I will admit that while I have extremely low tolerance for the Zombie film as a genre there are several Zombie-related stories in popular culture that inspire an allegiance in me that little else receives. My Zombie list goes like this, not in any order of preference:
Night of the Living Dead
Dawn of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things
The Walking Dead (comic)
That's it. I don't hate everything else Zombie-related by I dislike most of it*. Or rather, maybe it's just that I don't have time for most of the rest of it. All that said, if asked what I think is the absolute pinnacle of films on the subject I would answer without hesitation George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. I feel as though Dawn does everything a Zombie story should do, from chronicle the dismemberment of social/political and economic structures amidst the ensuing chaos to addressing the modern human psyche's reaction to not only the stresses resultant from those structures ending but to themes of isolation, agoraphobia and, ultimately, the Lord of the Flies survival mechanism that would no doubt cause other humans to become an even bigger threat than those shambling monstrosities waiting to eat your flesh.
Thanks to the labors of original Dawn of the Dead** Producer Richard P. Rubenstein Dawn of the Dead has now been converted to a BEAUTIFULLY rendered 3D experience and while I generally take 3D with a grain of salt, if you are a Dawn fan this is a MUST SEE.
Saturday, 10/08/16 I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere of this newly converted film thanks once again to the fine folks at Beyond Fest and The Egyptian Theatre. To say it was one of my favorite theatrical experiences from over my 40 years on this Earth is not hyperbolic. Mr. Rubenstein spoke before and after the film, going out of his way to not only explain the conversion impetus and process, but also to assure everyone that "This is 100% George's film - I did not alter it at all". Mr. Rubenstein also went on to talk about his plans to get this version of the film into Cinemas across the country and finally to assure everyone that the 2D version is not going anywhere.
Also, if you're a fan of The Walking Dead but have not seen this film before I can't recommend it enough, in either 3D or 2D. As the first Zombie film to address the above-mentioned themes of extinction, isolation and inter-species betrayal Dawn is quite literally where The Walking Dead comes from - its part of TWD's DNA. In fact, Robert Kirkman has stated in interviews that the original title for TWD was Night of the Living Dead and that it would continue the "Universe" that Mr. Romero began. Obviously that title did not happen, but the plot absolutely did; I've always read TWD with the idea firmly in place that this was the further evolution of Romero's world.
To further celebrate this historic piece of horror cinema I'm going to embed a making of I found on youtube while searching for a trailer to post. Enjoy.
*I should also clarify that I am most definitely a fan of 28 Days/Weeks later but do not consider those Zombie flicks
** Mr. Rubenstein also produced the remake, as well as most of Mr. Romero's classic canon of films