This is a film that will be remembered for its wit. Wit, according to Merriam Webster, can be defined this way: “the ability to relate seemingly disparate things so as to illuminate or amuse.” What Shaun of the Dead does is to relate a real guy’s love life and family issues to a zombie-Armageddon storyline in a way that amuses . . . uproariously so!

(2004) Film Review by Ed Travis

This page was created on October 13, 2004
This page was last updated on October 20, 2004

Review by Ed Travis
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Dial up modems will take a few moments


Directed by Edgar Wright
Screenplay by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright

Cast (in credits order)
Simon Pegg .... Shaun
Kate Ashfield .... Liz
Nick Frost .... Ed
Lucy Davis .... Dianne
Dylan Moran .... David
Nicola Cunningham .... Mary
Keir Mills .... Clubber 1
Matt Jaynes .... Clubber 2
Gavin Ferguson .... Football Kid
Peter Serafinowicz .... Pete
Horton Jupiter .... Homeless Man
Tim Baggaley .... The Usher
Arvind Doshi .... Nelson
Rafe Spall .... Noel
Sonnell Dadral .... Danny

Produced by
Tim Bevan .... executive producer
Eric Fellner .... executive producer
Alison Owen .... executive producer
Nira Park .... producer
Ronaldo Vasconcellos .... line producer
Natascha Wharton .... executive producer
James Wilson .... executive producer

Original Music by
Dan Mudford
Pete Woodhead
Freddie Mercury (song "Don't Stop Me Now")

Cinematography by David M. Dunlap
Film Editing by Chris Dickens

MPAA: Rated R for zombie violence/gore and language.
Runtime: 99 min

For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG

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Edgar Wright's horror-comedy film, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, follows the title character (Simon Pegg) through his mundane life in London. Joined by his immature and ever-present roommate, Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun excels at nothing except drinking pints of ale and watching television, which causes friction with his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield). Before Shaun can save his relationship, however, he's got to fend off a horde of zombies that are slowly taking over the city. Armed with a cricket bat and a vague sense of direction, Shaun must rescue his friends and loved ones, and bring them to the only safe place he can think of--the pub.

Cowritten by Wright and Pegg, SHAUN OF THE DEAD succeeds remarkably well at combining droll British humor with good, old-fashioned zombie cinema. While the movie is often hilariously amusing, it takes its horror pedigree seriously, offering up moments of genuine suspense, and even a healthy dose of gore. Pegg is oddly charming as the put-upon lead slacker, and Frost is appropriately oafish, but the living dead themselves also take up a fair amount of screen time, shuffling and limping in their best Romero form. For lovers of zombie films and other chills-and-chuckles outings like EVIL DEAD II and DEAD ALIVE, SHAUN OF THE DEAD is an instant cult classic.

Review by ED TRAVIS
Email Ed Travis here
A Film Geek and graduate of Eastern University and assistant Youth Director at Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church in Gaithersburg, MD.
Click to enlargeIf ever a movie could claim to be one of a kind, this would be it. If anyone can think of another zombie romantic comedy, or zom rom com, please let me know! Shaun of the Dead does what every good spoof should do, and yet it is more than a spoof. A spoof makes good-natured fun of its source material. Airplane was an amazing spoof of a non-amazing movie, Airport. Shaun of the Dead is a spoof of the zombie genre on one level, but it is also its own unique zombie film that turns conventions on their head.

Click to enlargeThe film centers on Shaun, a 29-year-old clearly in the midst of his quarter-life crisis. He cares deeply for his roommate Ed, but Ed is a total loser in the eyes of the business world. He also loves his girlfriend, Liz, but can’t seem to rise to the challenge of actually supporting her . . . or even taking her to a restaurant that is NOT the Winchester?Shaun and Ed’s pub of choice. So, before any of the carnage begins, Ed finds himself very dumped by Liz.

Click to enlargeThe rest of the film is simply the story of Shaun and Liz’s reconciliation . . . oh, yeah, and zombie Armageddon happens in the midst of all of this. Could ever a tagline for a film be as perfect as this: “A romantic comedy. With Zombies.” ? The tagline lets you know that you are going to need to go into this film looking to have fun, and it also delivers exactly what it describes!

Click to enlargeGreat care and thought went into the making of this film. Clearly Edgar Wright, the film’s writer and director, has great respect for the zombie genre. He also has an eye for telling a story through the camera. One scene that demonstrates the care put into the filming involves a long tracking shot. Shaun leaves his flat, walks across the street, hands change to a beggar, enters a shop, buys his morning drink, and pays the shop owner. This is all captured in one long, complicated take. But then Wright then one-ups himself in the story’s next morning, by reproducing the shot, only this time the world has simply been overrun by zombies, with Shaun entirely oblivious to the fact. He passes the same beggar, with whom he never makes eye contact to notice his now-undead state. He opens the same refrigerator case to get the same drink out, only this time he slips, on what we can only assume to be blood, and never even looks down. Shaun makes it all the way back home without even once noticing the dozens of zombies roaming the streets! The scene was hard to film, no question, but so effective in giving us a glimpse into Shaun’s character, as well as giving us a glimpse into the kind of humor we should expect for the rest of the film.

Click to enlargeAs noted above, the film also takes the staple requirements of the zombie genre and turns them on their heads. What a great method of storytelling! Many zombie movies have a tough-thinking hero who leads a small band of survivors to (apparent) safety. In Shaun, that hero exists, but is only rising to the occasion in order to impress and win back his girlfriend! All zombie movies of note have a very bleak, inevitable feel to them. Humanity is basically doomed, and the zombies simply can’t be stopped. Shaun is able to lead us into this deep and dreadful feeling even amidst the laughs. Several characters that the viewer has come to care about are “turned” or eaten, and Shaun always manages to find the balance between the mandatory zombie-feasting, and the lightning wit.

This is a film that will be remembered for its wit. Wit, according to Merriam Webster, can be defined this way: “the ability to relate seemingly disparate things so as to illuminate or amuse.” What Shaun of the Dead does is to relate a real guy’s love life and family issues to a zombie-Armageddon storyline in a way that amuses . . . uproariously so!
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