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Bringing Back the Undead: 4 Underrated Zombie Movies to Keep Your Living Heart Racing

Sometimes the dead are better off unburied. 

two zombies standing next to each other menacingly in a kitchen
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  • Photo Credit: Lionsgate Films

Oh, zombies. Our undead pals are one of those horror tropes that have been dragged out again and again over the last decade to the point that it feels like there’s nothing new that can be done with them.

However, if you’re willing to dig through the last century of horror, then you’ll absolutely find more than a few brain-crunching gems along the way.

So for your undead pleasure, here are four underrated zombie films that are most definitely worth your time—no apocalypse required.  

I Walked With a Zombie 

Here’s a fun horror fact that not nearly enough people know: there’s a 1943 retelling of Jane Eyre… with zombies. Yes, you read that correctly.

Long before zombies and other mystical creatures were added to virtually every piece of public domain literature, there was a gothic classic transposed onto the zombie genre, one that was filmed way back in the midst of World War II.

It still stuns me that this film exists, and I’m so very glad that we have it in the world.

 I Walked With a Zombie is one of the fascinating collaborations from producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur. The setup is transparently Jane Eyre: a young nurse comes to the Caribbean estate of a wealthy, brooding man under the auspices of caring for his sick wife, only to discover there are some strange secrets his family is hiding.

The film is an incredible melodrama, but it also features some genuinely unnerving imagery, including the mute wife wandering through fields and beaches, and of course the zombies themselves. 

As with many old Hollywood films, there are certainly dated elements, so be aware of that going in. But truly, a zombie version of a Bronte classic is really a sight to behold, so consider adding this underrated gem to your streaming queue.  


Savageland rarely appears on lists of favorite zombie movies of the last ten years, and that’s a real shame, because it deserves more acclaim, not only in the zombie subgenre but also in the found footage canon.

Featuring a cast of mostly unknowns (who themselves should be working far more often in the movie world), this 2015 film follows an amateur photographer as he documents a monstrous and violent attack on a border town in Arizona. 

It’s by turns emotionally devastating and socially potent, and it still lives in my mind years after I first saw it. Even if found footage isn’t normally your favorite, Savageland adds its own twist that makes it feel fresh.

If this film shows up in a list of suggestions on streaming, then definitely give it a chance; it’s a worthy take on the zombie trope and one that packs a heartfelt punch.  


This 2003 Australian film manages to blend monsters, horror, aliens, dark comedy, and science fiction to create one utterly bizarre zombie flick. A local beauty queen has lost her family’s farm and is ready to head out of town when zombies start ravaging the countryside.

From there, she and her fellow survivors must hide out in the home of an alien abductee with a serious grudge to settle. Oh, and there’s some weird acid rain they have to avoid along the way. 

Many of the images in this movie will stick with you, including the gas masks, the zombie pen, the aliens, the aforementioned rain, and the strange, surreal sky filled with bodies (it makes at least a little more sense in context). The film ultimately comes together in one of the weirdest and most unexpected endings in the zombie canon.

A good time all the way around, and a film worth checking out if you haven’t already. In particular, if you like your horror blended with other genres, then this one is for you.  

Night of the Living Dead

I’m from the Pittsburgh area, so obviously, George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead is a favorite horror film of mine. Nothing can really compare to it.

That being said, Tom Savini’s remake of the zombie classic is honestly way too underappreciated. Also shot in and around the Pittsburgh area, the 1990 film takes the basic elements of the original and reinvents them just enough to create something that’s at once in conversation with its predecessor while also adding its own spin. 

Patricia Tallman makes Barbara a feminist hero for the ages, Tony Todd gives an incredible performance as Ben, and the modern yet bleak atmosphere feels fully suited to the times.

This one is often hard to find on streaming services, but if it ever appears in your horror searches, give it a watch. It’s more than worth your time.