According to Jim Jarmusch, Iggy Pop asked him prior to shooting what the backstory for his zombie character was and Jarmusch explained he and his girlfriend were killed on his motorcycle in 1973 after leaving a Blue Öyster Cult concert. Iggy Pop actually performed with Blue Öyster Cult and Kiss in 1973.
Zoe, Zack and Jack drive a Pontiac LeMans. This is the exact same make and model driven by Barbara (Judith O'Dea) and Johnny (Russell Streiner) in the prologue of the original Night of the Living Dead (1968).
When the three cops are driving down the road toward the cemetery, Adam Driver's character leans out the window with a machete to cut off the head of one particular zombie. This zombie is dressed in the same clothes and with the same hair as Bill Murray's character in the 2009 zom-com Zombieland.
One of the headstones in the cemetery-shown twice-is for a "Samuel Fuller." That is a reference to legendary director Sam Fuller...whom director Jim Jarmusch admired, worked for, and collaborated with in the 1994 documentary "Tigrero: A Film that was Never Made."
Originally, Jim Jarmusch envisioned Bruce Campbell in the role of Mallory O'Brien, who declined the role after almost forty years of being involved in makeup heavy scary movies. It was then decided the character could be rewritten as a woman and Jarmusch reached out to Carol Kane, who he'd worked with on In the Soup (1992) along with Steve Buscemi, who accepted the part.
This movie contains a few references to Ernie "Ghoulardi" Anderson, the host of "Shock Theatre", a popular late-night horror program that ran on Cleveland television in the 1960s. A poster for Ghoulardi can be seen on the wall of the gas station behind Bobby and at one point in the film, Bobby says "Stay sick" to a group of children, to which they reply "Turn blue, Bobby". "Stay sick" and "turn blue" were catchphrases of Ghoulardi's. Director Jim Jarmusch, who hails from Akron, grew up watching Ghoulardi as a kid and has cited him as an influence on his work. Ernie Anderson is also well-known for being the father of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, who named his own production company Ghoulardi Films after the character.
The movie is filled with references to George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), including an appearance of the infamous naked zombie from the original woman. Also, the three hipster teens are mistakenly believed to come from Pittsburgh, the city Romero studied and started his director career in.
Adam Driver's character hands his car keys to Tilda Swinton's character and it has a Star Wars key chain on it; Adam Driver was in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).
This marks the second zombie related movie that Bill Murray stars in. Previously he had a memorable cameo in "Zombieland" with Woody Harrelson who also, irrelevantly, starred with one of this movie's stars Rosie Perez in "White Men Can't Jump".