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11 Greatest Zombie Movie Tag Lines

A short while ago in an email, Rob G. sent out a call for Top 10 lists, and specifically mentioned he'd like me to do one that was zombie-related. I have to be honest: I dreaded this assignment. While I'm a real talented writer, and it's easy for me to figure out what I do or don't like, it's very hard for me to put my likes or dislikes in order. Sure, it's easy to identify #1, and maybe # 2 or 3... but beyond this I'm lost. But Rob's a genuinely good guy who loves Icons even more than I do, so I knew I had to take myself to task and give him a list. And lo and behold, I couldn't even keep it to 10.

Picking 11 out of the multitudes wasn't so bad. These were my criteria, in order of importance: 1. How effectively the line sold the movie. 2. How accurately does the line capture the spirit of the movie? 3. How original was the wording? 4. How witty was the line? So the tagline for Bride of Re-Animator is probably the coolest ever, but it doesn't accurately describe the movie. You get the gist, I hope.

Oh, and note: These lines are all great, but some of the movies they represent... not so much.

As a list maker in Entertainment Weekly once wrote, lists are great because they're always up for debate. I'd love for you to tell me, "Fasso, how could you put that one at #4 instead of this one?" or "Oh my God, you left that one off?" Or maybe even, "Damn, that's exactly what I was thinking!"

Enjoy. And be cool.

1. "When there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth"-- Dawn of the Dead (1978):

One of the things I've always admired about George Romero is how, as a screenwriter, he always creates distinct characters through their dialogue. Looking down on hundreds of zombies in the mall, Peter recalls what his grandfather used to tell him; in doing so, he captures the essence of the film perfectly. This single line speaks volumes about what humanity has done over the course of history, and why he and his companions are stuck in this dreadful situation. Though many, including myself, acknowledge Night of the Living Dead as a superior film, its taglines don't come close to this one. Neither do those of any other film. Hands down, a tagline without parallel.

2. "The dead walk among us"-- White Zombie (1932):

Yes, this line is simple. But remember, White Zombie is the alpha zombie movie. The line is primal and powerful, but today might seem clichéd; in 1932, however, it was probably shocking. I include this tagline because I've seen it aped in dozens of forms over the decades. Copy it if you like, but it's the original, and serves as the best of its type.

3. " Herbert West has a very good head on his shoulders... and another one on his desk"-- Re-Animator (1985):

Re-Animator is a sick and twisted flick. The twist on the "good head" phrase is brilliant, especially when one sees it plastered to the image from the movie, as it was used on posters and VHS/DVD cover art. Apply the idea of "good head" to what happens between Dr. Hill and Megan Halsey at the film's climax (and talk about a double meaning for that word!), and this line perfectly captures the sick wit of the movie.

4. "The darkest day of horror the world has ever known"-- Day of the Dead (1985):

A grim tagline for the grimmest of the Romero Dead movies. This is indeed the darkest of his zombie films, literally and tonally, a relentlessly mirthless effort that bespeaks of the worst of the human condition. The director refers to those who prefer Day as "trolls," and the analogy is appropriate. For them, this tagline says it all.

5. "You have the right to remain silent. Forever"-- Maniac Cop (1988):

Sometimes, instead of coming after the movie's been made, a tagline acts as the genesis for the movie. As I've heard William Lustig tell the story directly, he and writer Larry Cohen were discussing making a zombie cop movie. At that meeting, one of them spouted out this line, and it crystallized the whole film. The line is a great twist on those famous Miranda rights, uttered by so many cops on myriad cop shows over the ages. And it really encapsulates the spirit of the flick.

6. "Date. Mate. Re-animate"-- Bride of Re-Animator (1990):

Simply awesome. It's not exactly an accurate depiction of the way the plot goes, but it exemplifies the quest of lovesick Dan Cain to reunite with his beloved Meg. And just as with the tagline for the original, it's sick, twisted, and damned witty.

7. "The good news is your date is here! The bad news is he's dead!" -- Night of the Creeps (1986):

A reworded line from the movie, this tagline tells the audience exactly what to expect: the living dead, with comedy and romance thrown into the mix. Fred Dekker's underrated zombie flick also includes references to 1950s science fiction, and an impossibly cool performance by horror vet Tom Atkins, who delivers the altered tagline in the film.

8. "They're back from the grave, and ready to party!"-- Return of the Living Dead (1985):

Though it only sells one aspect of the film, this tagline stood in direct contrast to Day of the Dead's "darkest day" line, as it came out only about a month after Romero's film. As this film is an offshoot of Romero's series, the line delineates the vast difference between that director's approach and that of Dan O'Bannon.

9. "Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas"-- Army of Darkness (1993):

Army of Darkness is only marginally a zombie movie, and it's really more a comedy than a horror flick. But who can deny the wit and humor of its tagline, when applied to the picture of a bare-chested Ash with a medieval world and wench behind him, and a chainsaw attached to his right arm? Not me.

10. "You're invited to Orville's ' coming out' party... It'll be a scream... YOURS!!!"- Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972):

No, Orville isn't going to admit he's gay. But main character Alan might be. The "coming out" refers to how an acting troupe disinters Orville's corpse. The tagline itself makes the movie sound like it's going to be a festive affair; it's not. If only this lame, boring movie were as hip as the tagline.

11. "They won't stay dead!"-- Night of the Living Dead (1968):

Okay, I'm biased. There's no way I could devise this list and not include a tagline for the best, and most important, zombie film ever made. But hang with me here. This line is a throwback to the tagline from White Zombie, and carries the same kind of primal power. Night's tagline acknowledges the link to Lugosi's flick, even as the film itself is about to overturn everything that's happened in zombie flicks since 1932. And without even intending to, it comments on the prominence of Romero's Dead franchise, as each of his original trilogy have lived long past their immediate impact, further to frighten new generations of horror fans. --Phil Fasso

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    Personal favorite line to ever come out of a horror flick is from Return of the Living Dead 2

    Where the main group is driving to the hospital in Doc Mandel's car and Joey (Thom Mathews) and Ed (James Karen)have been exposed to the Trioxin and they're all panicking and Joey says to Ed.

    "It's like we've been here before. It's like a dream, this whole thing. You, me, them."

    Nice little nod to the original Return of the Living Dead since Thom and James played Freddy and Frank in the original and were exposed to the Trioxin in that one too. I laugh every time I hear it.

    Army of darkness isn't a zombie movie

    Yes, Phillip. That's why the opening line of that movie reads, "Army of Darkness is only marginally a zombie movie, and it's really more a comedy than a horror flick."

    Of corse Army of darkness is a Zombie movie. it dosnt matter if its funny. if the dead walk and there a threat to the world then its a zombie movie. and as far as i can tell that is the whole movie so HA HA HA.

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