Zombies are one of those horror staples that have gotten putrid, after one too many idiotic blood’n"gore-fests with a revolting script. Like poor Dracula, they run out of things to do.
But zombie films are revitalized by the wickedly funny "Shaun of the Dead," a tale of music, love, pubs, and the slobbering undead. In the vein of Peter Jackson‘s "Dead Alive," it’s full of twisted humour, funny dialogue and plenty of gore.
Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost) are the poster boys for adolescence slackeritis, living in a London flat with their peeved roommate Pete, who has actually grown up and gotten a real job. Ed plays video games all day, and Shaun’s immaturity has just gotten him dumped by his long-suffering girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield).
Wrapped up in his love life woes, Shaun fails to notice a little news item: Human beings all over London are transforming into zombies. At first, Shaun obliviously drowns his sorrows, and has a nasty encounter when he goes to pick up a soda. Now he must mend his relationship with Liz and defend himself and his family from the hordes of ravenous zombies… by barricading them in a pub.
"Shaun" makes the whole genre seem fresh just because it doesn’t take itself seriously. The heroes don’t even have guns (since the UK public don’t get them), and so our heroes fend off the zombies with vinyl records, shovels and cricket bats. That gives an idea of how serious this movie is.
"Shaun of the Dead" isn’t so much a zombie movie as a love story with zombies—a very funny one, with lots of gore. We’re treated to slackers in love, Shaun drifting obliviously around London withoutn noticing the undead, and some very entertaining dialogue ("Just look at the face: it’s vacant, with a hint of sadness. Like a drunk who’s lost a bet…")
Later on, he’s forced to shake off his obliviousness in order to save his loved ones, with a bat as his only weapon. And maybe some commandos in a tank. It’s gory, and the ending gets a bit cliched and overserious, but the ride up until then is wonderfully scripted and full of hilarious crude comic moments. Not sex-organ/bathroom humor, but definitely not highbrow.
Everybody knows guys like Shaun and Ed. Pegg perfectly plays a slacker with a heart of gold, who would like to be more than he is, but doesn’t have the slightest clue how to go about it. Frost is a good annoying sidekick for Shaun, and Ashfield does a good job as the long-suffering girlfriend.
As a bonus, music geeks will laugh themselves silly over such important decisions as: which albums should our reluctant heroes throw at the zombies? "Stone Roses?" "No." "...Second Coming?" "I liked it." "Dire Straits?" "Chuck it!" Good choice, Shaun m’boy.
While it’s a hilarious movie, it’s not a spoof—rather it’s a zombie movie with wit, love and comedy. By not taking itself too seriously, "Shaun of the Dead" ends up revitalizing a genre that seemed like it was… well, almost dead.
About Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Starring: Simon Pegg, Bill Nighy, Michael Smiley, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Peter Serafinowicz, Nick Frost, Nick Ewans, Rafe Spall, Reece Shearsmith, Martin Freeman, Kate Ashfield, Mark Donovan, Edgar Wright, Claudine Biswas, James Scott, Lucy Davis, Julia Deakin, Mark Gatiss, David Walliams, Jason McDonald, Kevin Wilson, Tamsin Greig, Rob Brydon, Paul Kaye, Patricia Franklin, Peter Rnic, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Jeremy Thompson, Joe Cornish, Kristof Romagnoli
Director: Edgar Wright