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Top Ten Zombie Movies of the last 10 Years

Updated on March 11, 2012

Top 10...

The Top Ten Zombie Films of the Last Ten Years

After ten years of reliably supplying DVD collections and video stores with low budget, b-grade filler, zombie movies enjoyed a renaissance in the ‘naughties’, the first decade of the 21st century. Over the last couple of years this has slowed somewhat, but the sequels of those successful movies still provide a legacy from when zombie movies briefly lifted the bar. Current AMC show ‘The Walking Dead’ is another example of that legacy. No studio would have been able to back a prime time, big budget television show based on a zombie apocalypse without the genre resurgence last decade. Check out the Zombie Movie List hub for all the zombie films released over the last ten years.

Beginning with 2002’s 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, zombie movies began displaying higher production values, more investment in story and getting bigger budgets. High calibre directors and movie stars also began lending their names to productions, such as Will Smith in I Am Legend or the Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino produced Planet Terror. There also began to be more variations to the standard unintelligent, slow-moving, groaning, flesh eating and apocalypse-causing zombie horde. 28 Days Later zombies moved quickly, while the infected ‘Darkseekers’ in I Am Legend were allergic to sunlight. Self-aware zombie tributes have also been popular, such as Shaun of the Dead and the aforementioned Planet Terror.

This hub lists just one opinion of the top ten zombie movies of the last ten years. It attempts to balance overall movie quality and story while paying tribute to how true the movie is to its zombie-movie roots. Dawn of the Dead and Land of the Dead won’t be winning any Oscars or setting the box office alight with broad, mainstream appeal, but they deserve their place as quintessential zombie movies. On the other hand, I Am Legend features some integral differences to stereotypical zombie films, but deserves to be recognised for its success, story and production values. Any zombie movie fan should be pleased to have their genre recognised to the point that one of its films can believably portray such a busy and famous city as New York, abandoned and decimated.

Feel free to add any movies that didn’t make the list in the comment section, or if you disagree with the order given here, vote on the zombie movie poll.

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1. 28 Days Later (2002)

28 Days Later is a British zombie horror film that could be considered partly responsible for re-sparking the current zombie popularity in cinema. However, its creatures differ from most zombies portrayed in films. Its zombies are victims of the highly contagious "rage" virus and although cannibalistic and unintelligent, they can move very fast. A small group of survivors band together to escape a dramatically filmed London.

28 Days Later was directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland. It stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns and Brendan Gleeson.

2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Shaun of the Dead is the first of the Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright ‘Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy’ along with Hot Fuzz and the yet to be produced The World's End. Shaun of the Dead is a British zombie comedy films that features Simon Pegg, as the title character Shaun, dealing with a zombie apocalypse along with life’s everyday problems. Nick Frost, another ingredient of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy comes along for the ride as Shaun’s dropkick best friend.

The film was critically acclaimed, although while financially successful did not set the box office on fire. Much of the cast returns as key characters or for cameos from Wright’s TV series, Spaced.

3. I Am Legend

Will Smith's Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville, a military virologist, is the last surviving human in New York, desperately trying to find a cure for a man-made virus that has turned everyone into zombies. The zombies in I Am Legend display a wide variety of differences to other movie zombies, but they are similar in that they eat flesh and appear to be devoid of intelligence and humanity. The creatures in I Am Legend are allergic to UV radiation and therefore avoid being outdoors during daylight.

I Am Legend (2007) was based on the 1954 horror fiction novel “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson. It was directed by Francis Lawrence and produced by Akiva Goldsman, David Heyman, James Lassiter, Neal H. Moritz and Tracy Torme. The screenplay is by Akiva Goldsman and Mark Protosevich. I Am Legend stars Will Smith, Alice Braga and Charlie Tahan.

I Am Legend was the seventh highest grossing film at the box office, with almost US$600 million world wide takings.

4. Zombieland (2009)

Zombieland is a zombie apocalypse zombie film that features a very small cast of survivors that briefly band together while they are on their respective journeys. It was very well received by critics and is one of the most financially successful zombie movies ever. The zombies in Zombieland are of the stereotypical slow, unintelligent and flesh eating variety.

Zombieland was directed by Ruben Fleischer, produced by Gavin Polone written by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. It stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, forming a very familiar cast. It also contains a highly popular cameo by a famous comedian. Plans are underway for a Zombieland sequel.

5. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

1978's Dawn of the Dead directed by zombie movie making legend George A. Romero is a classic. However, there are certain levels of action and gore that modern audiences expect from a zombie film. The 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead gives us that. It features a directorial debut from Zack Snyder and stars Dawn of the Dead stars Ving Rhames, Sarah Polley and Jake Weber. As opposed to some of the other zombie movies on the list, it is more of a classic zombie apocalypse film with stereotypical zombies.

6. Resident Evil (2002)

Resident Evil was the first film edition for the Resident Evil media franchise that started with 1996 video game. Along with 2002’s 28 Days Later is highly likely to be responsible for zombie films gaining increased popularity over the last ten years. It has spawned eight film sequels; three of them direct sequels with another on the way.

Paul W. S. Anderson both wrote and directed and was one of the producers of the film. It stars Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, Colin Salmon, James Purefoy and Martin Crewes.

7: Land of the Dead (2005)

In 2005’s Land of the Dead, survivors of the zombie apocalypse have banded together in a makeshift city to seek refuge and defend themselves against the zombie hordes.

Land of the Dead was directed and written by George A. Romero, the God Father of zombie movies. It was produced by Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann and Peter Grunwald. Land of the Dead features an impressive cast for a zombie movie. It stars Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy and John Leguizamo.

8: Planet Terror (2007)

Planet Terror is one half of the grindhouse double feature produced by Robert Rodreguez and Quentin Tarantino in 2007. The other film was Tarantino’s Death Proof. Planet Terror was written by and directed by Rodreguez and was produced by him, Tarantino and Elizabeth Avellan. Tarantino was heavily involved in the making of Planet Terror. It features a famous cast including: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn, Bruce Willis, Naveen Andrews, Stacy Ferguson, Nicky Katt with Electra and Elise Avellan.

Planet Terror embraces and parodies b-grade horror films and serves as a tribute to zombie movies of the 1970’s and 80’s.

9. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Resident Evil: Apocalypse is the first sequel to 2002’s Resident Evil, with the events starting soon after those depicted in the first film. Milla Jovovich returns as Alice. As with the first film, Paul W. S. Anderson was the writing but did not direct this time, with Alexander Witt taking the reins so Anderson could direct Alien vs. Predator. Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Sophie Vavasseur, Sandrine Holt, Mike Epps and Thomas Kretschmann join the cast.

Apocolyse built on the success of the first film, making nearly US$130 million worldwide compared to just over US$100 million for Resident Evil. However, Resident Evil’s budget of $33 million was increased to $45 million for the sequel.

10: 28 Weeks Later (2007)

28 Weeks Later is the sequel to 2002’s 28 Days Later. As implied by the title, the events in the film take place 28 weeks after the outbreak portrayed at the beginning of the first film. Danny Boyle did not return as director, although he was credited as a producer. Instead Juan Carlos Fresnadillo took the helm. 28 Weeks Later stars Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau and Catherine McCormack.

28 Weeks Later only just sneaks onto the list of the top ten zombie films, and although its increased budget may mean it is technically a step up from 28 Days Later, it is an inferior film. It may be seen in a better light had a helicopter not flown upside down to mow down zombies, but in general the film received good reviews.

The Top Ten Zombie Films of the Last Ten Years

1. 28 Days Later directed by Danny Boyle

2. Shaun of the Dead directed by Edgar Wright

3. I Am Legend directed by Francis Lawrence

4. Zombieland directed by Ruben Fleischer (2009)

5. Dawn of the Dead directed by Zack Snyder

6. Resident Evil directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

7. Land of the Dead directed by George A. Romero

8. Planet Terror directed by Robert Rodriguez

9. Resident Evil: Apocalypse directed by Alexander Witt

10. 28 Weeks Later directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Zombie Movie Poll

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