40. Resident Evil (2002)
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Stars: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes
A bad day at the offices (or labs, rather) of The Hive, the top-secret underground genetic research headquarters of the über-conglomerate, the Umbrella Corporation, turns into Judgment Day for the rest of us as the deadly experimental T-virus is unleashed, turning the hapless employees into bloodthirsty zombies.
If you had to choose a movie based on a video game made in the last 20 years that was actually any good, you’d probably have to go all the way back to the original Resident Evil. As a film on its own (disregarding for the moment the increasingly vapid and annoying sequels it spawned) it delivers all that fans of the original game series could have asked for. Resident Evil’s premise might now be the ingredients for any number of zombie/action/sci-fi/thriller films these days, but back in 2002, the market hadn’t yet become saturated by the genre to the point of Doom or Silent Hill. As an effective, pulsating, and stylish opener to the franchise, Resident Evil stands tall as one of the few genuinely entertaining entries into video-game-movie filmmaking.
39. Land Of The Dead (2005)
Director: George A. Romero
Stars: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Eugene Clark
Until 2005’s Land Of The Dead, George A. Romero hadn’t made a zombie film in twenty years. Mind you, this is the filmmaker who originated zombie horror back in 1968 with Night Of The Living Dead, mastered its socio-allegorical relevancy in 1978 with Dawn Of The Dead, and took a harsh bite out of the government in 1985’s Day Of The Dead (all films we’ll get to in a moment). His return came gilded with newfound faith that the auteur most respected in the genre could reestablish himself as the Master of the Living Dead. In short, he didn’t disappoint.
In the film, now that zombies have taken over the world, the living have built a walled-in city to keep the dead out. But all’s not well where it’s most safe, as a revolution plans to overthrow the city leadership, and the zombies are turning into more advanced creatures. This is just good, gory fun, even if its satiric jabs at societal mores come across as more heavy-handed than before.
38. Night Of The Comet (1984)
Director: Thom Eberhardt
Stars: Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Beltran, Sharon Farrell
In a post-comet world where zombies have taken over, the fate of human civilization rests in the hands of two teenage Valley girls and a guy from San Diego named Hector. As quite literally the last man on Earth, he’s partly central to the siblings feuding and bickering over what matters most for the survival of our species. Equally important are decisions on what music to play over the radio, whether a feather boa is more fashionable than a shawl, shopping sprees at the mall, and is it really necessary to wait for the light to change at a crosswalk. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and these issues are, like, totally crucial.
The notion of a couple of Debbie Gibson-types being mankind’s last chance is beautifully absurd, and Night Of The Comet makes the most of this, mocking spoiled daughter stereotypes and poking fun at the shallow materialism of the day. It’s a quirky, charming film that acquits itself well. Like, seriously.
37. Versus (2000)
Director: Ryûhei Kitamura
Stars: Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, Kenji Matsuda, Yuichiro Arai
Question: What do you get when you mix Japanese organized crime members called the Yakuza with martial arts, zombies and a vampire? In short, awesomeness in its purest form. Versus begins with a little bit of back story. It seems that there are 666 portals that connect two worlds. Japan is home to the 444th portal that is in the Forest of Resurrection. 500 years ago there was a great battle between good and evil within the Forest and although it seemed that good was defeated, evil would have to wait to open the portal.
Confused? It doesn’t matter. Watching this film you’ll undoubtedly be less focused on the story as you will be on the unrelentingly action, arterial sprays of blood, bizarre special effects, and slapstick comedy that would put even Sam Raimi to shame. Seriously, Versus has it all – blood, laughs, kung fu zombies, action, and plenty of WTF moments. Easily one of the most entertaining zombie movies ever made.
36. Rammbock (2010)
Director: Marvin Kren
Stars: Michael Fuith, Theo Trebs, Anka Graczyk, Emily Cox, Andreas Schröders
Rammbock (aka Siege Of The Dead) kicks off with the recently dumped and decidedly morose Michael arriving in Berlin, having decided to hand over a set of keys to his ex girlfriend in person, in the hopes of maybe winning her back. Strangely, he finds her apartment empty aside from a couple of plumbers, one of whom is chained to a radiator and seeming rather unfriendly. Aided by a young apprentice, he manages to push the crazed man out of the door, and they barricade themselves inside. This proves to be a wise move, as the building is soon surrounded by hordes of the walking dead, all trying to find their way inside for a tasty meal of human flesh.
The English translation of the German word “rammbock” is battering ram or a large hard tool used to beat in a door or wall. And that’s precisely the right term that can be used for this film, as it pretty much does that to the zombie genre. In other words, this movie is awesome. Remember that scene in The Raid: Redemption, where they use an axe to cut through the apartment floors in order to escape a different sort of horde? They do something similar here, except with a makeshift battering ram. It’s nutter butters.