You may know all the classic Romero zombie films by heart. And you may be equally well-versed in contemporary zombie flicks like 28 DAYS LATER
SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and WORLD WAR Z. But do these canons leave you ravenous for more undead? Check out our list of 13 lesser-known zombie films that still pack a solid blow to the head! ,
VERSUS (2000)- The first of several Japanese-made zombie films to make this list, VERSUS engages Yakuza gang members with bloodthirsty zombies in a non-stop hell ride. Not only is the gore ridiculously intense, but the film also features ample gunfights, Japanese sword battles, martial arts, and plenty of zombie action. This movie is a riotous, insane beast! Upon it’s initial release, there was a lot of chatter about an American remake which sadly seems to have been dropped.
THE DEAD (2010)- This British zombie flick offers some distinctive environments and qualities. Set in West Africa, THE DEAD uses the zombie parable to tease out tones of internationality and political unrest/wars abundant parts of Africa.
FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: OUTBREAK ON A PLANE (2007)- Like many genre fans, I was first put off by the title of this flick, gathering it to be nothing but a zombie knock-off aping the title from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and the concept from SNAKES ON A PLANE. But the movie stands by itself as a top-notch horror film. You know how uncomfortably cramped and confined you feel on a plane, and how grossly aware you are of every sneeze and cough happening around you? Yeah, now add a slowly progressing zombie virus.
DEAT MEAT (2004)- Made in Ireland, DEAD MEAT was released stateside under the Fangoria distribution label. Beginning as mutated version of mad cow disease, infected zombies take over the Irish country side in this well-crafted and highly amusing movie.
TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD
TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971)- The Knights Templar were put to death for crimes of witchcraft, and while their dead bodies hung on the gallows, birds ate their eyes. And now the Knights are back (minus their eyeballs) to reclaim their monastery. This Spanish genre pic is brutal and went on to inspire a whole BLIND DEAD series of equally fun films.
WILD ZERO (1999)- This insane Japanese film is, simply put, just a big freaking ball of fun! The rock band Guitar Wolf (which is like the ultimate garage band) winds up in the middle of a zombie invasion with aliens, pyrotechnics, explosions, gore, and brilliant rock-n-roll style baddass-ery! This 1999 cult hit was released at the height of J-horror and offered a welcome boisterous variant to the quiet ghost-laden sub-genre.
JUNK (2000)- Another Japanese title, Junk pits a group of jewel thieves and a few Yakuza members against American-made experimental zombies. In addition to ample blood and guts, JUNK incorporates smart zombies who, though still flesh-hungry fiends, are able to make informed decisions and use computers. This ups the ante considerably from the standard meandering mouth-with-legs style zombies we are accustomed to.
RAMMBOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD
RAMMBOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD (2010)- Focusing on a single apartment building during a “rage zombie” outbreak Berlin, this German pic adds new twists to the mythos. For instance, zombies can be drugged into submission and are severely photo sensitive which allows for innovative plot devices and creative new scares.
LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE
LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE (1974)- Romero created zombie rules that were generally followed for decades. However, LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE pushed the boundaries of Romero’s intentions back in 1974 when the sub-genre was still young, creating its own lore with its own set of rules. Jorge Grau’s zombies are analytical with the ability to work and make rational decisions. In some instances, they even use weapons. These are a hardier stock of zombie that can take defensive postures and preserve their own well-being. This is also one of the first films to use a zombie baby.
STACY (2001)- Man, those Japanese filmmakers sure do like zombies! And many of them made my list because they deviate from our western concept of “zombie”, also bringing new mythology and settings. STACY, aka ATTACK OF THE SCHOOLGIRL ZOMBIES, is a horror-comedy about a future world where girls between the age of 14-16 are struck by a sickness called “Near Death Happiness”. The victims first experience pure euphoria and then turn into bloodthirsty maniacs. STACY is very referential of other films and genre icons, so get ready for some wink, wink inside horror jokes.
PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK
PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (1976)- A group of rich weirdos gather in a remote stone mansion for a weekend long EYES WIDE SHUT- style orgy. Right as soon as the orgy is getting good, a full nuclear war breaks out. Luckily the orgy den is protected by thick stone walls, and the wealthy survivors quickly learn that everyone trapped outside during the bombing has been rendered sightless and has become rather insane (think THE CRAZIES with blind mutants). Though this one is not 100% a true zombie film since flesh-eating is not part of the fun it is pretty damn close in tone and hits all the same notes. Director Leon Klimovsky replaces the flesh-eating zombies with blind mutant townspeople hell-bent on eyeball gouging.
FIDO (2006)- Canadian-made FIDO creates an alternate version of the 1950s where space radiation has brought the dead back to life. Towns are fenced off into perfect suburban communities, and zombies are enslaved via control collars and used as household servants. FIDO smartly and subversively explores themes of government control, paranoia, the importance of family, and definitions of humanity.
PONTYPOOL (2008)- What would happen if the zombie virus could be transmitted by words? It sounds heady and it kind of is, but Canadian-born PONTYPOOL is absolutely wonderful. It is small and self-contained in a radio station, but it packs a lot of great scares and innovative zombie techniques. The book series the film is based on is equally superb.