Friday, June 19, 2009

Thoughts on the script: Zombieland

Gentle reader Tavis said people are probably wondering what I think of the screenplay for Zombieland. I guess it's because I love zombies so much and I talk about them all the time. The odd thing about that is I hadn't seen that many zombie movies until I thought up the plot for Not Dead Yet.

It was only after I thought up a zombie story that I learned anything about zombies, but once I did I researched obsessively and that's how I discovered how much fun zombies are. You can stab them in the throat repeatedly and you can set them on fire and they just keep on coming.

So at first people did keep asking me if I read Zombieland and I would get out the screenplay and then get distracted and forget I was supposed to read it. But a couple of months ago I finally got to it.


I imagine they've changed quite a bit since the spec went around because Patrick Swayze is nowhere in the cast list. I'm wondering if they replaced his character with Bill Murray.

Let me explain. Zombieland is clever. Like really clever. Maybe too clever. It wanders back and forth between being action and comedy, which I love for my own selfish reasons. My script is a lot of action and hardly any horror, and this script is a lot of action and not really any horror. But where Zombieland replaced the horror with comedy, I replaced it with a storyline so depressing you might not want to go outside for a while.

The story follows this guy in a post zombie-apocalyptic world who is kind of a wimp but hooks up with this badass redneck type. They get into some hijinks with a vicious mother/daughter conman team and end up at Zombie Patrick Swayze's house where they make like eight hundred thousand references to Dirty Dancing and Roadhouse. You can kind of tell at that point that writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick were just enjoying themselves immensely by imagining all the fun they could have if they broke into Patrick Swayze's house found his zombie corpse wandering around.

That's really what this screenplay is - loads of fun. I laughed, I shouted, I pumped my fist. It's just a terrific combination of badass mixed with dry humor. And I loved the way it ended. This is a limp off into the sunset kind of story. It just sort of stops, which I actually adore. I'm not overly fond of movies that tie up all the ends in a neat little bow.

There's this one scene where the two guys have to break into a grocery store to get a Twinkie - let me tell you, the great Twinkie quest is just awesome - and it's just one big zombie free for all. There are a zillion zombies all over the place and only two guys with guns just shooting the shit out of everything. It's pretty much my version of heaven.

It's an imperfect script, of course. The Patrick Swayze thing is a little too cutesy for its own good and it's a little insulting to the man. I found myself wondering how they ever thought he would do it. Maybe they didn't. Maybe that's why they got Bill Murray.

My only worry is that it doesn't make my screenplay quite as original. I wrote the first draft before I ever heard of Zombieland, but now my screenplay may look a little derivative. At the time, I thought I was very clever with this zombie script that was more action than horror, and I thought my only competition was World War Z. But now, here's a post-apocalyptic zombie comedy action movie with some really cool action scenes and a movie star. I don't have a movie star.

But I do have a flame thrower, and that's something they ain't got.


  1. Hey, would you mind emailing me a copy of Zombieland? Sounds like something I'd love.


  2. Hi,
    From what you have written, Zombieland appears like a version of 'Shaun of the Dead,' may be with more action. I think after 'Shaun...' all the writers have this tendency to introduce comedy as an element in their zombie scripts.

  3. True, Shaun of the Dead did make the most out of the comedy aspect. My point is more that this is largely an action film, whereas most zombie movies are horrors.

  4. Thank you for posting about the script, I saw the trailer and loved it then read the post and tracked down the script.

    Judging from the trailer looks like they kept about 90% of the scipt added a few new scenes and characters.

    It does have a very Edgar Wright-vibe to it which is great.

  5. "What do you think, Zombie kill of the week?"

    Man, that's a great trailer. Woody Harrelson brings it, and Jesse Eisenberg gets to be in another movie ending with "land." Sweet.

  6. Kevin6:31 PM

    This movie is so freakin awesome,.,.i totally lolled when columbus said: “THE BEST PART ABOUT Z-LAND IS NO MORE ANNOYING FACEBOOK UPDATES..” DOES ANYBODY REMEMBER THE REST OF IT??? ^^,


Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.