"Hello IHSFF Fans. Our next guest is Mr. Jonathan James, he is the editor-in-chief of DailyDead.com. Daily Dead is a fantastic genre website that has been around since 2010. Daily Dead started out with a strong focus on zombie news and has quickly branched out to cover all manners of interesting genre subjects. Take a look at Mr. James' fascinating list of "Favorite Non- Romero Zombie Movies" and check out DailyDead.com immediately." - Monte Yazzie, IHSFF Festival Director
My Favorite Non-Romero Zombie Movies
by Jonathan James
On November 2nd, Daily Dead will celebrate its fifth anniversary. It's pretty insane to think about how much the site has grown from my original plan of sharing horror news, with a strong focus on zombies, and hoping a visitor or two might stop by.
Like most people, I had no idea how big The Walking Dead would become and that my friends, neighbors, and even grandparents would now be watching zombies on a weekly basis. Some may think that zombies going mainstream isn't a good thing, but I'll argue against that endlessly. We now have legions of new horror fans who have been exposed to the living dead as well as incredible amounts of gore, and I see this as a great opportunity to introduce decades of must-see horror movies to them.
I run into quite a few people at conventions who love The Walking Dead, but don't know what zombie movies to start watching. It may come as a surprise to older horror fans, but I regularly hear from people who don't know who George A. Romero is, so my hope is that this will serve as a good starting point for those looking to get into zombie movies.
I could dedicate an entire book to George A. Romero's movies, so I'll keep this part short and say that we wouldn't have the modern zombie without him. His flesh-eating "ghouls" and the spreading of infection by bite or death is the reason we have The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, and so many other zombie movies and games.
George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead are absolutely required viewing for those interested in learning about the birth of the modern zombie. After you've checked those out, I've put together a list of my favorite non-Romero zombie movies that are worth your time.
Before we get started, it's worth noting that some people can be very strict about what qualifies as a "zombie" movie. While some believe it should strictly follow the Romero rules, I have a more loose interpretation of what classifies as a zombie movie, and I think part of the fun is that different filmmakers can play around and re-invent the "zombie" just as Romero unknowingly did in 1968.
Zombie (1978) - In Italy this was titled Zombi 2 and was an unofficial / official sequel to George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Director Lucio Fulci is known as a "Godfather of Gore" and I'll just say that he has an even bigger "eye" for gore than Romero. If that's not enough to get you excited, this is the only movie in which you'll see a zombie fight a shark...
The Return of the Living Dead (1985) - Zombies weren't always associated with eating brains, yet it's now common knowledge to the general public. How did this notion become popular? You can thank Dan O'Bannon of Alien fame, who went in the complete opposite direction of the previous "Dead" films with The Return of the Living Dead. The mix of black comedy, a killer soundtrack, and an eclectic cast of teenage punks and zombies make this my go-to zombie movie.
Re-Animator (1985) - Not often brought up when discussing zombie movies, Stuart Gordon's cult classic follows Herbert West and his obsession with perfecting the formula for bringing the dead back to life. While he hopes to reverse the process of death completely, his resurrected subjects are a lot closer to zombies than humans. Zombie movies often focus on the creature and not the cause, but the medical side of the living dead proves to be just as entertaining.
Dead Alive (1992) - Peter Jackson will be forever known for his Middle Earth movies, but, in 1992, he channeled the gore of Lucio Fulci and the dark comedy of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 for one of the craziest and bloodiest zombie movies you will ever see. Also known as Braindead, Peter Jackson holds nothing back and this movie still induces the gag reflex in first-time viewers—an impressive feat for a low-budget movie made more than twenty years ago.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) - It's easy to see why this is one of George A. Romero's favorite zombie movies. Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost deliver a hilarious and loving homage to Romero, while making the story their own and keeping with the social commentary that has always been such a big part of Romero's movies. They take it one step further with some of the best-developed characters you'll see in any zombie movie.
After you've seen Romero's original "Living Dead" trilogy and the five above, there are dozens of zombie movies worth checking out, including Cemetery Man, Pontypool, Zombieland, the Dawn of the Dead remake, The Dead, City of the Living Dead, Fido, The Beyond, Land of the Dead, and Dead Snow. There are also films that are labeled as "quasi-zombie movies," which always spark debate among fans, but that shouldn't stop you from watching movies like 28 Days Later, [REC], and [REC] 2.
You can find more from me at DailyDead.com, but more importantly, seek out the news and special features from our talented group of writers. They're insanely passionate and knowledgeable about horror, but, more importantly, they're great people and it's an honor to have their work published on Daily Dead.