Zombies are beloved movie monsters that have evolved and adapted throughout their long on-screen history.
Their first full-length film appearance was in White Zombie, all the way back in 1932! Like all horror movie archetypes, they reflect current societal issues and discomforts.
Though zombies’ popularity is cyclical, they have always been reimagined and come back to walk among us…Or at least on our screens!
In honor of Netflix’s brand new zombie blockbuster Army of the Dead and its filming locations in the abandoned casinos of Atlantic City, NJ, we decided to take a look through where all the beloved zombie movies of our era have been filmed — and they’re giving us all the dystopian vibes you just have to see.
Here they are:
1. Atlantic City, NJ: Army of the Dead (2021)
Zereshk, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Zack Synder’s newest entry into the genre Army of the Dead completely revitalizes zombies for today’s audience. Much like George A. Romero’s original trilogy and his own first zombie film, Dawn of the Dead (2004) (a remake of Romero’s second installment in the trilogy), Army of the Dead takes place in a literal Sin City, following a group mission to retrieve $200 million from a Las Vegas casino.
The only caveat is that the city is overtaken by zombies (with some pet zombie tigers!). There kitty, kitty. In the film, we see the Las Vegas Strip, particularly the front of the MGM Grand Hotel. However, most of the movie was filmed in Atlantic City, notably the abandoned Atlantic Club Casino Hotel and Showboat Hotel, and in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
2. New York City, NY: I Am Legend (2007)
This action zombie thriller stars Will Smith as the one and only man left alive after the apocalypse. He and his beloved dog are alone in New York City, that is, if you forget the hordes of walking dead. Since the zombies only hunt at night, the city is eerily empty, and nature has overtaken NYC. There are deer roaming through the streets and even lions roaring on Broadway.
They filmed in Tribeca, the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. During the filming whole sections of the city, such as a few blocks of Fifth Avenue, were emptied to achieve this look.
3. Evans City Cemetery, PA: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
This film reinvigorated the “dying” zombie movie in 1968. It was praised for its documentary-like feel and grainy quality and depicted how unpleasant a zombie attack would actually be.
One iconic filming location is the Evans City Cemetery in the opening scene. George A. Romero went on to film many more zombie movies, most notably being his original trilogy. The cemetery hasn’t changed much since the movie’s filming. Eagle-eyed fans can still spot the headstones in the spot of the first undead attack.
4. Monroeville, PA: Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The second installment in Romero’s iconic trilogy was almost entirely filmed in Monroeville Mall. The film stars a group of four on the run from… you guessed it, zombies. They run into a seemingly intact mall for refuge. At first they find a few slow zombies walking around as if they were on a shopping trip.
A character points out that they might be acting on instinct and memory. Here Romero makes a clear critique of consumer culture. Filming inside the suburban mall was done at night and it had to be suspended when the Christmas decorations were put up. Guess zombies aren’t fond of Santa!
5. Old Basing, U.K.: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
We said the zombie genre had range, didn’t we? Well, if you ever thought Jane Austen’s stories needed a dash of the walking dead, this is the film for you!
The film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was shot in the picturesque English village of Old Basing. This village has a variety of Victorian-style architecture, which was perfect for the production as it wanted to recreate a period setting.
6. London, U.K.: 28 Days Later (2002)
Speaking of modern fears, watching 28 Days Later in 2020 might not have been the best idea. The film is centered around a viral outbreak and follows Cillian Murphy’s character, who wakes up from a coma to find the dystopian consequences of the virus.
The acclaimed director Danny Boyle managed to transform London until it’s almost unrecognizable by depicting an eerily deserted city as opposed to the bustling metropolis we know. They also filmed in Surrey, Cumbria and the Isle of Dogs. Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, and Trafalgar Square are among the most crowded places in London…but you would never know that from watching this film.
7. Oahu and Kauai Islands. Hawaii: Pirates of the Caribbean (2011)
A pirate film set in the Caribbean might seem like an odd place for a movie with zombies. However, the Caribbean is the birthplace of the modern zombie. In 1929, William Seabrook’s book The Magic Island, based on his travels to Haiti, introduced western audiences to tales of Zombies. The film The White Zombie was quickly made in 1932 and was set in Haiti. This Pirates film, however, was actually primarily filmed in the Oahu and Kauai islands of Hawaii.
8. Las Vegas, NV: Resident Evil (2007)
Another Vegas zombie film is Resident Evil: Extinction. It starts off with survivors making their way through the Mojave Desert. They are heading to Vegas to gather supplies. Upon arrival, they are greeted by a worn and disheveled “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.
Like in most post-apocalyptic films, nature has reclaimed the city. The Nevada desert has engulfed much of fabulous Vegas. A particularly epic chase around the Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower makes for one scenic zombie vs. human stand-off!
9. London, U.K.: Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun of the Dead is another British entry into the zombie movie world. However, this film is much more fun and light fare compared to most. The production was filmed in London, on location, and at Ealing Studios. There are several exterior shots around North London like Crouch End, Highgate, Finsbury Park, and East Finchley.
The shop where Shaun (the protagonist) works is a real shop in North Finchley. The scenes of the beloved pub, The Winchester Tavern, where Shaun and his friend want to bunker down, were filmed in and around the Duke of Albany pub in New Cross, South London. In 2008, the Victorian pub was turned into flats. Still, we reckon this would be a brilliant spot to wait out the zombie apocalypse with a cheeky pint!
10. Valdosta, Georgia: Zombieland (2009)
Much like the previous film on the list, Zombieland is a joy-filled ride about a group of relative outcasts on an epic journey. This time they are going to California’s Pacific Playland Theme Park! The epic finale in “Pacific Playland” was filmed in the real-life Wild Adventures Amusement Park in Valdosta, Georgia. Wild Adventures is a Theme Park, Waterpark, and Animal Park all in one. It boasts over 50 rides and a 17-acre water park. Since zombies don’t seem to do well in water, we’d stick to the water rides for sure!