It is two months since someone ate a hamburger infected by Mad Cow Disease which mutated into a zombie disease and nearly everyone on Earth died. Survivors name themselves after their town of origin instead of using their real name. A college student named Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is coming home from Texas to see if his parents are still alive. He meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), who is supposed to be a great zombie-hunter. Tallahassee is searching for Twinkies. They meet Wichita (Emma Stone) and her baby sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who turn out to be con-artists and steal the boys’ guns and Cadillac Escalade. But the boys find a Hummer full of guns and go after them. Eventually, they come to a truce.
The sisters are on their way to the Pacific Playland Amusement Park in L.A. After learning that his parents are dead and his hometown a ruin, Columbus accompanies them. He likes Wichita a lot. In Hollywood, they invade Bill Murray’s house. He disguises himself as a zombie so he can go out on the streets. Unfortunately, Columbus thinks he’s a real zombie and shoots him dead. Wichita and Columbus get serious and Tallahassee, who lost his son, bonds with Little Rock. Fearing commitment, the girls leave to go to Pacific Playland, and the boys go after them.
At Pacific Playland, the girls turn on all the lights, which attracts the zombies, which sets us up for the big climax. Tallahassee shoots a lot of zombies; Columbus climbs the tower and rescues the girls. In the process, he faces a clown zombie, his worst nightmare. He gets the girl and discovers a family.
There’s not a lot of story here, but the characters are likable and funny, and the movie was a great hit. Critics called it wickedly funny and particularly liked Bill Murray’s cameo. It was directed by Ruben Fleischer, his first, and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, inspired largely by Shaun of the Dead. The film is filled with the rules for surviving a zombie apocalypse compiled by Columbus. The celebrity guest, as it were, was originally supposed to be Patrick Swayze, but he fell ill. A variety of actors were considered, one was chosen and dropped out a week before filming. Woody Harrelson talked Bill Murray into taking the job. The zombies were designed by Tony Gardner, who helped Rick Baker do the zombie makeup for Michael Jackson’s Thriller. In one scene, there are 160 of them. Much of the movie, of course, was ad-libbed. Because Woody Harrelson is a Vegan, fake Twinkies had to be created for him to eat