George Romero's Dawn of the Dead was a landmark, influential film whose gory mayhem inspired a generation of modern zombie films (including Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2, which billed itself as a sequel to the Romero pic, titled Zombi in Italy). However, it hasn't held up well over time. The pace is slow, the zombies are laughable (Hare Krishnas? Green skin? Big, fake-headed Frankenstein zombie that gets done in by the helicopter?) and the social commentary on consumerism lacks punch in an age where malls are so commonplace. That said, the gore still packs a punch, and the movie might best be viewed as a bloody time capsule.
22. Dead Meat (2004)
An imperfect adaptation of the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend, but still the best one to date, this "realistic" portrayal of undead "vampires" (who act more like zombies) uses stark black-and-white imagery to build a creepy atmosphere that greatly influenced George Romero's Night of the Living Dead.
16. Deadgirl (2009)
This unconventional pic features on only one zombie -- a young woman tied up in an abandoned asylum -- and she functions mostly as a victim, propelling the story of two teenage boys who must decide what to do with her. Challenging, uncomfortable, potentially repulsive, and yet uncompromisingly real and engaging with something to say about the perils of adolescence.
15. Fido (2007)
If there's one thing I've learned from horror movies, it's never to trust any chemical or device touted as "experimental." In this atmospheric Spanish offering, an "experimental" ultrasonic device designed to combat agricultural pests ends up raising the dead instead. The zombies here have red eyes that predate 28 Days Later, and they make an eerie wheezing noise -- understandable, given they haven't breathed for years.