25. Night Of The Living Dead (1990)
Director: Tom Savini
Stars: Patricia Tallman, Tony Todd, Tom Towles, McKee Anderson, Heather Mazur
In the overcrowded and largely derided horror remake canon, Tom Savini’s Night Of The Living Dead is an anomaly: a remake made for a totally justifiable reason. Typically, genre fans are quick to lambast Horror Reboot No. We’ve-Lost-Count and mourn the perceived death of originality and creativity, but with Savini’s Night Of The Living Dead, only the ultra-cynical horror lovers can truly decry its existence.
The rest of us horror die-hards, meanwhile, can’t knock the original Night’s team (director George A. Romero, writer John A. Russo and producer Russell Streiner) for re-imagining their seminal 1968 masterwork of zombie cinema. They were just trying to finally make the hard-earned bucks they’d so rightfully deserved yet could never obtain for over 20 years. Knowing that, it’s even more impressive watching Savini’s film and applauding its all-around greatness – even though it was literally made for purely monetary purposes. All of the classic elements (the feud between Ben and Cooper, the claustrophobia) and a few new ones (a smarter female lead, a new ending) make Night Of The Living Dead a horror update to be applauded.
24. The House By The Cemetery (1981)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Stars: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina
When talking about the films of Lucio Fulci, it’s fair to say that most of them tend to offer little in the way of sense or logic, instead focusing heavily on atmosphere and visceral terror to get their point across. Watching his work is almost like watching someone’s fever dream come to life. That’s really the beauty of Fulci films though, and because of that dynamic, they truly are unique.
In The House By The Cemetery, Norman Boyle takes his family from New York to Boston to investigate and write a report on the murder-suicide of his friend and colleague, Dr. Peterson. Peterson was researching a disgraced 19th century physician, Dr. Jacob Tess Freudstein at the time of his death. Upon moving into creepy Oak Mansion that sits next to a cemetery, bizarre occurrences take place. The Boyle’s soon discover to their horror that the house has a permanent, and zombiefied resident living in the basement. Decapitations and internal organs getting ripped out ensue.
23. City Of The Living Dead (1980)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Stars: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi
“The soul that pines for eternity shall out span death. You dweller of the twilight void come Dunwich.” From the get-go we’re served another chilling, culinary delight of terror from Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci. The use of rolling fog and mist eclipse into something sinister that is simply taken for granted in today’s horror films. Fulci not only has a firm grip on what fears us as an audience, he exploits our disdain in shocking revelation.
What gives City Of The Living Dead its sharp edge is the story’s race-against-the-clock conceit: If the protagonists, a New York reporter and a psychic medium, don’t figure out a way to close the figurative gate to Lucifer’s playpen, the world is basically over. Being that this is a Fulci movie, don’t expect that to actually happen; instead, expect puke to drown a person’s intestines, a drill press to pierce through a dude’s skull, a rainstorm of maggots, and numerous brains ripped out of people’s heads. You know you love this stuff.
22. Zombieland (2009)
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard
Zombieland is filled with the horror genre’s standard overdose of blood and guts, but it’s also packing something else: humor. Add in a charming band of misfits and you end up with something disturbing, thrilling, hilarious and sweet, all at the same time. Whether you’re in a good mood, a bad one or indifferent, Zombieland is an incredibly fun film to partake in.
Traditionally, zombie films are valued for their satirical qualities, but this one doesn’t aspire to any commentary on our undead commercial society. From introducing fresh ways to off the undead, including “Zombie Kills of the Week” (such as someone dropping a grand piano on one of the ghouls) to a glorious cameo from Bill Murray, this film is just… fun. It mixes fright and slapstick with bloody glee, and the blowout sequence of the undead lining up for rides at an amusement park is zombie heaven.
21. Grindhouse: Planet Terror (2007)
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Stars: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Marley Shelton, Josh Brolin, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn, Bruce Willis, Naveen Andrews, Nicky Katt, Tom Savini, Stacy Ferguson, Michael Parks
Robert Rodríguez’s Planet Terror, the first flick in the double feature of the impudent and wildly entertaining Grindhouse – the second is Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof – is a splatterfest of incomparable grotesqueness, centering on, even exaggerating the gore, sexuality, and humor inherent in ’60s and ’70s dive cinema. The movie isn’t only cheesy, it’s deliberately cheesy with a wink and a nudge and a whopping dollop of love and nostalgia. It’s meta in a way that the movies it’s aping never were.
The zombies – townsfolk infected with a deadly biochemical agent – are covered in sores, pus, and rotting flesh, and the heroes, namely the sexy Cherry Darling and her machine gun leg, are all walking, talking, knowingly written clichés. Planet Terror is nearly 90 minutes’ worth of excessive fanboy satiation, which, when done by a talent as singular as Rodriguez’s, can be a great thing indeed.