When it comes to zombie films, George A. Romero is regarded as king. He is like a grandfather to the genre. He is responsible for classics like Night of the Living Dead – which serves as the benchmark by which all zombie films to come after it are compared. Romero is a pioneer and a visionary; the horror genre owes him a debt of gratitude for his keen insight and fortitude. No one has ever really done it better than Romero but his work has inspired plenty of other noteworthy efforts by talented filmmakers.
We wouldn’t say that anyone has done it better than George Romero but there are a lot of films inspired by his work that are worthy of your consideration. To draw attention to the ever-growing catalogue of undead cinematic efforts not helmed by George A. Romero, we are bringing you a list spotlighting Ten of the Best Non-Romero Zombie Films
Dead Snow follows the exploits of a group of college friends that retreat to a cabin in the woods for a break from the pressures of school. The film weaves a tale that intertwines the undead and Nazi soldiers. The gore is over-the-top and almost too much at times but the character development, performances, and dialogue make for a highly enjoyable and well-crafted horror film. Co-writer and director Tommy Wirkola (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) proves himself a force to be reckoned with by way of this feature.
It’s hard to believe that this tale of a mild mannered man turned zombie slayer is from Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy). It is regarded as the bloodiest film ever made (by total use of stage blood). Jackson not only directed this twisted gore fest but also co-wrote the screenplay. The film is full of gratuitous violence and undead action: The lawnmower scene is one of the all time greatest horror film moments ever. Dead Alive is the kind of zombie film that would make George Romero proud.
Shaun of the Dead
One of the most skillful films ever to merge horror and comedy, Shaun of the Dead excels in both genres. Simon Pegg is brilliant as the titular character and Nick Frost is equally good as Shaun’s sidekick. Though an unlikely hero, the audience quickly identifies with Shaun and hopes to see him triumph over the undead. The viewer quickly becomes enraptured by Shaun’s exploits and with good reason; the script and direction are both spot on and the film is very effectively paced, leading to an epic conclusion.
From Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci, The Beyond is a disorienting tale of a hotel proprietor that learns her new business is situated over a gateway to Hell. The film straddles the line between haunted house picture and zombie flick and it succeeds on both levels. It’s violent as hell and not entirely cohesive but Fulci has never been known for cohesion. This is one of Fulci’s best film and a great zombie flick.
Dance of the Dead
A group of teens with no date for the school dance try to survive when the zombie apocalypse strikes their hometown. The dialogue is witty and the performances are exceptional for a low budget horror film. The picture was distributed by Sam Raimi’s Ghosthouse Underground label and it has become a cult classic since its 2008 release. The premise is nothing new but with a great script from Joe Ballarini and keen direction from Gregg Bishop (V/H/S Viral) the film separates itself from the prototypical zombie comedy.
Burial Ground is a totally bizarre and overly sexualized horror film that centers on a group of vacationers whose holiday is cut short when an ancient crypt is opened, causing a zombie outbreak. The film is full of nudity, sex, and filthy dialogue. The characters are constantly having sex whenever and wherever they can. And who could forget the man-child who bites his mother’s nipple off? While this film doesn’t have the most relatable cast of characters, it does kill them off in creative ways and the fact that they aren’t very well developed or easy to identify with makes it all the easier to cheer for their inevitable demise.
Zombie is a brutal tale of the undead from director Lucio Fulci. If you aren’t familiar with Fulci’s body of work, this is a great place to start and if you are a fan of the undead, this is a must see. It is totally grotesque and always over-the-top. In addition to the carnage, Fulci also delivers an extra helping of nudity. The film was called Zombi 2, internationally, because Dawn of the Dead was known as Zombi overseas, Zombie is completely unrelated to Dawn of the Dead, however
Return of the Living Dead
This is somewhat of an unofficial sequel to Night of the Living Dead. George Romero wasn’t involved and it has no official connection to Night of the Living Dead but due to a copyright snafu, NOTLD ended up in the public domain, allowing anyone to distribute the film or create content that capitalizes on the film’s name. This is one of the only NOTLD spinoffs that has any merit, however. Return of the Living Dead is funny, gory, and readily able to laugh at itself and the horror genre.
Rec was remade – almost frame for frame – for U.S. audiences as Quarantine but Rec is the superior filmmaking effort. A sharp script by Jaume Balaugero, Luiso Berdejo and Paco Plaza, intelligent performances, and a claustrophobic sense of hysteria make this Spanish zombie film a contemporary classic that will please even the most discerning of horror fans.
28 Days Later
28 Days Later is often credited with reinventing the zombie sub-genre: It popularized fast zombies and also put director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) on the mainstream map. This horror thriller is atmospheric and totally uninhibited; the carnage is exceptional. The film has been suggested as a major influence on television’s The Walking Dead and has also had an impact on nearly every zombie film to come after it.