The Evolution of Zombie Films
With their unsteady stride, rotting features, and voracious desire for human flesh, it’s simple to see why zombies have become legendary cinematic villains over the years. They express the idea that humans may find ways to live in the face of adversity, and they contrast harsh narratives with hopeful ones. Zombies also embody current concerns and anxieties, frequently serving as a window into contemporary discomfort, from the vacuous commercialism of shopping malls to shambling through wastelands of environmental calamity.
While zombies are most commonly associated with horror films (particularly George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead franchise, which popularized the modern concept of zombies), they’ve also appeared in comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Re-Animator, as well as action blockbusters like World War Z and Train to Busan.
While not every zombie film has had a significant impact on filmmaking, it’s necessary to recognize key zombie films in order to understand how the genre has retained its cultural relevance.
As a result, Stacker delved into the history of zombie films over the decades, selecting 21 films that constituted a turning point in the genre’s evolution. We then offered background to explain the overall impact of each picture. The movies are shown in chronological sequence. So, if you dare, sit back, try not to get bitten, and enjoy this list of notable zombie flicks.
You might also be interested in: The 60 Best Zombie Movies of All Time
‘White Zombie’ is a film about a white zombie (1932)
Victor Halperin is the director.
User rating on IMDb: 6.3
Data isn’t available for Metascore.
Runtime: 69 minutes
White Zombie, considered to be the first feature-length zombie movie, was inspired by Kenneth Webb’s Broadway play, Zombie. The film centers on a man (Robert Frazer) who asks a witch doctor (played by horror icon Bela Lugosi) for help in winning the woman of his dreams (Madge Bellamy), even though she’s engaged. Things go horribly long when she becomes a zombie slave instead.
‘I Walked with a Zombie’ (1943)
Director: Jacques Tourneur
IMDb user rating: 7.1
Metascore: data not available
Runtime: 69 minutes
Described by Turner Classic Movies as “one of the most poetic films in the horror genre,” this early zombie classic follows a nurse named Betsy (Frances Dee), who is hired to look after a Carribean sugar plantation. This is a brief summary.