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Shaun of the Dead

A 2007 horror-comedy movie

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You've got red on you.

  • Apr 11, 2012
Rating:
+5
**** 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 one of the simple pleasures of a great many artists. Wright achieved fame in his native country with his television program "Spaced", although it wasn't until he made "Shaun of the Dead" that the modern comic genius made his debut into worldwide sensationalism. This was the film that put him on the map, as a name to look out for in the future; his name was a selling point in itself for all his other directorial (and non-directorial) features to follow. Nevertheless, I like to think of this as the one that started it all; the madness, the hilarity, the ingenuity, the blood and the ice-cream. You know what I mean.

The titular hero, Shaun (Simon Pegg), is an almost fascinatingly lazy and hopelessly clueless man. He's a slacker, shares a flat in London with his best friend Ed (Nick Frost) - who's admittedly a bit of a useless turd himself - and goes through life day by day with a rinse-repeat philosophy on his mind, or not. He's able to uphold a decent job at a retail shop with indecent people, but he's not so lucky in his love life. Not too long after the story opens, Shaun's girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) breaks up with the hero, finding him to be incompetent. She believes that if they remain partners, they'll both end up drowning their sorrow and boredom in alcohol at the local pub - The Winchester - for the rest of their lives. She's probably right, even if Shaun has no complaints or regrets.

Things are not looking all too well for Shaun. He plans to get drunk with Ed for the next few days - and probably lie around the house a little - to try and get the breakup off his mind. These plans are interrupted when people start falling unconscious on the streets at random, old men start eating pigeons in the park, and seemingly drunk convenience store clerks are mysteriously ending up in Sean's backyard. It soon becomes clear that this is not just rapid public drunkenness; the newscaster on the television explains that this is the start of a full-fledged zombie apocalypse. After realizing that they aren't quite safe at all where they stand, both Shaun and Ed devise a plan to round up Liz, her roommates Dianne (Lucy Davis) and David (Dylan Moran), and Shaun's mom (Penelope Wilton) so that they can ensure a chance at survival. Shaun just hopes he won't have to take his stepfather (Bill Nighy) - whom he passionately loathes - along with them for the trip.

The first half of the film is devoted to build-up. The opening titles sequence depicts an almost emotionally desolate London in which life is forever repetitive, contrived, and almost robotic; people are essentially zombie-like even without the craving for human flesh. Shaun is no different, and there are two prolonged scenes - almost identical in visual style - in which he leaves the house, picks up a beer at the supermarket, and plops back down on the couch again. Then...there's panic on the streets of London. Now, the second half of the film is set after the group that Shaun has gotten together avoids the "panic". They set up camp in the Winchester for a while, hoping that they will be safe, even though a window has been shattered. They should be fine; they've got food, alcohol, and look, even a shotgun over the bar that gave the pub its name.

"Shaun of the Dead" is my payoff for all those countless days, hours, and weeks spent watching or just THINKING about zombie movies. The title itself is of course a play on a certain George Romero genre classic, and there are little in-jokes and clever references to past zombie flicks scattered throughout this one. So if you know your stuff about the genre, look out for those; and you'll have an even better time than what is already guaranteed. Even without the references, there are enough laugh-out-loud moments and jokes to more than keep the film afloat. Wright seems to enjoy visual gags the most; which is apparent in scenes like the one where the group walks through London to get to the pub disguised as the undead (they try their hand at convincing moaning noises and jolted bodily movements), as well as another where Shaun and Ed go to town on some bloodthirsty zombies hanging around their backyard...by throwing Shaun's entire LP record collection in their general direction.

It's ultraviolent, bloody, and you'd better bet that it's sometimes quite profane (one of my favorite scenes is a non-stop barrage of four-letter words). But it's also one of the more absorbing comedies out there. I cannot simply count how many times I've seen and thoroughly enjoyed the film but I can tell you right now that it's been a while. I'm glad I finally revisited the film; for it's one of those special viewings where you feel like you're revisiting every last location presented in the actual movie. From the Winchester to Shaun's flat, to the individual scenes of humor that take place in between and within them; everything felt familiar, but in a good way. If I already know and anticipate the joke(s), but they still manage to make me laugh until it hurts, you know a movie has been taken completely to heart. It's one of the few comedies that completely immersed me in its universe. You remember the names of the smaller characters long after you've survived Z-day.

Case in point, the film has not changed on bit from the last time I saw it until now. "Shaun of the Dead" remains a bloody good time at the movies; the kind of flick that will someday (deservingly) spawn some sort of cult following (it already has, somewhat). If you are in need of a very fine introduction to Wright's hilarious and wholly impressive body of work, this would be the movie to get you started. It may not be loved by all, but you'd have to be a sourpuss to reject it completely. After all, one should know how to accurately distinguish a good homage/genre spoof from a bad one. What I like most about the film is that it mixes genuine atmosphere, scares, and drama with brilliant comedy that ranges from physical to dialogue-driven antics. If it had tried any harder, it might have failed; but then again, why let the thought even cross my mind in the first place?

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April 13, 2012
still the best zomedy yet!
 
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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.
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
review by . May 23, 2008
Zombie mob
Like a true American, I think everything is better with a British accent, and this zombie spoof is no exception.  I'm not sure it would be as funny if it were American-made, but that's rather besides the point.  Shaun and a group of his friends wind up running around London, rounding up his friends, ex-girlfriend, mother and father ("He's not my dad, he's my stepdad!") in order to protect them from the zombies suddenly taking over the city.  To give you an idea of how non-threatening …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #2
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie

Wiki

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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Details

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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