. "What I was trying to say in this book is that we're all in this together. We can't wait for the 11th hour before it's too late. We need to look at global problems and global solutions and work together to solve them."
Despite costly reshoots and delays, "World War Z" defied expectations and became both a critical and financial success upon its release in June 2013. "Z has guts and energy," wrote David Thomson for The New Republic. "It starts its mayhem early and it never lets up." The film still stands today as the highest-grossing zombie movie of all time.
'Shaun of the Dead'
British filmmakers/actors Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg proved that zombies could inspire laughs as well as gasps with the 2004 comedy "Shaun of the Dead." Set in London, the plot focuses on the downtrodden life of an electronics shop salesman who awakens one morning to find himself in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. The film is notable for its impressive cameos by British comedians and sitcom stars; including Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig and Trisha Goddard.
Shot over nine weeks on a very small budget, the film went on to become both a critical and commercial hit around the world. "A side-splitting, head-smashing, gloriously gory horror comedy, 'Shaun Of The Dead' is hilarious," gushed British critic Nev Pierce for the BBC. The popular film website Bloody Disgusting went even further, calling the film "quite possibly the best horror-comedy ever made."
'Dawn of the Dead'
Written and directed by American filmmaker George Romero, "Dawn of the Dead" is a 1978 classic zombie film that should be on every fan's must-see list. The plot revolves around an "unexplained phenomenon" that reanimates the recently deceased and triggers the violent collapse of modern society. It's also considered one of the most gory zombie flicks.
According to Romero, the idea for "Dawn" came after he visited a shopping mall in Pennsylvania managed by a friend and was given a tour of its hidden sections. His friend quipped that the facility would be the perfect place to ride out an emergency, sparking Romero's interest in creating a zombie film where a mall would play a central role in offering sanctuary to survivors.
"Dawn" went on to become both a critical and box office success, with legendary critic Roger Ebert calling it "one of the best horror films ever made." It also spawned a franchise of four sequels and helped launch the career of American director Zack Snyder, who rebooted the original in 2004.
'Night of the Living Dead'
The original zombie cult classic, director George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" scared the living daylights out of horror fans when it was released in 1968. At its premiere in Pittsburgh, parents brought children not knowing the gore and extreme scares that awaited. "There was a little girl across the aisle from me, maybe 9 years old, who was sitting very still in her seat and crying," Roger Ebert reported at the time.
It's worth noting that when Romero came up with the idea of "Living Dead," he didn't think of the reanimated corpses as zombies but as ghouls. "I thought I was doing something completely new by having the dead rise," he said in a 2013 interview. "The recently dead. They’re too weak to dig themselves out of graves. They’re too weak to eat brains, because they’ll never crack the skull. I have these sort of rules that I use, that everyone seems to have gone away from."
In 1990, American director Tom Savini and Menahem Golan, a prolific Israeli producer, released a reboot of "Night of the Living Dead." Critical reception was mostly positive, with fans appreciative of the updated cinematography, makeup and special effects. "This film works on so many levels," Bloody Disgusting wrote in a review. "Normally remakes are horrible, and diverge so much from the original film. This one is so close to the original it's scary."
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: