*Note I excluded The Evil Dead Trilogy, that's more possession-esque than traditional zombie fare*
Night of the Living Dead (1968) - The movie that started it all! This movie gave us the traditional zombie premise, a group of survivors trapped inside a house surrounded by zombies, fighting for survival. Though not one of my more favorite zombie movies, in the sense that the zombies are extremely docile and slow as molasses, the movie is a necessary viewing for the history of the zombie genre! (Fun fact: thanks to an unfortunate copyright error the movie is public domain, which means it's free to watch online)
Dawn of the Dead (1978) - Probably at the top of every persons 'Best Zombie Movies' lists. The characters in this movie do what everyone in the world says you should do at the time of a zombie outbreak, set up camp at a mall. Dawn then fills it with smart, cheer worthy human characters. They try to fortify their new home with clever ideas and innovations, only to be brought down not by the recently deceased, but by their human counterparts. Proving once again, it's 'man' that is the most dangerous being lurking in the dark. Easily one of the best zombie movies out there!
Day of the Dead (1985) - The ending of the original 'Dead Trilogy', this time Romero chooses to focus on the whole military aspect during the apocalypse. This is another strong entry in the zombie genre because of its political commentary and, of course, fantastic practical effects. Sadly, this is where Romero should have ended the series.
Re-Animator (1985) - Not only a fantastic zombie movie but also one of the best horror movies of the 80s. Everything here is silly and over the top, but it's all executed perfectly. This is the classic premise of someone developing a serum that brings the dead back to life, only to regret the decision almost immediately. It's gross, it's scary, and of course it's funny. A stand out horror movie from the 80s!
Pet Sematary (1989) - A different take on the zombie genre, Pet Sematary twists conventions by having its 'zombies' come back not as bloodthirsty beings, but as nothing more than pure evil. They are semi-thinking, walking nightmares who show zero emotion and it's terrifying. Though the movie as a whole isn't the greatest, the child who is brought back to life is absolutely terrifying, as well as the movie's final minutes.
Dead Alive (1992) - Peter Jackson's cult classic, Dead Alive, is probably the most over the top zombie movie out there! There is a reason this movie is infamous in the horror genre, the amounts of blood and gore are taken to extreme heights (in a purely comedic sense, that is). Everything here is extremely silly if not borderline gross. If you are looking for a more 'fun zombie' movie, look no further!
28 Days Later (2002) - Another high point in the zombie genre. The movie takes the zombie genre and spins it with some political commentary. As a whole, 28 Days is another zombie movie that is considered by many to be one of the very best of the genre. But the high point of the movie has to be the fastest, most brutal zombies ever shown in a movie. Good luck surviving in a situation like this!
Resident Evil (2002) - (I'm choosing to focus solely on the first film and not the others in the series) As a young teen, this movie was pretty dang amazing, looking back, it's pretty silly. A surprisingly convoluted story is what brings this down quite a bit. But if you are someone looking for zombie movies mixed with the action genre, I suppose you could find something here you might enjoy.
House of the Dead (2003) - Haven't seen this movie since 2003, it's not just one of the worst horror movies but one of the worst movies in general I have ever seen. Avoid this!
Dawn of the Dead (2004) - Surprisingly, this is considered one of the better remakes of all time. While it doesn't top the original film, it has plenty going for it to make it worthwhile. It's another take on a group of survivors taking refuge at a shopping mall and making due with all the glamor that come with that.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) - Along with Zombieland, this is probably another fan favorite. Featuring far more laughs than scares, Shaun of the Dead is a lover letter to the zombie genre. Who the heck hasn't seen this already?
28 Weeks Later (2007) - A solid sequel to a beloved classic. This movie ups the gore & excitement and focuses more on action than tension. Strong characters (a star-studded cast actually), a unique story (for the zombie genre), and plenty of rage (literally and figuratively) to go around, makes 28 Weeks Later one of the better zombie movies out there. Though the movie does have a pretty disappointing climax that takes place mostly in the dark where it's hard for the viewer to actually see what is going on. But it's opening scene is more than memorable.
[Rec] (2007) - Another movie that is one the top of most people's "Best found-footage movies'. [Rec] is a unique movie where a bunch of people are being quarantined in a building with some type of virus wreaking havoc on those trapped within. The people inside slowly discover the origin of the virus while the same virus is spreading from one person to the next. I personally was never a big fan (especially since I saw the dreadful American remake first). The movie also has a decent amount of shaky-cam which is the absolute worst.
Planet Terror (2007) - This is a guilty pleasure, pure and simple! There is so much nostalgia and old school flair pumped into this movie that it is truly something special. Missing reels, grainy picture, damaged film, it's all here and it's amazing. Planet Terror features everything you could want in a horror movie, a mysterious hero, over the top gore, plenty of laughs, and pure enjoyment. The movie is a flat out blast, one of those movies you watch every year around the time of Halloween. One of my personal favorite zombie movies.
I Am Legend (2007) - What ultimately brought down this remake (yes, it's a remake of The Omega Man) was the terrible computer generated zombies. Nothing ruins the ride of a movie faster than spotty CGI and this is a prime example. But hey, the first half isn't all that bad!
Quarantine (2008) - A shot for shot remake of another beloved classic, [Rec], this movie adds nothing new to the series except the movie removes the Spanish subtitles. I, unfortunately, saw this remake before the original and which brought down both films. Featuring the dreadful 'found footage' shooting style, the movie, of course, featured way too much shaky cam and too many poorly lit scenes.
Mutants (2009) - Another French entry in the zombie genre. This has a pretty interesting story about a pregnant woman trying to find a cure for her husband who is slowly turning into a zombie. Ultimately quite forgettable, litterally can't remember a single thing about the movie except for the ending. But it does have some solid makeup effects and it is quite graphic. So if you are someone who thinks they have seen it all, this is somethign you should consider looking up.
The Horde (2009) - One of the more brash and brutal zombie movies out there (are we surprised? It's from the French after all). This follows a group of cops and thugs trapped in an apartment complex while a zombie outbreak starts the moment they confront one another. If you're someone who likes their zombie fare nasty and brutal, The Horde is probably what you are looking for!
Doghouse (2009) - Another 'zom-com', but this time around the zombies are all female and are trying to kill our male heroes. I could see this movie developing a cult following based on the whole female vs male idea and the numerous silly moments. But to me, this is another zombie movie with a semi-new idea, but not all interesting enough to actually recommend and watch again. Though some might find it a guilty pleasure.
Zombieland (2009) - Without question a fan favorite, this movie helped reestablish the zombie genre on a mainstream basis (take that with a grain of salt). Proving once again that when horror is mixed with just the right amount of comedy you can create something pretty special. Not to mention the movie features one of the greatest cameos of all time!
The Crazies (2010) - Taking place in Iowa (Woo, Iowa!), this is pretty straightforward zombie fare. A small town is ground zero to a bizarre zombie outbreak and to no surprise, the government is heavily involved. This is another movie where the writers make subtle changes to their zombies, here, the zombies are semi-intelligent making them increasingly scary.
Cabin in the Woods (2012) - Probably the most clever and intriguing movie listed here. The movie doesn't tackle the normal zombie undead that we have grown accustomed to, instead the movie features a 'zombie redneck torture family'. What's not to like about this movie? It's incredibly smart, tense, original and, of course, gory. Everything found here is mesmerizing and the story unfolds before our eyes in a cryptic, yet intriguing fashion. A standout in the zombie genre (again, that is if you consider it a zombie movie)
World War Z (2013) - Brad Pitt in a zombie movie might sound a bit eye-rolling, but it works and it's awesome. Brad Pitt versus arguably the fastest zombies ever seen in movie history, what's not to like? The movie covers a lot of ground, in the sense that they travel all over the world in search for the origin of the outbreak. It was interesting to see what a zombie movie with a larger budget could do, it didn't disappoint this blogger.
Warm Bodies (2013) - Another movie following the recent trend of the 'zom-rom-com', but with solid results. Warm Bodies worked because the humor is on point, which also happens to be supported by a solid amount of heart thanks to the main characters. Not to mention the movie is told from the perspective of a zombie! I believe it is this unique take on the genre that makes the movie enjoyable.
Life After Beth (2013) - I flat out did not like this movie at all. It's marketed as a horror/comedy, but the horror is nonexistent and the comedy misses its mark damn near every time. But it's the story that brings the movie down, we know absolutely nothing about the couple who we are supposed to care about, yet the whole premise revolves around the two love birds. The movie comes off as flat out boring and uninvolving, watch Warm Bodies over this.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead (2014) - As much as I hate to say it, Dead Snow 2 was no thrill ride for me. The movie was (again) too silly for its own good. It's a goofy movie with nazi zombies battling other dead corpses, but the movie flat out lacked excitement. I can do mind-numbing violence, but it at least needs to be accompanied by an interesting character or story with some context to keep the movie moving, neither of those things was here, sadly. Even for a silly B-movie there was nothing interesting to be found here.