Great moments in zombie history

Posted by Cory Casciato On April - 28 - 2010


There have been many milestones throughout the eighty-year history of the zombie in Western culture. In today’s world, where zombies are such a part of everyday life that every college campus is aswarm with games of Human vs. Zombie, zombies are used in advertising and we get a new zombie movie or game released every few months, it’s easy to forget our roots. To make sure that doesn’t happen, I’ve compiled a quick overview of ten great moments in zombie history, from the earliest days to modern times. Without these milestones, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Remember and rejoice.

William Seabrook

1929 William Seabrook publishes The Magic Island- Seabrook’s popular book wasn’t the first work to mention zombies and voodoo, but it was the one that made the largest and most lasting impression. After all, it was just a few years later that our next great moment occurred…

1932 First zombie movie released – White Zombie introduces the walking dead to movie audiences, gives Bela Lugosi his second most famous role and impresses Rob Zombie enough to name a band after it.

1968 Night of the Living Dead released – George A. Romero invents not only zombies as we know them, but also essentially invents the modern horror movie.

1978 Dawn of the Dead released – You know, only the greatest zombie movie of all time.


1979 Zombie fights a shark – Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (aka Zombi 2, aka Zombie Flesh Eaters) features a zombie fighting a shark. And when a zombie fights a shark, we all win.


1983 Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video – It pushed zombies into the mainstream like nothing before it. If you have somehow never watched the entire 13+ minute version, do it now. It’s far more than just a music video.

scary_tarman 1985 Zombies learn to love brains in Return of the Living Dead – This is the movie that the gave us the idea that zombies were brain eaters specifically, thereby enabling 95 percent of all zombie humor to follow. Nice work, guys.

1996 Resident Evil released – The zombie genre gets its first great game, essentially translating the Romero zombie to videogame form, introducing the walking dead to a huge new audience and paving the way for the zombie renaissance of the ’00s.

2002 28 Days Later updates the zombie mythos for the new millenium – In the process of updating the zombie, it gives zombie fans several things to argue vociferously about, such as whether it’s a zombie movie or not and whether or not zombies should run. Also, it is awesome.

2003 Max Brooks releases Zombie Survival Guide – At long last, nerds everywhere have a book to help them with those all-important zombie contingency plans. Perhaps just as importantly, the zombie world gets its first must-own book.

So, that’s it! What are your favorite moments in zombie history?

7 Responses to “Great moments in zombie history”

  1. barbara says:

    Aside from those mentioned i think some of the best moments were Shaun of the dead, Pride and prejudice and zombies,and of course The Walking dead!

  2. When a zombie fights a shark, we all really do win. That’s why I tattooed it on my forearm!

  3. Tim says:

    I agree with Shaun of the Dead because it brought something new to the genre with some comedy and we saw how that propelled Zombieland into a hilarious look at the zombie world. I would add World War Z by Brooks because it makes the apocalypse a reality more so than any other medium that I have experienced. Great site just found out about it.

  4. [...] while back, I stated that “when a zombie fights a shark, we all win.” Imagine my surprise and joy, then, at discovering that in Weekend at Bernie’s II, a shark and [...]

  5. Scott says:

    Really nice list, but I think you missed the Serpent and the Rainbow. Wade Davis’ work with real voodoo zombies open the zombie myth to actual academic discussion.

  6. @Scott – Good call. I’ll make a mental note for when I do More Great Moments in Zombie History!

  7. Ezkayl says:

    come on don’t forget zombieland

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