‘Train To Busan’, ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ And Other Great Zombie Movies From Around The World

Zombies have long been an inspiration for some of the best scary movies, and the allure of the flesh-eating undead does not seem to perish with the theme remaining consistently popular around the world. While horror is the most prominent genre associated with these films, makers of some of the best zombie movies have explored comedy, romance and action as well.

How did zombie films find prominence in pop culture?

The concept of zombies can be traced to 16th and 17th-century Haitian history. It was believed that slaves who took their own life were made undead as a punishment. In a darker twist to this myth, Haitians believed that voodoo priests used these undead corpses for free labour.

Present-day modern zombie flicks are quite different from older flicks like Return of the Living Dead (1985) which started the trend of making such horror movies in this subgenre. The monsters shown in these films had all zombie-like traits but were simply referred to as human flesh-eaters.

The modern iterations typically show a post-apocalyptic version of reality that the masses find relatable, especially with real-world issues like the COVID-19 pandemic. Be it classics like Night of the Living Dead (1968) or cutting-edge action films like Dawn Of The Dead (2004), these movies have never failed to impress audiences.

Additionally, those who are not great fans of horror and gore but want to explore the zombie genre can always rely on zombie comedies like Shaun Of The Dead (2004) or the rib-tickling Japanese flick One Cut Of The Dead (2017). Meanwhile, fans of Korean zombie movies can watch Zombie On Sale (2019) directed by Lee Min-jae to kick-start the weekend with your brood.

Here are some of the best zombie movies to add to your watchlist

(Main image: 2004 Rogue Pictures – All Rights Reserved/ IMDb; Featured image: IMDb)

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur

1 /18

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Directed by: George A. Romero

Cast: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, S. William Hinzman

Synopsis: This zombie movie follows Ben (Jones) and a group of individuals who hide in an abandoned house in Pennsylvania as the living dead make way from cemeteries to hunt down humans. But will they survive the zombies?

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2 /18

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield

Synopsis: This masterpiece in the horror comedy genre makes for a bloody good zombie movie. The plot revolves around Shaun (Pegg), a boring salesman in London, who is trying to get his life together. However, he finds himself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and decides to assume the role of a protector to win his girlfriend back.

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3 /18

Zombie On Sale (2019)

Directed by: Lee Min-jae

Cast: Jeong Jae-yeong, Kim Nam-gil, Uhm Ji-won, Garam Jung

Synopsis: This much-loved Korean zombie movie is about Hyun Woo (Jung), a zombie, who is a product of an illegal pharma experiment gone wrong. While the Park family tries to make a profit by selling his zombie services, the film showcases how Hyun develops relationships with humans.

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4 /18

Train to Busan (2016)

Directed by: Sang-ho Yeon

Cast: Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok, Kim Eui-sung, Kim Su-an

Synopsis: Shown in the Cannes Film Festival’s Midnight Screenings section, this is one of the highly recommended modern zombie films. The movie revolves around Seok-woo (Gong), his estranged daughter Soo-an (Kim Su-an) and other passengers as they struggle to survive on a train from Seoul to Busan during a zombie outbreak.

Awards won: Best New Director for Yeon and Best Supporting Actor for Kim at Baek Sang Art Awards 2017; Audience Choice Award at Blue Dragon Awards 2016.

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5 /18

28 Days Later (2002)

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston

Synopsis: Jim (Murphy) is discharged from a hospital only to find that the whole of London is a ghost town, and a zombie apocalypse threatens the existence of humans. The film has a deeper meaning as it attempts to explore human nature and its fallacies. Additionally, the action sequences in the movie will keep viewers glued to the screen.

Award won: Best British Film at the Empire Awards UK 2003.

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6 /18

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, Louis Ferreira

Synopsis: Ana (Polley), a nurse, is unaware of a zombie outbreak in the suburbs of Milwaukee. But when she is attacked by her husband Luis (Ferreira), she flees the scene and joins policeman Kenneth (Rhames) along with a young married couple and a salesman. Will they survive this attack by the living dead?

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7 /18

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Directed by: Dan O’Bannon

Cast: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa

Synopsis: The zombie film follows two employees — Frank (Karen) and Freddy (Mathews) — who work at a medical supply warehouse. Accidentally, they release a deadly gas, which causes corpses to rise. Soon, the city is under attack from the undead who are after the human brain.

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8 /18

One Cut of the Dead (2017)

Directed by: Shin’ichirô Ueda

Cast: Takayuki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama, Harumi Shuhama

Synopsis: Amateur actors and a crew with debatable merit set out to shoot a low-budget zombie flick in an abandoned military facility. The cast and crew, however, find themselves in the middle of an actual zombie attack in this comedy of errors.

Touted as the easy breezy, ‘laugh out loud zombie comedy’ by the Hollywood Reporter, this Japanese zombie movie is a must-see for its brilliant new-age take on this classic subgenre.

Award won: Best Editing at the Awards of the Japanese Academy 2019.

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9 /18

The Wailing (2016)

Directed by: Na Hong-jin

Cast: Jun Kunimura, Hwang Jung-min, Kwak Do-won

Synopsis: This Korean zombie movie is sure to creep you out with its elements of witchcraft, ghosts and demons. Centred around a reported evil, the film follows a Japanese man settled in far-off mountains near the village of Goksung in South Korea. Soon after his arrival, the village begins to witness mysterious deaths. Will the investigating police officer Jong-Goo (Kwak) get to the bottom of this dangerous phenomenon?

Award won: Best Film at Baek Sang Art Awards 2017.

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10 /18

Zombie Holocaust (1980)

Directed by: Marino Girolami

Cast: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan

Synopsis: A group of doctors head to a deserted island along with a journalist to investigate strange instances of cannibalism. Upon arrival, they are greeted by a scientist who apparently is working on the same issue. The team of doctors and the journalist, however, is in for a rude surprise as they are faced with an attack from cannibals and zombies.

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11 /18

Zombieland (2009)

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin

Synopsis: After a deadly virus turns most humans in the world into zombies, a group of four — Columbus (Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Harrelson), Wichita (Stone) and her younger sister, Little Rock (Breslin) — are on a mission to vanquish the undead and survive the attack in this quirky horror comedy.

The makers released a sequel to this film, Zombieland: Double Tap, in 2019 where the leads reprise their roles and are faced with evolved zombies in the America heartland.

(Image credit: © 2009 – Columbia/TriStar/IMDb)

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12 /18

Slither (2006)

Directed by: James Gunn

Cast: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker

Synopsis: A nondescript town of Wheelsy in South Carolina is disrupted when its citizen Grant (Rooker) gets infected by a deadly virus from outer space and his wife Shyla Grant (Banks) watches him transform into a monster. Soon, the town is under attack by zombies and mutant monsters from space.

Awards won: Best Make-up for Todd Masters and Dan Rebert at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA 2007.

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13 /18

Night of the Creeps (1986)

Directed by: Fred Dekker

Cast: Jason Lively, Tom Atkins, Steve Marshall

Synopsis: An alien experiment gone wrong leads to the killing of a college fraternity member whose body is frozen for medical purposes in the 1950s. Decades later, Chris (Lively) and JC (Marshall) are given a dare to release the body from a confined facility in the college. What happens next leads to utter chaos.

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14 /18

Re-Animator (1985)

Directed by: Stuart Gordon

Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton

Synopsis: Touted to be a pulpy sci-fi movie, it revolves around Herbert West (Combs) who is quite taken by the idea of making the dead alive by injecting a green liquid into the corpses. However, this creepy idea takes a dangerous turn.

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15 /18

The 'Resident Evil' franchise

Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson, Alexander Witt, Russell Mulcahy

Synopsis: The core live-action films in the franchise follow the 2002 movie where a science experiment gone wrong leads to a virus outbreak in a secret intelligence facility called The Hive. The entire unit is infected with this deadly virus causing mutations in the human body. A special unit which has Alice (Milla Jovovich) is deployed to fight these mutated creatures and zombies. Will they succeed in saving the world?

Resident Evil films include Resident Evil (2002), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Damnation (2012), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), Resident Evil: Vendetta (2017) and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021).

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16 /18

#Alive (2020)

Directed by: Il Cho

Cast: Yoo Ah-in, Park Shin-Hye, Jeon Bae-soo

Synopsis: The spread of a deadly virus has plunged an entire Korean city into chaos and dismay. However, a man (Yoo) manages to lock himself alone in an apartment in a bid to survive.

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17 /18

World War Z (2013)

Directed by: Marc Forster

Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz

Synopsis: The plot revolves around a former United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt) who travels around the world to stop humanity from dying at the hands of the zombies.

Award won: Best Thriller Film at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA 2014.

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18 /18

Juan of the Dead (2011)

Directed by: Alejandro Brugués

Cast: Alexis Díaz de Villegas, Jorge Molina, Andros Perugorría

Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of Cuban revolution, the plot centres around Juan (de Villegas) who finds himself amidst an army of zombies. He navigates through his personal problems along with coming up with a scheme to vanquish the zombies to earn some monetary profit from the government.

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