Plato | 2010 | dir. Léonard Cohen
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The last shot last picture show from the end of every movieMOVIE LIST
THE 'BEST PICTURE' SUPERCUT
Christmas in July | 1940 | dir. Preston Sturges
Cousinhood | 2011 | dir. Daniel Sánchez Arévalo
Downfall | 2004 | dir. Oliver Hirschbiegel
Our Children | 2012 | dir. Joachim Lafosse
Zombies have been done to death. From The Walking Dead to World War Z, zombies are as popular as ever – and maybe even a bit too popular. But from Haitian voodoo to viral infections, the subgenre has had enormous staying power. Forget the zombies in movies and on TV right now – here’s a countdown of the top 11 films that every zombie aficionado must see.
White Zombie | 1932 | dir. Victor Halperin
Considered the first zombie film, and starring classic horror actor Bela Lugosi, White Zombie is often overlooked when discussing classic horror films (perhaps since it was an independent production). Inspired by the Haitian voodoo religion, the zombies resemble mindless slaves rather than flesh eaters. The film borrows sets from Universal’s Dracula, and makes good use of them, with a daring use of unorthodox camera angles and techniques (such as dutch angles, extreme closeups, and superimposed imagery). Critically panned on release, only now is the film beginning to receive the critical praise it deserves.
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (a.k.a. The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, a.k.a. Don’t Open the Window) | 1974 | dir. Jorge Grau
While producers were aiming for a bigger budget, color knockoff of Night of the Living Dead, director Jorge Grau had loftier goals. Studying autopsy photographs, Grau managed to make the most realistic zombie film of the period, and set off the gory 1970s and 1980s European horror movement. But it’s not all just blood and guts. The film carries an environmentalist message, juxtaposing human consumption and waste with the zombies. (Fun Fact: The film doesn’t take place in Manchester.)
Zombi 2 (a.k.a. Zombie, a.k.a. Zombie Flesh Eaters, a.k.a Woodoo) | 1979 | dir. Lucio Fulci
Directed by “Godfather of Gore” Lucio Fulci, Zombi 2 was banned in Great Britain in its initial release due to violent content, released uncut only in 2005. Infamous for its eye gouging scene, perhaps more spectacular is a scene where a zombie fights a shark - daringly executed with a stuntman and a live shark - with the zombie getting a few good bites in before getting his own arm bitten off.
Braindead (a.k.a. Dead Alive) | 1992 | dir. Peter Jackson
Yes, it’s the same Peter Jackson you’re thinking of. Before Lord of the Rings, Jackson was busy making wacky and edgy cult films. A rabid zombie fan, Jackson’s entry into the subgenre ranks among the best. Braindead is, hands down, the goriest zombie movie of all time. It’s probably the goriest movie of all time, period. According to Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Glenn Kay (highly suggested reading for any zombie fan), the climax alone used “eight gallons [of blood] a minute.” Even Lucio Fulci claimed that Jackson’s effects were over the top. From mutations to lawn mowers to Sumatran rat-monkeys, this film has everything. Oh, and it’s also really funny.
Re-Animator | 1985 | dir. Stuart Gordon
Based on the H.P. Lovecraft short story “Hebert West-Reanimator,” Re-Animator is as funny as it is gory. Along with Dawn of the Dead and Return of the Living Dead, Re-Animator was a major influence on Jackson’s Braindead. It’s also well received critically, holding a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not bad for a film where a decapitated head gives a girl, err, head.
I Walked with a Zombie | 1943 | dir. Jacques Tourneur
Directed by Jacques Tourneur, I Walked with a Zombie is shot beautifully. Tourneur, a master at creating atmosphere, would later go on to direct the critically praised noir Out of the Past. More eerie than outright scary, the Haitian voodoo inspired film makes great use of low key lighting and shadows, and it features one of the most visually striking zombies of all time (played by the menacingly tall Darby Jones). Surprisingly, the film is actually a loose adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Most interesting is the film’s treatment of the supernatural – the film hovers on the edge of the real and the unreal. Horror fans might be somewhat put off by the melodramatic story line, but classic film lovers won’t want to miss this.
Shaun of the Dead | 2004 | dir. Edgar Wright
Don’t let those taglines touting the film as a “romantic comedy” scare you. Shaun of the Dead is arguably the funniest and the wittiest zombie movie ever made. Reverent to the zombie films that came before, particularly Romero’s original Dead trilogy (a nod to ‘Bub’ from Day of the Dead can be seen above), the film is a great zombie film in its own right.
Dellamorte Dellamore (a.k.a. Cemetery Man) | 1994 | dir. Michele Soavi
Featuring zombies, guns, motorcycles, and sex, this comedy/horror film is surprisingly deep and philosophical. An inversion of the classic zombie mythology, it doesn’t deal with the fear of death, but the fear of life. It’s cryptic, it’s philosophical, it’s unique, and admittedly, it’s not for everyone. But don’t let that dissuade you from watching it. It’s hailed by Martin Scorsese as one of the best Italian films of the 1990s.
Return of the Living Dead | 1985 | dir. Dan O’Bannon
The quintessential 1980s zombie film, Return of the Living Dead introduced the world to the zombies that craved brains. Eschewing the dark and somber tone of Romero’s Dead films in favor of a funnier, gorier, and over-the-top comic feel, the film features a killer soundtrack, memorable dialogue, and a number of iconic characters and zombies - such as the infamous Tarman. It also presents a rather cynical commentary on the military. Directed by Dan O’Bannon (the screenwriter for Alien), Return is one of the most entertaining zombie films of all time.
Night of the Living Dead | 1968 | dir. George A. Romero
Night of the Living Dead is the film that started it all, and it presented a paradigm shift not just in zombie films or horror films, but in film as a whole. Night is the film that turned the mindless voodoo slaves into zombie flesh eaters. The film also pushed boundaries outside of the realm of horror. Duane Jones, a relatively unknown black stage actor, was cast as the lead protagonist – controversial for the time. Additionally, the lack of a “happy ending” at the hands of trigger happy rednecks is sure to resonant with audiences today.
Dawn of the Dead | 1978 | dir. George A. Romero
Ask any hardcore zombie fan what the greatest zombie film of all time is, and 8 times out of 10, it’s Dawn of the Dead. (The other two fans will argue Romero’s other films.) Okay, slight exaggeration, but not by much. Dawn consistently ranks as one of the greatest zombie films of all time, often taking the number one spot. But it’s not without reason. Simply put, zombies as we know them today would not exist if not for Dawn of the Dead. As Bram Stoker’s Dracula defined the modern vampire, Dawn of the Dead defined the modern zombie (impressive when considering the fact that Romero has never used the word “zombie” in his films). Steeped in social commentary - the now almost cliche critique on consumerism - and featuring the shuffling zombies we’ve come to recognize today (with makeup and effects from the excellent Tom Savini), Dawn is the standard against which all zombie films are compared.
- Intern Ben (thebenolivas)
Honorable Mentions: The Walking Dead (1936), Sugar Hill (1974), The Fog (1980), The Beyond (1981) Dead and Buried (1981), Creepshow: “Father’s Day” (1982), Night of the Comet (1984), Day of the Dead (1985), Night of the Creeps (1986), Prince of Darkness (1987), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), Night of the Living Dead (1990), Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998), Wild Zero (1999) 28 Days Later (2002), Dawn of the Dead (2004), Land of the Dead (2005), Fido (2006), Grindhouse: “Planet Terror” (2007), [REC] (2007), Pontypool (2008), Dead Snow (2009), Zombieland (2009)
Under the Skin | 2013 | dir. Jonathan Glazer
Teorema | 1968 | dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini
Drunken Master II | 1994 | dir. Chia-Liang Liu
Julien Donkey-Boy | 1999 | dir. Harmony Korine
Hello again friends! It’s time to look at what films are being released on home markets, whatever that may mean nowadays. The slate of films out for your viewing pleasure is… a mixed bag. Some winners, but more duds… Yikes. Let’s check them out, then:
Faces | 1968 | dir. John Cassavetes
The Regular Lovers | 2005 | dir. Philippe Garrel
Déjà Vu | 2006 | dir. Tony Scott
Mystery Train | 1989 | dir. Jim Jarmusch