Best Zombie Movies of All Time

It might seem difficult to believe, but there was a time – not very long ago, in fact – when zombies weren’t the cultural icons they are today. Horror fans have loved the undead since Hollywood first introduced them in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that critics and wider audiences began to take them seriously. That change, of course, was due entirely to the work of independent filmmaker George A. Romero, who – along with a handful of first-time actors and a crew of Pittsburgh locals – revolutionized the genre in 1968 with “Night of the Living Dead.”

Mainstream popularity stayed just out of reach until 2002, when the modestly budgeted “28 Days Later” and the glossy video game adaptation “Resident Evil” premiered within a few months of each other, setting off a wave of interest that became a global tsunami with the arrival of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” in 2010. From that moment on, zombies have remained ubiquitous pop culture favorites.

The definition of what constitutes a zombie is hotly contested among fans, however. Many hold firm to Romero’s established rules, while others take a broader approach by defining virally infected humans as zombies. Perhaps that’s because zombies represent different things to different people. To some, they’re a powerful symbol of mindless conformity. To others, they represent the fear of death or mass contagion. And plenty of people simply find them funny in a blackly comic sort of way.

Regardless of your personal definition, zombies will continue shambling their way into theaters as long as audiences have a taste for terror. Here is Variety‘s guide to the best zombie movies of all time.