Everyone loves the undead these days, whether it's shooting them on the latest brain munching computer game or even going for a nice 'zombie walk' with some friends, there's no denying that zombies are still all the rage but with such a large choice of zombie movie entertainment it's inevitable that there's going to a lot of festering fleshy crap out there too so we thought it was time to take a look at some of the essential modern zombie classics (and where best to find them on Blu-ray or DVD)...


Directed by George A. Romero

The daddy of modern zombie movies, 'Night of the Living Dead' sees suburban girl Barbara flee from a zombie attack at her mothers graveside to a seemingly abandoned farm house where she meets up with other terrified survivors. Tension builds as zombies gather outside to attack the trapped living and gut munching terror ensues. Filmed in low budget black and white, 'Night of the Living Dead' still packs a punch as one of the most atmospheric gory zombie movies ever created. Available uncut on DVD, the UK and US Elite edition being the best available (but avoid the terrible rejigged 30th anniversary edition like the plague).

Elite edition!

Directed by Amando de Ossorio

Amando de Ossorio's Euro vision of the undead movie is more gothic creepiness than gut munching terror. In rural Spain some misguided tourists wander onto the stomping ground of the skeletal Knights Templar who (having had their eyes pecked out by crows) rise from the dead and gallop around in spooky slow motion listening for fresh victims. On paper doesn't sound like much but is in fact one of the creepiest undead movies produced (and wait till you see the sucker punch ending!) Sadly slightly cut on UK DVD but available fully uncut on USA DVD from Blue Underground who also have available the stunning Blind Dead Collection coffin box set).

coffin box set!

Directed by Jorge Grau

Curiously, this first full colour Italian zombie gut muncher movie was filmed in part in the UK! Following a minor road accident, cockney hippy George (played by fan favourite Ray Lovelock) heads off with antsy Edna to the Lake District where they encounter hordes of the living dead (who have seemingly been reanimated by the local councils new sonic pest control machine). The guts, grue and blood spray the screen as poor George and Edna try make growling Sergeant McCormick (played in fine form by Arthur Kennedy) believe what they have been witnessing; which he only discovers true after many police, hospital and civilian victims have been disembowelled, gouged and torn limb from limb. An underrated trashy splatter classic that's happily available fully uncut on DVD from Anchor Bay UK and region free Blu-ray from Blue Underground in the USA.

Blue Underground edition

Directed by George A. Romero

George Romero's long awaited sequel to 'Night of the Living Dead' sees the world overrun by the living dead as TV producer Fran flees to the countryside in a helicopter with pilot boyfriend Steven and awol policemen Roger and Peter (played in career forming style by Ken Foree). They soon come across a sprawling shopping mall which they decide would make a suitable place to hole up for a while but both the growing legions of the dead and a passing army of bikers plan to spoil. Perhaps the greatest zombie movie ever made, 'Dawn of the Dead' is not only a non stop barrage of gory zombie action but also an entertaining pastiche on the general public as mindless consumers. Avoid the hokum recent remake and go straight for the four disc 'Ultimate Edition' DVD box set from Anchor Bay USA (which includes not only the US, European and Extended versions but stacks of great extras!) or there's the blu-ray editions from Arrow Video in the UK and Anchor Bay in the USA.

Anchor Bay Ultimate Edition

Directed by Lucio Fulci

The king of Italian splatter movies Lucio Fulci's first foray into the zombie genre is perhaps his most seminal moment. After a seemingly abandoned boat drifts into New York harbour, two hapless cops are mauled by a bloated zombie. Investigative reporter Peter West (played by cult Brit actor Ian McCulloch) along with Tisa Farrow (who's looking for her missing scientist father) and a couple of sure fire victims head off to the Antilles Islands in the Caribbean where the zombie mystery originated. Very soon after they arrive though they discover the island is overrun by gangs of flesh hungry zombies who want nothing more than to tear them apart! Long an infamous 'video nastie' in the UK, 'Zombie Flesh Eaters' does not disappoint on the gore front with some classic moments of eye gouging, flesh ripping, blood spraying and even a bewildering zombie versus shark moment! Available uncut in the UK for the first time as part of the 'Box of the Banned' box set from Anchor Bay UK but more recommended is the excellent two disc 25th Anniversary Edition from Shriek Show in the USA (though keep an eye out for an uncut blu-ray from Blue Underground in 2011).

video nasty essential!

Directed by Bruno Mattei

Jumping on the Italian zombie gut muncher bandwagon, Bruno Mattei quickly rattled out this gory video nastie which sees an elite SWAT team sent out to investigate the impact of a chemical plant disaster in New Guinea. Gore galore in this cheap and cheery rip off of previous zombie hits such as Dawn of the Dead (which this film even blatantly steals its soundtrack music!) Lots of bloody fun but strictly for the more forgiving splatter fan - released uncut on UK DVD by Vipco but fans may prefer to seek out the nicer US edition (under the title 'Hell of the Living Dead') released by Blue Underground USA.

Blue Underground DVD!

Directed by Marino Girolami

More Italian rip off zombie fun as Dr Peter Chandler (played by Ian McCulloch fresh from his Zombie Flesh Eaters appearance) heads off to a tropical island (amusingly the very same island seen in the aforementioned Zombie Flesh Eaters movie) to investigate some bizarre ritualistic mutilations. When he gets there though he finds more than he bargained for as he encounters not only zombies but some cannibals and a mad scientist too! One of the cheapest and trashiest of the zombie movie rip offs but also one of the most fun. Plenty of gory laugh out loud fun to be found on the uncut UK DVD release by Stonevision (and expected on blu-ray from Shriek Show soon).

Shriek Show edition

Directed by Umberto Lenzi

Classic trash Italian zombie opus with virtually no plot whatsoever; a plane arrives and unleashes a horde of rabid zombies wielding axes and knives who swiftly run around the city attacking everyone in sight (including a hilarious zombie attack on an Italian version of Pans People sans Top of the Pops). As an attempt at some sort of plot, we follow TV reporter Dean Miller as he allegedly investigates a nuclear plant accident but this is entirely inconsequential as this is simply an excuse for 90 minutes of rampaging zombie fun. An absurdly entertaining and mindless zombie movie that is available uncut from Anchor Bay UK and Blue Underground in the USA.

Blue Underground edition

Directed by Lucio Fulci

Lucio (Zombie Flesh Eaters) Fulci returns with another zombie epic, though this time the zombies are wreaking havoc in the US town of Dunwich after the suicidal Father Thomas hangs himself at the local cemetary. Investigative reporter (yes there are a lot of them in zombie films) Christopher George teams up with medium Catriona MacColl to try unravel the spooky goings on. Some classic horror moments include a horrifyingly claustrophobic premature burial, a stomach churning intestine vomiting and eternal Italian horror movie victim John Morghen's classic power drill through the head scene (as well as of course copious amounts of zombie action). This highly atmospheric zombie opus is available uncut on DVD and blu-ray disc from Arrow Video in the UK and Blue Underground in the USA.

Arrow Video blu ray

Directed by Andrea Bianchi

Hilarious downbeat and sleazy zombie fun from Italy (where else) where some middle class degenerates gather at a secluded villa only to be trapped and attacked by some reanimated zombie monks. Making a nice change in proceedings, these zombie are handy with scythes, axes, battering rams and all sorts of weapons making the gore action a little more imaginative and fun. Famous around the fan circuit for the classic sleaze moment where a zombie boy chews off his mothers nipple (in gory close up of course) and a cheery ending where absolutely everybody dies! Available uncut on DVD in the UK from VIPCO under the title 'Zombie Dead' but fans may prefer to go for the USA Shriek Show special edition titled 'Burial Ground'.

Shriek Show

Directed by Lucio Fulci

Lucio Fulci returns yet again with another seminal zombie epic; this time round Catriona (City of the Living Dead) MacColl moves into a run down hotel in New Orleans only to find that it is haunted by a violent past. With the assistance of Brit genre favourite David Warbeck, MacColl soon discovers (through a strange old book called Eibon) that her new home is actually the gateway to hell but can they close its doors before the undead escape into our world? One of the most popular Italian zombie movies 'The Beyond' truly is a gory (if somewhat confusingly plotted) chiller classic (and includes a must see scene for arachnophobes). Available uncut on blu-ray from Arrow Video in 2011.

Arrow blu-ray coming!

Directed by Lucio Fulci

In this, the last of Lucio Fulci's zombie classics, Catriona MacColl returns yet again as she and her family move from the city to a rural (yes you guessed it) house by a cemetery. If that property ambience wasn't enough then she soon discovers her whimpering son has befriended a ghostly young girl but worse still that the house is haunted by the 150 year old zombie Dr Freudstein (who likes to dabble in gory mutilation). Don't be put off by the fact that this gem only contains one solitary zombie as it's a cracking horror film that will keep any splatter fan sated. Available uncut on DVD from Arrow Video in the UK and Blue Underground in the USA (who will be releasing the film on blu-ray in 2011 also).

Arrow DVD

Directed by George A. Romero

The last instalment in George Romero's Dead Trilogy (yes we're ignoring the recent disappointing 'Land of the Dead') sees the world overpowered by the living dead as a small handful of soldiers and scientists hide out in an old underground missile silo. Tensions mount between the two factions as the pressure of simply surviving takes its toll. Matters aren't helped when tough guy soldier Rhodes discovers the slightly unhinged Dr Rhodes has been using his dead compatriots corpses in his zombie experiments leading to an intestine shredding gory finale. The perfect finale to Romero's undead trilogy' 'Day of the Dead' is a tense and claustrophobic splatter treat which introduced the horror world to the genres first zombie hero in the form of zombie soldier Bub. Available uncut on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on DVD from Arrow Films and Anchor Bay in the USA.

Arrow blu-ray

Directed by Dan O'Bannon

Based loosely on John (Night Of The Living Dead) Russo's story, Dan O'Bannon delivers a fun punk zombie romp that is still a fan favourite to date. After accidentally (ahem) disposing of some corpse rejuvenating chemicals over a packed graveyard a gang of ditzy punks fight for their lives against a legion of reanimated zombies. Popular for its mix of great zombie gore effects (pre-Damien Hirst reanimated split animals anyone?) and its great retro punk soundtrack (including the likes of The Damned and The Cramps) 'Return Of The Living Dead' successfully mixes outlandish zombie action with some hearty laugh out loud comedy fun. Available uncut on DVD in the UK both from Tartan and MGM and on blu-ray in the USA from MGM.

MGM blu-ray
DEMONS (1985)

Directed by Lamberto Bava

Not technically a 'zombie' film as such but very much so in spirit; a mixed bag of Italians (giggling teens, needy blind man, tough black guy and so on) gather together at a local cinema after receiving free passes to a special mystery movie screening. The onscreen film plays out a stereotypical Italian slasher but one scene mirrors an incident from the cinemas lobby where a girl cut her face on a demon mask on display. Said unfortunate lass soon transforms into a flesh hungry zombie demon who starts to attack fellow cinema patrons (who in turn become demon zombies also!) Produced by Italian horror maestro Dario Argento 'Demons' is a fast paced gory romp that while demands you leave your sense of disbelief outside the door delivers in spades when it comes to gory zombie fun. Available uncut on DVD in the UK from Arrow Video.

Arrow blu-ray

Directed by Peter Jackson

Pete (Lord of the Rings/King Kong) Jackson's finest moment in film comes in this splatter zombie classic. Shy young mothers boy Lionel takes local shop girl Paquita to the zoo on a date, but unknown to them both Lionels spiteful envious mother is spying on them. She is bitten by a captive 'rat monkey' (captured amusingly for Kong fans on Skull Island) and whilst Lionel persists in attempting to cover for his mothers progressively failing health he soon no longer copes as she becomes a putrid festering flesh eating zombie. The splatter and laughs come thick and fast in what is no doubt the most outrageous and goriest zombie movie ever committed to celluloid. As well as containing some of the most absurd gore scenes in any movie 'Braindead' also boasts a truly epic lawnmower finale that simply has to be seen to be believed. Available uncut on DVD in the UK from Universal Pictures though currently out of print.

Universal DVD

Directed by Michele Soavi

A return to the Italian horror classic Michele Soavi's 'Dellamorte Dellamore' stars the dashing Rupert Everett as Francisco Dellamorte; a bored cemetery watchman who along with his simpleton sidekick Gnaghi spend their evenings blasting the dead as they attempt to rise from their graves. Based on the Italian comic book creation of Tiziano (Dylan Dog) Sclavi, 'Dellamorte Dellamore' is a welcome modern mix of Mario Bava with a hint of Lucio Fulci as Everett struggles to stay in control of the spiralling zombie onslaught whilst attempting to maintain a relationship of sorts with young widow Anna Falchi. Sadly at this time unavailable on DVD in the UK but there are nice uncut DVD releases available both from the USA (Anchor Bay) and Italy.

Anchor Bay DVD

Directed by Edgar Wright

The latest in the classic zombie movie line comes from the UK as Simon (Spaced) Pegg and Edgar Wright bring us the hilarious zombie film tribute 'Shaun of the Dead'. Pegg plays no hoper Shaun who spends most of his free time drinking down at his local pub the Winchester with layabout best friend Ed. Soon after being dumped by his long suffering girlfriend Liz, Shaun's life is turned upside down as zombies begin to take over the world. His plan? To rescue his mum and girlfriend (along with pal Ed armed with a cricket bat and spade) and head for the safety of the aforementioned local pub. Billed as a 'rom-zom-com' (romantic zombie comedy) 'Shaun of the Dead' whilst not as outlandish as Pete Jackson's 'BrainDead' still manages to be one of the funniest (and goriest) zombie hits of recent years. Recommended zombie fun and available fully uncut on a packed special edition DVD and Blu-ray from Universal Pictures in the UK and USA.

Universal blu-ray

This Zombie Movie Classics article has been adopted and updated from a piece originally published in SGM's LIVING DEAD magazine available here.

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