15. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Director: George Romero
Crazy Zombie $@#% Factor: 3

Admission: I saw it as a kid and was bored. Admission #2: I saw it again last year and… was bored. Heresy, I know, but bored does not equal bad by any means. In fact, the minimalism of this film is what allows it to remain such a refreshing and effective alternative to the constant action zombie films I had been raised on. I respect Night’s place in the pantheon of zombies movies, not to mention its position as one of the first truly successful independent movies. Though Romero didn’t invent the zombie movie, he certainly can be credited for popularizing the cinematic zombie we all know and love/loathe today. If this were a list of most important zombie movies, Night would top it. Side note: be sure to check out Tom “Sex Machine” Savini’s surprisingly decent remake.

14. Dead Heat (1988)
Director: Mark Goldblatt
Crazy Zombie $@#% Factor: 1

A must for lovers of bad movies. I once broke up with a girl for falling asleep during Dead Heat. Okay, there were a lot of other reasons, but that one cracked the top ten. Simply put, if you’re the kind of person who is not tickled by the notion that Treat Williams is in a 1980s cop/buddy movie playing a zombified cop named…wait for it…Roger Mortis then I don’t think we could hang. Forgive me if I forget how or why there are zombies in this cop movie’s world (I’m pretty sure I was under the influence when I watched it, which is the only way to watch it), but I love that as the film progresses, Williams’s body becomes increasingly more dead-ified. Of course, Mr. Mortis’s bodily deterioration allows partner Doug Bigelow (no relation to Deuce and played by an ever-worse Joe Piscopo) to drop lines like “You remember when we were in training? They always told us, ‘You can’t be a good cop if you’re a dead cop.’ Here’s your chance to prove them wrong. You’re good and you’re dead” and “You are under arrest. You have the right to remain disgusting.” If you’re thinking this sounds horrible, you’re right.  That’s why it’s so damn good. If the same film were made today, it would be ironic and postmodern, but it fits right in with the 80s.

13. Quarantine and [Rec] (2008)
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Crazy Zombie $@#% Factor: 7

The rage virus subgenre scores another win! Two actually. Quarantine and [Rec] are equally good in my opinion. Not sure why people didn’t respond to the American version which is basically a more exciting version of the overrated handicam horror hits “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity” but with zombies and Deb from Dexter. Both versions represent a much needed modern approach to the genre where the handheld POV camera style and deft use of darkness and closed spaces adds to the horror and sense of claustrophobic dread. More so even than in the cult favorite The Descent. As a testament to its influence, [Rec] may have even inspired Romero to apply a similar aesthetic to his divisive, non-cannon Diary of the Dead entry.

12. Fido (2006)
Director: Andrew Currie
Crazy Zombie $@#% Factor: 5

Anyone complaining that no one makes original zombie films anymore hasn’t seen “Fido.” This 1950s era social parable reimagines our post-World War II America as a post-World War Zombie America. Now that’s my kind of history! Just picture Mad Men with zombies instead of pretentious ad execs. I’m amazed this unique approach has not been applied to all eras–zombies in Rome, zombies in Medieval England, or why not Cowboys vs. Zombies? As a retro horror-comedy, Fido explores the “containment” and enslavement of a “subhuman” zombie lower class in a swank suburban town where ownership of these shock-collar equipped zombies become the ultimate status symbol. So capitalism + imperialism = Zombism. This isn’t a new concept exactly but what is new and exciting is how much more deeply the film probes this interesting social concept than the usual zombie film.

Directed by the virtually unknown Andrew Currie, the film centers on a pet zombie named Fido (played with great passion by Scotsmen Billy Connolly) that enters into a maladjusted family as a high priced zombie butler. As fleshed out as Romeiro’s famous “Bub” from “Day of the Dead,” this creature grows, learns, feels and even has a good influence on the mother and son who are desperately looking for a husband and father figure. A fascinating subtext of sexual chemistry exists between mother and zombie suitor. Talks of zombie wars of yore and a vast zombie wasteland that exists just outside of the fenced-off city walls by the corporate minded villain and WWZ veteran (Henry Czerny) give the film a vivid sense of time and place. Not quite an action film and not quite horror, the nuanced “Fido” represents a vibrant entry in the once thriving zombie genre.

11. 28 Days Later (2002)
Director: Danny Boyle
Crazy Zombie $@#% Factor: 8

The great zombie revival of the 2000s could very well be credited to this seminal film. It’s hard to deny that Danny Boyle’s innovative horror work represents the next stage in the evolution of cinematic zombie movies, both in terms of how it’s shot (from the hip) and how the zombies act (crazy). Some argue that the infected humans in this movie are not even technically zombies because they are not undead. That point is well taken, but I must disagree because, well, if it looks like a zombie and bites like a zombie, then it’s a fucking zombie. A man (Cillian Murphy) wakes up naked in a hospital, sprawled out like a post apocalypse Jesus, and must traverse a world that has gone mad…and hungry.  The rage virus (unleashed by hippies freeing test monkeys, which, HA!) basically turns humans into swift, sinewy creatures whose only mode of travel is lunatic fast and whose only mode of attack is apeshit strong. This simple but crucial element adds a real sense of urgency to the once molasses slow menace that a toddler could hitherto outrun. The film doesn’t rank higher because Boyle fails at a satisfying conclusion to what very well could have been the best modern zombie film ever made. Whoops. Instead Boyle and writing partner Alex Garland inexplicably opt to down shift this relentless tale of survival to a dark castle where an insane Army Major (Christopher Eccleston) goes all Doctor Who on everybody. I have no idea what that means but I just had to slip in a “Who” reference.

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