Top five zombie flicks for the Halloween season

These five films all provide unique takes on a classic horror subgenre, going hand-in-hand with the spookiness of the holiday’s festivities.


Liz LaHood

Digital illustration of the “Dawn of the Dead” (2004) movie poster.

Halloween has always thrived on its characters. Without the lore of classic monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, and werewolves, the holiday would have never seen the same amount of success. Each fall, these creatures are revered through film, as folks around the country re-experience these horrors beloved by so many.. However, one creature seems to get less Halloween-related recognition than the rest – zombies. Despite having been a classic horror movie creature for years, zombies have taken a bit of a backseat in terms of the Halloween season, instead being relegated to the action movie genre. But this is not how these films must be viewed, simply because it’s how they have been classified in the past. These five iconic zombie movies are, in no particular order, the best way to incorporate some undead scares into your Halloween experience. 


“Shaun of the Dead”

Edgar Wright’s 2004 film “Shaun of the Dead” is the quintessential comedy/horror zombie film. The story follows our directionless hero Shaun, played by Simon Pegg, as his seemingly meaningless life intersects with a zombie apocalypse. Shaun, his ex and his best friend all have to learn to get along as they make their way to their favorite bar, the Winchester. The film is hilarious and off the wall, but also has some decent character development and an entertaining plot. It also goes completely off the rails near the end, as all good zombie flicks do. It’s the best of both worlds, and probably one of the best on this list.


“Train to Busan”

This 2016 South Korean action horror won awards around the world and even managed to break language barriers, noticeably impacting Western culture. The film follows a father named Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo) and his daughter Su-An (Jung Yu-mi), among other protagonists, trying to survive a zombie outbreak onboard a high speed train. There’s mistrust between the survivors onboard, leading to fighting, betrayal and tragedy. “Train to Busan” had such an impact not only for its impressive visuals, but also for its emotional intelligence and genuine character development, which is not a trait of most zombie movies. It’s about a zombie apocalypse, sure, but it’s also about the relationship between a father and his daughter, and will certainly tug at your heartstrings.


“Dawn of the Dead” (2004)

“Dawn of the Dead” is one of those zombie films where you know exactly what you’re getting. Directed by Zack Snyder, it’s nothing short of a chaotic, violent and action-packed film. The story follows a Milwaukee-based nurse, played by Sarah Polley, who has to leave home after a zombie virus outbreak infects her husband. She travels to a local mall and joins a community of other survivors, who devise a plan to escape to a safe haven. “Dawn of the Dead” is not really an emotional or meaningful type of film; it’s more so about the chaos of an apocalypse and the mistrust that can divide members of a community, as well as the power of their teamwork. If you’re looking for a zombie flick that’s less spooky and a bit more shocking, this might be for you.



Ruben Fleischer’s 2009 film “Zombieland” is somewhat similar to “Shaun of the Dead” in that it’s a chaotic mixture of comedy and horror, following a self-doubting protagonist navigating an apocalypse. We see the story of college student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) as he assembles a team of ragtag survivors to help him find a safe haven from the zombie horde. Unlike its British counterpart, “Zombieland” is noticeably more action-based, leading to a more well-rounded experience that will leave you laughing at some points and awed at the effects in others. 


“Night of the Living Dead”

In 1968, George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” defined the zombie genre. The film tells the story of Barbara, played by Judith O’Dea, who after losing her brother to a zombie attack joins farm worker Ben (Duane Jones) in fending off the undead. The twists and turns are significantly more fast-paced than most older horror films, which results in a surprisingly exciting experience; the film is especially impressive considering the budget and time in which it was made. This low-budget indie project took off in theaters, leading to a successful string of sequels. It inspired most of the other films on this list, and while it might have been better during its prime, it easily still qualifies as a great film today.