The Dead Don’t Die. … No, they don’t.

Welcome to Centerville, a “nice little town,” population 738. It’s a bit of Vermont, Maine, Transylvania and the New York City morgue. Come on in; the blood is warm.

“The Dead” is a Jim Jarmusch film. Got that? OK. So you’re staying around? Good.

“Something weird is going on,” moans one resident. The local power is out, watches stop, and the sun hangs in the sky like a goose in a butcher shop window. The nightly MSNBC newscast announces that all of this is happening because the Earth has shifted on its axis, as a result of of “polar fracking.”

Let’s meet the nice little town’s key and normal residents. The cops: Adam Driver, Bill Murray and Chloe Sevigny.
There is the diner crowd, the stoic mechanic Danny Glover; racist farmer Steve Buscemi, who wears his red ‘MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN” hat; and weird comic book store clerk Caleb Landry Jones.
There will be three young visitors driving through in a George Romero classic 1960s Pontiac: Selena Gomez, Austin Butler and Luka Sabbat. They will soon be on the menu.

Now you know. FYI “Dead” is a gory, semi-scary, bloody and hilarious black comedy about zombies; and before you leave, which may be right away, there will be more of them than you can count. The local cemetery will give up its dead of all ages, crawling babies, teens and the very, very elderly who died during the French and Indian War.


A tip: Save lunch for after the movie. You will see the zombies in their current state, in various degrees of age-related disintegration, rotting flesh, decaying clothing, melting eyes and molding tongues.

We will briefly meet the great Carol Kane. She’s dead and laid out on a bunk in Murray’s one cell. When she awakens and stumbles out, she only has one line: “Chardonnay.”

You will see all of this over and over and over in richly colored and super-detailed close-ups. It’s rather like streaming all the operations from “Grey’s Anatomy” in one night.

Jarmusch’s zombies wander the streets at twilight, killing and eating the living as they prowl the streets, breaking into homes and cafes, gas station rest rooms, churches and the one movie theatre. They like to rip open stomachs, throats and thighs, and leave them for you to examine in Technicolor close-ups. They then proceed to stroll to the next house, chomping on chunks of toes, fingers and forearms as they go, as if they had just departed a church bean supper.

Don’t leave. There are laughs aplenty here, as one group of the undead wander around with their iPhones glowing, and moaning “Wi-fi,Wi-fi.”

Murray, a master comedian, and his hired help, Driver and Sevigny, honor the golden rule of comedy; play it straight-faced; don’t joke the joke.


The star of the movie, you will agree, is the wonderful Tilda Swinton, who plays Zelda, the local mortician, zen master, amateur samurai and Scottish immigrant. OMG. You’re gonna love Zelda in her flowing blonde hair as she strolls the night streets with her samurai sword, decapitating the zombies. It’s an obvious homage to Uma Thurman’s “Black Mamba”assassin in “Kill Bill.”

Watching over this through stolen binoculars up in the hills is the local mad hermit played by Tom Waits.

All of this plays out to the country singer Sturgill Simpson’s title song ballad. You’ll be singing it on the way home, but keep the car doors locked.


J.P.  Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and screen actor.

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