With so many hordes of zombies constantly running at you on both the big and small screens, it can be easy to forget that not all zombies are created equally. They are all unique, and were all once humans just like you and I (or at least, I hope only humans are reading this.) Although the foundations of being a zombie hinge on some specific, defining characteristics; rotting flesh, hunger for human flesh, and just generally being undead, certain make up artists and directors have made a conscious effort to create some that are truly unique. The zombies on this list all stand out for their own reasons, be it their look, demeanor, or anything else that could constitute a truly memorable zombie in film or TV. Here are my top 10 picks of the best zombies in horror.
10. Cemetery Zombie, Night of the Living Dead (1968)[youtube id=”Od2i5PretU8″ align=”right”]
Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is basically the blueprint for the modern zombie film. It introduced a new breed of monster into our world; the slow, lumbering zombie that craved human flesh. The first of these creatures that we see is in the first sequence, when Barbara arrives into the cemetery with her brother Johnny. Played by S. William Hinzman, this zombie is memorable for being the first of all zombies to appear in Romero’s “Dead” franchise.
9. Hannah, The Walking Dead Season 1 (2010) [youtube id=”2ZpN-y4qhYY” align=”right”]
Whether you love the show or you hate the show, there is no denying that the make up effects in AMC’s The Walking Dead are phenomenal. And how could they not be, with Greg Nicotero or KNB fame? Once again, this is the first zombie that we encounter in a series. This zombie is memorable for that and also for the sequence in which protagonist Rick Grimes comes back when he is more prepared so he can kill the zombie, and take it out of its misery. This draws a clear line in the sand to differentiate the humans from the monsters in the series. For more information about KNB, you can visit their website here and view their seriously impressive resume; you’re bound to find some awesome creatures you may not have known they created.
8. Chain Zombie, 28 Days Later (2002) [youtube id=”OyL2AO-Xo3k” align=”right”]
The chained up beast in 28 Days Later is absolutely terrifying. There are a lot of reasons that add into the scare factor for the zombies, called The Infected, in this film. First of all, they are fast; really fast. And second of all, they don’t seem to need to eat flesh. In fact, they seem to kill on rage and anger alone. The image of a zombie chained up like an animal vomiting is disturbing in many ways, which I don’t really need to explain. This movie changed the rules for the zombie, making them stronger, and way more pissed than ever before.
7. Tarman, Return of the Living Dead (1985) [youtube id=”wV1FKU9Oihw” align=”right”]
BRAIIINS!!! This one is just awesome. He’s a disgusting, dripping mass, that’s just a little bit hungry. His voice is crazy and his movements are as well. The Tar Man is not only one of the best zombies of all time, he is probably one of the best monsters to come out of any film from the 1980’s. Tar Man is awesome. That’s not up for debate; it’s undeniable.
6. Clown Zombie, Zombieland (2009) [youtube id=”n3yaZ-pjR2M” align=”right”]
This one is anyone suffering from Coulrophobia‘s worst fear come true; not only is it a terrifying looking clown, it’s also dead and wants to kill you. This is the stuff nightmares are made of, people. Whoever came up with this one is a sick bastard, and I love him for it.
5. Shark Fighting Zombie, Zombi 2 (1979)[youtube id=”uOSN2s8FY8Q” align=”right”]
Fun fact: Although Lucio Fulci was behind most of the film, he had nothing to do with the shark fighting zombie, and in fact was not keen on the idea. Instead, Ugo Tucci, the producer, was the brainchild behind the iconic scene. It was inspired by Renè Cardona, who was known for making low budget knock offs of Jaws. The actor who had the unfortunate task of fighting with the shark was actually not that unfortunate, for it was played by a local marine trainer where the scene was shot in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Bet you didn’t know that, did you?
4. Zombie Baby, Dead Alive (1992)[youtube id=”i4dlZzNv-Lk” align=”right”]
This is possibly the most messed up and hilarious babies of all time. Dead Alive is a film that aims to just take it way too far, and what better way to do that then including an undead baby? This was the last shot that was filmed for the movie, and director Peter Jackson had a lot of excess money in his budget. Therefore, he took two days to film it and get it as perfect as possible, then going on to say that it is the best and funniest scene for him in the movie. I agree.
3. Big Daddy, Land of the Dead (2005) [youtube id=”NDuORNjFJJ4″ align=”right”]
This zombie is pretty complex for a dead person. He feels empathy towards his fellow flesh eaters, and anger towards the living for making his kind suffer. Any zombie can run around killing people, but it takes a special kind of zombie to teach others how to use weapons and even unite to form an army under the same cause. Big Daddy is a force to be reckoned with, and one of my all time favorites of any of Romero’s zombies.
2. Karen Cooper, Night of the Living Dead (1968) [youtube id=”uBPUvsudXmE” align=”right”]
Karen Cooper is a sweet girl who dies and then comes back to live to eat her father and stab her mother to death with a trowel. Although Romero has been mentioned many times on this list for his unique and often copied brand of zombies, he is never credited for his heartwarming scenes of family values such as this one. I aim to change that with this post.
1. Bub, Day of the Dead (1985) [youtube id=”VeaxfJhNwOU” align=”right”]
One zombie to rule them all; Bub is the number 1 most iconic zombie of all time. He was successfully domesticated and possessed the ability to use problem solving skills, speak a small amount, and interact with humans without the overwhelming desire to absolutely devour them. Plus, come on, he’s definitely a little cute. The fact that he goes on a rampage when he finds his mentor dead is just adorable. You go, Bub. I’m proud of you.
Bill Murray, Zombieland
Best. Cameo. Ever. So what if he’s not a real zombie in the movie? I’m still keeping him on the list.
There you have it, the 10 Best Zombies of All Time. I know there are way more zombies, so which ones would you add to this list? There is no denying that this could have just been a list of Best Romero Zombies, because let’s face it; he is the master. I would hate to live in a world where George A. Romero never existed. I think all readers of this site can say the same.