Zombie movies have existed for decades. We're especially excited to see the remake of Stephen King's Pet Sematary for some more zombie goodness, especially that zombie cat! While the concept of a zombie is nothing new and even some diehard horror fans admit that the zombie genre is being squeezed to death by the sheer number of zombies in current media, there are some films and shows that stand out above the rest.
Night of the Living Dead set the stage for many, many zombie movies to come. The Return of the Living Dead took what we knew about zombies and turned our assumptions upside-down by introducing running zombies. Shaun of the Dead made zombie films fun and funny, and the list goes on. That being said, we're going to do our best to introduce you to our list of the top ten deadliest zombies. (By the way, we did not include Deep Space's Necromorphs because they're grossly unfair zombie alien creatures that would make the rest of this list look like child's play. We're going to stick with Earth-bound zombies.) We hope you enjoy looking through our list of zombies ranked by their danger to humans!
10. I Am Legend - Darkseekers
[Source: Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/IMDb]
The zombies in I am Legend have fairly typical zombie behavior as they mill about and bite people, but they also have some additional weaknesses that place them at the bottom of our list. Many zombie movie enthusiasts refer to them as "darkseekers" because they have a sensitivity to sunlight and UV light similar to vampires. While they did manage to infect Will Smith's dog, showing that the virus was also contagious to animals, and there was clearly a smarter alpha male darkseeker, the zombie hordes are easily avoided during the day by remaining outdoors. The end of the movie also suggests that a successful cure was made by Neville so that the zombie plague might come to an end.
9. Shaun of the Dead - Walkers
[Source: Studio Canal/Working Title Films/Syfy.com]
Shaun of the Dead is the perfect movie example for the stereotypical "walker" zombie. While Shaun of the Dead is a zombie comedy movie, it was our favorite choice for generic zombies, and they do exhibit typical zombie behaviors that you can expect from similar zombie movies. They're slow, they mill about and they're not too bright. They do, however, have a good sense of hearing as noises attract them, and they can smell your fresh grey matter. (This is also a comedy movie, so pretending to be a zombie also tricks them for a while!) What these zombies lack in brains they make up for in sheer numbers.
8. Pontypool - Audio Variant Walkers
[Source: Ponty Up Pictures/Shadow Shows/IMDb]
The zombies in Pontypool are very similar to the regular walker zombies. However, the zombie virus spreads through speaking, and a variety of words triggers the infection in people. The fact that there isn't a hard and fast rule to infection is what makes this zombie plague so dangerous! (It appears like it's mostly spread through terms of endearment, which are harder to avoid than you might think.) Like other zombies, they attack in hordes. Once they know where you are, they will mass together and hurl themselves at your shelter until they manage to get inside. If your fortress has no means for you to escape to somewhere else safely, you're basically dead.
7. Night of the Living Dead /Dawn of the Dead - Romero Zombies
[Source: Image Ten/Kobal/REX Shutterstock/RollingStone.com]
The zombies from the Romero movies like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead shaped our vision of the zombie movie for decades to come. They also fall under the category of "walkers" although, in his films, anyone that dies will turn into a zombie without being bitten and receiving the zombie infection. Having two methods of making more zombies simply means you're going to have to deal with even more zombies. They're also decently resilient, as they have been depicted pummeling their way into a house of survivors that was boarded up to fortify themselves from the zombies.
6. [REC] - Demonic Runners
There are actually four [REC] movies, but we're basically grouping them for this list because they brought a new brand of zombie to the table. Some fans of the zombie genre debate about whether or not they're technically zombies because the virus is of a demonic origin. We still include it because the infected act with the typical zombie traits: they seek out people to infect, they're aggressive and bitey and the disease is spread through an exchange of bodily fluids. (It also can affect animals other than people!) What sets them a little lower in the category of "runners" is the fact that, due to the demonic nature of the virus, they can be warded off with things like crosses, holy water and prayers meant for Christian exorcisms.
5. Zombieland - Mad Zombies
[Source: Columbia Pictures Corporation/IMDb]
Typically called "mad zombies," the zombies in the movie Zombieland are another type of running zombie. The disease originated from a variation of mad cow disease and came to be known as "mad zombie disease." Other than the fact that these zombies can run, they exhibit typical zombie traits like milling about, spreading infection through biting and bodily fluids, persistence and an attraction to light and sound. These zombies also have the ability to climb, as evidenced in the scene when the zombies climb up the tower drop ride.
4. World War Z - Runners
[Source: Paramount Pictures/Skydance Media/medium.com]
We'll be going with the movie version of the World War Z zombies, so there will be a few differences from their depiction in the novel. These zombies are fast, and the infection also spreads incredibly fast. (The incubation time is mere seconds fast!) They also have the ability to climb like the mad zombies from Zombieland, but the speed at which they can climb is superhuman. Yikes! (They probably broke nearly every bone in their bodies after falling from the top of a huge wall, but they were still able to keep moving.) However, they also managed to make a vaccine to help survivors overcome the spread of the zombie disease. As dangerous as these zombies are, there is a glimmer of hope that the war against the zombies may eventually come to an end.
3. The Walking Dead - Walkers
[Source: Gene Page/AMC/USA Today]
It might seem a little unusual to have slower walking zombies so high on the list, but the walkers from the walking dead have a few special abilities that make them more deadly than your run-of-the-mill walkers. Similar to the Romero zombies, anyone that dies will become a zombie. The show also encompasses several years, and while the zombies visibly look frailer, they have yet to decompose fully, so they're oddly resilient to natural decomposition. Walkers have also been shown with a varying degree of intelligence, as there are zombies also referred to as "lurkers" that play dead and bite people when they're not expecting it. A few zombies have also been shown to use primitive tools like a brick to smash a window. Fear the Walking Dead also introduced swimming zombies, a whole new level of terror. (Boats and small island refuges are no longer as safe as they used to be.) Ultimately, the relentless tide of zombies and the fact that anyone that dies inevitably joins the zombie horde makes for a very bleak end.
2. 28 Days Later / 28 Weeks Later - Rage Zombies
[Source: DNA Films/Photofest/The Hollywood Reporter]
The zombies in the 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later movies are a lethal combination of nope. They're fast zombies, they're incredibly persistent, they can climb and the virus infects people in less than a minute. While you don't necessarily have to give them a headshot to kill them, their speed and numbers are overwhelming without a cure. A few people in the series were bitten and didn't get infected, but the immunity to the virus wasn't really explained. An alternate scene was cut where the rage virus was cured with a blood transfusion, but due to it not being included in the film, it's not canon. While these two situations might suggest that a means to make a cure is possible, it has yet to be widely available to the public.
1. Resident Evil - T-Virus Zombies
[Source: Constantin Film/Davis-Films/Impact Pictures/Quora]
The zombies in Resident Evil are one giant nope-fest. Over the past six films, there is a variety of both walking and running zombies. The virus is also able to spread to animals, and some notable examples are the infected dogs in the lab and a swarm of zombie crows. (Peckish flying zombies? Talk about a murder of crows!) Along with these grossly unfair odds, the Umbrella Corporation has scientists that keep making improved, more resilient zombies. While there is a cure, administering the wrong dosage has been shown to turn the recipient into a "tyrant" variation, which has regenerative abilities and psionic powers similar to the immune main character, Alice. With some zombie variants that are essentially superhero-like zombies, the odds of surviving in the Resident Evil universe are grossly unfair, unless you're Alice. The end of the film series creates an improved antidote, but the odds of there being a large number of survivors to take it seems pretty bleak. (We wouldn't be surprised if zombie mosquitos were possible, which would be utterly terrifying.)
We hope you enjoyed looking through our list of zombies ranked by their danger to humans. Do you enjoy horror movies? Do you have a favorite type of zombie? Have you made plans in case a zombie apocalypse ever happens? Please feel free to share your love of zombies with us in the comments. Also, if you're interested in wearing a zombie costume for Halloween or doing your own zombie makeup, you might want to check out our zombie costume DIY.