Shaun of the Dead (UK ; 99 min.)


directed by: Edgar Wright
starring: Simon Pegg; Kate Ashfield; Nick Frost
Shaun of the Dead
 
Beth says: "So last month or so, thanks to Clint's last minute offer of a free pass to its Boston sneak preview, I went to see SHAUN OF THE DEAD almost 100% clueless about it (an exceedingly rare state for me, I must confess).

"And this tabula rasa ate the movie up with gusto - in fact, it's easily the film I've most likely recommended recently to people since seeing it.

"The synopsis is straightforward, as most zombie flicks and Hugh Grant films tend to be: boy has girl, boy loses girl, boy battles zombies to get girl back. If Joseph Campbell were alive today, he'd be all over the Hero's Journey shout-outs. [And if he were a zombie, he'd just be all over the Hero (cue rimshot)]

"Shaun is the likeable sadsack hero, Liz his fed-up (ex) girlfriend, and Ed his supremely slacker best buddy flatmate whose interplay with Shaun provides some of the movie's funniest laughs. Shaun's mom and stepdad and Liz's 2 flatmates round out the cast of
characters.

"The movie serves up its romantic comedy portion first, getting you set up and settled into the film's satiric/comic groove before unleashing the more zombie-centric second half. And while the focus of the plot shifts, that wonderfully dry Brit humor is the throughline that guides you all the way home, to the final punchline of the film, which, although it was telegraphed a bit too much was nevertheless still very funny when it paid out.

"But do be forewarned - the filmmakers are as serious about their splatter as they are about their comedy. This is a damn good classic zombie flick, so folks who don't much care for guts and gore, be prepared to look away a few times.

"I give the creators points for managing to pull off both an homage to and satire of two different movie genres, two great tastes you wouldn't think taste good together(until you get a bite out of SHAUN OF THE DEAD).

"Now, several weeks after the fact, I'm still struck by two things:

"1) this is perhaps the best date movie ever - it's got comedy, romance, frat/flat boy humor and violence! Hey, something for everyone!

"2) Something about this reminds me of TRULY MADLY DEEPLY and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, but I haven't quite sussed out all the reasons why - I think at least one thing they all have in common is that they locate classic horror scenarios within everyday UK
life, and manage to send up both with wicked, affectionate glee. I love that!

"So, go! See SHAUN OF THE DEAD! 4 zombie cats"

 

Diane says: "Caught the last half hour of SHAUN OF THE DEAD which is just about all I needed to see of this zombie parody. But, in the Zeitgiest, Shaun and his friends clubbing a zombie with pool cues while Queen is on the pub jukebox is a close cousin to the peasants' hoeing dance in ZATOICHI: THE BLIND SWORDSMAN.

Peg responds: "Actually, due to a series of mishaps the first time I saw this I also only saw the last half hour. I would really recommend you see it from start to finish, it is a completely different film. It's actually a very astute story about relationships and the ennui of contemporary life, and the zombie stuff only goes whole hog at the end, really. Plus there are great performances in the early parts, from Bill Nighy and others. I think this is a very fine film which many peope will not be able to see because they think it's just a straightforward genre parody--it's much more than that."

 
Hilary says: "What great fun! How can you go wrong with a buddy movie/romance/horror/action flick/English comedy of manners with a Queen soundtrack?

"This film affectionately skewers the British politesse and talent for understatement and made me nostalgic for my time working in London. These are the people who automatically preface every comment with a 'sorry' when they might very well mean 'f* you.'

"Simon Pegg will be getting a Best Actor nom from me for his funny and sometimes poignant portrayal of an average 29-year-old guy who loves his mum, best friend, and local pub and can't commit to his girlfriend or a real job, who reluctantly ends up having to fight a hoarde of zombies ('the zed word') on what should be just another quiet Sunday.

Four gleefully undead cats."
 
Michael says: "It’s catch up time, as we watch movies that we missed at the theatre on DVD in preparation for nomination time. SHAUN OF THE DEAD has been a crowd-pleaser among the members who saw it, so I was eager to see it when I got the chance. Edgar Wright’s first feature since his debut film ten years ago lives up to expectations. Adroitly blending the romantic comedy, and the zombie-horror film, with real laughs and real drama (along with a hefty dose of gore) Wright both pokes fun and pays homage to both genres with style and wit.

"SHAUN OF THE DEAD was written by Wright and lead actor Simon Pegg. Slightly reminiscent of AUDITION, SHAUN starts off firmly rooted in the romantic comedy genre. Shaun’s life is going nowhere. He spends almost all of his free time (when he’s not working as a television salesman) at the Winchester, a local pub, with his layabout friend Ed, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend Liz, who just wants something to happen in their lives. He promises he’ll change, but he gets up the next morning, wanders to his job like the walking dead himself and promptly fails to live up to Liz’s expectations. Meanwhile, Wright gives us glimpses of something ominous brewing in the world around our clueless hero. These glimpses are there for Shaun to see, but he is so single-minded in the sameness of his life that he doesn’t notice.

"Suddenly we’re tossed into a scenario straight out of DAWN OF THE DEAD, with the recently deceased returning and attacking the living. Anyone who is bitten is destined to die, returning soon after as a zombie themselves. Thrown into this catastrophe, Shaun suddenly finds purpose for his life and while trying to survive may just redeem himself in the process.

"The screenplay is tight and very funny. The sight gags Wright uses during the build-up in the first third of the film are very clever. Even after the horror of the situation unfolds, the humor stays broad and ever-present, but Wright and Pegg weave in surprising moments of real emotion, as when various members of the cast inevitably succumb to the bite of a zombie. The gore was plentiful, one scene in particular was pretty explicit and disgusting, but on par with most zombie movies. While not as innovative as 28 DAYS LATER…, SHAUN OF THE DEAD does for zombie movies, what SCREAM did for the serial murderer genre. 4 cats

 
Bob says: "I just saw this last night (finally got myself a DVD player) and I loved all the little touches, especially references to previous zombie flicks: Shaun’s mother’s name is Barbara (as in 'they’re coming to get you, Barbara') and did you notice that the final time Shaun channel surfs, there’s a brief mention on the news of theories about rage-infected apes being bollocks? Very cute reference to 28 DAYS LATER...."