Newest Review: ... bleak outlook has always stuck with British zombie stories, but then along came Shaun of the Dead... Loser Shaun (Simon Pegg)'s life is... more
Shaun and the Dead
Shaun Of The Dead (DVD)
Member Name: Jarisleif
Shaun Of The Dead (DVD)
Advantages: Zombies and comedy
Disadvantages: Not suitable for youngsters
Warning: Spoilers will likely be given during this review.
The film was 99 minutes in length and starred Simon Pegg ("Star Trek", "Paul", "Burke and Hare") as Shaun, Nick Frost ("Attack the Block", "Hot Fuzz", "Grindhouse") as Ed, and Bill Nighy ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest", "Underworld") as Phillip.
The plot reads as follows: A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living.
This is the first of the "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy" of films which starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the other two being "Hot Fuzz" (2007) and "The World's End" (2013). It's called a romantic comedy with zombies, but I would label it as a horror/comedy film. I like all kinds of films, but horror is my favourite genre and I've been a big fan of George A. Romero's work in films like "Dawn of the Dead" (1978), "Day of the Dead" (1985) and the brilliant "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), so when I heard that a zombie film was to be released which put a comedy aspect on those films, I was a little skeptical as you can imagine, but with cameo appearances from Matt Lucas, Chris Martin, Reece Shearsmith and others, I thought that it couldn't be too bad. Is it any good? Let's find out!
A zombie outbreak occurs and it's down to Shaun to devise a plan for survival, which is not as straight-forward as he thought. There are many highly amusing and down-to-earth moments, including one where one of Shaun's co-workers notices his pen is leaking in his shirt pocket and says "you've got red on you". There is another scene I really enjoyed where Shaun and Ed are walking home from the pub and start singing the Grandmaster Flash classic "White Lines", and don't realise a zombie is looming large in the street coming towards them. The interaction between the three in doing a short rendition of the song is hilarious. I loved the scene where the gang is in the Winchester pub and John, the landlord, has emerged as a zombie. What transpires is the jukebox (on random) playing Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" with the characters hitting the landlord over the head in time to the beat. It's not the only time Queen features in the film, as the band's 1975 song, "You're My Best Friend", is played at the start of the closing credits.
The scene where Shaun is coming up with his plan to save Liz, his friends and family, having to revise it and come up with new plans is highly amusing and fast paced. It offers a lot of laughs in a short space of time, and you find yourself cheering him on at the same time, because he feels so heroic. The man who has always been content with life as it is, suddenly is determined to not only save the day, but win back his girl while saving her from the zombies. The use of an actual television newscaster instead of an actor for the scenes where Shaun and Ed are watching for information adds a touch of realism, yet at the same time that touch of realism lends its own comedy in some vague way. You aren't quite sure why it is funny, but it is. There are other scenes where comedy Is interjected into what are seemingly serious scenes, such as the death of Philip and his subsequent turn into a zombie. There are quite a few of these delightful little comedic moments throughout the film, but I will leave those for you to discover as you watch.
The characters of the film are really clever, and I like the way they've been created and ultimately portrayed by the actors. Shaun is a salesman stuck in a dead-end job who has a mostly off, but sometimes on relationship with Liz (Kate Ashfield). He shares a house with Pete (Peter Serafinowicz) and his best friend, Ed (Nick Frost). He's content with his job and his relationship and doesn't seem to have any ambition to take the next step and move up the ladder of life. There is a serious side to him, though, in that he wants to see his friends and family taken care of. Ed has a narrow world of very few people which are close to him but has no ambition in working for a living. He's a small-time drug dealer who is loyal to Shaun but he's not the type of person you could have an intellectual conversation with, because he'd probably spoil it by farting or telling a joke. The other characters are a diverse bunch. David (Dylan Moran) lives with his girlfriend Dianne (Lucy Davis) but is really in love with Liz - something all three of them have probably always known. Shaun's mother and stepfather (Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy) both have small but significant parts and I do enjoy Nighy's acting.
In summary, this is one of the most satisfying films I had seen around the time I first watched it. I loved the old horror/comedy zombie films like "Return of the Living Dead" and "Shaun of the Dead" is right up there with some gory scenes and some sheer brilliance when it comes to comedy value. There are other films out there that the majority of people will say were better, but when you look back you have to say that this was unique. Yes, it's all been done before, but it's never been done quite in this style. With "Shaun of the Dead", you see different things every time you watch it that make you think, which is always a good thing. This is a film that I heartily recommend, but be wary of the language, blood and violence.
The critics loved the film, with very favourable reviews:
USA Today: "For those who like their spoofs silly and their cartoonish gore vivid, Shaun offers some amusement."
Los Angeles Times: "It's a grisly but sweet ode to friendship, love and the George Romero zombie trilogy."
The Times: "It is, in terms of pacing, comic references and home furnishings, an undeniably British production, and hugely enjoyable for it."
Empire Magazine: "Even when in danger of self-destructing, it cadges laughs with smart lines, silly observations or blokish inside jokes about zombie movies, video games and pub nibbles."
San Francisco Chronicle: "Remarkably fresh and inventive."
My rating: 9/10
Summary: Refreshing, bloody, violent and funny.