"Return of the Living Dead" is the greatest zombie movie of all time. Two reasons to start: It was the first "running zombie" film and it has the greatest line ever spoken in a zombie film: "Brains." It has made numerous "top zombie film" lists including Boston.com #4, Entertainment Weekly #9, Amazon.com #12, and Zombie Zone News #10 to name a few.
I would like to differ, the greatest zombie movie of all time is obviously "Dawn of the dead". Reaching the top rank on Boston.com, #4 on askmen.com, #2 on toplessrobot.com, and #1 on ew.com. Let alone with this information I could win this debate, but I would like to go more in depth. To begin, Imdb.com ranked "Dawn of the dead" as a 7.4, apposed to the 7.2 ranked for "Return of the Living Dead".Just because "Return of the Living Dead" coined the term "brains!" doesn't mean it's automatically better. Also this was the originator of zombie movies and started a historic sequel and movement in the zombie movies.
First let me correct your mistakes. The 7.4 IMDB rating you listed for "Dawn of the Dead" was for the 2004 remake. The original 1978 version earned a 8.0 rating. Second mistake, it was the original "dead" movie, "Night of the Living Dead," which was the originator that started it all.
Though the line "brains" is a classic, it is not the primary reason "Return of the Living Dead" is the best zombie movie ever. It's because ROTLD is, like NOTLD, a true originator. NOLD did indeed give birth to the 20th century day zombie movie, but ROTLD gave birth to the 21st century zombie movie: fast or running zombies. (Though technically, the fast moving ones aren't "zombies."). Every major zombie movie today ("28 Days Later," "Zombieland," and the upcoming "World War Z") owes its existence to ROTLD.