THE DEAD DON’T DIE – Review by Susan Granger

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You gotta admire idiosyncratic filmmaker Jim Jarmusch assembling a star-studded cast – Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Chloe Sevigny, Tom Waits – for a laidback zombie comedy with an environmental message.

And, perhaps, if you’ve never seen a zombie apocalypse before, you might find this one amusing.

Even in a small town like Centerville (population 738), news of “polar fracking” is causing some consternation. Electronic devices aren’t functioning properly, pets are running away and the sun refuses to set. Could the Earth be thrown off its axis?

“Somethin’ weird’s goin’ on,” says Police Officer Ronnie Peterson (Driver) to his laconic older partner Cliff Robertson (Murray). “This isn’t going to end well.”

Which means the complaint lodged by cranky Farmer Frank Miller (Buscemi) – whose red baseball cap proclaims “Keep America White Again” – about a stolen chicken, implicating Hermit Bob (Waits), will soon be relegated to the back burner.

Then the corpses start coming. At first, it’s just a couple of hands clawing out of the earth near a gravestone. Then two ravenous ghouls (Sara Driver, Iggy Pop), muttering “Coffee,” chow down at the diner. Yearning for what they had in life, one (Carol Kane) chants “Chardonnay”; others utter “Wi-Fi,” “Siri” and “Xanax.”

Everyone seems totally clueless about how to handle the situation except Zelda (Swinton), the mysterious Scottish Samurai warrior mortician, who claims: “I am confident in my ability to defend myself against the undead.”

Instead of characters, Jarmusch relies on cameos: RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan driving a Wu-PS truck, Rosie Perez as a TV anchor named Posie Juarez.

There are many allusions to George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead,” and a cemetery headstone reads “Samuel Fuller,” referencing director Sam Fuller with whom Jarmusch collaborated on Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made (1994).

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The Dead Don’t Die is a fatalistic 5, filled with deadpan dummies.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.