Due to the oversaturation of the genre, you are bound to come across many zombie films you know nothing about beyond containing some form of undead. Sadly, these entries in the genre are often marked by a mundanity or a quick turn of the buck (much like ‘shark’ films) where creativity and ingenuity seem absent. In fact, many think they have seen everything the genre has to offer and tend to pass on new titles.
Those who still crave some undead mayhem though, fear not! We have a list of 15 obscure films full of monstrous mayhem that are actually worth a watch!
15 Zombie Films You Haven’t Seen
- Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies (2001)
- Juan of the Dead (2011)
- Exit Humanity (2012)
- School-Live! (2019)
- The Horde (2009)
- Redneck Zombies (1987)
- Not Like Us (2011)
- A Zombie Exorcism (2010)
- The Grapes of Death (1978)
- Junk (2000)
- Bite Me if You Love Me (2011)
- Savageland (2015)
- Dead Girl Walking (2004)
- Undertaker (2012)
- Zombie Cop (1991)
In the near future, the entire world is struck with a bizarre malady that affects every girl between the ages of 14 to 16 years old. Victims first experience a period of giddiness referred to as “Near Death Happiness” (“NDH”) before they expire. Within minutes of death, the victim rises again as a flesh-eating zombie – a “Stacy”. These Stacies run amok until they are cut up into pieces in an act called “Repeat-Kill”.
Existing confidently outside of the norms found in this particular genre, Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies is unafraid to diverge from the typical representation of a zombie apocalypse. Maintaining an ethereal, dream-like level of cinematography along with an antithetical soundtrack directly contrasts with the film’s graphic implementation of blood and gore effects in a beautifully elegant duality. Additionally, the film features many odes to some of the greats of the genre, the likes of George A. Romero and Bruce Campbell, to name a few—a loving tribute to those who clearly inspired Naoyuki Tomomatsu throughout the years. Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies is a must-watch for those looking for a film willing to take an untrodden path into undead territory.
Juan of the Dead (2011)
While Havana is full of zombies hungry for human flesh, official media reported that the disturbances are caused by dissidents paid by the United States. Panic seizes all until Juan comes to the rescue: he discovers he can kill the undead destroying its brain and decides to start a small business under the slogan “We kill your loved ones.”
The first Cuban film to display the poverty-stricken areas of the country to an international audience, Juan of the Dead certainly features undertones of sociopolitical commentary throughout. Nevertheless, this is hardly the film’s main subject matter, focusing on combining some intense undead action along with comedic, tongue-in-cheek moments as well as some impressive practical effects resulting in an outstanding horror comedy. However, likening itself to the British comedy Shaun of the Dead may have been detrimental to its success, with some assuming the film is a direct rip-off rather than just a play on the name. Instead, the implementation of a different title would have assisted in being held up by its own merits as opposed to being overlooked as the classic piece of zombie cinema it is.
Exit Humanity (2011)
A decade after the American Civil War, Edward Young returns home from a hunting trip to find a horrific reanimation of his wife and that their son Adam has disappeared. He must battle his way through an unexplainable outbreak of the walking dead.
Claiming to be a retelling of a personal account of the living dead unearthed from a journal dating back to the 19th century, Exit humanity features the implementation of graphic novel-style animation to represent illustrations denoted in said journal. This design choice ingeniously incorporates scenes deemed unobtainable for the film’s small budget, and, as such, delivers an amazingly high production value overall. Incredibly well acted by the main star Mark Gibson as well as accompanied by poignant narration from the spectacular Brian Cox, this incredibly sorrowful story of loss and deprivation with a healthy helping of the walking dead to boot.
Ebisuzawa Kurumi, Takeya Yuki, Wakasa Yuri, and Naoki Miki all attend the same high school. They also live on campus at the school. The girls enjoy their time at the school until students become infected by a virus and turn into zombies. The girls are surrounded by student zombies and they struggle desperately to survive.
A distinctive blend of a cute slice-of-life school drama and dark psychological horror, School-Live! is an incredibly accurate representation of the original manga it is based on. Although a zombie horror, the film has a strong focus on the psychological damage of being forced to survive at an influential point in a young girl’s life and, as such, is a slower-paced character study. Consequently, the encounters with the undead are few and far between, lacking any high-octane action or geysers of blood. However, these scenes are sufficient to reinforce the constant danger that persists throughout day-to-day life.
The Horde/La Horde (2009)
A bunch of crooked cops raid a ruined building located in an impoverished suburb of Paris, determined to furiously avenge the death of one of their own. As these officers stalk the ruthless criminal gang responsible, the living, unexpectedly, turn into the undead by means of a mysterious plague and begin to devour the world.
Although predating both, The Horde is France’s answer to The Raid (2011) and Train to Busan (2016) with its action-packed cops vs crooks fight scenes and its no holds barred zombie carnage all contained in a dank, rundown apartment block. Yet, despite the film’s excellent implementation of tension and atmosphere, it can be arduous to sympathise with the majority of the cast during these parts. The roster of crooked cops and career criminals hardly airs any likability throughout, missing any semblance of a redemption arc for either. Nevertheless, The Horde is still an adrenaline-fueled roller coaster of suspense and vigorous action that’s sure to please all.
Redneck Zombies (1989)
When backwoods hicks find a lost barrel of toxic waste, they dump its contents and implement the barrel into their moonshine still. However, all those that taste their rural refreshment become undead cannibal kinfolk from hell with a taste for flesh.
It wouldn’t be a zombie list with some trash, and who else to provide the goods than Troma Entertainment? Redneck Zombies is an incredibly low-budget splatter horror that delivers in every way you would imagine; terrible acting, misplaced humour, half-assed zombie make-up, as well as a choppy script. However, these appending attributes all attribute to the film’s rustic charm, delivering an enjoyably dumb yet viscerally bloody experience overall-with the last 15 minutes of carnage counterbalancing any tedium felt in the first act.
Not Like Us/Di ingon ‘nato (2011)
Life in a remote village in the Visayas turns upside down when villagers are stricken by an unknown disease. As the village chief and doctor try to control the situation, they discover that the dead are rising from their graves.
An incredible example of slow-burning horror, Not Like Us spends a considerable amount of its runtime constructing its story steeped in rural superstition-creating a remarkably grounded narrative. Following the introduction of its blood-soaked hostilities, the film soon develops a hastened pace with an exceptionally unromanticized rendition of visceral, flesh-eating horror. Devoid of any superhero antics found in western zombie films, this highly polished piece of Pinoy cinema is an incredibly nihilistic, albeit, thrilling entry to the genre.
Simon’s three siblings gather at his funeral – where all hell breaks loose as the undead rise from their graves, driving the siblings down into the deep dark catacombs below the church. Surrounded by death, they now have to face the congregation of zombies in order to escape the house of God alive…
Beginning with a prophetically bleak sermon of fire and brimstone, A Zombie Exorcism maintains a similarly foreboding ambiance throughout its short 50-minute run time. Although the film is low budget, the implementation of creative cinematography, amazing practical effects, and an earnest performance from its cast produce a viscerally frantic atmosphere that builds to an unforgettable crescendo of an ending.
The Grapes of Death/Raisins de la Mort (1978)
A young woman discovers that the pesticides being used at a local vineyard are causing the residents to succumb to a terrible fate, reanimating as the unrelenting undead.
Touted as being one of the first gore films produced in France, Jean Rollin’s The Grapes of Death features a heavy emphasis on environmentalism throughout its story. From pesticides to nuclear power, the film isn’t afraid to speak its mind about the, then, French Governments lack of environmental protection across the countryside. Although classed as part of the zombie genre, the film is an atypical one; residing as a mix between George A. Romero’s zombie horror Night of the Living Dead (1968) and biological contagion horror The Crazies (1973). As such, these crazed cannibals aren’t dead, per se, retaining the ability to speak, think, and feel. Still, like a typical foray into the undead ranks, the infected undergo a severe physiological change that resembles cell necrosis similar to a rotting corpse—securing its place on this list.
Four crooks rob a jewelery shop, then head for an abandoned factory where they plan to fence the goods to the Yakuza. Unfortunately, their chosen location happens to be the same place where American scientists had previously experimented on resurrecting the dead.
Although made in Japan, Junk emits the heart of a classic 80s Italian zombie film through and through. With its full-fledged story of secret government facilities, full auto exploitation action, as well as its incredibly visceral practical effects; the film certainly took a certain level of inspiration from Bruno Matai’s Hell of the Living Dead (1980). Even so, Junk delivers enough of a unique story along with some early 2000s charm to differentiate itself into a distinct piece of flesh-eating action.
Bite Me If You Love Me (2011)
“A girl obsessed with zombies kills her boyfriend and turns him into a… you guessed it! Then a fat Japanese Jason Vorhees shows up and a love triangle ensues.”
Who wants to see some hot zombie sex? No this isn’t Re-Pentrator (don’t think that far you deviant), but a delightful horror rom-com that also has erotic elements thrown in the mix. This one can get dirty and uncomfortable but it is a pretty adventurous/absurd entry in this list. So, if you want to try something a bit spicier while still having a solid foundation in the horror genre, give this one a shot.
“When a small town near the Arizona-Mexico border is wiped out overnight, suspicion falls on the lone survivor. But a roll of photos the survivor took that night tells a different story.”
A mockumentary about the lone survivor of a town massacre on trial for murder. However, the film presents itself as an expose of what really happened, and the images and retelling of events manage to be just as terrifying as if you were watching a zombie film and not a pseudo-documentary.
Dead Girl Walking (2004)
“Sayuru is an ordinary teenage girl. But one day everything changes when she learns that she apparently died. Even though she is dead, she is still in the mind and wandering around at home on days like a ghost. But her family is ready to do anything to get rid of the ghost.”
Collected as part of the Hideshi Hino “Theater of Horror” collection, this hour-long film deals with a girl who has been turned into a zombie and is now neglected by her family and those around her because of it. While most Hino stories have an edge of dark humour to them, Koji Shiraishi takes a bit more of a grim approach, but the outcome is a wonderfully bleak short film from one of the masters of film adapting the master of manga.
“The dead return to life as cruel predators – the so-called “returners” havespread all over the world. Only a few survivors succeeded in escaping from this madness. They are submerged in remote areas because the cities were completely occupied by the returners. There is only one person who still daggers in the cities: the Undertaker. A dark hero, a champion of the battlefield and equipped for the world after the apocalypse, starts his own personal revenge campaign.”
A fun romp through the apocalypse where a man on a mission with a shovel in hand faces off against a horde of zombies in an abandoned building. Simple yet effective, this is a no-nonsense entry into the list which has enough flair and intrigue to put it a notch above the slew of obscure zombie films that you likely missed out on.
Zombie Cop (1991)
During a drug raid, a narcotics officer confronts a strange Voodoo priest named Dr. Death, who is chanting. The officer and the priest shoot it out and they both wind up dead. Later, the two rise from their graves and return to the land of the living as zombies.
Boasting an outrageous plot of voodoo witch doctors, child sacrifice, and some shotgun-toting undead action; Zombie Cop tries in earnest to deliver a serious action horror purposely deficient of any self-aware comedic undertones. However, due to its ridiculous story, varying performances from the cast, and hilariously simple remedies for the various stunt work featured; the film eludes to an endearingly charming, so-bad-it’s-good laugh riot throughout. Featuring a shoestring budget at the best of times, the film could hardly be called award-winning. Despite this, director J.R. Bookwalter certainly achieves the best final product possible, delivering everything expected of a piece of 90s SOV cinema in a fully assiduous production.
Hey there, I’m Jim and I’m located in London, UK. I am a Writer and Managing Director here at Grimoire of Horror. A lifelong love of horror and writing has led me down this rabbit hole, allowing me to meet many amazing people and experience some truly original artwork. I specialise in world cinema, manga/graphic novels, and video games but will sometime traverse into the unknown in search of adventure.