14 Japanese Zombie Movies You Have to Watch!

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If you’re a fan of zombie movies, you’ll love these top picks from Japan. Japanese zombie movies aren’t always like your average zombie movie.

In them, you’ll find great storylines but with the bonus of comedy – not something that’s always present in zombie movies from other countries.

Let’s have a look at 14 of the best Japanese zombie movies that you should definitely watch.

1. Battle Girl: Living Dead in Tokyo Bay

Long-titled it may be, but Battle Girl: Living Dead in Tokyo Bay keeps up the pace.

The budget for this movie was low, but it’s been put together well considering it was a 90s movie!

 Let’s take a look at some of its stats:

  • Japanese Title: Tokyo Crisis Wars
  • Release Date: 1991
  • Director: Kazuo Komizu
  • Starring: Cutei Suzuki
  • Running Time: 1h13m
  • IMDb Rating: 4.6/10


A meteor lands in Tokyo Bay and the whole region is covered by a noxious cloud of “cosmo-amphetamine.”

When the people in the area die, this alien chemical takes over, bringing them back to life as the undead, feasting on those who are still alive.

The Colonel in charge of the rescue mission, Colonel Kirihara, sends his daughter (Suzuki) to assess the area that’s been hit by the cloud.

Keiko learns that Captain Fujioka (one of her father’s lieutenants) is infecting survivors of the disaster with cosmo-amphetamine in the hope of creating a zombie army to experiment on.

Keiko finds herself amongst a gang of “Battle Kids” resulting in a somewhat predictable but nevertheless exciting battle between Keiko and the scientist soldier. She’s a one-woman army, saving her homeland from the undead, ghoulish gangs.

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2. One Cut of the Dead

Humor and gore mixed with satire, what’s not to love?

This movie isn’t going to make you wet yourself in fear (at least, probably not!), but it may make you laugh enough that a quick trip to the bathroom is in order.

Stephen King tweeted how much he loved it – so that should be enough of a recommendation for you! It’s also won lots of awards.

Made with a budget of just ¥3 million ($22,400), it made history at the box office by making a killing (forgive the pun!) of a thousand times that much in return.

  • Japanese Title: Don’t Stop the Camera!
  • Release Date: 2017
  • Director: Shin’ichirō Ueda
  • Starring: Takayuki Hamatsu, Yuzuki Akiyama
  • Running Time: 1h37m
  • IMDb Rating: 7.6/10


A group of actors and filmmakers set out to shoot a zombie movie in one single take. To try and ensure their movie’s success, the director attempts to bring in real, live (or is that ‘dead’?) zombies.

He organises for a blood pentagram to be painted, activating the zombies from the abandoned water plant’s dark past.

One of the cameramen turns into a zombie, biting the assistant director. An actress and make-up artist manage to lock them out of the plant with the director insisting they continue recording and use the real zombies.

He grabs the zombified sound engineer from outside and shoves him at the others. One of them decapitates him, spraying themselves in zombie blood in the process.

The plot twists and turns with more infections, more gore, and more humor. The camera keeps on rolling – “don’t stop the camera!” We won’t spoil the ending – but you’re in for a treat!

3. Versus

Originally intended to be a sequel to Down to Hell, Versus ended up being an independent movie.

Its director says he was inspired by John Carpenter, Sam Raimi and George Miller’s movies.

With samurai fighting, zombie gore, martial arts, gunplay and comedy, the combination of different elements makes it a great zombie movie to watch!

  • Release Date: 2000
  • Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
  • Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, Kenji Matsuda
  • Running Time: 2 hours
  • IMDb Rating: 6.3/10
  • Japanese Title: Vāsasu


Set in the “Forest of Resurrection,” a mob of gangsters and an escaped convict fight against the zombies.  In the forest is a portal to the other side – the 444th portal to be precise.

These 666 portals are concealed from humans, but someone knows they’re there and they decide to find and open them to obtain power and darkness to use for themselves.

The dead are resurrected, and the portal is going to open. But what will happen when it does? We’ll let you find out for yourselves!

4. Wild Zero

With a ‘wild’ (i.e., completely silly) storyline, this zombie movie isn’t exactly going to have you hiding behind a cushion on your sofa.

The situations are comical and absurd, with a good mix of gore thrown in!

  • Release Date: 1999
  • Director: Tetsuro Takeuchi
  • Starring: Masashi Endō and Guitar Wolf (starring as themselves).
  • Running Time: 1h38m
  • IMDb Rating: 6.4/10


Featuring Guitar Wolf, a Japanese power trio of a vocalist, bassist and guitarist, the film starts after a meteorite lands and they perform a concert.

After the show, the group confront the Captain, their manager. With guns out, the Captain proclaims that rock music is no more. Shots are fired.

The plot continues with Ace, a punk rock enthusiast who’s made himself a blood brother with Guitar Wolf, finding a vehicle where zombies are devouring the occupants. Ace flees to rescue a love interest Tobio, who confesses she actually has a penis.

He then runs away from her and blows his rescue whistle Guitar Wolf gave him. They rush to his aid, alien spacecraft fly around, and the Captain shows up and shoots beams from his eyes until he’s killed by a rocket launcher.

We won’t spoil the ending, but involves Ace declaring “love has no borders, nationalities, or genders.” Ahhh!

5. I Am a Hero

The fifth Japanese zombie movie that you just must see is I am a Hero.

  • Japanese Title: Ai Amu A Hīrō
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Director: Shinsuke Sato
  • Starring: Yô Ôizumi, Kasumi Arimura, Masami Nagasawa
  • Running Time: 2 hours
  • IMDb Rating: 6.8/10


Hideo returns home from work late one evening and witnesses are car accident when a car ploughs into a pedestrian killing him instantly.

However, far from what you’d expect, the victim gets up and walks away, broken neck and all. Hideo wonders if he is hallucinating but then other weird stuff happens too.

Once someone’s infected with ‘zombie’ (nicknamed ZQN), they turn into sleepwalkers with rippled veins, puffy faces and odd eyes. Their teeth may well crumble right out of their mouths.

Seemingly demon-possessed, they are wild, but some do keep certain aspects of their personality. One can even fly. It’s thoroughly entertaining!

Hideo is armed with his trusty shotgun and runs, encountering strangers and zombies as he goes. They reach the top of Mount Fuji where only three of them remain. Hopefully, they’ll be saved!

6. Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

  • Running time: 110 mins
  • Director: Yoshihiro Nishimura
  • Languages: Japanese (English Subtitles)

A movie worthy of its name, Tokyo Gore Police flies high on the list as one of Japan’s most unusual zombie films of all time.

Described as outright bizarre, this film features a team of hunters in contemporary Japan, fighting against the results of the work of a mad scientist.

A contagious virus morphs humanity into ‘Engineers’, a unique type of zombie that grows weapons from any injuries on its body. Released at multiple film festivals across the USA, it was acclaimed for its special effects, crazy action scenes and non-stop gore.

7. Helldriver (2010)

  • Running Time: 117 mins
  • Director: Yoshihiro Nishimura
  • Languages: Japanese (English Subtitles)  

Another gore fest splatter movie, Helldriver is a sci-fi zombie story with one of the most incredibly weird plots ever!

When the protagonist’s mother appears to resort to cannibalism, Kika and her family find themselves at the heart of a zombie outbreak that is exacerbated by the falling of a meteorite.

Although it is considered second best to Tokyo Gore Police, the film was praised for its attention to detail with regards to its stunningly horrid visuals.

8. Zedd (2014)

  • Running Time: 54 mins
  • Director: Teppei Nakamura
  • Languages: Japanese (English Subtitles), Korean, Mandarin

Featuring an interesting plot twist, this Japanese zombie film comes highly recommended.

Wrongly accused and then imprisoned, a group of friends are sent to jail in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. When one of the group is infected, they must locate a cure before he turns and infects them all.

Albeit less than an hour in length, it is thoroughly entertaining. The main cast are also singers and it features music from all 6!

9. Tokyo Zombie (2005)

  • Running Time: 103 mins
  • Director: Sakichi Sato
  • Languages: Japanese (English Subtitles)

A movie that is often compared to the likes of Shaun of the Dead and other zombie-comedies like Zombieland, Tokyo Zombie springs from a manga story with the same title by Yusaku Hanakuma in 1999.

Two goofy co-worker jujitsu experts fight their way through a zombie-infested Tokyo, on a road trip to Russia.

Their trip, however, ends in a gated community after a five year time jump, that is run by the rich who have enslaved the poor.

10. Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies (2001)

  • Running Time: 80 mins
  • Director: Naoyuki Tomomatsu
  • Languages: Japanese (Multiple Subtitles Available)

Based on the novel with the same title by Kenji Otsuki, ‘Stacy’ is a film created on a small budget of less than $100,000 (Approximately 10 thousand yen).

Nevertheless, it has generated a massive cult following thanks to its considerably unconventional approach to the genre.

What it certainly conforms to is the dark humour and hyperbolic zombie death scenes which make it so great to watch!

In a Japan where girls turn into zombies at the age of seventeen, Miki and her boyfriend navigate a horrific new society in an attempt to find a vaccine. With its killer soundtrack and creative originality, it has been praised by critics.

Key Fact: This film has a unique cameo spot filled by none other than the legend J-horror filmmaker: Takashi Miike.

11. Zombie Self-Defense Force (2006)

  • Running Time: 78 mins
  • Director: Naoyuki Tomomatsu
  • Languages: Japanese (Multiple Subtitles Available)

As it states on the tin, a band of unlikely strangers group together to confront a horde of zombies accidentally awoken from the Sea.

In their attempt to free Japan from the outbreak, they each must use their unique skillsets to overcome the masses of undead.

Another film created on a shoestring budget, it once again gained a huge cult following for its slapstick dark humour and exaggerated approach to the genre.

12. Dead Waves (2005)

  • Running Time: 81 mins
  • Director: Yoichi Nishiyama
  • Languages: Japanese (Multiple Subtitles Available)

Featuring a protagonist who unintentionally starts a zombie apocalypse, this Japanese zombie horror-comedy is set in Tokyo and takes us on a journey with Daisuke, a late night Tokyo radio presenter, and his friends who plan to save the day.

The inventive plot and unique take on the genre have gained it much praise and it is yet another movie that has gained a significant cult following among Japanese horror fans.

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13. Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack (2012)

  • Running Time: 70 mins
  • Director: Takayuki Hirao
  • Languages: Japanese (Multiple Subtitles Available)   

This wouldn’t be a list at all if it did not include at least one anime example. Considered to be one of the most successful Japanese zombie anime films of all time, Gyo gained critical acclaim and is another film with a colossal cult following.

Although it was not a massive commercial success, it was praised for its originality. With grotesque visuals, and a unique plot, this story follows a few friends in Tokyo when the fish have transformed into zombified mutations.

14. Zombie Dead (1983)

  • Running time: 70 mins
  • Director: Kazou Komizu
  • Languages: Japanese (Multiple Subtitles Available)

The beginning of what was an explosion of Japanese zombie films in the 1980s, Zombie Dead was an adaptation of Night of the Living Dead and paved the way for a variety of low budget J-horror films in the subsequent decades.

A group of well-intentioned scientists set out on a journey to cure Cancer. In experimenting on the dead, they inadvertently reanimate them, and they begin a zombie outbreak.

Including the foundational trope of over-the-top blood-spattering gore, this movie is a must see for any Japanese zombie film fan who is interested in its history.

Final Thoughts on Japanese Zombie Movies

Gore, blood, zombies and laughter – a perfect tetralogy of things encompassed in the very best of must-see Japanese films.

If you thought it was only South Korea that nailed this movie genre, you’d be highly mistaken. From the 90s to the present, these Japanese zombie movies will have you (blood) thirsty for more!

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