Zombie flicks are the best way to fantasize about killing thousands of one’s fellow humans without guilt or remorse. That kind of destruction, however, comes with collateral damage. Possessing no empathy, few manners, and a disregard for the welfare of humanity, when it’s time for the zombies to get their revenge, they become a little more creative than your average human. They tend to reveal what lies deepest inside us—in a strictly anatomical sense. Compiled below are some of the most brutal zombie kills: that intrusive, eviscerating style of murder that only a horde of zombies could perform.
Rib Cage Rip Out
This scene is brought to us by none other than Peter Jackson. In his 1992 bloodbath titled Dead Alive, everything kicks off when a young man’s overbearing mother is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey. Freud should sue for plagiarism. This takedown marks a clear demonstration of impossible zombie strength. We do not retain any medical staff for consultation, but we’re pretty sure that removing an entire ribcage from the midsection of a living human requires the thrust of a forklift. Peter Jackson’s zombies are notable for their sadistic nature. Few wish to dig in immediately, but prefer instead to prepare the body first.
Breaking and Eviscerating
A crowd of humans bustle in a bar—they attack wildly. They’re slow, uncoordinated, and no longer possess social grace. Wait—zombies are just drunk people! Every bartender saw this scene play out twice last weekend. The greatest thing about Edgar Wright’s now-classic 2004 comedy Shaun of the Dead is that it pairs impeccable zombie gore with his and Simon Pegg’s quick English humor. The best candidate to be eaten by zombies is definitely the boring guy who now dates your ex. Sure, it’s horrible, but we’re cheering. If the zombies happen to take out his intestines and fight over them while he is still conscious, and you happen to rip both his legs off in the process, so be it.
The thing about zombies is that they have no boundaries or respect for personal space. Human eyes have a strange quality in that they are the windows to the soul, and they are also the most susceptible places on the body to pointy shards of a broken shutter. In Lucio Fulci’s aptly-named 1979 Zombi 2, a group of strangers are thrown together on a tropical island to search for a woman’s father. A desperate doctor, meanwhile, cannot find the cure for a strange disease. This scene just barely beat out another for the scariest moment in the film. The cast and crew were filming in a busy New York newspaper office and, during the shooting, they interrupted a meeting presided over by Rupert Murdoch. He reportedly kicked them out, eloquently yelling, “Who the fuck are you?”
Everybody knows that zombies will treat humans with such sacrilege that they’ll even eat a brain. That said, brain-eating scenes have grown scarce in Hollywood cinema. It is downright refreshing when a recently risen individual in Return of the Living Dead (1985) takes a bite out of that sweet 80s hairdo. This scene clocks in at number seven for its simplicity and casual ease. Augustus Gloop put more effort into picking a candy flower in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory than this zombie needed to ingest his favorite meal. I wonder if zombies ever eat their own brains, just to see how they taste.
Science agrees that 83 percent of married couples fear their spouse will one day turn into a serial murderer and begin their killing spree with their dearly beloved. These fears are confirmed in George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (sequel to Night of the Dead if you didn’t put that together). The neck/shoulder might be the nicest place to get bitten, following the calf and the forearm. Perhaps their love continued beyond the grave? Romero elected to discontinue that story line, and viewers can only speculate whether or not the couple stuck together through their zombie years. Mid-1980s audiences clearly could not get enough of zombies. The Great Romero’s first act in the Dead Trilogy, however, proved difficult to follow. Day of the Dead was the lowest-grossing of the three films, although cult interest has awakened in the decades since its release.
It’s hard to emote when you no longer possess the facial features to do so. With full view of a faceless person’s eyes, the feeling that comes through the strongest in this event is sheer terror. We concur that, if we had our faces ripped off, we would be terrified. Dead Alive makes its second appearance in the line up. Peter Jackson’s special effects simply cannot be beat. His spaghettification of human flesh is spot on. Just like peeling an orange, these zombies demonstrate remarkable dexterity in their ability to get the whole face off in one piece. Bravo.
Rage Against the Eyeballs
The only thing that’s worse than getting an eye impaled by a zombie is getting both eyes impaled by a zombie. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later (2007) has awed and inspired so many (including The Mountain from Game of Thrones). In all seriousness, this scene is terrifying: two children are reunited with their parents after a terrible outbreak of the rage virus, then their Mom contracts it, is immune, infects their Dad, and Dad kills Mom by putting his fingers through her eyes. Also, the fact that Robert Carlyle’s delightful English cadence will now only utter zombie gobbledygook achieves a special form of Wagnerian devastation.
Child Zombie Attack
The children are our future—and miniature copies of us that we get to own! They are not supposed to eat you and, if shit really hits the fan, it should be you who gets to eat them. Parental love marks this dad’s downfall. When your kids turn into zombies, Rule #1 is do not hug them. Rule #2: start planning for another one. Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old and you spent your 401k on lottery tickets? This scene from Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake (2004) raises another classic parenthood fear—poor hygiene. You don’t know what that kid’s been eating!
You can’t keep Peter Jackson down. Sure, he moved on to bigger things, but all horror fans know that his real masterpiece was a zombie masterpiece. Dead Alive makes three appearances on this for a good reason—Jackson’s got the best zombie gore! A Michelangelo of ripping flesh, his creativity and innovation in capturing the tortured human body are unparalleled. He puts the D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan to shame! Everybody knows that the heart is easily the most delicious part of the human body. The organ also symbolizes human emotion and love. In this complex cinematic couplet, Jackson takes it out for all to see. Mercifully, the heart’s owner faints before it’s over.
Shot Through the Heart and Torn Apart
And you’re to blame! Wait—zombies can shoot guns? The death of Captain Rhodes in Day of the Dead starts off like a classic showdown. The zombie that shoots him is downright dignified! While clearly angry at meeting such an unconventional zombie movie death, Rhodes’ expectations are soon fulfilled. Behind the horror of a mass of undead bent on human destruction, there is an element of sweet release. Like jumping into a lake of molten lava, or a woodchipper—few deaths have been so complete. For this reason, Captain Rhodes’ demise in George Romero’s follow-up to Dawn takes the number one spot on the list. Remember: these gory ends await you! Now get back to work and check the canned food inventory in your bunker!