I’ll never forget the time I walked into the movie theater and saw the giant cut out of Shaun of the Dead standing there. I couldn’t help but be interested, I mean beyond the play-on-name and the tag line “The first romantic zombie comedy” I couldn’t help but think… is he holding a cricket bat? Sadly that was also a summer in which I had very little money and didn’t make many trips to the theater, however the day it came out on DVD I rented immediately. In the Return of the Living Dead article I said it was my favorite zombie movie, and that’s very true, but this I think is the tightest script in the zombie/comedy genre.
Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a slacker with a directionless life. His girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) is dissatisfied with her social life and feels Shaun his bring here down since they spend every night at Shaun’s favorite pub The Winchester with his best friend Ed (Nick Frost) and her flatmates David (Dylan Moran) & Dianne (Lucy Davis). Eventually Liz has enough and breaks up with Shaun.
Ed takes Shaun to the Winchesters for some drinks to cheer him up. They show up at their house drunkenly rapping Grand Master Flash waking up their roommate Pete (Peter Serafinowicz) who screams at them, telling Shaun to sort his life out. He also mentions some crazy homeless guy bit him on his way home from work.
The next morning the town is in completely anarchy, with zombies roaming the streets. Shaun begins to peace together a plan to save his mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton) and Liz and take refuge in the Winchester. When they get Barbara she demands her husband and Shaun’s stepfather Phillip (Bill Nighy) come with them. On the way to the car Phillip is attacked & bitten by a zombie in the neck.
They next arrive at Liz’s flat where Shaun climbs to building to save her. David and Dianne decide to come too. During the car ride Phillip finally makes peace with Shaun before dying and coming back as a zombie forcing everyone to evacuate the car and go the rest of the way by foot to the Winchester.
When they reach the Winchester they found it completely surrounded by Zombies. They approach the pub by impersonating zombies however their cover is blown when Ed and Shaun begin to argue. Shaun runs around to the back of the pub making the zombies follow him while David breaks in the front window with a trash can.
Shaun comes in the pub through the backdoor but the silence and lack of supplies in the pub start to cause stress and arguments among the group. It’s discovered that Barbara has been bitten as well causing Shaun to have to kill his own mother. Zombies crash through the window and attack David, prompting Dianne to go outside to save him.
The zombies all come into the pub, included the zombified version of Pete who immediately attacks Ed. Shaun shoots zombie Pete but Ed has still been bitten. Liz, Shaun and Ed make their way into the cellar. Ed offers to sacrifice himself to the zombie who begin to come into the cellar. Shauna and Liz prepare for one last battle against the Zombie when the British Army arrives just in time for their aid.
Six months later, society has returned to normal and the zombies are being used as cheap labor. Shaun and Liz are now living together and zombified Ed is chained up in the shed where Shaun goes to play video games with his best friend.
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg proved with this, Hot Fuzz and their TV series Spaced that they are a writing/acting/directing force that is unstoppable. Shaun of the Dead is one of the most picture perfect movie scripts out there. Every single piece of dialogue is set up to another line of dialogue (Snakehips is always surrounded by women according to Ed; next time you see him, zombie women are surrounding his dead body and eating him) and also has a brilliant usage of reoccurring lines (“you’ve got red on you”). There’s even a brilliant reference to Night of the Living Dead (“We’re coming to get you Barbara”)
The film uses quick editing to show the mundane life of Shaun. The first 30 minutes of the movie are almost completely re-shot piece by piece except with all the characters the first time around as Zombies. The film even takes a note from An American Werewolf in London by trying to use songs that have an undertone of zombie in it (“Ghost town” by The Specials, “Kernkraft 400” by Zombie Nation).
The movie was advertised as a rom-zom-com (romantic zombie comedy) but there’s so much more going for it. Not only is it a horror movie and a romantic comedy, it also hits multiple emotional points about friendship and his mother. One of the most heart-wrenching moments in any film in the last decade occurs when Shaun screams at David “Stop pointing that gun at my mum”. Shaun’s undying love to take care and protect his mom is absolutely touching and his unconditional love for his best friend is something that anyone can relate too. That’s just one of the many reasons that bloody-digusting called Shaun of the Dead “quite possibly the best horror-comedy ever made." I humbly agree.
I tweet. I Write for Geekscape (Guilty Pleasures: Piranha 2 the Spawning). I podcast... two times The Saint Mort Show (episode 30 with Robert Angelo Masciantonio & Roots in Stereo) as well as a horror movie review podcast (Episode 2 - Wake Wood)
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