Greatest Zombie Films

Greatest Zombie Films


Greatest Zombie Films
(chronological by time period and film title)
Introduction | 1930s-1950s | 1960s-1970s | 1980-1984 | 1985-1989
1990s | 2000-2006 | 2007-2009 | 2010s

Greatest Zombie Films: 1990s
(chronological by time period and film title)
Title Screen
Zombie Films

Night of the Living Dead (1990)
d. Tom Savini, 92/88 minutes, 21st Century Film Corporation/Columbia Pictures Corporation

Tagline: "There IS a fate worse than death."
Setting: Remote and rural graveyard, and abandoned house.
Story: Johnnie (Bill Moseley) and Barbara (Patricia Tallman) visited their mother's grave in a cemetery when she was attacked by a zombie - it killed Barbara's brother. Traumatized, she sought refuge in an abandoned farmhouse with black man Ben (Tony Todd). Other survivors of the zombie onslaught were discovered hiding in the cellar: married couple Harry and Helen Cooper (Tom Towles and McKee Anderson), their bitten daughter Sarah (Heather Mazur), and teenage couple Tom Bitner and Judy Rose Larson (William Butler and Katie Finneran). Everyone bickered about the best strategy to survive, especially Ben and Harry. An escape plan to drive off in Ben's truck failed, and Tom and Judy were killed in a gasoline explosion. Zombified Sarah bit her mother Helen (who became reanimated), and Ben and Harry were seriously injured in a shootout. With the house overrun with zombies, Barbara sought help and returned to the house with a local posse of zombie hunters. Mortally wounded in the cellar, Ben was reanimated as a zombie, and shot by the posse, while Harry was killed by an enraged Barbara - the film's sole survivor.
Notable: A colorful, almost identical shot-for-shot remake of George A. Romero's seminal 1968 zombie classic, except for a slightly-different ending. Also, Barbara's role was more active and assertive as a gun-toting feminist. Less stark, gritty, intense and haunting than the original. Directed by Romero's special-effects guru Tom Savini, although he complained his version was compromised. Censorship by the MPAA shortened some of the bloodier zombie kills and excised some entirely, to avoid an X-rating.

Black Demons (1991, (It.) (aka Demoni 3)
d. Umberto Lenzi, 88 minutes, Filmakers S.r.l.

Tagline: "They will tear, rip, and bite anyone in their path of vengeance."
Setting: Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, and a slave cemetery near a Brazilian plantation, between Rio and Belo Horizonte.
Story: Three American college students, Dick (Joe Balogh), his half-sister Jessica (Sonia Curtis), and her British boyfriend Kevin (Keith Van Hoven), were on vacation in Brazil. Dick had a strong interest in voodoo and black magic, and rather than sightsee, he went alone to attend a bizarre and bloody voodoo ritual ceremony held by the Macumba. He made a recording with a tape cassette recorder, and also was rendered unconscious after drinking a strong beverage. The next day, he awoke in his hotel room with a tape cassette and a gold amulet around his neck. He accompanied Jessica and Kevin on a trip from Rio to Belo Horizonte, when their Jeep broke down in the jungle near a small plantation. They spent the night at the former coffee plantation home being rented by a young couple, French-accented Jose (Philip Murray) and Sonia (Juliana Teixeira). During their stay, the housekeeper Maria (Maria Alves) was scared of Dick after noticing his pendant. In a nearby cemetery in the middle of the night, Dick played back the audio recording of the Macumba ceremony. He was not aware that the plantation was the site of a former slave rebellion 150 years earlier. Six executed black plantation slaves reanimated from their graves - now vengeful. During a mass escape attempt a century and a half earlier by hundreds of African slaves, these six were captured, blinded, and hanged - and now the partially-decayed, mindless zombies with weapons, but still with manacles and chains and nooses around their necks, sought murderous vengeance on the college students and the residents of the plantation.
Supposedly, the motive of the six "black demons" was to kill six whites to be satisfied and even the score. The zombies were fought off by molotov cocktails and exploding gas lanterns.
Notable: A low-budget, little-seen Italian production, with some similarities to the plot of John Carpenter's The Fog (1980). Demoni 3 (or Black Demons) was unrelated to Lamberto Bava's 'trilogy' series: Demoni (1985, It.), Demoni 2 (1986, It.), and The Ogre: Demons 3 (1988) (aka Demons III: The Ogre). Included the requisite Fulci-style torturous eye gouging.

Nudist Colony of the Dead (1991)
d. Mark Pirro, 90 minutes, Artistic License Video

Tagline: "They'll Eat You BARE...Naked!" and "Not just another typical horror-comedy-musical-zombi-romance movie!"
Setting: Nudist camp.
Story: The Sunny Buttocks Nudist Camp was shut down after a court battle by Judge Rhinehole (Forrest J. Ackerman), due to fanatical religious pressures from a local group of zealots, including Reverend Ritz (Dave Robinson) and Zealot (Dan Hartel). In protest, the nudists committed a mass ritual of suicide (by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid) after being led by "old lady" Mrs. Druple (Rachel Latt) to avenge their fates. Following their deaths about 5 years later, the nudist camp was converted into a retreat campground, and the undead zombie nudists sought revenge during a church-sponsored summer camp Bible retreat for wayward and promiscuous teens, led by Miss Stucco (Bea Lindgren). The teens included Shelly Mammarosa (Deborah Stern), Fanny Wype (Heather McPherson), Art Shoe (Tony Cicchetti), Bible-quoting Billy McRighteous (Jim Bruce), Asian Juan Tu (Peter Napoles), Lou Jobee (Steve Wilcox), and Gus Unteide (Juan Tanamera). On the bus, the teens sang: "We like to get high and have sex if we could every single day." The nudists rose from their graves as zombies and began to butcher counselors and teens. Billy McRighteous had his Bible literally shoved down his throat, others were decapitated or split in two.
Notable: A strange combination -- a comedy-musical horror spoof. This campy, cheesy, low-budget B-film without very much nudity (only a few topless shots amidst strategically-placed leaves and rags) was a parody of slasher-movies, zombie movies, and musicals. In 1995, Nudist Colony of the Dead was adapted for the stage and had a four month run in Hollywood.

Voodoo Dawn (1991) (aka Strange Turf, or Voodoo Blood)
d. Steven Fierberg, 84 minutes, Academy Home Entertainment/Stillwell Productions

Tagline: "If you thought voodoo was mumbo jumbo, it's time to think again..."
Setting: The Deep South.
Story: The main character was a diabolical, machete-wielding voodoo sorcerer-priest named Makoute (Tony Todd). In his past, he was one of the feared Tontons Macoute - the Haitian secret police who terrorized the island during the decades-long, dictatorial Duvalier regime. When the government was overthrown in 1986, Makoute was crucified and lost his tongue (rendering him mute), but he survived. He settled in the rural Deep South of the US, commanding and threatening Haitian refugees who had become down-and-out migrant farm workers (one of the field hands was Tina (Gina Gershon)!). The workers were led by Claude (Raymond St. Jacques), Makoute's enemy. Some of the dirty field hands had already been killed and turned into flesh-eating, living-dead slaves. During a spring break, two NY college students (searching for a missing colleague), including city-bred African-American Miles (Billy "Sly" Williams), disrupted Makoute's zombie experiments - a menacing plan to construct an all-powerful "voodoo man" from parts of his victims. When all the parts were assembled, Makoute planned to slash his wrists and let the blood drip into the zombie-voodoo figure's mouth, to bring it to life. In the conclusion, Makoute's home was attacked, and a piece of his clothing was used as a voodoo doll - to kill Makoute, and his body was burned. However, the "voodoo man" had been brought to life and continued to battle for awhile, until it lost its head and died. A demon-figure burst from its stomach, but it was also vanquished.
Notable: Also sometimes noted as a 1990 film, and going by the title Voodoo Blood. It went straight to video, without a theatrical release. One of this independent film's scripters, John Russo, the author of the pulp horror novel upon which the film was based, was the screenwriter for Night of the Living Dead (1968). This was more a supernatural thriller emphasizing the black magic of voodoo witch doctors (in the Deep South, rather than the West Indies) than a Romero-styled zombie film. Not to be confused with Voodoo Dawn (1998) (aka Fait Accompli), starring Michael Madsen and Rosanna Arquette.

Army of Darkness (1992/93)
d. Sam Raimi, 81/96 minutes, Dino De Laurentiis Company/Renaissance Pictures/Universal Pictures

Tagline: "How Can You Destroy An Army That's Already Dead?" and "Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas."
Setting: The Dark Ages, England, 1300 A.D., and present day.
Story: Hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (now played by Bridget Fonda) had just driven to the remote small cabin in the mountains. The film began with a flashback - he worked as a supermarket clerk at an S-Mart store (with the slogan, "Shop smart. Shop S-Mart"). He was transported by time travel back (in his Oldsmobile) to the medieval Dark Ages, 1300 AD. England, held captive. Ash was led in shackles to the castle of Lord Arthur (Marcus Gilbert), then thrown into a demon-infested death pit of soul-hungry Deadites, which he finished off with his chain-saw weapon and sawed-off shotgun. He also dispatched another old hag Pit Bitch Deadite (Billy Bryan). Ash's goal was to retrieve the "unholy book," the Necronomicon from a forest, which had the power to send him back home - and defeat the undead. In a race against time, he was forced to battle an unleashed skeletal Deadite 'army of the dead' (a stop-motion 'army of darkness' composed of reanimated corpses) that had emerged from the ground - and defeat them. With his victory, love interest Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) returned to her normal self (after being a doppelganger Deadite) and hugged Ash. In the film's conclusion, she kissed Ash farewell before he returned to his own time - to his job at the S-Mart. After She-Demon Deadite (Patricia Tallman) attacked him in the Housewares Department, he saved pretty co-worker (Angela Featherstone) from harm by killing the creature. He mused: "Sure, I could've stayed in the past. I could've even been king. But in my own way, I am king." He added: "Hail to the king, baby!"
Notable: The third of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy, a horror comedy, with a countless variety of references to other fantasy and adventure films (Jason and the Argonauts (1963), King Arthur's court films, Gulliver's Travels, swashbucklers, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) with its "Klaatu Barada Nikto" incantation, and The Time Machine (1960)). A much more manic, slapstick, and campy version (and with slightly less gore) when compared to the first two films. Originally had the working title of "The Medieval Dead" to fit with its sword-and-sorcery theme.

Dead Alive (1992, NZ) (aka Braindead)
d. Peter Jackson, 104/97/85 minutes, WingNut Films/New Zealand Film Commission/Avalon Studios Limited

Tagline: "Some things won't stay down...even after they die."
Setting: Wellington, New Zealand, in 1957.
Story: Domineering, overbearing matriarch Mum Vera Cosgrove (Elizabeth Moody) was infected by a bite from a super-rare Sumatran (Skull Island) rat-monkey at the Wellington Zoo. To prevent her from infecting others, dweebish mama's boy Lionel (Timothy Balme) - who was trying to romance sweet shopkeeper's daughter Paquita María Sánchez (Diana Peñalver), locked his mother in their basement. Greedy and eager uncle Les (Ian Watkin) suspected that his sister was deceased, and blackmailed Lionel into giving up his inheritance and allowing him to move into her luxurious Victorian mansion. During a house-warming party thrown by Les, Vera and her zombie friends, activated by a stimulant poison, escaped from the basement and attacked the guests. One zombie punched his fist through the back of a woman's head and it emerged out of her mouth. Most of the zombies were finally massacred in the infamous and climactic zombie slaughter scene when Lionel strapped a running rotary-blade lawnmower to his chest ("Party's over!") in the room full of party-crashing zombies - he sent buckets of blood, stringy intestines, spinal cords and body parts flying everywhere. After one pass through the zombies, he turned and grinded through them a second time before the house was set on fire. One decapitated head (with glasses) was chewed up in a blender. Lionel's mother Vera was transformed into a grotesque fertile monster with pendulous breasts - she stuffed Lionel back into her womb, and then he rebirthed himself by cutting himself out of her blood-gushing womb.
Notable: This was future Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson's third feature film, following Bad Taste (1987, NZ) and Meet the Feebles (1989, NZ). The R-rated film was full of bad taste and cartoonish splatterings. This over-the-top, bloody and gory horror-comedy zombie film was indisputably the goriest, grossest, and bloodiest (and funniest) film ever made.

Return of the Living Dead III (1993)
d. Brian Yuzna, 97 minutes, Bandai Visual Company/Ozla Productions/Trimark Pictures

Tagline: "She's to die for."
Setting: Military base.
Story: The story was about a pair of star-crossed, in-love teens, army brat Curt Reynolds (J. Trevor Edmond) and red-headed and wild Goth-chick Julie Walker (Mindy Clarke). Curt was the son of disapproving military scientist Col. John Reynolds (Kent McCord) who was on a base working on a top secret project involving the life-restoring gas Trioxin 2-4-5, a nuclear waste material. The government's plan was to revive or breed mindless zombies as soldiers (without a hunger for brains) - to use them as bio-weapons against terrorist and communist countries. The major problem was how to control the zombies once they were animated. After Julie was killed with a broken neck in a motorcycle accident, the distraught Curt broke into the base and reanimated his dead girlfriend by exposing her to the gas. Slowly transforming S&M zombie Julie was "to die for" - threatening to consume Curt as he attempted to avoid a local Latino street gang and military soldiers on a search for the missing Julie. As Julie's appetite for flesh increased, she self-mutilated and pierced her body to dull her need to feed ("The pain... The pain keeps the hunger away"). Curt also freed the zombie soldiers from the compound - an increasing horde of brain-seeking undead.

Notable: Another gory comedy yet very straight love story (with some nudity), the third horror entry in the "Living Dead" series, by director Brian Yuzna. Although unrelated, it followed director Ken Wiederhorn's dark comedy Return of the Living Dead II (1988), which was basically a copy or remake of the original ROTLD 1985 film by Dan O'Bannon (with homage to Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968)). Released in various versions (R-rated and unrated). Followed by Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005).

Cemetery Man (1994, It.) (aka Dellamorte Dellamore)
d. Michele (Michael) Soavi

Tagline: "Zombies, Guns and Sex, Oh My!"
Setting: Northern Italy cemetery, in the town of Buffalora.
Story: Francesco Dellamorte (meaning 'of the dead' in Italian) (Rupert Everett) was a restless, lonely graveyard custodian overseeing Buffalora Cemetery in Northern Italy populated by zombies. Due to a plague, the corpses came back to life as zombies ("ones that return" or returners) every seven days - requiring re-extermination by shooting them in the head. Francesco's comic, imbecile assistant was slow-witted, corpulent, balding Gnaghi (Francois Hadji-Lazaro), undoubtedly inspired by Curly from the Three Stooges. Gnaghi became obsessed with the decapitated head of the mayor's daughter Valentina (Fabiana Formica) after a motorcycle accident. Francesco met an exotic, stunningly gorgeous, buxom and voluptuous widow (Finnish-born Italian model Anna Falchi credited as "She") wearing black at the cemetery where she was mourning the recent death of her rich elderly husband (Renato Donis) during a funeral. After being turned on by the ossuaries in the cemetery's mausoleum, they had very passionate sex one late night on top of her late husband's grave. She was killed for her unfaithful love-making by her jealous husband's zombie appearance after he clawed his way out of his grave behind her and bit her in the upper right arm. Francesco plunged a crossed wooden stake into the brain of the husband to forever kill him, and then picked up the nude body of his dead lover. Francesco kept in mind her promise in her dying words: "Nothing will separate us...not even death." He waited seven days for her zombie return from the grave, when she rose up in front of him naked and wrapped in thin cloth. He used a gun to shoot her in the head. She fell backwards onto her grave platform - now experiencing eternal peace. As the story progressed however, "She" (all characters played by Falchi) kept reappearing or reincarnating in his confused, mad, depressed and weird life as various female personas or characters (a self-generating hallucination?), both living and dead, and resembling his lost love. She first appeared as the new mayor's assistant - a frigid woman who feared the male member (Dellamorte took medicinal injections to become impotent, and considered castration), and then as a young prostitute who was paying off her college tuition. However, all manifestations of his lost love tragically died.
Notable: An intensely erotic, sexy and gory fantasy-horror film - and an imaginative, supernatural romance (and comedy!) about a graveyard with the gate inscription: RESVRRECTVRIS ("For those who will rise again").

Bio-Zombie (1998, HK) (aka Sun Faa Sau Si)
d. Wilson Yip, 94 minutes, Mei Ah Entertainment/Brilliant Idea Group (BIG)/Cameron Entertainment Ltd.

Tagline: "Two unlikely heroes. One mall full of zombies. Every undead has its day."
Setting: Hong Kong's New Trend Plaza mall.
Story: Despicable, yet likeable slacker store clerks Woody Invincible (Jordan Chan) and Crazy Bee (Sam Lee) work in HK's New Trend Plaza shopping mall store that sells pirated VCDs. After retrieving their boss' car from a mechanic, the two crashed the car into a pedestrian: a Chinese government military official carrying a top-secret, toxic substance (an experimental biochemical weapon developed by Iraqi spies to create zombie soldiers) in a contaminated Lucozade soft drink. If consumed, the formula would turn a person into a bloodthirsty zombie. After the injured agent muttered "soft drink," the boys (thinking that he was thirsty) gave him some of the liquid, then put him in the car's trunk and returned to work. The boys didn't know that the official had just fled from a botched demonstration that created a murderous zombie.
Soon, slow-moving, infected undead zombies in a major plague outbreak besieged the mall, trapping them and their friend Rolls (Angela Tong) who worked in the mall's salon/cosmetics store.
Notable: A horror zombie goofball comedy, a spoof of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978), combined with Asian versions of the slacker/youth comedies Clerks (1994) and Mallrats (1995). Also with many video-game references (and video game style onscreen pop ups, icons and visual clues) from the late 1990s Sega arcade game House of the Dead - the game that Crazy Bee and Invincible were playing on their Sega.

Wild Zero (1999, Jp.)
d. Tetsuro Takeuchi, 98 minutes, Dragon Pictures/GAGA/Takeuchi Entertainment

Tagline: "Trash and chaossss!!!!"
Setting: Japanese town of Asahi.
Story: An evil race of aliens, attacking in yellow saucer-shaped spaceships, were intent on invading Earth with a meteor strike, and then unleashing a zombie plague - turning humans into green-skinned zombies. Wanna-be rocker and greaser fanboy Ace (Masashi Endô) helped save his favorite rock group band in shades and leather, Guitar Wolf, during a stand-off with the band's shady, gun-wielding business manager, then became the band's blood-brother with a dog whistle to alert them. Guitar Wolf's guitar concealed a deadly energy sword used to fight off the alien mothership. Once aliens invaded the earth and turned people into ravenous, flesh-eating zombies, Guitar Wolf and the power of R&R saved the world from total annihilation.
Notable: This low budget, incompetent horror production, a punk-rock zombie flick, starred cult trash rockers Guitar Wolf (Bass Wolf, Drum Wolf and hero Guitar Wolf) - all versions of themselves.

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