The Most Recognisable Zombies

The Most Recognisable Zombies

by | May 27, 2016

It was in 1932, that  Bela Lugosi introduced the world to the undead, starring in the Halperin Brothers fairy tale feature White Zombie. As the years passed, the Zombie pasona become increasingly more aggressive. Up until 1968, Zombies had always been portrayed as mindless slaves, controlled by a single person’s maniacal rule. It was when George Romero made his classic low budget hit, Night of the Living Dead, that the modern Zombie was born. Where once you could only catch these films on VHS or DVD, now they are screened across the world in cinemas. Features such as Zombie World and World War Z are great examples of just how far the genre has come. 

The cult following of these movies still attracts audiences the world over, and to celebrating the world of the walking dead, we look at some of the most instantly recognisable zombies in the genre. The (rotting) faces that stand out from crowd. These are the most unique and terrifying creatures ever to stumble in front of a video camera.


Day of the Dead – Dr Tongue

Day of The Dead

Shuffling onto screen at the beginning of Day of the Dead, this jawless creature launches Romero’s third film with a haunting howl. “Dr. Tongue”, as he was nicknamed by designer Tom Savini, may be a minor zombie, but his unique jawless face and dangling tongue is easily identifiable as the zombie that appears with the films titles.

Biography : “Dr. Tongue” was a doctor at some point in his life, prior to the zombie outbreak. Sometime during the undead plague, he died and was subsequently reanimated into a zombie. It is shown that the majority of his face (including half of his jaw) is missing, possibly a gunshot wound from a poor marksman, rendering him still functioning but unable to consume anyone that he might kill.


Zombi 2 :  Shark Zombie

Zombi 2

Zombie 2 re-ignited Lucio Fulci’s sagging career, reinvented the director as a master of Horror. Fulci asked himself, just how shocking can I make this thing, then he went nailed it, shooting possible one of the most memorable scenes in the film,  that sees an underwater tussle between a zombie and a real life tiger shark.  With his pasty white face and tattered clothes, the zombie trades glancing blows on the shark, before wrestling the giant fish in a bloody cloud of gore.

Biography : Having died and reanimated on the Caribbean island of Matul, it is possible that this zombie either wandered into the sea, or fell off a boat on it’s way from the island. Susan Barrett discovers the creature, when she went diving just off the coast. She encounters a shark and flees behind a reef, only to be accosted by the submerged zombie. Susan escapes leaving the Shark and Zombie to battle it out on the seafloor.


Dawn of the Dead : Jim Krut / Helicopter Zombie

Dawn of the Dead

Some zombies put themselves down, take Dawn of the Dead’s flat headed Helicopter zombie, who manages to sneak up on Roger as he refills a helicopter.  Upon climbing up onto some boxes, the walker is fowled by the whirlybirds rotors, slicing the top of his head off. With his tall frankenstein styled head (to account for the special effects) and blond hair , he’s instantly recognizable as that goofy fella that blew his top.

Biography : Having died and reanimated during the first day of the zombie apocalypse, the Helicopter Zombie stumbled upon our heros at an old airbase. Before he could attack, he was semi decapitated by the propellers of a helicopter, slicing through his brain and killing the creature.


Creepshow : Tide You Over


Mysteriously brought back to life after being murdered, Becky Vickers and her lover Harry Wentworth, go on a neon fuelled haunting. The two lovers return as a pair of waterlogged, seaweed-covered revenants intent on getting revenge on their murderer, Richard Vickers. From their wrinkled sodden skin and seaweed twisted in their hair, the duo are distinguishable unique.

Biography : When Becky’s wealthy psychopathic husband discovers that she is having an affair, Richard Vickers arranges a terrible fate for the two lovers. Burying them up to their necks below the high tide line, at gun point. He then films the couple as the slowly drown when the tide comes in. But the next night, the couple return to get revenge on Richard, appearing as waterlogged zombies covered in seaweed. They drag Richard down to the beach and buried him up to his neck, before dragging themselves back into the sea. Richard watches the footprints disappear in the sand, as the tide starts to come in.


Night of the Living Dead : Karen Cooper

Night of the Living Dead

Karen is the little girl that became the poster child for George Romero’s revolutionary zombie flick Night of the Living Dead. Being the first person we see die and then reanimate from a zombie bite, Karen’s youth and innocence was used cleverly as a shocking example of the films unrelenting horror, placing her face front and center in the films advertising.

Biography : When the undead outbreak occurred, Karen, her mother Helen, and her father Harry were attacked by a horde of zombies which turned over their car and bit Karen. With Karen too ill to move, they joined with Tom and Judy and hid in the cellar of a Pennsylvanian farmhouse. During the night, Karen dies and reanimates as a zombie, killing her parents.


Walking Dead : Hannah / Bicycle Girl


The Bicycle Girl is the first “live” zombie Rick Grimes chronologically encounters in the first episode of the TV series and one of the very first zombie Rick encounters in the first issue of the comic book series. Missing the bottom half of her body and sprawled out next to a bicycle, she has become the poster child for the series, which has constantly attempted to humanise the zombies. The TV series even went as far as creating a webisode which explored the life of Hannah before she became a zombie.

Biography : Shortly after the zombie apocalypse started, Hannah and her two children planned their escape to Atlanta when they were attacked. Hannah was bitten on the arm by a zombie as the family was trying to escape. Realizing her fate, Hannah sacrificed herself to an oncoming zombie horde so her two children could get away.


Night of the Living Dead : Cemetery Zombie

Night of the Living Dead

The Cemetery Zombie has the esteemed privilege of being the very fist Zombie to appear in George Romero’s film series. Attacking Barbara and her brother Johnny in a cemetery, his pale face and twisted jaw will forever be imprinted on our minds as the creature that started the nightmares.

Biography : At some point during the undead outbreak the Cemetery Zombie died and reanimated into a zombie. Wandering around, he found himself at a cemetery, where he encounters and attacks Johnny and Barbara. During the struggle, Johnny and the zombie fall to the ground, and Johnny smashes his head on a nearby tombstone. The zombie pursues Barbara to a Pennsylvanian farmhouse, where he and a horde of others break in. The Next morning, the cemetery zombies body is seen being cremated along side others.


Land of the Dead : Big Daddy

Land of the Dead

George Romero’s noughties revisit to the living dead, saw a horde of zombies assault the last human outposts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. None were more memorable than the leader of the zombie swarm known simply as Big Daddy. Big Daddy displays anger and even grief, showing that the creatures are changing, learning and maybe even remembering who they once were. A smart zombie capable of anger and revenge is far more terrifying than anything that has come before.

Biography : Big Daddy was a gas attendant before the undead apocalypse. During the outbreak, Big Daddy died and reanimated. With some memory of his past job, Big Daddy remained at his post at the gas station, until a group of humans scavenge the neighbourhood for supplies. Big Daddy becomes enraged as he witness his fellow zombies being killed. He rallies his fellow walkers and they embark on a vengeful march to the human stronghold.


Day of the Dead: Bub

Day of the Dead

Bub is a unique Zombie in the third film of George Romero’s zombie series. Dr.Logan’s experiments on the zombies result in him in successfully domesticating Bub, making him calm and compliant around humans. Bubs emotional response to Logan’s death is heartbreaking and his revenge had people fist pumping the air, the world over. His connection to the audience was only strengthened with the use of Bub’s face on posters and DVD covers.  He is also one of the only zombies in Romero’s eight films, to have a line of dialogue, “hello aunt alicia”.

Biography : Bub clearly had some history in the Military before the zombie outbreak, but his death and reanimation led him to be captured and brought to the Seminole Storage Facility, where he was the top subject in the facilites experiments. Learning to become compliant and respectful of the scientific staff, Bub eventually discovers how to escape his chains. Discovering Logan’s body in a freezer, he eagerly shows Logan that he has broken his restraint, before realising that the man is dead. Saddened and angry at his mentors death, he tracks down and shoots Logan’s killer, Captain Rhodes. Bub mocks a salute as Rhodes is dismembered and eaten alive by the zombie hordes.


Return of the Living Dead : Tarman

Return of the Living Dead

Tarman first appeared in a petrified state inside of a trioxin canister, in the comedy horror The Return of the Living Dead. Upon reanimating and climbing out of the canister, Tarman appears as a skeletal, bandy character covered in a black tar like substance. Most of the films small budget went to creating the tarman as one of the best visual zombies in the series. Another tarman made an appearance in the sequel, making the creature the unofficial mascot of the films. With his wide lidless eyes and bright white teeth, Tarman is easily recognized as the face of the Return films.

Biography : Having being round up and after the “Night of the Living Dead” incident, Tarman ended up inside a trioxin canister that had been sent to storage. A mix up with delivery addresses meant that the canister arrived at a medical supply warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky. The warehouse foreman accidentally releases tarman and the trioxin gas, which reanimates the dead from a nearby cemetery. Tarman is destroyed, along with the rest of the zombies and human survivors when when the military attempt to contain the infection by dropping a nuclear bomb on the town.


Dawn of the Dead : Hare Krishna

Dawn of the Dead

Sporting a bald head, glasses and wearing the classic bright orange gown of the Krishnas, this blue coloured zombie is hard to miss in the crowd. Whether it was the complementary color scheme of yellow and blue or just the recognizable attire of the Hare Krishnas, George Romero decided to upgrade this zombie to star status, giving him plenty of time on screen, as the creature goes off piste, wandering into the hero’s lair.  It’s this screen time that makes the Hare Krishna zombie, so easy to remember. So popular is this character that action figures and figurines are widely available.

Biography : With no visible signs of zombie attack, its hard to know if Hare Krishna Zombie died of natural or unnatural cause. Upon his death, he wandered into the nearby mall, where he’s inquisitive nature took him upstairs. It was here that he found Francine Parker hiding behind a door barred with boxes. The creature fought its way in, only to have his skull bashed in by Rogers rifle.


Dawn of the Dead – Roger Zombie

Dawn of the dead

What makes Dawn of the Dead different from the other films, is that your heavily invested in the characters. No more so than Stephen Andrews and Francine Parker, who’s rocky relationship is held together because of frans pregnancy. A run in with a bunch of zombies sees Stephen dead on his feet, literally. Stephens shocking death is compacted by his grisly, freshly mauled, appearance. Not only does he turn, but he also leads a zombie horde into the survivors hidden area. Even as a zombie, Stephen is a bit of a dick. His iconic look makes Stephen one the Most recognisable Zombies in cinema history. Way to go fly boy!

Biography : Stephen was the pilot of the helicopter at the WGON-TV station in Philadelphia when the zombie apocalypse occurred. With his fiance Francine and friends Roger and Peter, they leave the station in a helicopter and head for the countryside. On their way they discover a shopping centre, where they secure the premises and decide to stay. However, whilst moving vehicles to block the doors, Roger is bit on the leg by a zombie.  Shortly after, Roger dies.  A group of looters break into the shopping center, letting in thousands of zombies. In the chaos, Stephen is trapped in a lift and killed by zombies. He re-animates, only to lead the horde upstairs to where the group had been staying. Peter shoots Stephen as he enters the room and then escapes with Fran in the helicopter, leaving the zombies to take back the Mall.


Not the Zombies you were expecting to see on the list? Hit the share button, and leave us a comment in the box below. Tell us who you think should have been shambling across the page.
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