Three Things I Learned from ‘The Dead Don’t Die’

The Dead Dont Die Poster

I’ve been a fan of Jim Jarmusch since forever. What I love most about his movies is, he doesn’t waste time and money. His stories are lean, character-driven pieces that get to the point quickly. Films like ‘Stranger Than Paradise,’ ‘Down by Law,’ and ‘Broken Flowers.’ No boring backstory, no big government conspiracy. Just people dealing with everyday shit they have no control over.

Warning—Spoilers Ahead

Not Every Zombie Story Has to Be the Apocalypse

The Dead Don’t Die’ is the director’s latest film, and it’s a hoot. We’ve got Bill Murray as the police chief of a small town who, by his own admission, should’ve retired two years ago. Adam Driver as an officer, who seems to be the only person in Centerville that seems to know they are all in a Jim Jarmusch movie. And other wonderful actors like Chloë Sevigny, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Tilda Swinton, and Selena Gomez.

The script is smart and low key. Lines are repeated by different characters, giving the film an almost Sartre vibe where everyone is caught up in an existential nightmare that won’t end. Here’s an example, which each character varies a little:

What the heck was it, a wild animal? Several wild animals?

Oh, and there’s the dead. Yeah, they’re coming out of the ground like in the original ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ with at least one of them reeking of cheap chardonnay.

When the Dead Start Rising, That’s When You Know Who Your Friends Are

As things go from bad to worse, people act out in different ways. Hermit Bob keeps an eye on the proceedings from a distance, making comments like this gem:

Cliff and little Ronnie. Warriors. Among the dead. Zombies. Remnants of the materialist people.

Officer Mindy continues to freak out with each new horror. Meanwhile, Hank and Bobby have banded together to try and save the hardware store—and themselves. And good ol’ Farmer Frank goes it alone with his gun and deep-seated prejudices as he discovers all his cows and chickens have vanished. Tilda Swinton, who is always mesmerizing, is perhaps the only one who confronts the danger head-on, using a razor-sharp Katana to behead the invaders.

And some are just clueless, like the three out-of-town hipsters staying at the local motel. For some reason, Cliff and Ronnie have decided they are from Cleveland.

If You’re Going to Die, You Might as Well Have a Good Theme Song

Just so you know, everyone—and I mean everyone—in this thing dies at the end. I think Officer Ronnie said it best:

If you ask me, this whole thing is going to end badly.

Well, okay, maybe not Hermit Bob. I mean, someone has to survive to tell the story, right? But here’s the thing. If you’re going to make a movie about zombies taking over a small, peaceful town and ripping everyone to pieces, then you’d better have a good theme song.

And this movie does. The song “The Dead Don’t Die,” written and performed by Sturgill Simpson, is perfect. In fact, for those who might be squeamish about seeing so much blood and guts, you might want to purchase the tune so you can at least feel you were a part of the experience.

Fun fact: According to the credits, someone got hired as a zombie movement consultant. What a country.

Movie Details

The Greatest Zombie Cast Ever Disassembled

The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves.
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tom Waits
Rated R for zombie violence/gore, and for language

October Highlights

Waiting - London Session 2010 by Davide Gabino
Photo courtesy of Davide Gabino.

Well, Halloween is almost here. Whew! Hard to believe the year is almost over. I genuinely hope you’ve had a happy and productive year so far. Here’s what happening with me…

Writing

I published The Girl in the Mirror on June 1st, and it has been selected as a quarter finalist in the Booklife Prize competition. This is the first book in a new supernatural suspense series called Sarah Greene Mysteries. If you’re a horror fan who likes ghost stories, you might want to check it out. You can read a free sample here.

Speaking of which, I just turned in my draft for Book Two in the series, House of the Shrieking Woman. It should be out in the next few months—I’ll keep you posted.

Events

I’m doing another book signing at Barnes & Noble in Burbank CA on Sunday, October 20th from 2—4 pm. The address is 731 N San Fernando Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502. So, if you happen to be in the area, please stop by and pick up a free zombie button. And yes, there will be candy. Sign up on Facebook here.

Recommended Reading and Viewing

Forgotten Bones Cover

I love reading, and I also love recommending books, movies, and TV shows. If you enjoy police procedurals with ghosts, pick up a copy of Forgotten Bones by Vivian Barz. It’s a story you won’t soon forget. You can read my review here.

Marianne Poster

And if you like horror with witches, check out ‘Marianne’ on Netflix. It is seriously scary and perfect for Halloween. Not suitable for kids, though.

Happy Halloween!