is out in theaters this week, inspiring this week’s 24 Frames gallery: a visual bloody guide to the history of zombies in film and on your television. Brrraaaaaiinnsss…. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
White Zombie Year: 1932
In the early 20th century, the United States occupied Haiti for nearly two decades after significant social and political unrest in the country threatened U.S. corporate interests. Yellow journalism and returning military personnel spread stories of the Haitians’ voodoo practices, including the ability to resurrect the recently dead to do mindless work (a “zonbi”).
Note the first zombie movie’s title, White Zombie, implying it was incendiary for a white person to be considered a zombie. Perhaps a reason for the zombie subgenre’s endurance is that it buys into a core tenet of horror: an intense fear of the “other.”
I Walked With a Zombie Year: 1943
Evocative direction by Jacques Tourneur collides with the low-rent production values of exploiter Val Lewton in I Walked with a Zombie, a sultry sleeper that’s simultaneously smarmy, eloquent and fascinating.
Night of the Living Dead Year: 1968
George A. Romero revolutionzed the genre with Night of the Living Dead, re-purposing the dead not just as mindless drones but also ravenous maneaters. Add in some social or political commentary and Romero’s zombie blueprint is the one we still use today.
Rod Serling’s anthology follow-up to The Twilight Zone featured a segment called “Cool Air,” an adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft short story about an undead doctor who must keep the room temperature at a very specific number.
Dawn of the Dead Year: 1979
Romero’s masterpiece is an imminently watchable action/horror flick, set primarily in a shopping mall. As the zombies lumber towards our fortified human survivors, the film becomes a clear satire on American consumerism.
Zombi 2 Year: 1980
Italian copyright laws allow movies to be marketed as a sequel to anything, creating for some rather knotty filmographies. Dawn of the Dead was edited and released as Zombi in the country and Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 is a sequel to that version. Highlights include this hilariously/excruciatingly slow eye poke, and an underwater bout between a zombie and a shark.
Day of the Dead Year: 1985
Romero’s original Dead trilogy capper is set in an underground base where the last remaining human survivors desperately experiment on zombies to turn them human once more, becoming a rather didactic indictment of military corruption and power.
The Return of the Living Dead Year: 1985
The genre loosens up with this horror/comedy, featuring punk wenches and goopy mega-invincible zombies.
Re-Animator Year: 1985
Another Lovecraft adaptation, Jeffrey Combs stars as an obsessed medical student who won’t let a few dead colleagues (and buckets of entrails and gore) stop him in his quest to bring life back to the deceased.
Friday the 13th: Part 6 – Jason Lives Year: 1986
In parts 2 through 4, Jason Voorhees is described as a vaguely mystical killing machine. In Part 6, ol’ Hockeyface becomes an official zombie when, in the opening scene, he is resurrected from the grave after his corpse is impaled with a metal rod and then struck by lightning.
Prince of Darkness Year: 1987
John Carpenter’s ’80s output frequently had zombie-ish monster crowds ( Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog) but tackled the matter head-on with films like this.
The Simpsons Year: 1989-present
After Tom Savini’s Night of the Living Dead remake, the ’90s saw a significant downturn in horror fare and, when it did return, the focus was on non-supernatural teen slashers like Scream and I’m Aware of That Thing You Did Previously. Keeping the zombie flame alive was Treehouse of Horror segment “Dial Z For Zombies,” one of The Simpsons‘ finest comedic moments.
Wild Zero Year: 1999
The rise of anime and independent filmmaking in the ’90s created an appetite for weird international fare. Thus we discovered Wild Zero, a supremely trashy and silly Japanese movie about a hard rock band called Guitar Wolf who get caught up in a zombie invasion.
Resident Evil Year: 2002
With horror films out of favor during this decade, nerds got their zombie fix through video games like lightgun shooter House of the Dead or the survival horror series Resident Evil. The game was loosely adapted as a movie starring Milla Jovovich and that series will be releasing its sixth (and final) installment in January 2016.
28 Days Later Year: 2003
Danny Boyle resists calling 28 Days Later a zombie movie…but it is. And a revolutionary one at that, redefining zombies as sprinting maniacs.
Shaun of the Dead Year: 2004
2004 saw the rebirth of the undead, starting with this loving, hilarious, and effectively scary tribute to the subgenre.
Dawn of the Dead Year: 2004
Zack Snyder’s debut took Romero’s 1978 template and stuck in fast zombies. One of the better remakes out there.
Land of the Dead Year: 2005
Romero’s return to the genre after a 20-year gap since Day of the Dead. He’s made two more zombie movies since ( Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead) though they exist in an alternate timeline to the main series.
[REC] Year: 2007
The burgeoning found footage genre and the zombie revival smushed into one very infested Spanish apartment building. A very scary and tense ride, [REC] was later remade in America as Quarantine.
Zombieland Year: 2009
Zombies got another shot in the arm with this fun, unpredictable comedy.
The Walking Dead Year: 2010-present
Dystopic films and shows are hot items these days and, after years of percolating interest, zombies went mainstream with The Walking Dead, which has created a cottage industry of everything undead.
Warm Bodies Year: 2013
Zombies…it’s not just for grown-ups anymore! Showing the subgenre’s versatility, the teenybopper crowd gets a new braindead version of Romeo and Juliet.
World War Z Year: 2013
Zombies go blockbuster! Brad Pitt stars in this loose adaptation of the Max Brooks novel, and the movie went on to gross $540 million worldwide.
iZombie Year: 2014-present
Rose McIver stars in this Certified Fresh show as a recently zombified med student whose taste for humans brains (which allows her to absorb some memories of her victims) helps the police solve murder mysteries.
En español: Read this article in Spanish at Tomatazos.com.