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Shaun of the Dead

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For those of you familiar with the excellent UK TV comedy series, Spaced, then the format of the humourous zombie flick, Shaun of the Dead, will be familiar territory. The co-writer, Simon Pegg, plays the unheroic Shaun – a 29-year-old caught in a rut of working in retail, and going to the local pub, The Winchester, for drinks every night with his flatulent friend, Ed (Nick Frost), and his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield).

Liz doesn’t care for a future of endless nights down the pub, and her friends David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis) don’t care for her boyfriend. She dumps Shaun just before the zombies take over London. The group of late 20-somethings have to come up with a plan to fend off the shambling flesh-eaters while trying not to kill one another.

The film is delightfully funny, and though the pace lags in a couple of places, it never falters completely. These are old school zombies: mindless, slow, and easily distracted – but once they reach critical mass they are a force to be reckoned with. The film is surprisingly gory in places, with a couple of dismemberment scenes and images of zombies snacking on their human prey. It adds a visceral edge to a film that is played for laughs.

Just as Dawn of the Dead comments on 70s consumer culture, Shaun of the Dead lampoons British pub culture. Before the zombies even invade London, there are shots of glassy-eyed commuters, blank-faced shoppers, and a sense that nobody is really living. Liz is the voice of alarm: she sees the stagnant routine into which Shaun is trapped, and is unwilling spend the rest of her life drinking beer at the local pub every night. When the zombies attack Shaun’s brilliant plan is to hole up in the familiar Winchester pub, but just like in Dawn of the Dead, this proves to be a magnet for the zombies, and in the end it becomes a trap. It is only when the few survivors relinquish their attachment to their local do they finally escape.

There is an unsatisfying deus ex machina device used to save Shaun and Liz towards the end, but this offset somewhat by the last five minutes that detail the aftermath of “Z-Day”, as it is dubbed by the media.

Shaun of the Dead is a low-budget comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and even manages a couple of poignant moments in between the zombie bashing (a cricket bat is the weapon of choice against the undead). This will be one for the DVD collection.

About Maura McHugh

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    Ghod knows when this is going to appear in NorthAm, but since it features people from “Black Books”, and I’ve seen the trailer on the interweb, it looks just too fucking funny. I loved the argument over which LPs to decapitate zombies with.

  • http://www.geocities.com/mondoirlando Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    Jim, it’ll be worth the wait man. It’s brilliant. You can see my own review somewhere in my list of posts (its fairly recent), but i agree with everything Maura says. It is incredibly moving at times, which i didn’t expect, and also, amazingly, manages to balance the horror-comedy thing by doing both well, like The American Werewolf Visits London or whatever. Also, being that these are the folks behind Spaced, it was pleasing to see that the jokes didn’t all rely on one’s knowledge of Zombie Flesh Eaters. Movie snobbery is great man, but sometimes real jokes are fun too. Thanks Shaun Of The Dead.

  • HW Saxton Jr.

    This flick sounds great.It’s been some
    time since I’ve seen a funny “Zombie”
    type flick.Actually about a decade ago.
    ‘Twas “Dead/Alive” back in about 93 or
    so…

  • http://www.geocities.com/mondoirlando Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    HW, iwas lambasted quite a bit on a web-net chat room one time for suggesting that to The Duke’s eyes, Dead/Alive (or Braindead as we in the U of K regard it) was the best film Peter Jackson made, and was better than his The Adventures Of The Hobbits series. They said i was all clambering for kudos or some shit. I stand by it, though. That film was a masterpiece (it also recieved the Mondo Irlando Lifetime Achievement Award for performance by a lawnmower)

  • HW Saxton Jr.

    “Best Performance By A Lawnmower” LOF’inL!!!!!!!!!
    Are you fan of Joe Bob Briggs per chance? I must agree it IS Peters best flick,easily.

  • http://www.geocities.com/mondoirlando Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    HW, I’m intrigued by what i’ve heard of Joe Bob, and I have his book Proundly Disturbing, but i’d like to see more. In fact, i might head over to his old slab of web-net right now. I was very, very tempted to buy the “millenium edition” whatever the fuck that is, of I Spit On Your Grave when i saw that Mr. Briggs had a commentary on there. Has anyone heard it? Is it worth the embaressment of saying to your fiancee “oh, hey honey, i just bought i spit on your grave about a woman is raped and then cuts a guys cock off”. Is it worth that?

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    Speaking of movies about the termination of johnson status, I just got the DVD of “Myra Breckinridge” in the post. That’s the movie whereas Rex Reed gets his gear removed, turns into Racquel Welsh, who then rapes a dude with a strap-on (oh, that’s somewhat of an eats, shoots and leaves construction, so hold tight for the review).

  • HW Saxton Jr.

    Duke, I think you might enjoy Joe Bob
    immensely.Your tastes are very similar.
    Frightening thought,eh ? He was actually
    the Foreign movie critic for “The Dallas
    Times Herald” before using his Joe Bob
    nom to review classics like:” Mad Monkey
    Kung Fu,Zombie” and what not.Actually he
    is quite erudite regarding Cinema and he
    enjoys Eisenstein as much as he does the
    works of Corman,Meyers et al.Needless to
    say they go hand in hand………
    His best collection is “Joe Bob Goes To
    The Drive In”. Well worth the hunt.

  • http://www.geocities.com/mondoirlando Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    HW, i just checked out his website. He has persuaded me to go find Basket Case 2, so he must be doing something right. As for the Eisenstien, well, my box-set of Russia In Revolt (what has Strike, Battleship Potemptkin and October, plus the under-loved Fall Of The Romanov Dynasty) is right next to Ichi The Killer and Island Of Death. Who says communists and cannibals can’t get along?

  • HW Saxton Jr.

    Some of his reviews are gut laughingly
    funny. A movies merit is usually weighed
    by the number of breasts,amount of blood
    and how creatively the crimson jimson is
    spilled.”Bloodsucking Freaks” rates high
    in the JB pantheon of classics. Nuff said.