Comedy Horror
Shaun of the Dead
.
Dir: Edgar Wright
Star: Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2004
Format: DVD R2
'

Shaun and his loser best mate Ed like nothing more than hanging out in the Winchester pub. This doesn't sit well with his girlfriend Liz who dumps him because his life is going nowhere. Luckily for Shaun but not for nearly everyone else the dead rise from their graves and go on a cannibalistic killing spree giving him the perfect excuse to rescue Liz and get back in good books. The only question is after the rescue where could they go thatís safe, how about the Winchester pub?

Spaced was one of the best sitcoms seen on television in the previous few years. It mixed some down to earth characters with some hilarious and sometimes weird plots, and then threw in a ton of sci-fi fan boy in jokes. From the same people who bought you Spaced we have this film, and I am glad to say it has been made very much upon the same lines (so be prepared to look out for those in jokes).

In America a zombie attack is usually met with plucky bands of survivors armed to the teeth with a plan to hold up somewhere practical like a shopping mall. In this country its met with a couple of drinking buddies armed with Dire Straits albums who want to rescue their mums and hole up in a pub. You tell me which is the more real. Like last years 28 Days Later this film proves to the world when it comes to zombie films Britain is still a contender. Whereas 28 Days Later gave us super fast monkey rage zombies in a bleak realistic setting Shaun has the old fashioned shambling zombies aiming straight for the funny bone. But whichever way you play it seems that we British can do this sort of thing really well.

The film gets off to a pretty slow start with the first quarter of an hour or so dedicated to building up the characters. It is a good idea but unfortunately this part of the film is rather drags and not very funny. The film really hits top gear when the zombies arrive, and this is where things start to get seriously funny. This leads to the funniest scenes in the film as our heroes learn how to combat the zombie threat, and later when the bludgeon a zombie to death to the accompaniment of Queen. This leads to a more serious traditional horror ending.

What is really impressive is the way in which the film has not skimped on the zombie horror element or for that matter the human love story element while providing the laughs. There is plenty of gore as well as laughs and final quarter of a hour is pretty dramatic as the humor takes a back seat and tension mounts. This leads a desperately apocalyptic shown down before the jokes finally reappear at the very end. This combination of horror movie, comedy, and love story is something new and something that almost works.

Unfortunately cramming all three elements into the film has led to a movie that in places is very patchy. Horror, comedy and drama donít always make good bedfellows and in places the plot is forced to concentrate on just one of these elements. I canít help feeling that it would have been better to concentrate on the comedy a bit more as in places the film is just not as funny as it could or should have been.

Shaun of the dead is one of the best zombie comedies around ( and yes there are others). Its humor may be rather too British to make it a global success but here it manages to be funny and a pretty decent zombie movie at the same time. The cast is a whoís who of current British television comedy and it is fun spotting many of the cameos. What is particularly impressive is the way in which real newscasters were used to report the zombie crisis thus giving the film a more realistic edge. What isnít so impressive is Jessica Stevensonís (who appeared with, and co-wrote Spaced with Simon Pegg) recurring and annoyingly unfunny cameo, the inclusion of her character is a mistake that detracts from the films pace. This is just one of the small faults that add to the patchy feel of the film and means that while itís undoubtedly good (and in places brilliant) its never as good as it could have been. Still overall the film is very watchable and yet another British zombie success.

Tagline

A romantic comedy. With zombies.

Quotes

Shaun: Whack 'em on the head, that seems to work.

Shaun: Kill the Queen!
David: What?
Shaun: The music.

Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD
Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic A good clear picture.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Good but not very exciting.
Features Audio commentary by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright.
Audio commentary by Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Kate Ashfield and Lucy Davis.
Audio commentary by Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton.
Audio commentary by zombies.
Extended scenes (with commentary).
Outtakes.
The Man Who Would Be Shaun a spoof of The Man who would be King.
Plotholes a comic strip explaining some of the characters backstory.
Extended edits of the TV Shows within the movie.
Remembering Z Day an interview with Jeremy Thompson.
Electronic Press Kit.
Vignettes: Simon's cam / Lucy's cam / Joe's diary.
Edgar Wright's and Simon Pegg's flip chart presentation of the first draft.
SFX comparison.
Make-up tests.
Photo Gallery.
Poster Designs.
2000AD comic strip There's Something About Mary written by Simon Pegg.
Various Trailers.
Verdict Nice transfer and loads of brilliant extras make this an excellent disc.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home