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Director George Romero helped modernize horror with his 1968 low-budget classic ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ He tapped into the emotional fallout of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement with his tale of zombies attacking a group of survivors held up in a Pennsylvania farmhouse.
His film proved so iconic that it inspired countless other horror films, as well as the smash television hit ‘The Walking Dead.’
Now let’s take a look at some underrated zombie films that horror fans should also investigate.
This Italian zombie flick follows a hippie couple that witnesses a killing by a reanimated corpse in the English countryside.
But the police don’t believe their story and accuses them of being devil-worshipping murderers, making them fugitives in the process.
Can they discover the reason for the zombie plague and clear their name before it’s too late? Or are they doomed to a gruesome fate?
This taut thriller focuses on a U.S. naval officer (Rob Freeman), who crash-lands in West Africa.
Forced to travel on foot through local villages plagued by zombie hordes, he relies on a local soldier to guide him to the nearest military base.
But this proves a precarious and deadly journey given the unrelenting undead threat, providing the film with a steady supply of jump scares and atmospheric dread.
While ‘28 Days Later’ was a smash hit, which reinvigorated the zombie sub-genre by starting the “running zombie” trend, its sequel was a more modest box office and critical hit.
Which is unfortunate, because ‘28 Weeks’ has moments that are absolutely terrifying with its story of Don (Robert Carlyle), a husband who left his wife behind while being attacked by the “infected.”
Upon arriving at a compound of refugees under the protection of the U.S. army (featuring soldiers played Jeremy Renner, Idris Elba and Rose Byrne), he’s reunited with his children. But his guilty conscience leads to tragic consequences when the “Rage virus” spreads throughout the community.
Now that we’ve looked at some traditional zombie horror films, let’s look at two others that explore the same terrain with a more left-of-center approach.
One of the weirdest films that you’ll ever experience (seriously!), ‘Blue Sunshine’ focuses on a group of ex-hippies who turn into bald homicidal maniacs thanks to flashbacks from a strain of LSD they all sampled in college.
When Jerry Zipkin (Zalman King) is blamed for a mass murder caused by one of his crazed friends, he must investigate the source of the lethal drug to stop more killings and clear his name in the process.
Blessed with evocative black and white cinematography, ‘I Walked With A Zombie’ is one of the more obscure entries from producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur (‘Cat People’).
When a nurse is hired to care for a sick woman on a Caribbean sugar plantation she investigates the cause of her patient’s illness, and discovers a macabre Voodoo curse, and a dark secret of the family who employs her.
So that wraps up my list of films like ‘Night of the Living Dead’ that all zombie fans should check out!
If you’ve got a strong stomach, give ‘Let Sleeping Corpses Lie’ a look first. Or if you like your horror more implied than visceral, ‘I Walked with a Zombie’ should fit the bill nicely.
What other zombie film treasures would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments! And for even more horror movie recommendations, be sure to check out my list of 6 Movies Like ‘It’, and 7 Movies Like ‘Trick’r Treat’.
And I would be remiss without mentioning some better-known zombie classics, which you can view in the honorable mentions below.
Honorable Mentions: ‘Dawn of the Dead’, ‘Day of the Dead’, ‘28 Days Later’, ‘Shaun of the Dead’, ‘Return of the Living Dead’, ‘Evil Dead’, ‘Zombieland’.