Plague of the Zombies (1966)
Plague of the Zombies was on TCM last night. This is the first movie that had zombies in it that looked like they had actually risen from the dead, looking decrepit and rotting. In previous movies the zombies looked like ordinary people shambling around with their eyes bugging out of their heads.
However, these zombies in Plague were still taking orders from their human masters who controlled them with voodoo as Bela Lugosi did in White Zombie. Granted, the zombie special effects in Plague were nothing to write home about, but they were a vast improvement over previous film zombies.
The zombies in Plague of the Zombies hadn't yet morphed into independent flesh eaters that take orders from no one. That was to come later in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, which presaged today's Hollywood zombies. It was Romero that created zombies as we know them today--the carnivorous walking dead that eat human flesh and take orders from no one, mindless beasts wreaking havoc on the world for no other reason than to eat.
The zombies in my Zombie Apocalypse: The Chad Halverson Series take after Romero's zombies.