Halloween Movies: Zombieland

Sometimes, movies don’t necessarily have to be terrifying to be great to watch during the Halloween season. In fact, I would say Zombieland doesn’t even pretend to be a scary movie despite the fact that there are loads of zombies throughout the movie. It’s at heart a comedy and a laugh-out-loud one at that. It will probably leave you in stitches by the end of the film. I pretty much knew I had to see this movie right when the trailer came out.


About: The world becomes overrun by zombies, leading a young man dubbed Columbus to struggle to survive in the changing world as he attempts to travel home to see if his parents are alive. He creates “zombie survival” rules in order to get by while keeping to himself as he travels. Unfortunately, he has to break some of them in order to get home, meeting a man who calls himself Tallahassee, who is a zombie killing expert searching for the remaining Twinkies in the world, and two sisters that call themselves Wichita and Little Rock. Quirky and humorous, the movie takes a whole new spin on the old zombie genre. Released in 2009, the movie has received mostly positive reviews and accolades. It won Best Horror Movie of the Year (Golden Schmoes), and Best Horror Movie from the Scream Awards. It was also nominated for several others.

WARNING! Potential spoilers ahead!

The Plot/Characters: Zombieland has a fairly basic plot, in all reality. Zombies have destroyed normal civilization and the plot centers around Columbus, a socially awkward student attempting to get back home to see if his family is alive still. On the way, he runs into Tallahassee, a man who is extremely good at killing zombies. They agree not to give each other their real names, dubbing themselves after where they are from. While their motivation is really just traveling and keep alive while fending off zombies at first, when they run into Wichita and Little Rock, the plot changes as they our outwitted by the sisters and have their vehicle taken. After going back and forth, they finally all end up traveling together. The interesting part of the movie though is that there is a continuous amount of humor in the forum of Zombie Rules like #31, Checking the Backseat, #3 Beware of Bathrooms and Rule #17 Don’t Be a Hero. Columbus slowly begins to learn more from his experience around others, however, and his rules begin to not hold up under the pressure to keep his friends alive. And, of course, the movie is led by an absolutely amazing cast which adds a huge element to the film and truly makes the movie. Woody Harrelson plays Tallahassee, Jesse Eisenberg is Columbus and Emma Stone is Wichita. Bill Murray even has a role as himself in the feature!

Woody Harrelson stars in Columbia Pictures' ZOMBIELAND.
Woody Harrelson stars in Columbia Pictures’ ZOMBIELAND.

The Scares: Unlike most of the horror genre, this movie presents the scares in a humorous way. The very beginning of the film after the intro sequence, however, opens up with the main character explaining his rules while being chased by zombies and fleeing for his life, using his rules to keep himself alive. There is a real sense of imminent death that the movie presents us with right away, showing us others that have perished without having the rules to help them. The threat we really feel is the worry that one of the characters will meet their untimely death, as we get immediately attached to them and their stories and our concerned for their well being. One of the most memorable moments is when Wichita and Little Rock are on a drop tower with zombies climbing up attempting to eat them and the sheer worry that they might not make it since they are backed into a corner with no escape. But most of the time, you are left laughing rather than checking your closet for monsters. Though… I will probably always Beware of Bathrooms now and Check the Backseat. Seriously… I always do that now after this movie.

The Humor: One of the best parts of the film is the moment that Tallahassee is in the grocery store when a big, fat Zombie appears and he says that he’s going to “take a little off the top” with a pair of gardening sheers. The actors deliver their lines perfectly upping the humor factor but it’s also the circumstances that they get themselves into with the zombies. My stomach hurt from all the laughter by the end of the movie.

The Score and the Atmosphere: With a good underscore and some rock music for the main theme, Zombieland presents itself immediately as an action packed movie. I mean, Metallica for Whom The Bell Tolls definitely sets the tone pretty quickly but with it also set to zombies devouring people as they run in slow motion… What’s not to immediately love about this movie’s music choices? It follows up this theme with more rock-based music during the action portions. The atmosphere itself remains mostly dark in lighting and tone despite all of the humor, giving the world around all of the characters the proper apocalyptic mood that is so important. Meanwhile, things like Twinkies become vastly important as symbols of what humanity has lost with the zombies taking over and smashing up a gift shop is a release that the characters need to take out their feelings about all that they have lost from the normal world because #32 is Enjoy The Little Things.

Overall: Not a movie that will leave you looking behind for monsters but mostly just in pain from continuous laughter, Zombieland delivers an excellent comedy value to the horror genre. It makes fun of itself in just the right way while also being touching an endearing enough that it is an extremely memorable movie with a ton of rewatch value. It’s amazing that there was never a concrete plan for a sequel, in fact. We… Don’t talk about the horrible attempt at a tv series on Amazon though.

Have you seen Zombieland yet? If so, what did you think?


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