James-Bond-Countdown

30 Essential Zombie Movies

The zombie: Without remorse and pity, driven by a single hunger, and damn near impossible to put down permanently. There have been times since their introduction into movies in the 1930s where it felt like we’d never see a zombie movie again. Then there are eras of the opposite, where you couldn’t stick your arm out in a multiplex without a shambling ghoul nearby, ready to chomp. And since we’ve been in feast mode over the last decade-plus, we’re taking a big bite with our guide to the 30 Essential Zombie Movies that you need to watch!

While zombie movies have been for more than 80 years (in 1932 we got White Zombie, in 1943 I Walked With a Zombie), it’s commonly accepted the subgenre as we know it today didn’t rise until 1968, when George A. Romero unleashed Night of the Living Dead. An independent film with a budget barely above six figures, Night enthralled audiences with its mysterious plot, shocking gore, progressive casting and social commentary, and, natch, the unforgettable hordes of the gaunt, hungry undead. Crowned the godfather of zombies, Romero made five more Dead movies, the best of which are featured in this guide, including Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead.

Despite Romero’s efforts, it would still be a long shuffle into the early 2000s before zombies would break out of horror niche and crawl all over pop culture. Highlights from the pre-2000 era include splatter comedies like Return of the Living Dead and Dead Alive, Lucio Fulci’s eye-splitting and shark-wrestling Zombi 2, and H.P. Lovecraft adaptation Re-Animator.

The success of the Resident Evil video games revealed an audience appetite hitherto untapped, inspiring a gushing fount of zombie movies released between 2000 and 2005. Now we got to see the true versatility of the zombie movie. There was the loving spoofery of Shaun of the Dead. The blockbuster theatrics of the Resident Evil adaptation. Cutting-edge, gritty filmmaking with 28 Days Later. Japanese kinetic action in Versus, and most recently the creative, micro-budget One Cut of the Dead.

Ever since, zombies have shown no sign of slowing down. (Some have even figured out how to run.) TV show The Walking Dead is an obvious behemoth to point towards, but in the film world, zombies have made their way into found footage ([REC]), rom-com (Warm Bodies), and grindhouse throwbacks (Planet Terror).

And with this guide, we sought to capture those many moods, the various sensitivities that make up the zombie movie. Most featured here are Fresh and Certified Fresh, and of course we’re including a few Rotten movies. They may not have gotten the highest critical marks, but offer just as much color, life, and odor to this list. With that, it’s time to use your braaaaains and dig deep into the best zombie movies to watch!

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 80135%
Critics Consensus: Valley Girl culture satire Night of the Comet gets lots of mileage out of its slapstick sci-fi zombie approach.
Synopsis: After a rare comet sighting, teen sisters Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Samantha (Kelli Maroney) find that they're among the... [More]
Directed By: Thom Eberhardt

#29

Juan of the Dead (2011)
83%

#29
Adjusted Score: 82083%
Critics Consensus: Filled with wild splatter slapstick, Juan of the Dead also deftly uses its zombie premise as an undead Trojan horse for insightful political commentary.
Synopsis: When the dead rise and attack the living, Juan starts a zombie-killing business, until he has to save his small... [More]
Directed By: Alejandro Brugués

#28

Little Monsters (2019)
79%

#28
Adjusted Score: 86600%
Critics Consensus: Led by typically outstanding work from Lupita Nyong'o, Little Monsters is a horror/rom-com hybrid that proves the zombie genre still has fresh brains to savor.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Abe Forsythe

#27

Wild Zero (2000)
100%

#27
Adjusted Score: 26586%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ace saves his heroes from alien invaders that turn people into zombies.... [More]
Directed By: Tetsuro Takeuchi

#26
Adjusted Score: 45007%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Scooby (Scott Innes) and the rest of the Mystery, Inc., crew encounter creepy characters at a haunted house on a... [More]
Directed By: Jim Stenstrum

#25

Resident Evil (2002)
36%

#25
Adjusted Score: 38967%
Critics Consensus: Like other video game adapations, Resident Evil is loud, violent, formulaic, and cheesy.
Synopsis: Based on the popular video game, Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez star as the leaders of a commando team who... [More]
Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson

#24

Cemetery Man (1995)
60%

#24
Adjusted Score: 61138%
Critics Consensus: Cemetery Man will frustrate viewers seeking narrative cohesion or coherence, but this surreal blend of humor and horror should satisfy B-movie fans in the mood for quirk.
Synopsis: Something is causing the dead to rise from their graves as flesh-eating zombies, and cemetery custodian Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett)... [More]
Directed By: Michele Soavi

#23

Deathdream (1974)
83%

#23
Adjusted Score: 41174%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a Vietnam war casualty (Richard Backus) returns to his parents (John Marley, Lynn Carlin), he prowls in search of... [More]
Directed By: Bob Clark

#22

28 Weeks Later (2007)
71%

#22
Adjusted Score: 79378%
Critics Consensus: While 28 Weeks Later lacks the humanism that made 28 Days Later a classic, it's made up with fantastic atmosphere and punchy direction.
Synopsis: Six months after the original epidemic, the rage virus has all but annihilated the population of the British Isles. Nevertheless... [More]

#21

Versus (2000)
75%

#21
Adjusted Score: 47138%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An escaped prisoner (Tak Sakaguchi) and a mysterious young woman (Chieko Misaka) face an onslaught of indestructible undead fighters in... [More]
Directed By: Ryûhei Kitamura

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 74060%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Fraternity pledges (Jason Lively, Steve Marshall) pull a prank with a frozen body and let sluglike creatures loose on campus.... [More]
Directed By: Fred Dekker

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 89741%
Critics Consensus: Evocative direction by Jacques Tourneur collides with the low-rent production values of exploitateer Val Lewton in I Walked with a Zombie, a sultry sleeper that's simultaneously smarmy, eloquent and fascinating.
Synopsis: Canadian nurse Betsey Connell (Frances Dee) is hired to care for Jessica Holland (Christine Gordon), a woman on a Caribbean... [More]
Directed By: Jacques Tourneur

#18

Warm Bodies (2013)
81%

#18
Adjusted Score: 89358%
Critics Consensus: Warm Bodies offers a sweet, well-acted spin on a genre that all too often lives down to its brain-dead protagonists.
Synopsis: A terrible plague has left the planet's population divided between zombies and humans. An unusual zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult)... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Levine

#17

Planet Terror (2007)
76%

#17
Adjusted Score: 75388%
Critics Consensus: A cool and hip grindhouse throwback, Planet Terror is an unpredictable zombie thrillride.
Synopsis: An ordinary evening in a small Texas town becomes a grisly nightmare when a horde of flesh-eating zombies goes on... [More]
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 43646%
Critics Consensus: Zombi 2 is an absurdly graphic zombie movie legendary for some gory scenes and nothing in between.
Synopsis: A New York reporter (Ian McCulloch) follows a woman (Tisa Farrow) to an island where a doctor (Richard Johnson) faces... [More]
Directed By: Lucio Fulci

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 86447%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A cop does not realize that those responsible for several murders are the living dead.... [More]
Directed By: Jorge Grau

#14

World War Z (2013)
66%

#14
Adjusted Score: 77477%
Critics Consensus: It's uneven and diverges from the source book, but World War Z still brings smart, fast-moving thrills and a solid performance from Brad Pitt to the zombie genre.
Synopsis: When former U.N. investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family get stuck in urban gridlock, he senses that it's... [More]
Directed By: Marc Forster

#13

Dawn of the Dead (2004)
76%

#13
Adjusted Score: 82020%
Critics Consensus: A kinetic, violent and surprisingly worthy remake of George Romero's horror classic that pays homage to the original while working on its own terms.
Synopsis: When her husband is attacked by a zombified neighbor, Ana (Sarah Polley) manages to escape, only to realize her entire... [More]
Directed By: Zack Snyder

#12

Day of the Dead (1985)
83%

#12
Adjusted Score: 84996%
Critics Consensus: Day of the Dead may arguably be the least haunting entry in George A. Romero's undead trilogy, but it will give audiences' plenty to chew on with its shocking gore and scathing view of society.
Synopsis: The living dead regroup above while humans (Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato) sweat it out below in a Florida... [More]
Directed By: George A. Romero

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 105171%
Critics Consensus: Brainy and bloody in equal measure, One Cut of the Dead reanimates the moribund zombie genre with a refreshing blend of formal daring and clever satire.
Synopsis: Real zombies attack a hack director and a film crew who are shooting a low budget zombie film in an... [More]
Directed By: Shinichiro Ueda

#10
Adjusted Score: 94386%
Critics Consensus: A punk take on the zombie genre, The Return of the Living Dead injects a healthy dose of '80s silliness to the flesh-consuming.
Synopsis: When foreman Frank (James Karen) shows new employee Freddy (Thom Mathews) a secret military experiment in a supply warehouse, the... [More]
Directed By: Dan O'Bannon

#9

Dead Alive (1992)
88%

#9
Adjusted Score: 91070%
Critics Consensus: The delightfully gonzo tale of a lovestruck teen and his zombified mother, Dead Alive is extremely gory and exceedingly good fun, thanks to Peter Jackson's affection for the tastelessly sublime.
Synopsis: Overprotective mother Vera Cosgrove (Elizabeth Moody), spying on her grown son, Lionel (Timothy Balme), as he visits the zoo with... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#8

Re-Animator (1985)
94%

#8
Adjusted Score: 98043%
Critics Consensus: Perfectly mixing humor and horror, the only thing more effective than Re-Animator's gory scares are its dry, deadpan jokes.
Synopsis: A medical student (Jeffrey Combs) brings his headless professor back from the dead with a special serum.... [More]
Directed By: Stuart Gordon

#7

Rec (2007)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 89819%
Critics Consensus: Plunging viewers into the nightmarish hellscape of an apartment complex under siege, [Rec] proves that found footage can still be used as an effective delivery mechanism for sparse, economic horror.
Synopsis: A reporter (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman record the horrifying outbreak of a disease that turns humans into vicious cannibals.... [More]

#6

28 Days Later (2002)
87%

#6
Adjusted Score: 94188%
Critics Consensus: Kinetically directed by Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later is both a terrifying zombie movie and a sharp political allegory.
Synopsis: A group of misguided animal rights activists free a caged chimp infected with the "Rage" virus from a medical research... [More]
Directed By: Danny Boyle

#5

Zombieland (2009)
89%

#5
Adjusted Score: 99788%
Critics Consensus: Wickedly funny and featuring plenty of gore, Zombieland is proof that the zombie subgenre is far from dead.
Synopsis: After a virus turns most people into zombies, the world's surviving humans remain locked in an ongoing battle against the... [More]
Directed By: Ruben Fleischer

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 98364%
Critics Consensus: George A. Romero's debut set the template for the zombie film, and features tight editing, realistic gore, and a sly political undercurrent.
Synopsis: A disparate group of individuals takes refuge in an abandoned house when corpses begin to leave the graveyard in search... [More]
Directed By: George A. Romero

#3

Train to Busan (2016)
94%

#3
Adjusted Score: 100980%
Critics Consensus: Train to Busan delivers a thrillingly unique -- and purely entertaining -- take on the zombie genre, with fully realized characters and plenty of social commentary to underscore the bursts of skillfully staged action.
Synopsis: A man (Gong Yoo), his estranged daughter and other passengers become trapped on a speeding train during a zombie outbreak... [More]
Directed By: Yeon Sang-ho

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 98888%
Critics Consensus: Shaun of the Dead cleverly balances scares and witty satire, making for a bloody good zombie movie with loads of wit.
Synopsis: Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 30-something loser with a dull, easy existence. When he's not working at the electronics store,... [More]
Directed By: Edgar Wright

#1

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
94%

#1
Adjusted Score: 96885%
Critics Consensus: One of the most compelling and entertaining zombie films ever, Dawn of the Dead perfectly blends pure horror and gore with social commentary on material society.
Synopsis: As hordes of zombies swarm over the U.S., the terrified populace tries everything in their power to escape the attack... [More]
Directed By: George Romero

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is out in theaters this week, inspiring this week’s 24 Frames gallery: a visual bloody guide to the history of zombies in film and on your television. Brrraaaaaiinnsss….


En español: Read this article in Spanish at Tomatazos.com.

 

There’s something new for everyone in the fam in theaters and on DVD this week, from a goofy workplace comedy (The Internship) to a zombie-tastic love affair (Warm Bodies) to an animated alien extravaganza (Escape from Planet Earth). Read on to find out what’s appropriate for the whole family.

In Theaters This Week:



The Internship

35%

What’s it about? In the midst of the Cold War, a bunch of Navy pilots with names like Maverick and Iceman talk trash and play volleyball.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG for “sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language.” In other words, expect a much milder brand of comedy from the Wedding Crashers stars, one that should be safe for high schoolers.

Is it any good? Critics say The Internship gets plenty of mileage out of its amiable leads, but it’s pretty predictable and slackly paced.

New On DVD:



Warm Bodies

81%

What’s it about? Warm Bodies is the tale of a star-crossed love affair between a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) and Julie (Teresa Palmer), a human, who meet in the wake of a zombie apocalypse. It’s kinda like a certain Shakespeare play, only with more brain-eating.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 “for zombie violence and some language.” It’s based on a popular YA novel, and while it might be a little too intense for younger kids, it’s safe for teens.

Is it any good? Critics say the Certified Fresh Warm Bodies puts a funny and charming twist on both the zombie and forbidden teen romance subgenres.



Escape from Planet Earth

35%

What’s it about? Alien astronaut Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) is tricked into landing on earth and subsequently held captive at Area 51, so it’s up to his nerdy brother Gary (Rob Corddry) to rescue him — and their home planet.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG for “action and some mild rude humor.” Some of the action scenes may be too intense for sensitive children, but it’s mostly safe for most in the elementary school set.

Is it any good? Critics say Escape From Planet Earth is passable family entertainment that should satisfy young kids, but their parents are likely to find it pretty bland.

This week on home video, we’ve got one big franchise blockbuster and a Certified Fresh comedy, plus two more big releases that didn’t fare so well with critics. On top of that, our reissues this week are fairly impressive, even if a lot of them are films you may already own. See below for this week’s ultra-short list.



A Good Day to Die Hard

15%

The original Die Hard is considered by more than a few to be the greatest action film ever made, and when the franchise was brought back to life in 2007 after a 12-year hiatus, many were surprised by how good it was. Unfortunately, this year’s follow-up to that film, A Good Day to Die Hard, left most wishing the series would just (ahem) die already. Bruce Willis reprises his role as supercop John McClane, who heads over to Russia after learning his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) is in trouble with the law. Before father and son are properly reunited, however, they’re thrust into the middle of a violent political conspiracy whose agents chase them across Eastern Europe. A Good Day jumps right into the action and rarely lets up, but for the most part, critics found it tiresome and full of predictable clichés. At 15% on the Tomatometer, it’s the lowest-rated installment of the franchise, and probably won’t do much for anyone looking for a decent story to go along with their explosions.



Warm Bodies

81%

Over the past several years, romantic comedies have earned a reputation for uninspired cookie-cutter storytelling and vapid, one-dimensional characters, so it’s always refreshing to see a new spin on the genre. Warm Bodies, based on the novel by Isaac Marion, comedically explores the post-apocalyptic star-crossed love between a girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer) and a young zombie who goes by “R” (Nicholas Hoult). R and his fellow zombies retain bits of humanity within them, and after being initially drawn to Julie, repeated interactions with her begin to bring him back from the dark side, so to speak. Directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50) and co-starring Rob Corddry, John Malkovich, and Dave Franco, Warm Bodies charmed a good number of critics, who called it surprisingly sweet and praised the cast for immersive performances. Certified Fresh at 80%, this isn’t your average rom-com, but it’s all the better for it.



Identity Thief

19%

Jason Bateman hasn’t had the best of luck at the multiplex recently, at least in his starring roles, and Melissa McCarthy hasn’t fared much better, which is troubling considering how likable both of them are. Putting them together in Identity Thief, unfortunately, didn’t pan out quite the way they’d hoped. Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, unwitting victim of identity fraud when a Florida woman named Diana (McCarthy) assumes “Sandy” is a woman and begins living the lavish life on Sandy’s funds. When criminal charges begin showing up on Sandy’s record, he drives down to Miami to confront Diana and bring her back to clear his name. As you might expect, both stars do their best with the material they’re given here, but they’re able to wring precious few laughs from the film’s meandering script and plot contrivances. It currently sits at 20% on the Tomatometer, which is a disappointment for all involved.



Escape From Planet Earth

35%

Rainmaker Entertainment’s biggest claims to fame to date are probably the popular Transformers TV series Beast Wars and the number of Barbie-themed movies they’ve produced for Mattel, but this year they tried their hand at a feature-length animated film with Escape From Planet Earth. Anchored by the voice talents of Brendan Fraser, Ricky Gervais, Jessica Alba, Rob Corddry, Sofia Vergara, and more, the film focuses on the efforts of an alien astronaut named Scorch (Fraser) from the planet Baab, who is sent to Earth (the “Dark Planet”) to trace the origins of a mysterious SOS call. When Scorch goes missing, his pal Gary (Corddry) mounts a rescue mission; cue lots of fish-out-of-water humor and Area 51-related gags. The animation and artwork is all great to look at, many critic concede, but Escape simply relies on too many elements we’ve seen before in better movies. At 26%, this might work as a colorful distraction for the kids, but don’t expect to be similarly enthralled if you’re old enough to vote, and don’t expect Rainmaker to be competing with the likes of Pixar or Dreamworks anytime soon.

Also available this week:

Not a whole lot worth mentioning this week in streaming movies, but we do have a fairly well-received zom-rom-com, a couple of movies still out in theaters, and one more that hasn’t even seen a theatrical release yet. Read on to find out what’s available to watch right now.


Warm Bodies
81%

Nicholas Hoult as an undead teen who falls for Teresa Palmer’s human survivor in this zombified romantic comedy based on a popular young adult novel.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Aftershock
39%

Produced by and starring Eli Roth, Aftershock is a horror film about a group of clubgoers trapped underground after a massive earthquake

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Black Rock
53%

Kate Bosworth and Lake Bell star in a thriller about a trio of friends on a camping trip who are pursued by vicious killers.

Available now on: Vudu


American Mary
62%

A broke medical student performes bootleg surgeries on a wide variety of eccentrics in this gory black comedy.

Available now on: Vudu

Super Bowl weekend was ruled by the adorable undead as the zombie romantic comedy Warm Bodies opened at number one leading a dull frame with lackluster ticket sales. The Big Game routinely crushes ticket sales on Sunday weakening weekend numbers and studios either avoid programming any good films, or use it as an opportunity to counter-program to young women – the demographic least affected by America’s biggest sporting event. The Top 20 sank to just $82M, down a sharp 31% versus last year.

Delivering a solid opening weekend, Warm Bodies easily topped the chart with an estimated $20M debut averaging a commendable $6,655 from 3,009 theaters. The PG-13 film about a zombie who develops feelings for a human gal offered an interesting new twist on the decades-old genre and connected with young women. The rating helped especially since six of the next seven films on the chart were rated R. Warm Bodies played to a 60% female audience and 65% were under 25. This demographic has been mostly turned off by the barrage of action films over the last few weeks but responded to something more appealing. The CinemaScore grade was a decent B+ for the Summit film and reviews were very positive.

Paramount’s chart-topper Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters fell 53% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.2M giving the studio $34.5M after ten days. A $50M final seems likely for the $50M-budgeted actioner. Academy Award contender Silver Linings Playbook once again enjoyed the best hold in the top ten taking in an estimated $8.1M for a slim 14% decline. The Weinstein Co. has now amassed $80.4M.

Down 49% in its third round was the supernatural thriller Mama with an estimated $6.7M and $58.2M to date for Universal. Sony’s Oscar contender Zero Dark Thirty followed with an estimated $5.3M, sliding 45%, to $77.8M thus far.

The unlucky streak for action movies continued as audiences steered clear of the new Sylvester Stallone flick Bullet to the Head which crapped out in sixth place with an estimated $4.5M from 2,404 theaters for a dismal $1,872 average. For the aging action hero it was his worst opening for a wide release in over three decades and fell below the dreadful debuts in recent weeks for his Expendables co-stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Statham who anchored The Last Stand ($6.3M opening) and Parker ($7M), respectively.

Stallone successfully rebranded himself in recent years with Rocky Balboa, Rambo, and the two Expendables hits. But Bullet featured no beloved character that audiences were familiar with plus no known co-stars to help bring in the loot. The audience skewed older male as studio research showed that men made up 60% of the crowd while 81% were over 25. The CinemaScore was a disappointing B-.

Parker followed in seventh with an estimated $3.2M tumbling 54% in its sophomore frame. The FilmDistrict release should end with just $18M. The rest of the top ten was filled up by a trio of blockbuster Oscar nominees for Best Picture with decent holds considering it’s Super Bowl weekend. Quentin Tarantino hopped over the $150M mark for the first time with Django Unchained which grossed an estimated $3M, off 39%, for a $151M cume for The Weinstein Co. Former front-runner Lincoln dipped 38% to an estimated $2.4M while the musical Les Misérables collected the same amount after a 43% decline. Disney has banked an impressive $170.8M for the Daniel-Day Lewis hit while Universal has taken in $141.5M with rival Best Actor contender Hugh Jackman.

Among other nominees for Hollywood’s top trophy, awards season juggernaut Argo took 11th place in its 17th weekend of release with an estimated $2.1M after jumping up 16% after adding 47% more theaters to the run. Ben Affleck’s hostage crisis hit has won all three top guild awards from the PGA, SAG, and DGA and is now in a commanding position as Oscar voting begins. However, it does lack the Best Director nomination which has been such a critical component for most – but not all – Best Picture winners. Argo will now follow the path of one of two films. 1995’s Apollo 13 won the same three guild titles only to lose the Best Picture Oscar to Braveheart. It also had no Academy nod for Director. But 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture without even earning a Best Director nomination. One of these rare cases will repeat itself this year.

Fox’s Life of Pi, another of this year’s Best Picture contenders, dropped 30% to an estimated $1.8M upping the total to $106.1M. The French-language film Amour expanded screens by 47% and watched its weekend gross inch up 6% to an estimated $497,000. Sony Classics has collected $2.5M so far. By Oscar night, seven of the nine Best Picture nominees could be over the $90M mark. That should drive TV ratings higher since so many of the contenders have been seen by so many people. This year’s crop has a substantial amount of mainstream appeal.

Oscar winners Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin failed to draw in any sales for their new old-timers dramedy Stand Up Guys which flopped with an estimated opening weekend of just $1.5M, according to estimates. The Lionsgate release averaged a weak $2,276 from a moderate release in 659 locations and attracted lackluster reviews.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $64.9M which was down a sharp 26% from last year when Chronicle opened at number one with $22M; and down 5% from 2011 when The Roommate debuted in the top spot with $15M.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a zombie rom-com (Warm Bodies, starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer), an aging hit man (Bullet to the Head, starring Sylvester Stallone), and aging ex-cons (Stand Up Guys, starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.) What do the critics have to say?



Warm Bodies

81%

It can’t be easy putting a fresh spin on something as well-trod as the zombie genre, but this week’s Warm Bodies — starring Nicholas Hoult as an undead teen who falls for Teresa Palmer’s human survivor — gives it a shot, mixing horror and romance in a way that might befit Shakespeare (if the Bard had grown up watching Dawn of the Dead, perhaps.) And for the most part, critics have warmed to Jonathan Levine’s zom-com, suggesting the movie gets its balance of horror, romance and comedy pretty right — even if it doesn’t exactly maximize the potential of a rich premise. Currently, Warm Bodies is Certified Fresh at 78%.



Bullet to the Head

45%

It seems the march of time shall not weary Sylvester Stallone, who keeps cranking out the action movies like a star half his age. This week the Italian Stallion returns in Walter Hill’s Bullet to the Head, playing a New Orleans hit man who partners with a DC cop (Sung Kang) to bring down a crime boss. Unfortunately the critics aren’t terribly impressed with Sly’s latest, saying that — despite some deliberately trashy fun — the movie suffers by comparison with Hill’s classic buddy actioner, 48 HRS. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames, in which we take a look at Stallone’s career on the big screen.)



Stand Up Guys

36%

Take three Oscar-winning acting greats and put them in a crime comedy about an ex-con and his two old pals and you’d think it’d be a recipe for a winner. Not so, say the critics. Stand Up Guys features Al Pacino as a recently-released mob veteran who reconnects with his best friend (Christopher Walken) and their associate (Alan Arkin), yet despite the presence of such screen legends, reviews are largely dismissive, suggesting that the movie is a mediocre waste of its talented cast.
(For Pacino on better days, check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down the actor’s ten best-reviewed movies.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers, which features interviews with the retired heads of the Israeli secret service, is at 90 percent.
  • Sound City, musician-turned-filmmaker Dave Grohl’s documentary about the legendary Los Angeles recording studio, is at 100 percent.
  • Girls Against Boys, a gory revenge thriller with Danielle Panabaker, is at 14 percent.
  • Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary, a documentary about incarcerated journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, is at 33 percent.
  • As Luck Would Have It, Álex de la Iglesia’s relationship drama starring Salma Hayek and José Mota, is at 89 percent.
  • This week is also a chance to catch the year’s Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts, (67 percent), Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films (100 percent), and the Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films (100 percent).
  • And finally, The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia, a horror sequel starring Chad Michael Murray and Abigail Spencer, wasn’t screened for critics — which brings us to our last item: congratulations to RT user George Patchell, whose guess of 19 percent for last week’s unscreened Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was closest to the movie’s eventual 18 percent Tomatometer.
  •  

    We’ve got a spook-tacular pair of cinematic offerings this week: the teen zombie horror/comedy/romance Warm Bodies lurches into theaters, while the silly animated monster mash-up em>Hotel Transylvania hits DVD shelves. Read on to find out what’s appropriate for the whole family.

    In Theaters This Week:



    Warm Bodies

    81%

    What’s it about? Warm Bodies is the tale of a star-crossed love affair between a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) and Julie (Teresa Palmer), a human, who meet in the wake of a zombie apocalypse. It’s kinda like a certain Shakespeare play, only with more brain-eating.

    Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 “for zombie violence and some language.” It’s based on a popular YA novel, and while it might be a little too intense for younger kids, it’s safe for teens.

    Is it any good? Only a handful of reviews are in for Warm Bodies, but critics have so far given it the seal of approval, calling it a funny and charming twist on forbidden teen romance.

    New On DVD:



    Hotel Transylvania

    45%

    What’s it about? At a remote hotel, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy, and a bunch of other horror VIPs gather for Dracula’s daughter Mavis’ birthday celebration. But the ghoulies’ placid idyll is threatened when a Mavis falls for a human and her dad gets really overprotective.

    Who’s it for? It’s rated PG “for some rude humor, action and scary images.” Yeah, it’s about monsters, but aside from a couple surprises, it’s almost certainly safe for ages seven and up.

    Is it any good? Critics say Hotel Transylvania looks great, and it has a buoyant, giddy tone that may please children, but it largely fails to balance the yuks with its attempts at sincerity.

    Sure, Warm Bodies is a zombie movie. But it’s one that warms your heart as you watch people getting theirs eaten. Even after surviving a scuffle with the undead, Grae Drake gets Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Dave Franco, Analeigh Tipton, and Rob Corddry to ruminate on love. She found out their favorite memories, make out songs, and Valentine’s Day plans.

     

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