Zombies. They're your ultimate nightmare. But the only thing that's more intense than regular zombies? Is space zombies. Because zombies are automatically way more terrifying when there's noplace to run. Here are the 10 greatest space zombies of all time!
Possible spoilers ahead...
We hadn't realized quite how many space zombies there are out there — especially if you throw in some edge cases like the Reavers. Zombies have been ruling the spaceways for decades, since Plan 9 From Outer Space and Astro Zombies (which is technically about a human space engineer who uses astronaut tech to turn Earthlings into zombies.)
1) Driq of Cliq, from Green Lantern.
Lately, Green Lantern is all about the space zombies, with the huge galaxy-spanning Blackest Night crossover event. Everyone who's ever died in DC Comics is being reincarnated as a "Black Lantern," wielding a super-powerful set of rings that Batman's skull coughed up. (Or something.) But really, my favorite space zombie from Green Lantern has to be Driq of Cliq, the lantern who dies at the hands of Sinestro — but his ring keeps him alive, and sort of sentient, indefinitely. He shambles through a ton of issues of the comic, before finally coming undone when Hal Jordan/Parallax deactivates all the power rings. Driq is like a space zombie super-mascot.
2) The Reavers from Firefly/Serenity
Okay, so they're not technically undead, but the Reavers are totally zombies in every way that matters. They're mindless shells of human beings who've lost their humanity and everything else except the lust to kill and destroy. Like the "Rage" virus survivors in 28 Days Later, the Reavers are pale, posthuman and terrifying. They haunt the spaceways, their vicious howling almost echoing through the void.
3) The Husks in Mass Effect
The geth, merciless alien artificial intelligences, have a secret weapon: they impale dead people on dragon's teeth, mechanical spikes which turn the corpses into Husks, zombie-like reanimated soldiers. The dead people's organs and insides are liquified and replaced by cybernetics.
4) The Victims, in Lifeforce
Note: We debated endlessly whether Lifeforce was about zombies or vampires — the three aliens discovered aboard the spaceship are definitely vampires, since they devour your life force. And it's based on a book called The Space Vampires. On the other hand, the vampires come to Earth and start renanimating loads of humans, who definitely seem more zombie-like.
5) The "Death Troopers" in Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber
Here's one of the entrants for Del Rey's book trailer contest for this awesome space zombie novel. The damaged prison barge Purge finds an Imperial Star Destroyer floating dead in space, and the Purge sends people over to scavenge for parts — but the Star Destroyer isn't empty after all. A new plague has turned some of its crew into the living dead, who roam in packs. Writes Schreiber: "They traveled together now, their swollen, disease-ravaged bodies pressing against one another, death as the final brotherhood... Their eyes never left his, and there was a slinking primitve slyness to their movement... Sartoris saw ropy strands of drool swinging from their mouths, human and nonhuman alike."
6) The Swarm in Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell.
Yet another set of zombies created by evil science, the Swarm is a bioweapon created by the distant human alliance — it turns you into a shambling, semi-telepathic zombie. And all of the zombies in the Swarm form a neural net, a hive mind that gets smarter the more people they bite.
7) Space Zombies
They're terrifying! They're relentless! They're Canadian! Triple Take Productions has crafted several black-and-white short films about zombies from space — including Space Zombies: Terror From The Sky!, in which alien zombies come to Earth to transplant cat brains into people. Or into themselves. Ummmm... it's not quite clear. There's definitely a cat brain transplant thing happening, in any case. I can think of several people who would be greatly improved by having cat brains transplanted into them.
8) Kai from Lexx
The last of the Brunnen-G, Kai is killed trying to save his people from the Divine Shadow — but instead of being destroyed, his corpse is reanimated as a Divine Assassin, who cannot be killed. And that's just one thing on the long list of stuff Kai cannot do, after being dead. Until finally, he wins his life back in a chess game. (Thanks, Disco Dave!)
9) The Necromorphs in Dead Space
Reanimated by some kind of unknown alien micro-organism, the Necromorphs are human corpses brought back to life, to attack and destroy the living. Any human who dies rapidly turns into a Necromorph, usually due to an Infector, which penetrates your skull with its sharp proboscis. Some Necromorphs are hideously mutated.
10) The Flood from Halo
These parasitic alien life forms create bodies for themselves out of the recently deceased, creating a quasi-zombie army that sprouts tentacles instead of human limbs or sensory arrays instead of heads. They alter the host organism's DNA by digesting, creating weird parodies of the human form.
Bonuses: Two recent trailers for Zombies from Outer Space and Space Zombie Terrorists:
Thanks to Ira Wile, Angela Cooper, Morgan Johnson, Austin Grossman, Greta Christina, Derek Powazek, Brent Cox, Alasdair Stuart, Kayobi, 92BuicLeSabre, and anyone else we missed!
This io9 flashback originally appeared in October 2009.