The pleasures of massacring zombies: notes on Zombieland
d) Why is Emma Stone's character Wichita wearing eyeliner? The girls talk of desiring a shower, but no one ever appears to need one.
e) Later on, we learn that Tallahassee greatly misses his son, who died young. Tallahassee cries in front of the gang, and admits that he "hasn't cried like that since Titanic." Good thing he's such a cuddly, lovable killing machine.
3) The makers of Zombieland love to make allusions to other films, including Psycho (when Columbus tries to stop a female zombie with a shower curtain), Babe (when Tallahasee says "That'll do, pig"), and even Adventureland (which features Jesse Eisenberg once again trying to impress a woman in an amusement park). The film is loosely designed like so many summer blockbusters as a kind of carnival ride (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom comes to mind). The film (spoiler alert) ends at an actual carnival in Los Angeles called Pacific Playland, thus making the narrative arch oddly reminiscent of National Lampoon's Vacation (1983).
4) Aside from the film's wit, ultimately, I think, its chief pleasure resides in the viewer's ability to combine all of his or her concerns into one enemy--zombies--and then take pleasure in massacring them. As World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War author Max Brooks puts it:
"I think its been gathering steam throughout the [George W.] Bush years," he explained. "We live in some really uncertain times and I think people are being just bombarded with so many problems and so many fears and so many anxieties, it's kind of hard to keep track of them. And I think zombies, because they're so apocalyptic, are a great way for people to coalesce their anxieties into one threat."
Zombieland not only unites all of these threats, it supplies a violent solution that draws on the Western tradition of gunslinging vigilante justice (perhaps one reason why the film's characters turn around and drive west). In his dystopic out of print science fiction novel Stand on Zanzibar (1968), John Brunner imagined an over-populated future in which people frequently turned "mucker." Oppressed by everyone around them, muckers run amuck, killing everyone indiscriminately until someone murders them in turn. It may seem like a stretch to relate the playful comic horror of Zombieland with this extreme irrational violence, but they exist along the same axis, only zombies render massacres guilt-free and thereby suitable for mass entertainment.
Whatever the means, Zombieland satiates that desire to shake off the constraints of civilization, clear a space, and live happily in the ruins. As the trailer for the movie gloomily points out, we live with the threat of "epidemics, climate change, and dwindling resources." A mere zombie outbreak seems outright pleasant in comparison.