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Shaun of the Dead is quite a surprising and brilliant piece of work which
suspect will achieve the accolade of instant cult status as word of mouth
snowballs this film to richly deserved recognition.
Simon Pegg, both the joint writer and the main star of the film, has been a comedic force for some time, most notably in the fantastic BBC2 series 'Hippies' (which inexplicably bombed in the ratings) and the cult Channel 4 series 'Spaced'. Both programs hinted at Pegg's saliently dead pan comedic manner (and writing skills) which comes to full fruition in 'Shaun of the Dead'.
In a nut shell, this film is a romantic comedy with zombies (or zom-rom-com) who appear for no good clear reason (although some tantalizing clues are offered). The film is an amazing blend of the funny, the violent and the poignant.
Pegg has cast himself as one hell of a serious loser in this film. And not in the 'American' form of: 'I am a loser but I work in TV and have Jennifer Aniston as my wife' kind of loser as portrayed in tripe such as 'Bruce Almighty' or dozens of other US 'loser' films. Pegg's Shaun is a genuine loser and extremely recognisable too, he's an everyday man who works for an electrical retailer and his life is just plain dull and disappointing - and this is where all the comedy comes from in this film. There are two scenes in the film which seem to summarise this (and also shine a light of Simon Pegg as a very clever and funny writer) and both scenes simply involve Shaun walking to the nearby corner shop. The first time Shaun plods semi-comatose to the store we simply get the feeling that he is a loser. However, by the time the film shows him making the same journey again we realise that there is a lot more going on! The scene is played with such exquisite subtleness that it has to be one of the funniest scenes I have ever seen in any film! Not that this film is subtle however, there is a stunning array of visual comedy, one liners and (best of all) some digs at other films from the horror genre. The funniest being a very subtle snipe at Boyles `28 days later' - see if you can spot it!
The only problem with reviewing this film is that there are so many funny moments in it that it is hard to pick any to write about without spoiling the film. All I can say is that I cannot remember a film ever being this consistently funny with probably five or six serious laugh-out-loud moments. It was a joy to watch and my only disappointment is that I can never watch this film for the first time ever again - every viewing will forever be a repeat viewing.
Shaun of the Dead is not very everyone though - the language from the beginning is strong and the violence was quite surprising for a 15 certificate film (in the UK). This film is definitely going to be most appreciated by horror fans who know a huge back catalogue of horror films. It will also be enjoyed by teenagers (who filled the cinema when I viewed this film which was terrific, as they laughed loudest). Finally, I do have some criticism of this film and that is there is some wasted talent in the movie. Black Book's (channel four) star Dylan Moran seemed a bit wasted and so was Martin Freeman (from BBC2's The Office) - who would have made a terrific zombie! Also, did I spot Matt Lucas (from BBC3's 'Little Britain') in this film? I am not sure as I was laughing too hard maybe!
These problems however are so minor and can easily be forgiven. My suggestion is to go and slowly shuffle down to your local cinema to see this film and give Simon Pegg the money and recognition he deserves so that he can go on and make more films that are this good including what the UK papers have suggested as his next project - `From Dusk 'Till Shaun'.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Shaun of the Dead" is not only the best zombie flick I've seen in a
long time, it is simply the best film I've seen in a long time, PERIOD!
Clever, witty, sweet and nasty and, at times, gory and horrific, SOTD
has it all. Of course, I didn't think I could go very far wrong with a
film that George Romero himself said he enjoyed.
Shaun (Simon Pegg) isn't having a very good week. His co-workers have no respect for him, his uptight stepfather is on his back and his beloved girlfriend Liz has had enough of his laziness and inconsideration. Really, Shaun isn't such a bad guy, but he has no ambition and seems to prefer the company of his unemployed, flatulent, video-game obsessed slob of a flatmate Ed to anyone else. And as if this were not enough, the dead have risen and are walking the earth in search of human flesh to feast upon. Shaun doesn't notice this fact as quick as he should, but Shaun is somewhat of a zombie himself, lost in his own world and distracted by his own thoughts as he strolls right past the rotting cadavers that now fill the streets of Britain. Not even news flashes can get through to Shaun, as (in an incredibly hysterical scene) he channel surfs rapidly, every station finishing the sentence of the one before and giving everyone but the oblivious Shaun the grim news of what is happening in the world. When Shaun and Ed finally do realize what is happening, it quickly becomes a race against time: save Shaun's mum, rescue Liz and go to the pub where they can wait out the zombie infestation with a pint and a smoke.
Of course, not everything goes as smoothly as planned. There's undead flatmates to deal with, "bitey" zombies along the way, petty arguments between friends and Ed's cell phone going off at inopportune moments. But Shaun, armed with a cricket bat, is determined to save the woman he loves and nothing is going to get in his way!
This film should be seen side by side with Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" as both films cleverly and sarcastically comment on our zombified society and virtually show no difference between the living and the living dead. There's not much gore here, but there is one very unexpected and Savini-worthy moment in "Shaun" when the zombies rip a living man to shreds, yanking out intestines and tearing off limbs. I really hadn't seen such a gory scene coming and was too stunned to look away. It's truly graphic and nauseating...and, though I usually hate gore, very well done. For a low budget film, the zombies are pretty menacing looking and there are some genuinely scary moments to be found in "Shaun." There's also several touching scenes between Shaun and his mum and dad...sorry, I mean stepdad. Shaun himself is forced to grow up and take charge as the zombies close in around them.
I don't want to give away the incredible ending of "Shaun" except to say that the living dead are not immune from pop-culture commercialization, and though loved ones may die, video games are forever.
SEE THIS FILM!!! You do NOT have to be a fan of horror movies to appreciate the sublime satire that is "Shaun of the Dead." I haven't seen a movie this good for a very long time. 10 stars.
Shaun's nearing 30, stuck in a crappy sales job, and his girlfriend Liz
is unhappy with the amount of time he spends with his ultra-slacker
B-class drug dealer friend, Ed, at their local pub, the Winchester.
When Liz dumps him, Shaun's so glum he doesn't even realise that
London's been overrun with flesh-eating zombies. But somewhere within
his console-happy lazy self, a hero is born.
I can't even begin to emphasise how cool this quintessentially British film is. The amount of time it takes for Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost) to realise anything's wrong is priceless. Director Edgar Wright, who co-wrote the film with Pegg, also demonstrates that there's little difference between glassy eyed commuters and their undead brethren.
The plot rips along beautifully and parodies both the romantic comedy and zombie genres, while at the same time remaining true to them. Hopefully a new genre, the romzom com, has been born incidentally, that's where you can go to find out more about the movie romzom.com. The fabulous supporting cast includes Bill Nighy (Love Actually) as Shaun's supercilious stepfather, Penelope Wilton (Calendar Girls) as Shaun's absent-minded mum, Dylan Moran (Black Books) as Liz's snooty housemate David and Lucy Davis (The Office) as wannabe actress Diane.
Shaun of the Dead was partially inspired by the classic zombie flick, Dawn of the Dead. Its creator George Romero was reportedly so impressed with Shaun of the Dead that Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright are taking on cameo roles in Romero's latest instalment, Land of the Dead.
Shaun of the Dead is one of the best comedy of 2004 and a must-see for all rom zom com (romantic comedy with zombies) afficionados. ****½/***** stars.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Shaun Of The Dead isn't your typical zombie movie. In fact, the zombies
don't truly enter the story until almost a third of the way in. So what's
really about? A man named Shaun, played by Simon Pegg, who lives in London
and is a bit of a loser. He works in a dead-end job at an electronic goods
store and spends most of his spare time at the local pub or playing video
games with his unemployed roomate, Ed. One day Shaun's girlfriend, Liz,
decides she's had enough of his lazy attitude and decides to leave him.
the city suddenly gets taken over by the living dead Shaun finds the
opportunity to prove himself to Liz, so he sets out to save the day, win
girlfriend back and keep his mum, Barbara, from being eaten by his
who's slowly turning into a zombie.
Don't let the title and premise fool you, this isn't a simple spoof of Dawn Of The Dead, it's more a romantic comedy that just so happens to be littered with the undead. The film is also very clever, with a clear social commentary running throughout. The jokes that stem from this are absolutely hilarious but will probably be lost on any non-Londoners. It's actually quite unlikely that this film will translate to anyone outside the UK and this is a real shame and perhaps the films biggest flaw. But if you do get it, then good for you, because there is a lot of great stuff to be seen here. The script is wonderful and throws up many comedic moments, such as when Shaun and Ed are looking through Shaun's LP collection for a suitable vinyl to throw at two oncoming zombies, "Dire Straits?" "Chuck it!", or when Shaun and his friends beat up an elderly zombie in the pub using cricket bats, all to the rhythm of Don't Stop Me Now by Queen. The humour comes thick and fast, never have I laughed so consistantly during any film before, it only pauses briefly for a few dramatic scenes, all of which work surprisingly well. In fact the film tends to genre-hop quite a lot, and while some find this unappealing I think it works in its favour. One minute it's a comedy, then it's a drama and then it's a full blown horror. In fact some scenes are quite jumpy and certainly violent. One extremely gory part in particular is a clear homage to another famous horror film that shall remain unamed, but if you know what I'm talking about when you see it then good for you. That's the thing about this movie though, you don't need to be a horror fan to enjoy it. You just need to have the right sense of humour. Can I explain it? Well, no. You'll just know if the film's for you when you see it. I can assure you that most will like it. If you don't, then I really am sorry for you as this is about the most fun I have had in the cinema since Kill Bill . Ok, that wasn't long ago, but before that I don't think there was a film that was so rip-roaringly funny and then unashamedly brutal at the same time. There is nothing subtle about this movie, and yet it will simply go over the heads of most people. I urge you to watch the film and decide for yourself if you love it or hate it. It's not without its faults though, losing its spark slightly during the third act but it comes back with a vengence and gets in some really good jokes just before the credits roll.
Shaun Of The Dead is a great film. It's funny, it's clever and it's got zombies in it! Just when the British film industry appears to be dead this gem pops up and shows us what someone with a sense of humour and a real passion for the media can achieve. Go watch it, you'll laugh till it hurts!
Here in the States they don't show too many foreign movies, even if they are from the countries like UK. When they show them, however, they tend to outdo some of the American movies in the box office. Although the British movies are rarely shown here, they're a guaranteed success - do you recall the popularity of the last year's "28 Days Later"? Well, this movie is even better - it's a hilarious combination of comedy, social parody, tragedy and drama, spiced with the references to every zombie flick ever made. Some references are pretty slim, though - for example "We're coming to get you, Barbara!" is a reference to "The Night of the Living Dead" - a reference that many people (including George Romero!) didn't get. Most of the actors are unknown to an average American, yet they played great! I hope that movies like "Shaun of the Dead" will make big wigs in Hollywood realize that there are many great foreign movies, and that integrity is always better than crude remakes which the States are so notorious for... I encourage everybody to come and see SOTD - the best comedy of 2004.
...He'll kill some zombies too! Brace yourself for some nonstop zombie
action and laughs with the delightful horror-comedy "Shaun of the
Armed with a cricket bat, razor-sharp wit, and an attitude, Shaun (Simon Pegg) is perhaps the last guy that you'd want to save the world from the legions of the living dead that have suddenly begun to storm the London neighborhood where he lives. It could be stated, as this is a running gag here, that we're all dying slow deaths, so it's no surprise that when zombies begin to eat the flesh of the living, Shaun couldn't be any more oblivious to the chaos that has gripped most of London.
Shaun loves his dead-end existence of wasting his days at the Winchester, a local pub, with his friend and flat mate Ed (Nick Frost). The film's money shot arrives about 20 minutes in, when Shaun, hungover from a hard night's drinking, goes to the store and because he's so hungover and is worried about his ex-girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), he doesn't even notice that the street behind him is teeming with the living dead.
While in the store buying a beverage, he doesn't notice the bloody handprints on the refrigerator door and he almost slips in a puddle of blood. I was quite amazed at the response this film got from people in the theater: it seemed that every time something funny happened, the response was almost always with riotous laughter.
Straight from Britain, we have what is certainly one of the most original horror movies to come out in a long time. Even in a genre that embraces gore, "Shaun of the Dead" is fairly light on it (at least for the first 45 minutes) and is dominated by laughs galore.
You may remember the character of "Ash" (Bruce Campbell of "Evil Dead" fame), who has remained pretty much the supreme demon slayer in the horror genre. But you know, Campbell's pushed past 40 and people today may not be weary of his history slaying evil Deadites in Sam Raimi's notorious film series. So maybe with "Shaun of the Dead," the torch has been passed to Simon Pegg, who slays more than his fair share of the living dead in this film.
It's pretty obvious that "SOTD" was greatly influenced by the works of George A. Romero (the director of 1978's supreme epic of zombie action-mayhem "Dawn of the Dead") and 2002's "28 Days Later" (directed by Danny Boyle). There are little itty-bitty references to the two zombie flicks throughout the movie.
Granted "Shaun of the Dead" is aimed largely at the gorehounds who idolized Romero's "Living Dead" trilogy, but it's also the first zombie flick to attempt making a hit with the mainstream. I guarantee any viewers out there that you'll spend more time laughing than you will being frightened.
In a London suburbia, Shawn is almost 30 and hasn't really achieved much
his life. He comes home from his mundane job each day, and goes to the
pub (The Winchester) that he always has gone to. He shares his flat with
ex-student friend, and his lifelong slob of a friend. On top of that, his
girlfriend has had enough of him. Oh.and the dead have started walking the
Hot on the heels of recent remake Dawn of the Dead comes Simon 'Spaced' Pegg's black comedy zombie spoof, in which Shawn must save his friends, mum, and ex-girlfriend from the masses of lumbering dead by, erm, going to the Winchester! Unlike recent zombie-fests, these dead-ites are pretty lame, lumbering monstrosities, much like the ones from the older zombie films. This is used to simple comic effect throughout as the 'heroes' seem to have plenty of time to think about things before being attacked.
The film balances the humour excellently with a decent zombie-story, and the array of characters within are not there just for laughs, there are plenty of poignant moments scattered throughout. Issues of family, love, and friendship, along with growing older and accepting responsibility are contained within the script. Much in the way that TV series Spaced managed to play the absurd with the serious, so does this film. It is easy to compare it to a 'big screen Spaced' episode, but that doesn't sell the film enough. It is much more than that, and is the perfect homage to zombie flicks, and social satire too. Watch towards the early stages of the film to see that most of the population could be confused for zombies anyway, and as for the end scenes of the film.well.suffice to say it will keep you laughing right to the end.
With a cast pulled from many cult British shows (Dylan Moran from Black Books, Matt Lucas from Little Britain, and nearly everyone from Spaced), and an excellent appearance by Bill `Love Actually' Nighy, there isn't really anything negative I can think of in the film. Even the action is well handled, with enough gore to satisfy any fans of zombie flicks.
This is a must see film which showcases Simon Pegg's talents excellently. The only drawback is that if it catapults him to international stardom he may never get around to making that final season of Spaced!!
The great British sit-com has undergone something of a revival in
recent years. Galvanised by the new wave of smart, sassy imports from
the US, the Brits have girded their loins and produced a spate of
quality comedies that have banished memories of the bland, identikit
dross of the late eighties and early nineties.
One such series is Spaced, a wholly original and delightfully quirky comic bagatelle which has built up a small but dedicated following in the UK. Now writer/actor Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright have teamed up once again to give us Shaun of the Dead which is, in a nutshell, a feature-length episode of Spaced (with added zombies). Happily timed to coincide with the Hollywood remake of the 1978 classic shocker Dawn of the Dead, Shaun is the perfect antidote: Irreverent, warm and very funny.
Shaun (Pegg) is your stereotypical sit-com loser: An ineffectual slob in a dead-end job, he is terminally afraid of commitment and spends all his time with his flat-mate Ed (Nick Frost, also from Spaced) who is an even bigger loser. After his girlfriend dumps him, Shaun and Ed seek solace in their local pub the Winchester - a good old-fashioned English hostelry with warm beer and pork scratchings which is infamous for its lock-ins. They stagger home in a state of advanced refreshment, unaware that the dead are now walking the earth. Indeed, it takes Shaun a little while to work it out the following morning despite interacting with a few of them (one of the recurring themes is that most of us go through the drudgery of our daily routines in a trance close to inertia).
When the penny drops, Shaun resolves to rescue his mother and his (ex) girlfriend and generally stand up for himself for the first time in his life. There is not much more of a plot than that. The film, like Spaced relies on a flawless script, observational humour and the theatre of the absurd. Pegg has perfected this in his writing but he is also a surprisingly good actor. It helps that he has surrounded himself with the pick of the British comedy fraternity who seem to have been lining up (literally in one scene) for a cameo. The stars of similarly acclaimed series' such as Black Books, The Office and Little Britain are all on show here as well as Jessica Stevenson, Pegg's Spaced co-writer, who plays a jolly-hockey-sticks human vigilante with a stiff-upper lip and can-do attitude ready to give those nasty zombie's what-for.
Veteran support comes from Penelope Wilton (a sit-com stalwart from a bygone age) as Shaun's curtain-twitching mother and Bill Nighy as her fearsome second husband who performs one of the most dignified and poignant descents into zombieness ever caught on camera.
Despite all the high praise, it must be acknowledged that Shaun of the Dead is still a spoof - a comic tool that you could argue is as low a form of wit as sarcasm. But where it scores highly is in its respect for the original material. Most spoofs (the Scary Movie franchise, for example) are vicious lampoons that unmercifully mock the films they are taking off. Shaun of the Dead gently pokes fun but doesn't lose sight of the fact that if something is worth parodying, it must have some merit. Pegg is also careful to ensure that his film can stand up on its own - there is barely a minute goes by without a very good joke and despite the light-heartedness, there are some satisfyingly scary moments and ample gore.
What is most encouraging is that us Brits have started playing to our strengths. It took a long time for comedy writers to realise that making an English version of Friends is doomed to failure (in the same way that The Office will not work with an American make-over). We should celebrate the Britishness of this film, laugh knowingly at the in gags, and be proud that it doesn't take a huge budget or movie stars to entertain people at the cinema.
Shaun (Simon Pegg) is in the midst of a lousy patch--he hates and is
embarrassed about his job, he gets no respect from other employees, one
of his roommates is on his case about the other roommate--a slacker
friend of Shaun's, his girlfriend is on his case about the fact that
all the ever do is hang out at a pub, and he hates his stepfather, who
is also on his case about doing something nice for his mum. As if
that's not bad enough, suddenly, everyone is turning into a zombie.
Shaun must both straighten out his life and fight for it at the same
Shaun of the Dead is a superb blending of horror and comedy ala An American Werewolf in London (1981), Idle Hands (1999), Frankenhooker (1990), or the Evil Dead films (beginning with the 1981 original, although there is progressively less to more comedy in that series). It manages to successfully both pay homage to and spoof a number of classic zombie films and horror film zombie mythology in general.
The film begins firmly in very British comedy/drama territory, with a number of stylistic directorial flourishes that seem like a cross between Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Danny Boyle's Trainspotting (1996). The horror material enters gradually, beginning with a couple background gags, then entering Desolation Boulevard territory via another Boyle reference, this time to 28 Days Later (2002) (although that itself was basically a version of The Last Man on Earth (aka L'Ultimo uomo della Terra)(1964), based on Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend). This arrives in the guise of Shaun crossing over to the corner store to buy his morning soda. He doesn't notice the deserted streets or store because he's so hung over from the night before.
Before long, our ragtag bunch of heroes is in the midst of a full-fledged zombie apocalypse--of the traditional, slow-moving zombie type. Acknowledging the cultural differences that strict gun laws bring about, they have to use their wits to commit the requisite head busting, enlisting unwanted LPs (after some debate over the merits of each), cricket bats, shovels and other items for the job. Of course it would be easier if any of our heroes were the slightest bit athletic and had any aim, but they get the job done. More or less.
Furthering genre-fan fun, director/writer Edgar Wright and co-writer Pegg insert a lot of references to other zombie films--especially when it comes to explaining the source of the "epidemic". The "scientific" explanations given in Resident Evil (2002), 28 Days Later, all of Romero's Dead films--beginning with Night of the Living Dead (1968)--and possibly even Romero's The Crazies (1973) and then some are all mentioned in the background, but resolutely cut off before they're finished. Part of the reason might be that usually, the explanations were pretty ridiculous, and we didn't really care--we just wanted to get to the cool zombie stuff, such as limbs being torn off, guts being eaten, and brains being blown or smashed out of skulls.
Wright and Pegg also insert clever nods to the subtexts of zombie films. Shaun looks and walks like a zombie when he's waking up. We see zombie like office workers, retail workers, and so on. There's also an amusing nod to filmic attempts to study and tame zombies, as well as organized militaristic defenses (both very prominent in 28 Days Later, but present in other films as well). There are interesting, more subtle and original zombie subtexts in Shaun of the Dead, also, such as the "mirrored" scene where Shaun and his crew meet up with Yvonne and her crew.
As long as you like outrageous comedy, somewhat gory horror, and you don't mind mixing the two, Shaun of the Dead should provide an enjoyable ride. Although it is the most fun when you're very familiar with the source material it is spoofing and referencing, it is still a great comedy-horror film if viewed with fresher eyes, and not so much as a spoof.
Some 5 years before the making of this film the same team behind it wrote
and directed series (season) 1 and 2 of an offbeat UK sitcom named
Massively overlooked at the time of broadcast yet with a hardcore fan base
of loyal devotees a third series was long overdue but never did
Shaun of the Dead is the continuation of what went before; of a similar format yet in a completely new setting, with new characters, plus new cast members and for the first time a feature-length run time for the big screen. So how does it play out? Even with such a departure from the original setting, the history of TV to cinema adaptations is a dodgy one to say the least. Fortunately for those of us who already fans or (more likely) if you've never seen the series before prepare to be impressed.
The style is all it's own. With inventive direction and editing making the visual impact which fans will instantly recognise, to the writing which importantly is firstly genuinely funny, interspersed with references to popular culture of the past two decades, always with a self-knowing grin, a wink to the viewer rather than a pretentious nod. And of course several self-references and in-jokes of the TV series all fill in the gaps between the tastefully presented killings. There is blood, after all this is a "rom-zom-com" or "romantic zombie comedy" - a self-proclaimed new genre and rightly so. This is as about as original as it gets. They actually manage to pull off humour, violence, decapitations, action, romance, suspense, sadness and joy all within the space of 90 minutes!
This is the best film I've seen in ages, and a real credit to British film, we already knew about "Fried Gold", now the rest of the World can see it too. An instant classic.
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