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The 26 Highest Grossing Zombie Movies of All Time

Among the many genres out there, those that deal with horror and adventure are perhaps the most entertaining and bankable.

Zombie movies, in particular, are highly entertaining, and by looking at the highest grossing zombie movies of all time, we get an idea of why moviegoers really flock to the theaters to watch these types of movies. This list was compiled from total gross revenue as of 26 June 2013 and has nothing to do with the interest of the contributors to Zombie Pop

The Top 26 Highest Grossing Zombie Movies of All-Time

zombie movies#26 Night of the Living Dead (1990) 

This 1990 movie about the dead returning to life grossed more than 5 million dollars in the box office. Night of the Living Dead (1990) – a George Romero – approved remake of his 1968 cult horror classic directed by makeup wizard Tom Savini tells the chilling tale of seven people holed-up in a farmhouse besieged by armies of the undead.

As the terrified little group fights for their lives, they begin to find themselves as plagued by the evil lurking within as by the ravening flesh-eaters battering on hastily boarded-up windows and doors. Splatter King Savini keeps things moving-and the blood flowing-as the survivors dwindle one by one.

#25 Evil Dead IIzombie movies: Dead by Dawn

A group of strangers find refuge in a cabin as flesh-eating and flesh-possessing spirits and demons attack them. Ash (Bruce Campbell), the sole survivor of The Evil Dead, returns to the same cabin in the woods and again unleashes the forces of the dead.

With his girlfriend possessed by the demons and his body parts running amok, Ash is forced to single – handedly battle the legions of the damned as the most lethal – and groovy – hero in horror movie history!

Welcome to Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, director Sam Raimi’s infamous sequel to The Evil Dead and outrageous prequel to Army of Darkness!

#24 Ghosts of Mars ­

Another masterpiece by John Carpenter, this movie deals with Martians, which makes it all the more exciting. Natasha Henstridge (Species) is Melanie Ballard, a headstrong police lieutenant on Mars in the year 2025. Humans have been colonizing and mining on the red planet for some time, but when Ballard and her squad are sent to a remote region to apprehend the dangerous criminal James “Desolation” Williams, played by Ice Cube (Three Kings), they discover that he’s the least of their worries.

The mining operations have unleashed a deadly army of Martian spirits who take over the bodies of humans and won’t stop until they destroy all invaders of their planet.

With a stellar cast including Pam Grier (Jackie Brown), Jason Statham (Snatch) and Clea Duvall (The Faculty), as well as explosive special effects, John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars is an intergalactic terror fest like you’ve never seen.

#23 Return of the Living Dead 2 zombie movies

Curious kids open a barrel of green gas linked to a mysterious military experiment, and soon a tenebrous green cloud of fog is making its way through the creepy town cemetery. Knowing exactly where this is headed is, of course, part of the fun in this tongue-in-cheek zombie sequel. Maybe it’s not as fresh as its successful predecessor, but all of the key zombie ingredients are still well-preserved in this second installment: ravenous undead in search of human brains, severed limbs with a life of their own, and lots and lots of shrieking!

Taking a hackneyed premise that is a close retelling of part I, director Ken Wiederhorn (Freddy’s Nightmares, Shock Waves) rejuvenates the genre with sporadic genuine scares, lots of plain old silliness, and some literally eye-popping special effects. Followed up a few years later with the equally enjoyable Return of the Living Dead Part III, this is a fun franchise that reminds you of what ’80s horror was all about: bad synth music, and perms.

#22 House of the Deadzombie movies

A group of teens seeks refuge in a house after they find themselves on an island that’s completely taken over by zombies.

The usual slasher-movie teens charter a boat to attend a rave in Washington’s San Juan islands, find zombies there, and splatter their guts all over the place. House of the Dead shows early promise when the boat captain is the dude from Das Boot (Jürgen Prochnow) and the mate is the inimitably weird Clint Howard. Alas, things devolve from there.

The movie includes frequent flashes from its video game inspiration, not that we need much reminding of the obvious source. Amongst the rotten dialogue, bad acting, and gratuitous topless scenes, there’s one looooong shootout sequence in the middle of the picture that should be the main attraction for fans of this kind of thing. Otherwise, it’s at the level of every other slasher movie, video game or no video game, in which stupid people do stupid things to keep themselves in harm’s way.

#21 Army of Darknesszombie movies

All primitive screwheads, listen up! Cult superstar Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead) reunites with director Sam Raimi (Drag Me to Hell, Spider-Man) to battle the deadly forces of evil in Army of Darkness – the outrageous, effects-fueled action epic that will make you scream with fear and laughter.

Forced to lead a makeshift Dark Ages army against the demonic Deadites, who possess all the deadly magic of hell, the shotgun-toting, chainsaw-armed, reluctant 20th century time traveler Ash (Campbell) must save the living from the dead, rescue his medieval girlfriend and get back to his own time.

One of the most popular horror comedies of all time, now digitally remastered and loaded with bonus features, Army of Darkness Screwhead Edition is drop-dead fun!

#20 Lifeforce

Director Tobe Hooper was a hot property after he scored a popular hit with Poltergeist (thanks in part to producer Steven Spielberg), so his follow-up film was the most wildly ambitious of his career to date. Armed with a big budget and a special effects crew led by Star Wars pioneer John Dykstra, Hooper and Alien co-writer Dan O’Bannon whipped up a movie that must be seen to be believed.

That’s not really a compliment, since Lifeforce isn’t much of a movie when all the sound and fury is over. But you’ve got to admit there’s something crazily admirable about a movie that starts out as a science fiction adventure about a mission to explore Halley’s comet, turns into an alien-invasion thriller featuring a beautiful naked woman (Mathilda May) who’s a vampire from space, and escalates into an end-of-the-world disaster flick!

It’s got everything you could want from a horror movie–from zombies running amok in London to rotting corpses and energy bolts to signal the apocalypse to come! Holding it all together is Steve Railsback as the Halley mission survivor who holds the key to mankind’s salvation–but what fun is saving the world when you could be seduced by a sexy naked space vampire?

#19 Shaun of the Deadzombie movies

It is only natural to be scared of zombies, and to prevent them from laying waste to your home. A more relaxing approach, however, is to be bored and vaguely annoyed by them, or, better still, not to notice them in the first place.

This is the premise of Edgar Wright’s British comedy, which may be responsible for kicking off a new and specialized genre of slacker horror. Shaun (Simon Pegg) lives a supremely uneventful life, which revolves around his girlfriend (Kate Ashfield), his mother (Penelope Wilton), and, above all, his local pub.

This gentle routine is threatened when the dead return to life and make strenuous attempts to snack on ordinary Londoners. The finale, in which the pub turns into an Alamo, is the bloodiest, most orthodox, and least witty part of the movie; far sharper are the early scenes in which Shaun wanders happily to the local store along a battered, zombie-dotted street and pulps his attackers with a cricket bat.

The central joke is so snappy and well sustained that you barely catch sight of the ominous vision on offer: a country that already feels like death.

#18 Prince of Darkness

John Carpenter’s 1987 masterpiece involves a cylinder that’s mysteriously found in a deserted church, which begins the terrifying battle between humankind and ultimate evil.

A group of graduate students and scientists uncover an ancient canister in an abandoned church, but when they open the container, they inadvertently unleash a strange liquid and an evil force on all humanity.

As the liquid turns their co-workers into zombies, the remaining members realize they have released the most unspeakable of horrors, Satan himself, thus paving the way for the return of his father.

#17 Return of the Living Dead

Second time’s the charm for this sequel, which took the box office by storm as well. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the cemetery, those brain-eating zombies are back and hungry for more tasty mortals.

A fiendish mix of outrageous humor and heart-stopping terror, Return of the Living Dead is a “veritable smorgasbord of fun” (LA Herald-Examiner) filled with skin-crawling jolts, eye-popping visuals and relentless surprise!

On his first day on the job at an army surplus store, poor Freddy unwittingly releases nerve gas from a secret U.S. military canister, unleashing an unbelievable terror. The gas re-animates a corps of corpses, who arise from their graves with a ravenous hunger for human brains! And luckily for those carnivorous cadavers, there is a group of partying teens nearby, just waiting to be eaten!

#16 Night of the Comet

What if the only people left alive in the world were Southern California teenagers? That’s the premise in this campy, enjoyable sci-fi tale of two sisters who must fend off zombie-like mutants and mysterious scientists after a comet’s passing exterminates nearly all life.

A sleeper at the time of its release in 1984, Thom Eberhardt’s Night of the Comet has built a small cadre of fans thanks to its breezy performances and blend of comedy and tongue-in-cheek science fiction. Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney are thoroughly likable as a pair of San Fernando Valley sisters who find themselves completely alone after the arrival of Halley’s Comet reduces their affluent community–and most of Los Angeles–to dust.

Their subsequent nonstop shopping spree is soon interrupted by predatory zombies, as well as a sinister scientific cabal (led by cult favorites Mary Woronov and Geoffrey Lewis) with designs on the girls. Stewart and Maroney are terrifically game as the heroines (especially Maroney, whose flair for bubbly comedy was never given another chance on-screen), and Robert (Star Trek: Voyager) Beltran is also on hand as a fellow survivor and romantic lead.

Fun for ’80s enthusiasts and sci-fi fiends who don’t mind a little fizz in their end-of-the-world scenarios

#15 Pet Semetary 2

After the death of his wife, veterinarian Chase Matthews (Anthony Edwards, TV’s ER) and his 13-year-old son Jeff (Edward Furlong, Terminator 2: Judgement Day) move to Ludlow to rebuild their lives.

Antagonized by the neighborhood kids, Jeff befriends another outsider, Drew Gilbert, who lives in fear of his cruel stepfather Gus (Clancy Brown, Highlander).

After Gus cold-bloodedly shoots Drew’s beloved dog, the boys bury the body in the local Indian burial grounds – a place rumored to have powers of resurrection. When evil is awakened, the boys realize that sometimes you should just led dead dogs lie.

#14 The Serpent and the Rainbow

Eight years before he scored a phenomenal hit with Scream, horror master Wes Craven made a worthy effort to ‘legitimize’ horror with this chilling supernatural thriller, based on the best-selling book by Wade Davis.

More ambitious than most horror films, this one allowed Craven to generate compelling plausibility with the fact-based story of a Harvard researcher (Bill Pullman) who travels to Haiti to procure a secret voodoo powder that places people into a state of simulated death. His investigation into the hidden world of black magic grows increasingly dangerous until he’s caught in a living nightmare – a potentially deadly predicament that inspired the film’s advertising tag line: “Don’t bury me… I’m not dead!”

Craven pays particular attention to authentic details of Haitian society and the role voodoo plays in Haitian culture, and the film gains an additional atmosphere from location shooting in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Craven would, of course, continue to thrive by making more “conventional” horror films including Scream, but this remains a fascinating departure for one of the genre’s most celebrated directors.

#13 Land of the Dead

George A. Romero returns to the horror subgenre he invented with Land of the Dead. The fourth installment in Romero’s zombie cycle (and the first since 1985’s Day of the Dead) presents a logical progression of events since 1968’s horror classic Night of the Living Dead. Zombies (also known as ‘stenches’ for their rotting odor) are the dominant population, and they’ve begun to show signs of undead intelligence and gathering power.

The wealthiest survivors live comfortably in a luxury high-rise within a barricaded safe zone, ignoring the horrors of the outside world while armed scavengers stage raids in the zombie-zone to gather much-needed food and supplies. Simon Baker and John Leguizamo play mercenaries-for-hire; Dennis Hopper is their nefarious boss; and horror favorite Asia Argento (daughter of Suspiria director Dario Argento) plays a former hooker recruited into Baker’s scavenger squad.

While none of this seems particularly fresh or inspired, Land of the Dead benefits from hints of the social satire that made Romero’s earlier zombie films so memorable. Not so much funny as gruesomely peculiar, Romero’s plot isn’t as inventive as it could’ve been, but as a big-scale B-movie, Land of the Dead delivers a handful of shocks and horror-celebrity cameos (including gore-masters Tom Savini and Greg Nicotero) that should keep horror buffs happy until the next crop of  zombie movies comes along.

#12 28 Weeks Later

As an exercise in pure, unadulterated terror, 28 Weeks Later is a worthy follow-up to its acclaimed predecessor, 28 Days Later. In this ultraviolent sequel from Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, over six months have passed since the first film’s apocalyptic vision of London overrun by infectious, plague-ridden zombies. Just when it seems the rage virus has been fully contained, and London is in the process of slowly recovering, an extremely unfortunate couple (Robert Carlyle, Catherine McCormack) is attacked by a small band of rampaging “ragers,” and the cowardly husband escapes while his wife is attacked and presumably infected.

Their surviving children (Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton) fall under the protection of a U.S. Army sharpshooter (Jeremy Renner), but nobody’s safe for long as 28 Weeks Later goes into action-packed overdrive, with scene after blood-gushing scene of carnage and decimation. The film’s visuals follow the look established in 28 Days Later, this time with bigger and better scenes of a nearly abandoned London on the brink of utter destruction.

The military subplot gets a bold assist from Harold Perrineau (as a daring helicopter pilot) and Idris Elba (in a too-brief role as the military commander), and their firepower–not to mention the efficient lethality of helicopter blades–turns 28 Weeks Later into a nonstop bloodbath that’s way too intense for younger viewers and guaranteed to leave hardcore horror fans gruesomely satisfied. A truly terrifying vision of survival amidst chaos, 28 Weeks Later honors its origins and qualifies as a solid double-feature with Children of Men. Could there be another sequel? Thanks to the chunnel, the answer in this case is definitely ‘oui’.

#11 Resident Evil

The first of the Resident Evil movies, this cemented the franchise and brought Milla Jovovich to superstardom.

Marilyn Manson worked on the soundtrack, so it’s no surprise that Resident Evil is best enjoyed by headbangers, goth guys, and PlayStation junkies. Like the interactive game it’s based on, this horror hybrid pits a small band of SWAT-like commandos (including Milla Jovovich and Girlfight‘s Michelle Rodriguez) against a ravenous hoard of zombies, resulting in a gorefest that only sociopaths could love.

The tenacious heroes are trapped inside the Hive–an underground complex where an evil corporation conducts illegal research with a deadly virus – and the zombies (reanimated corpses of sacrificed employees) are fodder for endless rounds of gunfire. A few cool sequences are borrowed from better films (that slice-and-dice laser is cribbed from the 1998 Canadian shocker Cube), but if you’re in the mood for heavy-metal carnage, this movie’s for you.

#10 Resident Evil: Retribution

The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus is spreading across the globe transforming ordinary people into legions of zombies.

Headed for extinction the human race has just one hope: Alice (Milla Jovovich).

She’s on a mission fighting her way through cities and across continents all inside Umbrella’s prime research facility.

Old friends become new enemies as she battles to escape and discovers that everything that she believes may not even be true

#9 28 Days Later

A zombie movie based in the UK, the fan following of this movie proves that zombie movies appeal to everyone in the world.

Hailed as the most frightening film since The Exorcist, acclaimed Director Danny Boyle’s visionary take on zombie horror “isn’t just scary, it’s absolutely terrifying” (Access Hollywood).

An infirmary patient awakens from a coma to an empty room in a vacant hospital in a deserted city. A powerful virus, which locks victims into a permanent state of murderous rage, has transformed the world around him into a seemingly desolate wasteland.

Now a handful of survivors must fight to stay alive, unaware that the worst is yet to come.

#8 Resident Evil: Extinction

This third installment of the Resident Evil series came out in 2007, and moviegoers flocked to the theaters to catch the latest in Alice’s zombie-fighting adventures. Resident Evil: Extinction brings the world to an end, not with a whimper but a bang, as Milla Jovovich’s Alice pits her bio-organic superskills against armies of the undead in a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas.

Also on hand is a more grown-up version of the games’ Claire Redfield (played by Heroes‘ Ali Larter), who leads a convoy of humans (among them Resident Evil vets Oded Fehr and Mike Epps, who reprise their roles as Carlos and LJ, as well as newcomers Ashanti and Spencer Locke) in search of sanctuary; meanwhile, sinister Umbrella Corporation scientist Dr. Sam Isaacs (Iain Glen) seeks a cure for the zombie virus outbreak via Alice’s blood, which he taps via a lab full of clones.

Subtlety has never been the Resident Evil series’ strong suit, but it’s hard to argue against Extinction‘s breakneck pace and impressive CG special effects; director Russell Mulcahy (the Highlander series) lends a lot of verve to the proceedings, and the script by producer Paul W.S. Anderson pulls in agreeable touches from The Road Warrior and Day of the Dead.

#7 Resident Evil: Apocalypse

The second installment of the immensely popular Resident Evil series. 2002’s popular video-game-derived hit Resident Evil didn’t inspire confidence in a sequel, but Resident Evil: Apocalypse defies odds and surpasses expectations.

It’s a bigger, better, action-packed zombie thriller, and this time Milla Jovovich (as the first film’s no-nonsense heroine) is joined by more characters from the popular Capcom video games, including Jill Valentine (played by British hottie Sienna Guillory) and Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr, from 1999’s The Mummy).

They’re armed and ready for a high-caliber encounter with devil dogs, mutant Lickers, lurching zombies, and the leather-clad monster known only as Nemesis, unleashed by the nefarious Umbrella Corporation responsible for creating the cannibalistic undead horde.

#6 Pet Sematary

A blockbuster screen adaptation of the famous novel by Stephen King.

After moving to an idyllic home in the countryside, life seems perfect for the Creed family…but not for long. Louis and Rachel Creed and their two young children settle in to a house that sits next door to a pet cemetery – built on an ancient Indian burial ground.

Their mysterious new neighbor, Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne), hides the cemetery’s darkest secret…until a family tragedy brings the secret to life. Now, an unthinkable evil is about to be resurrected.

From Stephen King, the Master of the Macabre, comes a journey that leads to hell and back. Though not everyone survives the trip. For the Creeds, home is where the horror is.

#5 Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Survivors of a plague that left the world at a standstill seek safety in a shopping mall in the Midwest, hiding from the attack of the zombies.

Are you ready to get down with the sickness? Movie logic dictates that you shouldn’t remake a classic, but Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead defies that logic and comes up a winner.

You could argue that George A. Romero’s 1978 original was sacred ground for horror buffs, but it was a low-budget classic, and Snyder’s action-packed upgrade benefits from the same manic pacing that energized Romero’s continuing zombie movies.

Romero’s indictment of mega-mall commercialism is lost (it’s arguably outmoded anyway), so Snyder and screenwriter James Gunn compensate with the same setting–in this case, a Milwaukee shopping mall under siege by cannibalistic zombies in the wake of a devastating viral outbreak–a well-chosen cast (led by Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, and Mekhi Phifer), some outrageously morbid humor, and a no-frills plot that keeps tension high and blood splattering by the bucketful.

#4 Resident Evil: Afterlife

Milla Jovovich proves her star power and blockbuster appeal in this exciting fourth installment of the Resident Evil series.

The fourth installment of the hugely successful Resident Evil franchise, Resident Evil: Afterlife is again based on the wildly popular video game series, and will this time be presented in 3-D. In a world ravaged by a virus infection, turning its victims into the Undead, Alice (Milla Jovovich), continues on her journey to find survivors and lead them to safety.

Her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation reaches new heights, but Alice gets some unexpected help from an old friend. A new lead that promises a safe haven from the Undead takes them to Los Angeles, but when they arrive the city is overrun by thousands of undead – and Alice and her comrades are about to step into a deadly trap.

#3 Warm Bodies

After a zombie epidemic, R (a zombie) rescues Julie (a human survivor) from a zombie attack. The two form a special relationship in their struggle for survival, R becomes increasingly more human – setting off a chain of events that begins to transform the other zombies and maybe even the whole lifeless world.

 If true love is meant to be, what does it matter if one is human and the other a zombie? Warm Bodies is a pretty delightful, tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy loosely based on Romeo and Juliet. But the Capulets and Montagues have much more in common than do R, the hipster zombie boy character (played by Nicholas Hoult), and Julie (Teresa Palmer), a girl human.

Warm Bodies takes place after the zombie apocalypse (of course), and on the surface it appears to be Twilight for zombie fans. Happily, writer-director Jonathan Levine has taken the concept a step further than the novel by Isaac Marion. As a result, Warm Bodies is just self-aware enough to keep the whole idea from being too precious.

#2 Zombieland

This movie’s effortless mix of comedy and horror is just as appealing as its cast of rising young stars, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone. This movie, which came out in 2009, still tops the list of highest grossing movies at $75,590,286.

Nerdy college student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has survived the plague that has turned mankind into flesh-devouring zombies because he’s scared of just about everything. Gun-toting, Twinkie-loving Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) has no fears. Together, they are about to stare down their most horrifying challenge yet: each other’s company.

Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin co-star in this double-hitting, head-smashing comedy.

Clearly, people are willing to pay to be entertained in the movies, even if they have to scream at the horror of it all. But that’s exactly what makes these movies entertaining, and that’s exactly why these people keep coming back.

#1 War World Z 

Few monsters lend themselves better to allegory than the zombie. In the years since George Romero first set the shambling mold with Night of the Living Dead, filmmakers have been using the undead as handy substitutes for concepts as varied as mall-walking consumers, punk rockers, soccer hooligans, and every political movement imaginable. (All this, plus brain chomping.)

World War Z, the mega-scale adaptation of Max Brooks’s richly detailed faux-historical novel, presents a zombie apocalypse on a ginormous level never seen before on film. Somehow, however, the sheer size of the scenario, coupled with a distinct lack of visceral explicitness, ends up blunting much of the metaphoric impact. While the globe-hopping action certainly doesn’t want for spectacle, viewers may find themselves wishing there was something more to, you know, chew on. Director Marc Forster and his team of screenwriters (including J. Michael Straczynski and Lost‘s Damon Lindelof) have kept the basic gist of the source material, in which an unexplained outbreak results in a rapidly growing army of the undead. Unlike the novel’s sprawling collection of unrelated narrators, however, the film streamlines the plot, following a retired United Nations investigator (Brad Pitt) who must leave his family behind in order to seek out the origins of the outbreak.

While the introduction of a central character does help connect some of Brooks’s cooler ideas, it also has the curious effect of narrowing the global scale of the crisis. By the time of the third act, in which Pitt finds himself under siege in a confined space, the once epic scope has decelerated into something virtually indistinguishable from other zombie movies. Even if it’s not a genre changer, though, World War Z still has plenty to distinguish itself, including a number of well-orchestrated set pieces–this is a movie that will never be shown on airplanes–and the performances, with Pitt’s gradually eroding calm strengthened by a crew of supporting actors (including Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, and a fantastically loony David Morse) who manage to make a large impression in limited time. Most importantly, it’s got those tremendous early scenes of zombie apocalypse, which display a level of frenetic chaos that’s somehow both over-the-top and eerily plausible. When the fleet-footed ghouls start dogpiling en masse, even the most level-headed viewer may find themselves checking the locks and heading for the basement.

  • raaaaarr!!!

  • Socrates_1

    What about “I am Legend”? That is the highest grossing zombie movie of all time, followed by “World war Z”