Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The movie that earned George Romero the title, "father of zombie movies." This 1968 classic is still just as scary today with its lumbering zombies and claustrophobic nature. It begins with a pair of siblings, Barbara and Johnny, who are visiting a cemetery when they are attacked by an old man. Barbara escapes and takes shelter in a seemingly abandoned farmhouse. She quickly discovers that she is not alone when she finds several other people holed up inside. Something truly horrifying is happening-- the dead are rising.
Return of the Living Dead (1985)
A satirical homage to Night of the Living Dead that has earned a massive cult following since its release in 1985. The movie begins in a medical supply company where a senior employee, Frank, is showing Freddy the "new guy" the ropes around the shop. Frank reveals a dark secret the company has been hiding for years-- there are military cannisters containing once re-animated corpses in the basement. In true comedic fashion, Frank slaps the container causing a chemical gas leak. Unbeknownst to them they've started a zombie apocalypse.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
George Romero's follow-up to Night of the Living Dead. The movie was shot in the Monroeville Mall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It follows a group of people trapped inside of a mall during a zombie outbreak. Tom Savini teamed up with Romero on the film showcasing some of the best practical effects of all time.
Zombi 2 (1979)
Lucio Fulci's zombie film about a group of people searching for a woman's missing father on a tropical island. In the midst of the search, a doctor desperately tries to find a cure for the zombie outbreak. For what the movie lacks in plot, it definitely makes up in visual effects.
28 Days Later (2002)
28 Days Later centers around a viral outbreak in London that began with a lab chimp. The main character Jim, played by Cilian Murphy, awakes from a coma to find the city deserted. When he finds other survivors he learns that the virus has left millions dead and turned many into flesh-eating zombies. Unlike the slow, lumbering zombies of Romero films, these zombies are akin to rabid animals and show superhuman speed. The sequel 28 Weeks Later (2007) is equally entertaining.
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
Wes Craven's film about an anthropologist who goes to Haiti to investigate a rumored voodoo-drug that brings the dead back to life. The movie has plenty of nightmarish imagery reminiscent of some of Craven's other films.