The 7 best zombie movies of all time

Ever since zombies first rose onto the big screen, they’ve spent decades dominating movies and more in shuffling hordes. One of the archetypal horror villains, the walking dead have endured in popular culture for over half a century, emerging and evolving in new forms, eating away at the collective consciousness. There’s an inherent sense of the uncanny to a zombie – someone who’s neither dead nor alive, a former friend that has become a mindless enemy, all infused with the terror of cannibalism – and yet they’re also a blank slate, a metaphor ripe to reflect the fears and foes of whatever year they appear in.

We presents a list of the greatest zombie movies – some mere mindless blood-splattered fun, some with brains as well as bursting innards, from scuzzy, sickening gonzo gore-fests, to genre-twisting hybrids, and even a family-friendly favourite. Don your protective gear, tool up (anyone got a cricket bat?) and dive in.

ParaNorman (2012)

A zombie movie – but, y’know, for kids! Fresh from traumatising a generation with Coraline, stop-motion animation studio Laika served up a family-friendly horror adventure. The titular Norman is an ostracised boy who can talk to the dead – which comes in handy when a witch’s curse summons walking corpses from the town graveyard. Spooky fun, and a rare zombie movie that (due to its target audience) isn’t lavished in gore, instead relying on understanding and forgiveness to save the day

World War Z (2013)

It bears very little resemblance to its celebrated source novel, but World War Z stands as perhaps the only all-out zombie blockbuster. With Brad Pitt in the lead, a globe-trotting scope, and a considerable studio budget behind it, Marc Forster’s film presents the zombie movie as a summer action spectacle with a worldwide outbreak threatening global collapse. Where most zombie films are claustrophobic, this is the opposite, offering up inventive widescreen imagery of zombie swarms – crowds of the undead running en masse, scrambling over each other in insect-like mounds, able to scale walls through sheer force of will

Zombieland (2009)

As the zombie sub-genre ambled towards a cultural renaissance at the end of the 2010s, Ruben Fleischer’s irreverent zom-com arrived at just the right time. Jesse Eisenberg is cautious loner Columbus, doing his best to survive the undead apocalypse with a series of audience-winking rules (‘check the back seat’, ‘double tap’ your kills). He becomes part of a makeshift family when he teams up with Woody Harrelson’s Twinkie-loving hard-ass Tallahassee, Emma Stone’s sarcastic Wichita, and Abigail Breslin’s doe-eyed youngster Little Rock. With a zippy sub-90 minute runtime, madcap zombie murders (death by falling piano, anyone?), and genius Bill Murray cameo, it’s a funhouse ride of a zombie film that culminates in an actual fairground set piece