20. 28 Weeks Later (2007)
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Idris Elba, Rose Byrne, Robert Carlyle, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack
28 Weeks Later shouldn’t have been a great movie, at least not by the laws of genre movie sequels. For one, its predecessor, Danny Boyle’s masterful 2002 hit 28 Days Later, won over critics worldwide on its way to ranking as one of the best zombie (or “infected”) movies ever made. Thus, a follow-up, on the surface, seemed like a frustrating cash grab. Imagine horror fans’ overwhelming surprise once director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo proved the naysayers wrong and created a film every bit as visceral and provocative as the original.
Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan. It isn’t the same thinking man’s zombie film as its predecessor, but it ramps up the action and will leave you on edge long enough that you’ll be searching for a nightlight (and an automatic weapon) before going to sleep.
19. Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, Jake Weber, Ty Burrell, Inna Korobkina
Attempting to remake a zombie classic as highly regarded as George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead was bound to attract controversy. But here’s an unnecessary remake that actually does its own thing. It’s entertaining, interesting, rightfully bloody, and never feels for a second like it’s stepping on the toes of the movie on which it was based. And who was the guy to pull it off? Zack Snyder, would you believe?
In fact, Dawn Of The Dead’s opening scene is probably still the best sequence in Zack Snyder’s entire filmography. The director manages to perfectly capture the confusion, sadness and chaos of a zombie apocalypse in its infancy and sets a very high bar for future films of the genre to clear. It’s refreshing to see an update play upon the source material’s strengths rather than weaknesses, and adapt a beloved text with affectionate reverence rather than a shrug.
18. Slither (2006)
Director: James Gunn
Stars: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Tania Saulnier
The sleepy town of Wheelsy, South Carolina is awakened by the arrival of a crash-landing meteorite. After having his extramarital, alfresco frolicking rudely interrupted by said meteorite, Grant Grant (yes, that’s his first and last name) investigates. Upon finding the meteorite, Grant discovers that there is an extraterrestrial parasite encased that promptly infects him.
With James Gunn having written the screenplay for the Dawn Of The Dead remake, it’s fitting that his directorial debut would be this pseudo-zombie film. A well-crafted, well-acted yarn, Slither comfortably straddles the line between comedy and horror, frequently dips its toe into either side and does justice to both. If there were still drive-in cinemas around, Slither would be a perfect B horror movie to sit in your car and watch to the sound of shrieks and one-liner jokes blasting around a hilly parking lot from numerous tiny speakers.
17. Night Of The Creeps (1986)
Director: Fred Dekker
Stars: Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, Wally Taylor
“The good news is your dates are here. The bad news is… they’re dead.” So ran the tagline for Night Of The Creeps, and whether you’re a seasoned zombie fan or are beginning to suffer from burn-out on Hollywood’s current monster du-jour, this one remains a gem worth checking out from the decade when teen horror ruled. Set around a college campus, writer/director Fred Dekker’s nutty gem shows what happens when slug-like alien parasites start turning frat guys and Summa Cum Laude geeks into killer, slow-moving cadavers.
The best thing about Night Of The Creeps is that it is a B movie, and it loves this fact. Even more, it is quite clear that this is a B movie that actually strives to be the best B movie it can be. Virtually every frame of the film is a love letter to a bygone era as realized in the vibrant tones of the music-video-addled ’80s. A cinematic classic in every sense of the word.
16. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973)
Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Alan Ormsby, Valerie Mamches, Jeff Gillen, Anya Ormsby, Paul Cronin, Jane Daly
Before Bob Clark was crafting one of the most popular Canadian comedy films ever with Porky’s, as well as the greatest Christmas movie ever with A Christmas Story, he was making good old fashioned horror films like Black Christmas and Dead Of Night. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is Clark’s first step into the genre, and it’s a very strong beginning indeed.
In the film, a group of actors go to a graveyard on a remote island to perform a necromantic ritual. The ritual works and soon the dead are walking about and chowing down on human flesh. As a horror movie, this film is average at best. But as a zombie movie particularly, it’s absolutely splendid. For its time, the makeup is quite convincing. The score (purposefully reminiscent of other B-movies of the period) is splendidly over-the-top. The art production has a sort of Scooby-Doo aura to it, which surprisingly creates an overall creepy effect.