20. Zombieland (2009)
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Crazy Zombie $@#% Factor: 9

I’ve never seen a zombie movie in which characters squirt on hand sanitizer after smoking a gaggle, or hoard, or whatever the plural for zombies is. I’ve also never seen one in which the cause of the zombie plague is revealed to be bad hamburger meat. “You’ve heard of mad cow? Well this is mad human,” the protagonist, played by Jesse Eisenberg, states in the most casual, Social Network-y manner possible. As a zombie road story, the film is reminiscent of my favorite current graphic novel (and least favorite TV series) The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman. That sprawling saga, however brilliant it tends to be, has zero sense of humor about zombies or the absurd situations humans tend to find themselves in a world run by them. As scary as zombies can be in theory, there’s actually something very funny about them. They’re dumb, they’re decrepit, and they’re incapable of self-awareness or rational insight (insert Republican joke here). Zombieland gets that and thus is able to mine a seemingly endless amount of gags from the material. This film gives me hope that the mainstream can produce a decent zombie movie every once and a while.

19. Night of the Creeps (1986)
Director: Fred Dekker
Crazy Zombie $@#% Factor: 4

A precursor to one of my favorite modern horror films, James Gunn’s Slither. Except instead of turning people into betenticled monsters, the alien brain slugs of this movie turn its victims into zombies. Hilarity ensues, as do plenty of blood and boobs. Random, yeah, but a lot of fun from Fred Dekker, director of another cheesy 80s cult teen film called The Monster Squad. Creeps has a very small but loyal following, and I really hope Hollywood doesn’t attempt to remake this film. It’s perfect the way it is. The film was released on DVD not too long ago and is worth seeking. Useless fact: the nerdy hero is played by Blake Lively’s brother. Not sure if knowing that helps or hurts the movie.

18. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
Director: Wes Craven
Crazy Zombie $@#% Factor: 2

Wes Craven and zombies in the same movie?! Yes!!! Why don’t more people know about this movie? This tragically neglected 1980s horror film surpasses I Walked With a Zombie in the category of most “authentic” zombie movie ever made. Zombies, as we all know (or, uh, as Wikipedia tells us), are derived from Haitian Voodoo culture. Craven, being the genus that he is, explores these origins with a more evocative horror lens than the usual film. Voodoo as a cause for the dead to rise makes about as much sense as the radiation from a NASA probe, alien spore, divine intervention, or virus explanations we’ve been given in various films. If that’s not enough, Bill “Lonestar” Pullman is in it. Sold?

17. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Crazy Zombie $@#% Factor: 8

I’m not being a troll here. Ever since Paul W.S. Anderson’s first Resident Evil was released in 2002, I became a loyalist to this despised but somehow still popular series. However, one cannot be a loyalist to this series without also being an apologist. While I haven’t seen a Resident Evil I didn’t like (yes, even the 3D one had its moments), the third entry remains the best in the series. I’m hooked by Extinction’s desert setting and the Matrix-style approach lathered on by Highlander director Russell Mulcahy, of all people. This film is a prime example of people’s unwillingness to allow zombie movies to mix things up. It’s basically Road Warrior with zombies. And slo-mo! And zombie crows! That’s cool, cool, and cooler in my book. Zombie movie setting is as crucial as its characters or plot.  The sterile hallways beneath Raccoon City and the battles in a sand blasted, post-apocalyptic version of Vegas makes for a genuinely original location that ranks among the best in the genre. The heroine, known as Alice in the world’s most pointless literally allusion, is played by Milla Jovovich, who is infused with superhuman (and totally cheap) powers. She is so mentally and physically powerful, and kills so many zombies, that you actually feel sorry for the undead by the end.

16. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Director: George Romero
Crazy Zombie $@#% Factor: 8

Dawn of the Dead is considered zombie movie par excellence. It is the agreed upon point of entry for the entire genre. I must be missing something because I’m not a big Dawn fan. More of an admirer. It’s as if Romerio hit upon the most brilliant idea for a zombie movie ever (zombies in a mall) and then just coasted from there. There’s loads of action but, unlike Day of the Dead, nothing to anchor it thematically or dramatically. It’s still fun to watch Romerio go through the motions, and that’s certainly enough to make it a classic even to a casual fan. The movie does contain the best and most iconic line in any zombie movie ever: “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.” That’s horror poetry right there. And nothing beats the scene where a zombie is taken out by a helicopter’s propeller blades–unless you count the similar scene in 28 Weeks Later with a hundred times more zombie viscera than the leading brands. A few great lines and scenes aside, Dawn has just aged very badly and I’m not just talking about the horrible blue/green/grey zombie makeup, the soundtrack, or the bad acting. The film’s pacing and direction may also feel stilted at times.  Regardless, they’re remarkable considering the budget and era in which it was made. Like Night, this is a film that must be placed within the context of its release to be enjoyed.

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