Guy Pigden's 'Top 5 Zombie Movies Of All Time'

Publish Date
Tuesday, 12 May 2015, 1:36PM

To celebrate May being 'International Zombie Month' we've teamed up with Guy Pigden the director of kiwi flick 'I Survived A Zombie Holocaust' which is released on May 22nd, to bring you his Top Zombie Films Of All Time.

It’s always hard to pick a top 5 list within a genre you are so familiar with and have such and affection for. Do you go with the tried and true classics as your picks? Or do you go with lesser known gems that are a little off the beaten path? For my selections I’ve chosen the Zombie films I found the most influential when creating I Survived A Zombie Holocaust, but this is far from my complete list of essential Zombie films.

Return Of The Living Dead
Way before Shaun Of The Dead, this was the first Zombie film to really attempt blackly comic humour, while still being full of disturbing moments. Written and Directed by legendary Alien Screenwriter Dan O’bannon it’s an incredibly entertaining and original take on the genre. One of the first Zombie films to introduce intelligent Zombies(Who talked!) that where fast moving and nigh on impossible to kill. The film also features the introduction of the idea that Zombies have an unquenchable thirst for ‘Brains” which became a pop culture staple. It also has an amazing 1980’s punk rock look and feel that adds another dimension to an already rich zombie tale.

You can’t talk about Zombie films without talking about NZ’s long lasting contribution to the genre. Made by our own Peter Jackson long before the Oscars, Hobbits and Knighthoods, this is a spectacular splatter fest featuring the most inventive zombie kills and carnage ever committed to film. The cinematography is bursting with energy and vitality the film is electric to watch, full of iconic moments such as the films hero Lionel laying waste to a room full of zombies with a lawnmower or brawling with a zombie baby in a wellington park. The spectacular sight gags are still without equal, but more important than every great Zombie kill, at it’s heart this is a film about a sons (very)complicated relationship with his mother. When it comes to NZ genre films we’re all just trying to catch up with Braindead.

Dawn Of The Dead (Original)
Writer/Director George A Romero is one of the true originator’s of the Zombie genre having pretty much invented the Zombie rules that are taken for granted in shows like The Walking Dead. It’s hard to say which is better between this and the third film Day Of The Dead, but I prefer Dawn for it’s more sympathetic characters. "When there’s no more room in hell, the dead shall walk the earth" and in this case populate a mall where a group of survivors make their home. A true classic full of moments that have been constantly mimicked it was the birth of the Zombie genre as we know it today. Dawn of The Dead is in some way responsible for every zombie film that came after it and we all owe a debt of gratitude to Mr Romero for that.

28 Days Later
28 Days later made Zombie films scary again by re-introducing running Zombies and a “Rage” virus complete with an innovative shaky camera style and deeply disturbing zombie growls. 28 days later may also be responsible for making Zombie’s popular again after an almost 20 year slump. Spawning an ongoing epidemic of imitation zombie films, none did it better than Danny Boyle’s original. The film features terrifying zombies, the most convincing, grim post Apocalyptic London setting in recent history and was shot digitally(unique at the time) to create a gritty more realistic look. Danny Boyle’s masterful direction makes everything that was old and tired in Zombie films new and interesting again.

Shaun Of The Dead
The term “Zom-Com” or “Rom Zom-Com” didn’t exist until Shaun Of The Dead came alone. While Danny Boyle’s 28 Days later once again established zombie films could be scary, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright took the opposite approach and made the funniest Zombie film of all time. Full of lightning fast one liners, wonderful performances and amazing references to Romero’s Dawn trilogy, the film gets better and better with repeat viewings. The jokes are so deeply layered that you can’t possibly catch them all the first time. Pegg and Wright are quick to establish this is not a parody of a zombie film, it is simply a funny zombie film and that is a very important distinction. As masterful as the film is purely as a comedy, you can absolutely see how much love the two have for the genre itself, which makes it even better.