George A. Romero's 6 Zombie Films, Ranked from Worst to Best, on the Dead

George A. Romero's 6 Zombie Films, Ranked from Worst to Best, on the Dead ...

With his popular Living Dead series, George A. Romero virtually defined the modern-day zombie we're all familiar with. In some horror movies, the word was used to refer to individuals who were brainwashed to perform a villainous role. More often than not, some spell or voodoo magic would transform a person into a mindless, dangerous creature that would then attack or otherwise threaten the film's heroes.

The idea of a zombie was revived with Romero's zombie films, and they became undead and able to devour anyone who wasn't a zombie. Dead bodies would resurrected as zombies, and if a character escaped before being devoured, their time would be numbered. He planned to make more before his passing.

'Survival of the Dead' (2009)

Survival of the Dead is George A. Romero's final feature film before he passed away in 2017. The sixth and final entry in his acclaimed zombie series, released more than four decades after his first groundbreaking film. The film depicts a tense situation between two families on a small island off the coast of the United States, which often results in tragic and violent consequences.

Survival of the Dead has a decent premise, and the last 10-15 minutes provide some good zombie carnage. The optimistic message about how humanity is sometimes further divided by large-scale catastrophes when they should work together for survival is powerful and entertaining, but the film isn't that enjoyable to watch outside of its opening scenes and climax. There's a good deal of dead air in the middle, which lacks zombie action and engaging characters.

'Diary of the Dead' (2007)

George A. Romero attempts his hand at the found footage subgenre in Diary of the Dead. The film follows a group of young people as they prepare to face the zombie apocalypse while making a low-budget horror film of their own. From there, they decide to document their experiences with surviving the zombie outbreak, capturing the types of violence and chaos you'd expect.

Diary of the Dead is one of the first big films to tackle and satirize the notion of YouTube and other early social media platforms desensitizing people to the horrors of the world in a way that makes no sense. The narrative is also rather standard, using found footage tropes that were already well-known in 2007. At least it's one with a few good ideas.

'Land of the Dead' (2005)

Land of the Dead is Romero's most underrated entry in the Living Dead trilogy, and it stands more comfortably alongside 2007's Diary of the Dead and 2009's Survival of the Dead. However, it's not quite as good as those original three films, quality-wise. It's closer to what came before it than what came after.

The city of Pittsburgh has been reimagined as a safe haven from the undead hordes that otherwise rule the country. The problem is that wealth inequality has worsened since the dead rose from their graves, meaning that those who aren't wealthy aren't always so fortunate. The film is decent, with some satisfying zombie action and a terrific villainous performance from Dennis Hopper, which enhances the film's quality.

'Day of the Dead' (1985)

The third film in Romero's series is the seventh finest of the six. It seems to follow on from Dawn of the Dead, even though it has a new cast of characters, as the world seems more bleak and depressed.

It's a dark and sometimes slow-paced film, which might alienate those who enjoy their zombie apocalypse with a bit more humor. However, it's effective for a darker interpretation of the zombie genre, and viewers have come to appreciate those qualities more as the years have passed. It's also remarkable for its terrible and still horrifying special effects.

'Night of the Living Dead' (1968)

Night of the Living Dead, the first and perhaps most important zombie film by Romero, would have never become what they are today. It's largely due to this film's portrayal of zombies that they became one of cinema's most popular film monsters, and every zombie film, television show, or video game released after 1968 probably owes something to Night of the Living Dead.

Night of the Living Dead may seem a bit subdued and mild by current zombie film standards, but the plot is straightforward and small-scale, with a group of survivors confined in an isolated house for the majority of its runtime, and the violence, by 1968 standards, is pale in comparison to the sort of gory zombie violence seen in its wake.

'Dawn of the Dead' (1978)

Dawn of the Dead is so terrific that it's the only horror film that got a remake that was actually good (in 2004, a film that might also stand as Zack Snyder's best work). It's a great sequel that takes what worked in the first film and ups the ante in every aspect. Instead of a group of survivors surviving an undead outbreak in a house, the four main characters hide out in a shopping mall, allowing Romero to experiment with new concepts.

It's a wild and unpredictable movie that maintains its two-hour-plus runtime. There's plenty of action, you develop trust in the main characters, and it's got a lot of social commentary that still holds up. Romero's Best is perhaps the finest zombie film of all time.