If you think American horror flicks are gory, you have never seen Italian zombie movies. With influential directors such as Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava, and Renato Polselli, some of these films were so gory they were banned in Europe. Some are good and some are really bad but here is a list for the top 15 Italian zombie movies. You can also check out our definitive list of zombie horror movies.
Zombie 2 (1979) – One of the best zombie films from Italy. A boat drifts into New York Harbor and contains a zombie. A group investigates the boat and go off to find a mysterious island where the undead walk.
City of the Living Dead (1980) – Another classic gore-fest by Lucio Fulci. When a priest commits suicide by hanging himself in a cemetery, his act opens up a portal to the underworld. The undead emerge to lay waste to the film’s small town. A reporter and a psychic must figure out how to close the portal before All Saints Day or the dead will overrun the world.
The Beyond (1981) – This film was censored when it was first released for all of the gore and violence. A young woman inherits a hotel that is one of seven doorways to hell. When their renovations reopen the doorway, they have to fight off a horde of the undead and the corpse of an evil sorcerer.
The House by the Cemetery (1981) – A family moves into an old house with secrets (seen it before, right?). But the door to the cellar is both locked and nailed shut. The family discovers that the doctor that used to live there is still there and is a zombie.
Nightmare City (1980) – Directed by Umberto Lenzi, this film is also known as The City of the Walking Dead. The story follows a reporter waiting at an airport to interview a scientist. A mysterious plane makes an emergency landing and when the doors open, zombies come pouring out. The reporter has to navigate his way around both the military and the zombies to escape.
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie – Also known as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, this Spanish-Italian horror film features a unique way of raising the dead. The story is about a man who gets a ride from a young woman after he wrecks his motorcycle. They then encounter zombies who have been reanimated by an agriculture pesticide machine.
Zeder (1983) – Gabriele Lavia plays Stefano, a young journalist who buys a used typewriter and accidentally sees that some text is still readable on the ribbon. He manages to reconstruct the story of a scientist, Paolo Zeder, who in the 1950's discovered that some types of terrain have the power to revive the dead that are buried in them.
The Last Man on Earth (1964) – Before Charlton Heston and Will Smith filled the role, Vincent Price stepped up to the plate. Based on the book I Am Legend, this Italian-American film features the last man in a world where a plague has turned all the people into the undead. While the creatures in the film are more vampire than zombie, they still shuffle around in the mandatory undead way.
Zombie Holocaust (1980) – Marino Girolami directed this esotic zombie movie in which the members of an expedition in search for the last faithful of Kito, the cannibal god, land on a small island in the Moluccas (East Indies). They are soon hunted by cannibals and zombies created by the sinister Doctor O'Brien, who is experimenting with both corpses and living humans.
Nights of Terror (Burial Ground) (1981) – There is a lot wrong with this low budget flick but if you like zombies, you’ll like this one. A professor studying a crypt accidentally brings the dead back to life. The film features a zombie boy, played by a dwarf actor, who has lustful thoughts about his mother.
Zombie 3 (1988) – The sort of sequel to Zombie 2, this film is so bad that it is good. Lucio Fulci was given directorial credit but he only directed part of the film before bowing out. The story follows the inhabitants of an island who get turned into zombies after a secret military weapon gets stolen.