Zombies, of course (updated)

For research purposes, I am going to drastically increase my zombie culture consumption.

Thus far I’ve been reading and loving The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman. (I read the trades not the skinnies—so no spoilers for the latest issues!)

I also plan to read World War Z, An Oral History Of The Zombie War by Max Brooks. So no spoilers, people!

Update: Forgot to mention I have read the entire and very excellent Kelly Link zombie oeuvre.

What other zombie books and graphic novels should I be reading?

And there’s the movies—because really the whole zombie thing is very movie driven.

Obviously I’ve seen and loved all the George Romero zombie films. Yum. My faves. Yes, even the recent Land of the Dead that I’ve heard quite a few people bagging. The only one of his I think is a bit sub-par is Day of the Dead and even it is totally worth watching.

I’ve seen The Dawn of the Dead remake. Very disappointing.

And obv. there’s 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks.

Not to mention Shaun of the Dead. Very droll.

There’s also Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked with a Zombie. Yes, that’s right I’m open to non-Romero voudun-style zombies.

Update: Also forgot to mention that, yes, I have seen the Resident Evil films. I love ’em.

So what are the best zombie movies that I haven’t seen? And if you could sell ’em to me and not just list titles. I’m trusting youse lot to be my zombie entertainment quality control.


  1. PJ Hoover on #

    If you’d asked about Mummies, I’d be able to help. Zombies? I got nothing.

  2. Gwenda on #

    I’m a big fan of Dellamorte Dellamore (aka Cemetery Man).

  3. Dawn on #

    Yeah, I’ve got nothing for ya in the way of Zombies. Vampires? Oh heck yes, I could go on forever. Zombies? Sorry, can’t help ya.

  4. Eric Luper on #

    I’ve always loved the cult classic, Return of the Living Dead. It’s a dark comedy all about zombies. Classic. there are some great lines in it and it takes a bit of a different approach to the biology of the zombie. Good stuff. The ending is a bit trite, but it would be great for your zombie intake.

  5. hillary! on #

    Ummm, I think it is called Night of The Living Dead 2, not the first one, because for some reason this second one is the first one, amd the first one is the sequel, it’s really odd! The movie is a little Betelgeuse-esque, but totally worth it! I loved it at least. I LOVE YOU JUSTINE!

  6. John Klima on #

    There’s Joe R. Lansdale’s DEAD IN THE WEST, which is a zombie western with ancient Native American magic. Full of Joe’s dry Texan humor and lots of blood and gore. It may be hard to find as a purchase, but you should be able to get it through the libraries (and I will send you my copy for reading if you are interested and can’t find it elsewhere).

    Lovecraft’s HERBERT WEST REANIMATOR (and the RE-ANIMATOR movie; don’t bother past the first one) are both entertaining. I enjoyed the movie more, but that’s only because sometimes Lovecraft’s prose just gets so…dense…some times.

    Josh Howard has a whole series of graphic novels/comics called DEAD @ 17 which deal with a young girl who died at 17 (duh). I haven’t read them, so I don’t know what the story is like. The art is quite captivating, although it tends towards the male-drawing-women-so-they-have-too-small-waists-and unrealistic-body-shapes syndrome.

    The KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE manga by eiji otsuka often has zombie scenes/story lines. It’s really well-written. It’s certain adult-oriented, though (not that you’ll be offended).

    THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (and its numerous sequels) are silly fun. I got into the first one because it features an all-punk music soundtrack. The movies are not Romero quality, but they are shut-your-brain-off fun.

    THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW is a movie based on the book of the same name. The book is supposed to be a true account of zombies in Haiti. The movie is a Wes Craven flick, so it’s a little more fantastic than the book, but still good.

    There’s a whole bunch of zombie movies from Lucio Fulci (Italian horror) which I’ve not seen, but are supposed to be SHOCKING! 🙂

    I think I’ll stop. I clearly know more about zombies than I thought.

  7. LAS on #

    Shameless plug alert: since you’re open to the non-brain-eating zombie, perhaps you’d like to read my story “Dead Nude Girls” at Strange Horizons:


    I didn’t do much research besides “how to cure a zombie” google-style searches, or I would be happy to show you my work.

  8. Kelly on #

    i will probably be smacked for this because it is kinda (okay, very) cheesy, but the first “resident evil” movie. sorry, i’m very taken with the zombie!dogs. they amused me.

    maybe the “zombie survival guide”? i haven’t read it, but i’ve heard it’s good.

  9. Tim Pratt on #

    David Wellington’s zombie novels are pretty cool. Monster Island, Monster Nation, and Monster Planet. The first one’s my favorite. They were published by the late lamented Thunder’s Mouth, but are also available free online:


  10. jessiegirl on #

    He’s not a YA writer but Brian Keene wrote a zombie trilogy. No, not a trilogy just 2 books “The Rising” and it’s follow up “City of the Dead” I read them. they were pretty good.

    plus a book about man eating earthworms if that is your thing.

  11. jessiegirl on #

    When you develop your final list would you post it? i’d love to read more zombie books.

  12. greyhound on #

    There is a new movie you might want to check out, called Fido, about what happens after the great zombie war when the undead lost. Looks very funny and interesting, my favorite combination ;).

  13. jenny davidson on #

    amazing zombie book (there are vampires also): charlie huston’s “already dead.” you’ve got to read that one, you’ll love it, also it’s got a lot of east village settings…

    also coincidentally just this morning the guy who sells books on broadway near where i live gave me a novel called “zombies of the gene pool” by sharyn mccrumb, he says it’s excellent but i cannot promise you they are actual rather than metaphorical/allusive zombies! will let you know.

  14. Justine on #

    Wow! Thanks everyone. Most excellent recs. Yay! I can’t wait to get cracking.

    Gwenda: you’re gunna have to give me more. Is that a movie? A book? A lemon cake? What?

    Jessiegirl: Sure, I’ll post the entire list when done.

    Jenny Davidson: zombies of the gene pool is indeed a wonderful book. She’s hilarious. No real zombies, but.

  15. Robert Hood on #

    Justine, for everything you’d want to know about zombie films up until about 2002 all you have to do is go and read my article “Nights of the Celluloid Dead”:


    I haven’t updated this to incorporate the current zombie renaissance, but there’s a list (with errors and a few recent omissions) here:


    My personal top ten essentials up to 2000 or so would be:

    1. Romero’s Living Dead trilogy (plus “Land of the Dead”)
    2. I Walked With A Zombie
    3. White Zombie
    4. Fulci’s Zombie series (especially Zombie Flesh Eaters) [original WS uncut versions only)
    5. Evil Dead 1 (and 2)
    6. Re-Animator
    7. Jackson’s Braindead [uncut only]
    8. Return of the Living Dead
    9. Plague of the Zombies
    10. The Serpent and the Rainbow

    To which, from recent times, I’d add “Shaun of the Dead”, of course.

    Other recent titles I’d suggest (to get a taste of those who take a different slant on the genre) would be “The Homecoming” episode of Masters of Horror, “Zombie Honeymoon”, the Japanese films “Versus”, “Junk” and “Wild Zero” (especially the latter), “Feeding the Masses”, “Les Revenants” [“They Came Back”] and of course the “Resident Evil” films. Maybe the Aussie film “The Undead”. There are probably others that I can think of right now. Other suggestions from people who have posted to your blog are good, too.

    Many of the films I suggest here are reviewed on my website. Check them out here:


    I hope this helps.


  16. jenny davidson on #

    and there’s a chapter on zombies in marina warner’s “phantasmagoria,” could check the bibliography there too.

  17. hereandnow on #

    I am very fond of Tim Powers’s pirate zombie novel On Stranger Tides, myself, although YMMV.

  18. Chris Lawson on #

    Rob’s list is pretty much the essential list, my only reservation being the LAND OF THE DEAD, which didn’t work for me except for some great “eyeball kicks”. The only thing I’d add to his list is the great Night Stalker (warning: original 1974 series with Darren McGavin only!)series 1, episode 2 “Zombie”.

    In terms of fiction, I think Lucius Shepard’s GREEN EYES is supposed to be the touchstone novel, but I haven’t read it. I thoroughly recommend Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND which is not a true zombie novel, but a sort of sui generis zombie/vampire story that is actually an extremely accomplished suspense thriller, and ended up being a major influence on George Romero. The novel is also 100x better than any of the films based on it (LAST MAN ON EARTH and THE OMEGA MAN). There is a forthcoming re-remake, but has all the hallmarks of Hollywood dreck (Will Smith, Michael Bay, script revised by Akiva Goldsman, open studio policy to push script closer to OMEGA MAN than the original novel).

    The zombie, though, is much more of a movie creature than a literary one.

  19. carrie on #

    seriously, how do I miss an open call to post about zombie knowledge? ack! i feel like i’ve spent the past year trying to get my paws on as much zombie as i can (movies, books, stories, etc etc). i’ll have to cull it all together and post a list!

    ah zombies… how i love thee… earlier this year i think i counted like 6 zombie-ish films coming out this year alone. yay zombie resurrection!

  20. Robert Hood on #

    Six? I’m sure there’s more than that. I counted 87 from 2004 to 2006! Check out this (very ragged) list.


    And it doesn’t include some films that have crawled out of their graves since I last updated that list mid-2006.

  21. Corey on #

    Please tell me you’ve seen Peter Jackson’s NZ production “Dead Alive”. It’s my 2nd favorite Peter Jackson movie (behind The Frighteners…ghosts, not zombies). It’s a horrorcult zombie classic.

    There’s also a recent one called _Undead_, an Aussie production. Tries a little too hard to be campy at times, but I love B-horror, especially when zombies are involved! It’s hard to make a truly BAD zombie movie…though I did see Return of the Living Dead Part 2 last night on TV…it was trying pretty hard!

  22. Erin on #

    I 2nd Peter Jackson’s ‘Dead Alive’ – it is also known as ‘Braindead’ if you are having trouble finding it. Gotta love a movie that involves Sumatran rat monkeys, a 40-something virgin that still lives with his overprotective mother, custard, NZ accents and zombie death scenes involving lawnmowers and blenders…

  23. Will on #

    I have a moldering, stinky list for you.

    1. Return of the Living Dead: Directed by the screenwriter of Alien and Dark Star. Gooey, unique zombies. Self-cremation. People afflicted with Rigor Mortis while they’re still alive. One of the best horror-comedies ever IMHO.

    2. Night Life: Teenage mortician’s apprentice tormented by bullies after they die in a car crash. With John Astin of the Addam’s family. Hard to find but I have a DVDr (just say the word).

    3. Zombie (Zombie 2 in Europe): Unofficial Euro “sequel” to Dawn… Kind of dumb but with great atmosphere. Voodoo. Shark vs. Zombie. Squirm inducing close-up violence to eye.

    4. White Zombie: Early “poverty row” Lugosi Zombie pick. Very atmospheric. Has a great scene with zombies milling sugar and the zombies keep falling in.

    5. Night of the Comet: 80s era End of the world rip-off of Dawn. More Mutants than zombies but hold up really well.

    6. Night of the Creeps: Retro feeling zombies-on-Campus pic with space slugs jumping in mouths.

    7. Slither: More space slugs. Quirky and well-written with guy from Firefly/Buffy

    8. Carnival of Souls: Not a zombie per se but after-life mystery with creepiest pasty dead guy I have ever seen.

    Other media: Brian Keene’s zombie novels are guilty pleasures, Leisure just put one out this month. Also tack down the WWZ audio-book if you can. Full dramatic production with great voice talent and sound design.

    Night of the Living Dead was the first VHS tape I ever owned. I have seen it probably 30-40 times

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