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Shaun of the Dead

A 2007 horror-comedy movie

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Zombies on the Streets of London: Shaun of the Dead

  • Oct 25, 2004
  • by
Pros: hilarious, acting, soundtrack, Britishisms

Cons: a bit too heavy, too gory for some, romantic comedy part

The Bottom Line: You might die of laughter

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

Shaun of the Dead is one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen in the past year. On the way out of the theater, I used the word “genius” several times during my giddy ramblings and pretending to be a zombie. Shaun of the Dead is hilarious, features important social commentary, has a great soundtrack, and even shows a clip of Morrissey! As far as silly movies go, it’s nearly perfect.

Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright borrow liberally from classic zombie flicks for this romantic zombedy. Shaun (Pegg) is an apathetic young man with a dead end job in an electronics boutique. His flatmates are giving him trouble at home as one is too serious and the other is too much of a slob. His girlfriend of three years dumps him for not being romantic enough, and his relationship with his mother is falling apart due to a dispute with his stepfather (Bill Nighy). To top it all off, England has been afflicted with a plague of zombies.

While Shaun is troubled by his personal crises, he doesn’t notice the zombie problem until one shows up in his garden. Even then, he and the ogre-like Ed (Nick Frost) think she’s just drunk. As we see in the first few scenes of the movie, most of modern life isn’t all that different from being un-dead. Shaun stumbles around and yawns and plays video games with Ed. Other people mindlessly scan food items at the supermarket, ride the bus expressionlessly, or drink themselves into a drunken stupor.

Shaun wanders through life hardly paying attention to anyone else. Shaun and Ed go to the same pub (The Winchester Arms) nearly every day and spend their time making up stories about the other patrons with whom they’ve never bothered to have a conversation. They don’t even pay any mind to the news, which has been talking about the zombie invasion for days. One of the cleverest sequences in the movie is when Shaun mindlessly flips through the channels on the television, ignoring it all, including news footage of zombie carnage and Morrissey singing “Panic.”

Actually, it’s odd that Shaun would skip over that Smiths classic when music is one of the few things he cares about. When they are deciding which records to use as weapons against the zombies, Shaun screams, “No!” when Ed suggests they use Purple Rain. When they are in the pub following Shaun’s breakup with Liz (Kate Ashfield), Shaun’s pain is exacerbated (you have to see the movie to understand the importance of that word) by “If You Leave me Now” playing on the jukebox. “It’s on random!” Ed exclaims. Shaun is finally cheered up by singing a brilliant drunken rendition of Duran Duran’s “White Lines” in the street on the way home. Queen is also featured prominently in the soundtrack.

Once Shaun and Ed figure out what’s going on, Shaun calls his mum and is horrified to learn that her husband Philip has been bitten in a dispute with their neighbors. Zombies kill their victims by biting them, and then the bitten party becomes a zombie when he/she comes back from the dead. Armed with a cricket bat and a shovel, the two unlikely heroes head over to rescue Shaun’s mum. Shaun decides that he’ll take this opportunity to try to win back Liz, as well. Liz’s flatmate Dianne (Lucy Davis a.k.a. Dawn -- of the Dead? -- from The Office) and her boyfriend David (Dylan Moran, who is adorable and Irish) are Shaun doubters and want to stay at home, but Shaun insists on bringing everyone to the Winchester. With the streets of London teeming with zombies, it’s not an easy journey, even in Philip’s Jaguar.

Pegg and Frost’s acting is fantastic. Their expressions and camaraderie seem very natural, and they portray a full range of emotions. I felt that the script could have given bit more life to Dianne and David, but Dianne does have one moment of glory when she teaches the rest of the gang to act like zombies -- “vacant with a hint of sadness.” The romantic comedy part of the film is predictable, but I didn’t mind because Shaun is such a likable character.

My main criticism is that Shaun of the Dead has a bit too much tragedy in its plot than it should. It’s a light rom-com (rom-zom?), but there are a few moments that are simply too heavy.

Shaun of the Dead is also chock full of references and homages to horror movies (and Reservoir Dogs) and British television, so if you are familiar with those, you’ll probably appreciate the movie even more. See the trivia section on the S of the D IMDB entry for all the intertextuality.

The Scary Factor

I am a total wimp when it comes to horror movies. I even close my eyes during previews. So while I was interested in seeing Shaun of the Dead for its British comedy, I was worried it would be too scary. Thankfully, a couple of my friends saw it first and assured me that it wouldn’t give me nightmares. There’s definitely a good deal of blood and gore, but I was never scared.


Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More Shaun of the Dead reviews
review by . June 03, 2013
I must have watched this film 100 times now, the more you watch it, the funnier it gets. Full of subtle human and not for the fainr of heart, its a film you definately have to sit down and pay attention to.
review by . April 11, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    Edgar Wright is the kind of guy who I would best describe as nice. A director of comedy films - always has, always will be, I hope - , it's surprising that one of the genre's greatest minds working today does not succumb to the universal demands of the folks overseas. A filmmaker working primarily in his homeland United Kingdom, Wright isn't one to rely on gross-out gags or excessively crude humor. He does however seem to like blood a whole lot. But that's …
Quick Tip by . September 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I was not expecting to enjoy this movie at all. I am not much of a horror film fan, but this movie is funny and done very smartly. Nick Frost and Simon Pegg are the perfect comedy team in this movie.
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
totally stupid in a very funny way, i didn't think i would like it but i did.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Probably my favorite British cult favorite, a zombie movie is never this fun. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are an incredible duo.
Quick Tip by . July 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
While this is a good movie, I don't like it as much as a lot of other people seem to.
Quick Tip by . July 14, 2010
This movie is a great mix of horror and comedy. Pegg is excellent as usual.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This horror-comedy is one of the best out there of its type.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A zomedy (zombie comedy). Quite funny and very good to watch wth friends.
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
Cheesy, but funny
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About this movie


Edgar Wright's horror-comedy film, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, follows the title character (Simon Pegg) through his mundane life in London. Joined by his immature and ever-present roommate, Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun excels at nothing except drinking pints of ale and watching television, which causes friction with his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield). Before Shaun can save his relationship, however, he's got to fend off a horde of zombies that are slowly taking over the city. Armed with a cricket bat and a vague sense of direction, Shaun must rescue his friends and loved ones, and bring them to the only safe place he can think of--the pub.

Cowritten by Wright and Pegg, SHAUN OF THE DEAD succeeds remarkably well at combining droll British humor with good, old-fashioned zombie cinema. While the movie is often hilariously amusing, it takes its horror pedigree seriously, offering up moments of genuine suspense, and even a healthy dose of gore. Pegg is oddly charming as the put-upon lead slacker, and Frost is ap...
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Director: Simon Pegg
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: 2004, September 24, 2004
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Simon Pegg
Runtime: 1hr 39min
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