Zombies in media
A zombie film is a film genre. Zombies are fictional creatures usually portrayed as reanimated corpses or virally infected human beings. They are commonly portrayed as cannibalistic in nature. While zombie films generally fall into the horror genre, some cross over into other genres, such as comedy, science fiction, thriller, or romance. Distinct subgenres have evolved, such as the "zombie comedy" or the "zombie apocalypse". Zombies are distinct from ghosts, ghouls, mummies, Frankenstein's monsters or vampires, so this list does not include films devoted to these types of undead.
Victor Halperin's White Zombie was released in 1932 and is often cited as the first zombie film. A number of Zombie films were produced in late 1930ies and in 1940ies, including I Walked with a Zombie (1943).
Inspired by the zombie of Haitian folklore, the modern zombie emerged in popular culture during the latter half of the twentieth century, with George A. Romero's seminal film Night of the Living Dead (1968). The film received a sequel, Dawn of the Dead (1978), which was the most commercially zombie film at the time. It received another sequel Day of the Dead (1985), and inspired numerous works such as Zombi 2 (1979) and Return of the Living Dead (1985). However, zombie films that followed in the 1980s and 1990s were not as commercially successful as Dawn of the Dead in the late 1970s.
In 1980s Hong Kong cinema, the Chinese jiangshi, a zombie-like creature dating back to Qing dynasty era jiangshi fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries, were featured in a wave of jiangshi films, popularised by Mr. Vampire (1985). Hong Kong jiangshi films became popular in the Far East during the mid-1980s to early 1990s.
A zombie revival later began in the Far East during the late 1990s, inspired by the 1996 Japanese zombie video games Resident Evil and The House of the Dead, which led to a wave of low-budget Asian zombie films, such as the Hong Kong zombie comedy film Bio Zombie (1998) and Japanese zombie-action film Versus (2000). The zombie film revival later went global, as the worldwide success of zombie games such as Resident Evil and The House of the Dead inspired a new wave of Western zombie films in the early 2000s, including the British film 28 Days Later (2002), the Resident Evil film series, a 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, and the British zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead (2004). The success of these films led to the zombie genre reaching a new peak of commercial success not seen since the 1970s.
Zombie films created in the 2000s, like 28 Days Later, House of the Dead, the Resident Evil films, and the Dawn of the Dead remake, have featured zombies that are more agile, vicious, intelligent, and stronger than the traditional zombie. These new fast running zombies have origins in video games, from Resident Evil's running zombie dogs and particularly the House of the Dead game's running human zombies.
In the late 2010s, zombie films began declining in the Western world. In Japan, on the other hand, the low-budget Japanese zombie comedy One Cut of the Dead (2017) became a sleeper hit, making box office history by earning over a thousand times its budget.
List of zombie films
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