Why Are Zombie Films So Popular? Why Society Loves the Living Dead

The zombie genre has been a cult favorite since the late 1980s. In the last few decades, zombies have become more mainstream than ever before. They are the king of all film genres. Zombies fill our movie screens, video games, books and televisions. What is it about the living dead that we find so fascinating?

Why People Love Zombie Films

There’s a good chance that in the last few years, you’ve seen some good zombie movies and you’ve seen some pretty horrible ones too. Yet you still keep coming back for more. Why is our society obsessed with the zombie apocalypse?

There are quite a few theories that attempt to explain our obsession. Some believe zombies are a symbol of communism or socialism. Others view zombies as a representation of consumerism or terrorism. In many ways, zombies are a way to discuss the AIDs epidemic.

More often than not, zombie films – no matter if they’re humorous like The Return of the Living Dead or serious like World War Z – poke fun at society as a whole and the way we live our lives.

Other theories suggest that zombies are so popular because of the uncertain times we live in. In some ways, zombies also help us deal with the fear of death in a strange but comforting way.

While all of these theories have some truth to them, there is a question as to why all of sudden the genre has become so incredibly popular. The zombie genre thrives during times of economic recession, unrest and epidemic. As a whole, we are constantly bombarded with concerns of terrorism, drug-resistant pandemics and climate change. Good zombie movies are the embodiment of all of these fears tied up in a neat bow.

Many people also fear the death of society as a whole, where people will someday find themselves living amongst strangers with only a shotgun to defend themselves. It gives the audience a chance to really contemplate what a post-apocalyptic world would be like without being too terrifying. After all, zombies are a fictional species, whereas disease and famine are very real and terrifying possibilities.

While everyone has their own belief as to why we love zombie films, one thing’s for certain, the phenomenon isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We’re likely to see zombies taking an even bigger role in film and television in the coming years, which is great news for die-hard fans of the genre.

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Top 5 Zombie Movies of 2013

More than 60 zombie films were released in 2013, and unlike past years, quite a few were box office hits. While that doesn’t mean too much die-hard zombie lovers, it is an indication that this “flesh-eating” genre is becoming more mainstream. Only time will tell if Hollywood’s cold, hard grip will suck the life out of the cult genre, but if the last year was any indication of the future, the zombie apocalypse is just getting started. Let’s take a look at the top 5 zombie movies of 2013.

1. World War Z

It’s hard to imagine Brad Pitt in a zombie film, but he played the part of World War Z’s Gerry Lane surprisingly well. Throughout the film, Lane (a United Nations employee) scours the world to try to stop the zombie pandemic that threatens humanity. The film is based on the Max Brooks horror novel released in 2006 and was well received by critics and filmgoers alike. Although some consider the ending “soft,” World War Z is a big-budget zombie film that’s both gritty and, at times, intense.

2. Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is a comedy/horror/romance zombie film whose storyline is more like Twilight than the Walking Dead. An unusual zombie boy named R falls for a still-living girl named Julie, adding an undead twist to the classic Romeo and Juliet tale. Naturally, the two face challenges both in their own relationship and with their respective “families,” especially when R starts regaining his humanity. The two must find a way to bridge the differences between the “Bonies” zombies and the human forces.

3. Open Grave

Open Grave takes a different approach to the zombie “plague.” The film tells the tale of a man who wakes up in, presumably, a grave of dead bodies. He has no recollection of what happened or how he wound up there. After fleeing the grave, he finds his way to a nearby house and is met by a group of terrified survivors – all of which are also suffering from amnesia. Eventually, each person begins to recover their memory in bits and pieces throughout the film. What they uncover is a threat far more vicious than any of them had imagined.

4. V/H/S/2

V/H/S/2 is the sequel to V/H/S and is more thrilling and fun than its predecessor. This Indonesian-American film is one of the top zombie movies and features a series of found-footage shorts, similar to the Blair Witch Project (and so many other recent horror films). Two private investigators are searching for a missing student and come across a collection of VHS tapes after breaking into the student’s house. What the tapes reveal is far more frightening than they ever could have imagined. This film has just about everything you can imagine from the flesh-eating undead to aliens and ghosts. If there’s one word to sum up V/H/S/2 – it would be fun.

5. The Returned

The Returned takes viewers to a world where a virus has infected mankind and only a sole cure has been found. Known as the “Return Protein,” those who are infected must take daily injections of the cure to prevent the virus from turning them back into a zombie. As supply of the cure runs low, panic sets in and the non-infected protest in the streets. Amidst the chaos, the story follows lead characters Alex and Kate. Kate is a leading physician in the zombie virus field and Alex is a singer with a big secret – he is a “Returned.” After his secret is revealed and his dosages start to run low, he and Kate must fight to prevent Alex from turning back into a zombie.

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The Top 10 Worst Zombie Movies of All Time

When it comes to zombie movies, filmmakers either hit the mark, or fail miserably. Although the genre is forgiving and many avid zombie lovers are fans of low-budget films, some of the titles on our list really don’t even deserve to be called films, let alone zombie films. Without further ado, here are the top 10 worst zombie movies of all time.

1. House of the Dead

The only scary thing about this movie is that it even exists. The film calls itself a “slasher movie,” but we’re not sure it even deserves that title. House of the Dead follows a teen who hops on a boat to attend a rave in the San Juan Islands. Once they arrive, they find that the entire rave has been smashed, everyone has disappeared and blood has been splattered everywhere. A number of needless references are made to the video game that inspired the film, and despite its name, the film is anything but terrifying. Between the unwitty dialogue, terrible acting and pointless nudity scenes, House of the Dead is easily a candidate for one of the worst films of all time.

2. Gangs of the Dead

The title alone should be warning enough that this movie is bad. The biggest problem with Gang of the Dead is that there really isn’t a storyline. Two rival gangs get caught in a zombie outbreak while making an illegal deal. Oh, and the gangs must get out of the warehouse alive. Really, there isn’t much else to say about Gangs of the Dead. If you enjoy bad acting, a bad script and horrible character development, this film’s for you.

3. Plan 9 From Outer Space

Plan 9 is known as the “best” worst film of all time. Strangely, the film has a cult following and there are people that genuinely love the film, but only because it’s just so bad. The plot is simple: Aliens decide to bring back the dead and use the zombies as a weapon. As if that weren’t ridiculous enough, the film only gets worse from here.

4. Zombie Strippers

The title says it all, Zombie Strippers is just a horrible zombie film. What makes it even more heartbreaking is the fact that Robert Englund plays the lead. Much like other zombie plots, a zombie virus is let loose in an underground strip club in a conservative Nebraska town. When the virus starts spreading, strippers become super zombie strippers. I kid you not. The only audience this film will appeal to is teenage boys who only have their mind on one thing.

5. Survival of the Dead

Survival of the Dead is Romero’s third attempt in the zombie genre, and sadly, this film is about as bad as it gets. It takes place on an island where those who are living there attempt to reintroduce their “undead” loved ones back into society. The plot is confusing at best and most of the characters are hypocrites; saying one thing and doing another. Even Romero’s biggest fans were sorely disappointed with this one.

6. Children of the Living Dead

If you didn’t know any better, you may assume that Children of the Living Dead is a part of the classic “Night of the Living Dead” saga. While the film may want you to believe this, it bears no resemblance to the original and the two titles should really never be put in the same sentence. A man, Michael Matthews, arrives in a small, rural Pennsylvania town in hopes of developing a small piece of land. Instead, he finds that the land is actually an old cemetery where the dead rise and walk the earth once again. These “living dead” are supposed to terrorize the neighborhood in their pursuit of human flesh. This film plays on all the obvious horror film clichés and its plot is sorely disappointing.

7. Day of the Dead (Steve Miner)

Day of the Dead is a “remake” (if you can call it that) of Romero’s classic, but many would say that Miner’s version is a poor excuse for a film. For those who aren’t aware, Steve Miner has directed episodes of both Smallville and Dawson’s Creek. Why he would venture into the zombie genre is anyone’s guess. The zombies in this film are insane. They climb walls and ceilings. They jump around like Spiderman. Their behavior is nonsensical and closer to a “possessed demon child” than a mindless zombie. This is just an awful and needless remake of the original, which many feel is the best zombie film ever made.

8. Return of the Living Dead – Rave to the Grave

It seems as if every filmmaker is trying to cash in on the zombie genre and the Living Dead series. It’s hard to know where to begin with the things that are wrong with this film. In an incredibly predictable plot, the film follows a group of teens that are getting ready to attend a rave by creating a brand new, designer drug they call “Zee.” How clever. Zee was created using the contents of an unknown military canister (because we find those lying around everywhere). Needless to say, the drug turns the ravers into zombies and the film sets off on a terribly predictable path. It’s hard to make it past the halfway point of this film without losing your lunch.

9. Zombie Night

It’s hard to find a zombie movie that’s worse than Zombie Night. Aside from it being obviously low budget, there was absolutely no effort put into the writing or plotline of the film. A young family returns from a camping retreat to learn the dead have come back to life thanks to a nuclear holocaust. Without a second thought, the family decides to rebuild society. Times must have been tough for Daryl Hannah to sign onto this film.

10. Redneck Zombies

Don’t let the film reviews fool you, Redneck Zombies is as bad as it gets. You either really love it, or truly hate it. The film follows a hillbilly family that started a zombie outbreak thanks to their radioactive hooch. The film is filled with cheap visual effects, a horribly storyline and unlovable characters. When it comes to bad zombie movies, this is just about as bad as it gets.

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Top 5 Funny Zombie Movies

Of all the horror sub-genres, zombie films take the cake when it comes to humor. Really, comedy and zombies go hand-in-hand. When it comes to the “zomcom” genre, many of the greatest films are classics made decades ago. The late 80s and early 90s were prime time for hilarious zombie films that set the stage for later, modern classics like Shaun of the Dead. Below are our picks for the top 5 funny zombie movies.

1. Return of the Living Dead Part 2

This cult-classic was released in 1988 and is still one of the funniest zombie movies of all time. When three neighborhood kids discover the same barrels that revived the dead in the first film, all hell breaks loose and the dead once again rise from the grave. Return of the Living Dead Part 2 doesn’t even attempt to be serious – and that’s what we love most about it. Dead characters from the first installment return and don’t even realize that they’re dead. The ridiculousness of this film makes it perfect for a weekend movie marathon.

2. Fido

While Fido is technically a comedy, this film is so much more than just slapstick humor. Fido takes us to a time when zombies are, well, used as “pets.” Everyone has one, including the Robinson family. The problem is that little Timmy Robinson’s zombie thought it was a good idea to eat their neighbor. Now, Timmy must fight to keep his best friend. It’s a “boy and dog’ movie for adults. Amidst the humor and ridiculousness of the idea of keeping a zombie as a pet, there are some heartwarming scenes. Fido is more than just a shallow comedy for the masses; it has surprising depth that you typically don’t find with zombie films.

3. Shaun of the Dead

It’s virtually impossible to create a funny zombie movies list without including Shaun of the Dead. The main character, Shaun, attempts to win back his ex and patch things up with his mother – all while fighting a city that returned from the dead. The film manages to beautifully parody horror films, romantic comedies and the zombie genre all while being laugh out loud funny.

4. The Evil Dead 2

Although Evil Dead 2 teeter totters on being a true zombie film, it’s hard to ignore this classic horror movie. Unlike its predecessor, Evil Dead 2 takes a more comedic approach to the fight between the living and the dead. It’s gory, it’s hilarious and it’s horrific all at the same time. What’s not to love?

5. Dead Alive

Dead Alive is still considered one of the goriest movies of all time – and it really does top the list. Lionel’s overbearing and evil mother is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey, gets sick, dies and comes back to life. After awakening from the dead, she starts killing and eating dogs – and people too. It’s up to Lionel to stop her from infecting the town. Dead Alive is gory, chaotic, ridiculous and over the top; everything you could ever want in a zombie comedy.

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Resurrection is upon us!

Lider Films is glad to be back! We are currently reviving our content and will posting it up shortly! Stay alive and wait my kitties!

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