The Dead Don’t Die is – in a manner of thinking – Jim Jarmusch’s second zombie film. Technically, Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) is a vampire film, but its central character, the depressively immortal Adam (Tom Hiddleston), lords it over ‘the zombies’, his term for the human population, whose ignorance he resents and whose degradation of Earth he fears.
Adam’s suicidal outlook is connected to some vague catastrophe stalking the horizon. He wonders if the ‘oil wars’ have ended and the ‘water wars’ begun. He and his lover, Eve (of course), played by Tilda Swinton, worry about a summer mushroom growing in the cold dirt of Detroit. Similarly, in the opening moments of The Dead Don’t Die, zombie survivor Hermit Bob (Tom Waits) discovers an unseasonable fungus growing in the forest. ‘You shouldn’t be here,’ he says. What might we conclude from Jarmusch’s self-citation? Perhaps that while The Dead Don’t Die is not a sequel per se, it is the second horror to grow up out of the rhizosphere of his political anxiety.