Every zombie book, movie, or show these days has to have its unique brand of monster. There are the classic slowpokes — comforting, because it feels like anyone could outwit them or kill them with whatever household object is at hand. There are the thinking, feeling zombies, à la Warm Bodies and iZombie. And finally the scary-fast hordes of World War Z. Part of the fun of the original Zombieland was that its undead creatures were just killable enough that we could focus on the movie's character development. Naturally, things couldn't stay that way.
No good horror comedy story can be built upon complacent zombie killers. In making Zombieland: Double Tap, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and director Ruben Fleischer had to shake things up for Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).That's why in addition to having that little makeshift family restless and ready for change, they did the same to the zombies.
After so many years of killing off the slavering beasts — what most of humankind became due to a mad-cow-like disease — the four had come to discern some differences among them.
"There's ones that they call Homers, who are kind of the dumber zombies," Fleischer told Fandango earlier this year, explaining the taxonomy. "There are the Ninjas who are a little bit more crafty and they might sneak up on you. And then there's the Hawkings, who are smarter zombies."
We'll have to assume that Homers are for Homer Simpson and Hawkings are for the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. You can sort of see those types at work in the first movie, with some zombies simply shuffling along, stumbling into their next meals, and others able to ambush them in the back seats of cars.
Just as diseases mutate and evolve in real life, the zombies are also evolving 10 years after the apocalypse that preceded the first Zombieland.
"Then there's a new kind of zombie that they haven't met before called a T-800, a name for the infamous Terminator," Fleischer said. "These T-800s are much more dangerous, threatening form of zombie. For the first time, I think our heroes feel like they're in true jeopardy because of this newly evolved form of zombie."
In case you skipped all Terminator movies, the T-800 robots are fast, smart, and impervious to most typical weaponry, making them extra scary killing machines.
"There's a new kind of zombie: stronger, faster, better adapted to the hunt," she says.
All of this means that Zombieland: Double Tap features a lot more CGI and pyrotechnics in the place of banjos and toilet seats.
SyFy.com had an early peek at some scenes with the T-800s and described "the evolved zombies swarming our heroes in the finale, which is the stuff Fleischer said was inspired by World War Z. You definitely get that impression."
As long as that doesn't overshadow the witty exchanges between Stone and Breslin, and their co-stars, we can bravely face those hordes.