35. Burial Ground: The Nights Of Terror (1981)
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Stars: Karin Well, Gianluigi Chirizzi, Simone Mattioli, Antonella Antinori, Roberto Caporali
Burial Ground begins with a professor studying an ancient crypt that ends up spewing forth its dead, and, much to the misfortune of the professor, they’re hungry for human flesh. After a delightful bit of flesh-eating, the film cuts to a group of socialites that will serve as our main characters. In true horror film fashion, these characters have set out to have a good time, but they will soon bear witness to a night of terror when hordes of the undead begin to attack.
What was meant to be an idyllic vacation soon turns to a fight for survival against a group of malicious zombies that launch an assault on the huge mansion housing the socialites. By the end of the film, they will learn that there is no escape from the woefully misspelled Profecy [sic] of the Black Spider, which dictates that “the earth shall tremble, the graves shall open, they shall come upon the living as messengers of death and there shall be the nigths [sic] of terror.” No muss. No fuss. Just pure zombie mayhem.
34. Nightmare City (1980)
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Stars: Hugo Stiglitz, Laura Trotter, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Francisco Rabal, Sonia Viviani
A reporter anticipates the arrival of a famous doctor at the airport. An unknown military plane without clearance makes an emergency landing on the air strip. Suddenly, a group of disfigured individuals emerge and begin massacring the personnel. Almost immediately an epidemic of mass murder breaks out as the burnt faced creatures systematically lay siege to the city killing anyone they come across.
Nightmare City is an extremely fun movie with very fast pacing. The action and killing take up most of the proceedings. Sure you have your quiet moments where we get to know the characters but they don’t last long – and that’s perfect for a film such as this. The zombies (or “radioactive mutants”) are the stars here as they rampage and mutilate their way across the countryside. Watching these creatures in action truly is a sight to see. When was the last time you saw zombies carry and use the following: clubs, crowbars, knives, guns and all other kinds of assorted weapons? It’s insanity. There are many ways to die in this movie and let’s just say that a lot of those possibilities get used. And it definitely makes for one entertaining movie.
33. Fido (2006)
Director: Andrew Currie
Stars: K’Sun Ray, Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tim Blake Nelson, Dylan Baker
It is the 1950’s. Post-Zombie War America is serviced by a new megacorporation called Zomcon. Radiation caused the dead to rise, but the Zombie Wars have been won. Zombies are domesticated, tamed, made into servants and pets. They do the tedious jobs, the ones that nobody wants to do. They do it without complaint and they are simply part of life in the suburbs. Children are taught from grade school how to kill a rogue zombie with a headshot. Zomcon controls the zombie population with an iron fist, and electronic collars that render them harmless.
In short, the key to Fido’s success is that it plays things straight. It believes fully in the world it has created, one in which domesticated zombies perform household tasks and a person’s greatest ambition is to save enough money to get a double funeral upon death – one for your head, the other for your body (to avoid becoming a zombie, natch). With a sharp wit and delightful performances, Fido makes for an immensely enjoyable and unique take on the genre.
32. Juan Of The Dead (2011)
Director: Alejandro Brugués
Stars: Alexis Díaz de Villegas, Jorge Molina, Andrea Duro, Andros Perugorría
Juan, our titular hero, is lazy and prefers laying about to work. He’s divorced with an estranged daughter. He’s a petty criminal who sleeps with married women. He’s into easy money, scams and cons. And the company he keeps is even worse. Soon enough, Juan and his pals begin to notice that locals are “going crazy”, killing people and eating their flesh, and the recently deceased are returning to life. The Cuban government and the media claim that the zombies are dissidents revolting against the government. Juan starts a business to profit off of killing the zombies, but the group may soon find their own lives at risk.
Right down to its title, this Spanish-Cuban gem gives every impression of being a Shaun Of The Dead rip-off, and, technically, that’s what it is, except that the titular slacker here has a young daughter to protect, instead of a chubby best friend. Thankfully, writer-director Alejandro Brugués is no slouch, and his scrappy little horror-comedy manages to impress in the end, offering a layer of Romero-like social commentary, at Fidel Castro’s expense, beneath a surface-level sheen of goofy humor and over-the-top gore gags.
31. Cemetery Man (1994)
Director: Michele Soavi
Stars: Rupert Everett, François Hadji-Lazaro, Anna Falchi, Mickey Knox, Fabiana Formica
Francesco Dellamorte and his lovable half-wit assistant Gnaghi, are caretakers of a creepy cemetery in a small town in Italy. It turns out that their job sucks extra hard, because in this particular cemetery, the dead have a habit of rising from their graves, fully intent on killing anyone that they can get their hands on. Of course it falls to Dellamorte and Gnaghi to kill those who rise from their graves (aptly dubbed, Returners), and protect the living. It’s a job that has heavily bearing tolls on the man’s psyche, which doesn’t help the fact that Francesco’s also looking for romantic love in all the wrong places.
Dark, funny, violent, absurdist, and just plain different, Cemetery Man is a film of many descriptions, but not enough audience. It’s not to the taste of everyone – it fails the basic test for stupid zombie fun by failing to be stupid enough – but there are those who will find it fits them all too well (like Martin Scorsese, who called it one of the best films of the ’90s). It’s a movie about death, and a movie about love. It’s a movie about the dead who live and the living who are spiritually dead. It’s not an easy film, but great films rarely are.