"The Return of the Living Dead" was made in 1985, and it's populated with just about every stereotype of the era. In fact, you'll find yourself actually rooting for the zombies frequently.
This movie does make one singular contribution to zombie-flick lore: It's the first film in the genre in which the zombies are actually heard giving voice to their craving for "Brainsssss!" In fact, it's the first one we're aware of where that particular delicacy was specified.
The cause of zombification here was unique, also, coming from a release of mysterious gas of government origin. Government-as-secret-villain was certainly nothing new, but government as zombie creator? That, my friends, was the stuff that tinfoil-hat dreams are made of.
"The Return of the Living Dead" also featured the first speedy zombies, a concept that reached its apex in our final selection ...
No. 1: "28 Days Later" (2002)
The zombie movie genre was just sort of shuffling along when "28 Days Later" burst upon the scene. A group of well-meaning animal activists set loose the wrong chimp in a lab, unleashing the Rage virus upon Great Britain.
These zombies sprint like race horses and feed like Adam Richman at a wing buffet. Their bite, as per traditional zombie lore, will transform the bitten into a zombie. There is no slow conversion here, though. A bad bite will have the victim slavering for a big helping of human in moments.
And if the zombies aren't bad enough, we've got humans in the form of a rogue military outfit who make the undead look like choirboys when it comes to treatment of their fellow beings.
This movie is really the total package, with unlikely heroes, amazing escapes, tremendous acts of courage and scenes so gore-soaked you'll be wiping your home theater screen for days.
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