13 Best Movie Zombies

Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 8:34 pm
By Shane Rivers

Zombieland opens on Friday, and I naturally started thinking back to all the undead films that came before. Even if the movie itself sucked, you could generally rely on most zombie movies to give you at least one memorable monstrosity. And that’s what this week’s list is all about, as we’ll be taking a look at the undead whose individual efforts were somehow special enough to land them among the 13 best movie zombies of all time.

Instantly watch unlimited TV episodes & movies over the Internet right on your TV, computer and various mobile devices. Watch instantly on your TV via your Wii™ console, PS3™ system, Xbox 360, network connected Blu-ray players, HDTVs and more. Watch as much as you want, as often as you want for only $7.99 a month. Start your free trial today!

Name: Private Mailer
Seen in: 28 Days Later
Played by: Marvin Campbell
Why they’re the best: Private Mailer can teach us all an important lesson: If you’re a soldier during a zombie apocalypse or Rage infestation and one of your comrades-in-arms becomes infected, don’t chain him up out back like a big ‘ol red-eyed puppy dog. You know damn well that he’s either going to break loose or be set free by some bicycle messenger that you’re trying to murder. Either way, the results will not be pretty, as the former pal runs amok inside your country estate and alternately pukes on or tears apart you and your buddies. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

trash-return-living-deadName: Trash
Seen in: Return of the Living Dead
Played by: Linnea Quigley
Why they’re the best: Trash is a crimson-haired punk chick who loves to talk about death. In fact, she mentions that the worst way to die, in her opinion, would be to get eaten by a bunch of old men. Now that’s what I call foreshadowing, baby! After a tent-inducing striptease in which Trash shows off her goods, she and her pals are set upon by zombies. For all her talk of death, Trash doesn’t seem too happy about the situation, falling into a puddle and crying as she’s surrounded by (you guessed it) a bunch of old decaying corpses. She turns up later as a topless zombie, using her exposed breasts to give a homeless guy a boner before snacking on his head. For the rest of the movie, Trash is seen from time to time, giving the zombie hordes a certain level of sex appeal that they’d otherwise be missing. And damn if she didn’t somehow make leg warmers look incredibly hot.

zombi-vs-sharkName: Underwater Zombie
Seen in: Zombi 2
Played by: Ramon Bravo
Why they’re the best: After a hot Italian chick decides to go scuba diving without a top on, she’s confronted by a hungry tiger shark. Things aren’t looking too good for our topless beauty, but that’s when an underwater zombie suddenly shows up and saves the day. He and the shark engage in a slow-motion battle for the ages, and the zombie manages to claim victory after ripping off a fin. The shark heads for the hills, and our friend with the boobs manages to climb back aboard her boat. Not only is it the most bizarre scene in the history of zombie movies, but it also proves that the undead still have a soft spot for naked women in peril (unless they‘re really, really hungry).

Name: Nathan Grandham
Seen in: Creepshow
Played by: Jon Lormer
Why they’re the best: Nathan Grandham was a mean old bastard. That’s why, on his birthday, his daughter Bedelia bashed his skull in with a marble ashtray as the old coot yelled repeatedly for his cake. Seven years later, ‘ol Nathan returns from the grave as a rotting corpse, and he’s still got cake on his mind. Well, that and murder. As he snuffs out his greedy relatives one by one (including Ed Harris), Nathan gets one step closer to his long-awaited birthday treat. And when he finally does get it? Well, it’s without a doubt the most disturbing birthday cake in the history of cinema.

gage-creedName: Gage Creed
Seen in: Pet Sematary
Played by: Miko Hughes
Why they’re the best: You don’t have to watch Japanese cinema to find creepy children, and the undead tot known as Gage Creed is a perfect example. He’s cute as a button before he dies, but he makes the mistake of toddling out into the road right in front of a speeding logging truck. His grief-stricken father, recently introduced to a burial ground where dead things come back to life, decides to see if the Indian magic will work on his son. It does, but the thing that comes out of the ground could no longer be described as “cute.” In fact, it’s downright evil. Little Gage cuts Herman Munster’s Achilles tendon and bites out his throat, and he then proceeds to murder his own mother. After calling his father and inviting him to “play,” the pint-sized terror is finally dispatched (again) with a lethal dose of morphine. Just before he slumps against the wall, he manages a look of disappointment as he mutters “No fair.” Isn’t that just adorable?

Name: Big Daddy
Seen in: Land of the Dead
Played by: Eugene Clark
Why they’re the best: Land of the Dead sucked all kinds of ass, but Big Daddy still managed to eke out a place on the list. Why? Because he’s a blue-collar zombie who manages to retain just a bit of his original intellect. A former gas station owner who still comes out to check the pumps each time a zombie accidentally rings the bell, Big Daddy is able to figure out firearms and devise a plan to get at all those well-to-do humans sitting safely in the community known as Fiddler’s Green. He also gets bonus points for killing Kaufman, one of the most phone-it-in performances ever given by Dennis Hopper.

carl-hillName: Dr. Carl Hill
Seen in: Re-Animator
Played by: David Gale
Why they’re the best: Dr. Hill was a ruthless college professor when he was alive, and things don’t get any better after his head gets lopped off with a shovel. Brought back from the dead by Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), Hill wills his body to knock out West and steal a batch of re-animation formula. He then escapes and wastes no time in capturing Megan, a buxom co-ed who Hill has lusted after for years. With Megan strapped down to a table, the beheaded Hill commands his body to lift his head down between her thighs, thus initiating the creepiest oral sex scene ever captured on film. It brings a whole new meaning to the term “giving head.” Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

Name: Cemetery Zombie
Seen in: Night of the Living Dead
Played by: S. William Hinzman
Why they’re the best: While it’s incorrect, many people still believe George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead to be the first zombie movie ever made. Even though movies like White Zombie came before, there’s little doubt that Romero’s black-and-white masterpiece was the father of the modern zombie film. For this reason, I felt compelled to leave a spot open for the first zombie to be shown in the movie. As Barbara and Johnny pay their respects at the cemetery, a pasty-faced fellow in a suit ambles up and starts getting a little too friendly. A struggle ensues, and smartass Johnny gets killed after falling headlong into a tombstone. His assailant looks up dramatically, and a traumatized Barbara suddenly realizes that something is terribly, terribly wrong.

michael-jackson-thrillerName: Zombie Michael Jackson
Seen in: Thriller music video
Played by: Himself
Why they’re the best: Michael Jackson got pretty damned spooky later in life, but this role came when he looked normal and was riding the success of the Thriller album. Still the best-known music video ever made, Jacko and director John Landis pay homage to the old monster movies while injecting a few contemporary thrills like dancing undead. If you’ve ever seen it, there’s no way you’ll forget Jackson in his zombie make-up and trademark red jacket, and that’s not even mentioning the groundbreaking choreography which stretched the art form of music videos in a whole new direction.

Name: Tarman
Seen in: Return of the Living Dead
Played by: Allan Trautman
Why they’re the best: Covered in a tarry, black substance and with flesh hanging off his bones, the zombie known as Tarman has one of the most eye-catching looks of all movie undead. He’s also the first to deliver the film’s zombie mantra, “Brains!” before taking a chunk out of a nearby teenage delinquent. Sure, he eventually gets his head knocked off with a baseball bat, but Tarman is one zombie that’ll stick with you long after the credits have rolled.

bub-zombieName: Bub
Seen in: Day of the Dead
Played by: Sherman Howard
Why they’re the best: Years before the semi-intelligent Big Daddy, director George A. Romero introduced audiences to Bub, a former soldier turned undead science experiment. Given the body parts of dead soldiers to snack on when he behaves himself, Bub listens to a Walkman, tries to talk on a telephone, salutes a superior officer, and even later demonstrates the ability to use a handgun. But the thing that makes him stand out most is his gentle demeanor, almost like an overgrown, greenish canine. It’s not a large role, but actor Sherman Howard makes the most of it and gives Bub more personality than most zombie movie characters.

Name: Undead Ash Hand
Seen in: Evil Dead II
Played by: Nobody
Why they’re the best: As Ash (Bruce Campbell) wages his one-man war against the forces of evil, the battle begins to take its toll on his body. His right hand becomes infected by a malevolent force, and our hero has no choice but to cut it off (with a chainsaw, no less). But the plucky hand isn’t down for the count. It turns up again and again, dodging mousetraps, giving Ash the finger, and generally driving him to the brink of insanity. Believe me, watching Bruce Campbell take on his own severed hand with a sawed-off shotgun is a must-see moment in horror movie history.

michelle-rodriguezName: Rain Ocampo
Seen in: Resident Evil
Played by: Michelle Rodriguez
Why they’re the best: With a scowl on her face and a gun in her hand, Michelle Rodriguez portrayed the doomed corporate commando Rain in the first Resident Evil movie. I’ve always had a soft spot for the ill-tempered Latina, so I was especially excited to see her kicking some zombie ass and later trying her best to fight off the effects of several undead bite wounds. She’s only shown as a zombie for a few seconds before getting a cap busted in her ass, but those brief moments were sheer ecstasy for this deranged fan (in spite of her suddenly gnarly zombie teeth).

And that concludes our list of the 13 best movie zombies. I hope you enjoyed it, and, just in case you did, here are a few more articles which you might get a kick out of: