Ranking Romero: The Zombie Master
Byon May 25, 2012
Chiller fans are in for a treat this week as Friday marks the channel’s premiere of Survival of the Dead – the latest zombie film from the legendary Godfather of the Modern Zombie Film George A. Romero. While it’s no Night of the Living Dead, it is a fun film that zombie fans will certainly enjoy. In honor of the event, we decided to rank Romero’s zombie films from best to least-best (yes, we know, but even the not-so-good ones are still pretty awesome). Be sure to tell us on our Facebook page about your favorite Romero zombie movie.
1) NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
Some fans may argue that Romero’s 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead is the best zombie film of all time (and I think there are definitely justifications for that argument), but for my money, it will always come back to the original – 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. It’s the film that started it all and has its hooks in just about every single modern zombie film you’ve ever seen. It’s a nearly perfect film that has come to define an entire sub-genre and one that deserves all the recognition it gets. “They’re coming to get you, Barbra.” Indeed, they are.
2) DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)
Romero may have taken ten years between his first two zombie films, but he doesn’t lose a single step. Dawn of the Dead is an absolute zombie classic that not only became a criticism of consumer culture, but also turned the Monroeville Mall in Pittsburgh, PA a horror film landmark. Some modern audiences have called it “slow,” but they’re wrong. These zombies might move slowly, but that’s how we like them. Remade in 2004 by Zack Snyder, that version is different, but it’s a hell of a film as well and definitely worth checking out.
3) DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)
Believe it or not, there are even some Romero fans out there that rank 1985’s Day of the Dead as Romero’s best zombie film. That’s a little optimistic, but it is a great film and one of the cornerstones of the zombie genre. Not to mention, it created what just may be the single most iconic zombie in all of horror history. Bub (Sherman Howard) is a zombie like audiences had never seen before. Sentient and communicative, he’s an undead legend.
4) LAND OF THE DEAD (2005)
Romero’s twenty year absence from the zombie genre doesn’t fare nearly as well as his previous ten year absence did. 2005’s Land of the Dead is fun, but a little more heavy-handed than fans would have liked. It’s good (very good at times, in fact), but it doesn’t quite live up to Romero’s early trilogy. It was, however, a big financial success and helped spawn the next two zombie films on this list.
5) SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD (2009)
This Friday’s Chiller premiere, Survival of the Dead is Romero’s most recent zombie film, and it’s nearly a return to form after the director’s lackluster Diary of the Dead. While it garnered mostly negative reviews, I blame that on zombie overload after Snyder revived the genre in 2004 and Romero followed it with Land of the Dead in 2005. Survival of the Dead is, mark my words, much better than you have heard and well worth your time on Friday.
6) DIARY OF THE DEAD (2007)
2007’s Diary of the Dead is, on the other hand, just not very good. Strangely, the film received better reviews than Survival… but this found footage take on the zombie film has very little bite. It’s certainly an interesting concept, and it’s nice to see Romero try his hand at something new, but I wish the results were a bit better. Nevertheless, zombie (and Romero) completists (like me) should still have it in their collections.
-- Scott Neumyer is a Freelance Writer, Publicist and Photographer. He has written for Maxim.com Complex.com, FEARnet.com, IFC.com, Movies.com, and more. You can find him online at scottwrites.com and on Twitter @scottneumyer.