Film #8 on the 100 Movies Bucket List: Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead (2004) is the first film in the Cornetto trilogy, a series of films directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I have to admit I’m a little biased when it comes to Shaun and 2007’s Hot Fuzz (shameful that this isn’t also on the bucket list), the first two films in the trilogy, as they’re two of my comedy favourites and films I can quote far too much from. And as zombie horror comedies go, you can’t get much better than Shaun of the Dead.
The film follows Shaun (Simon Pegg), a hopeless boyfriend who shares a house with his slacker friend Ed (Nick Frost) and stickler Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), while he tried to save his Rocky relationship with girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) whilst trying to battle his way through a zombie apocalypse. The best thing about Shaun of the Dead is how it follows Shaun trudging almost zombie-like through his own life, while in the background a real zombie apocalypse is breaking out. It’s so incredibly fun watching all of the zombie-related acts in the background that the main characters are completely oblivious about, and not only is it funny, it’s also a rather clever commentary on the state of our culture and society – I’m sure we could all imagine this oblivious, self-absorbed attitude being very much present in a lot of people if a zombie apocalypse ever really happened.
Shaun also succeeds due to the incredibly clever and witty script and the gags that don’t ever seem to let up. From the subtle zombie nods in the beginning to the wisecracking and snide remarks between Shaun, Ed and virtually everyone else in Shaun’s life, this film is hilarious and infectiously quotable. The zombie apocalypse is tackled in such a typically British way, and not only is this funny but it’s incredibly refreshing too when compared to the overly stylish guns ‘n’ ammo style zombie films we’re used to from across the pond. How often do you see a character trying to kill zombies with records before settling down with a cup of tea and a cornetto? It’s a work of genius.
The cast too is equally responsible for how good this film is and do a great job with the script and pace. Not only do you have the charismatic pairing of Pegg and Frost who’s chemistry is undeniable, but there’s also an excellent supporting cast with some rather big names in the UK industry: Bill Nighy, Jessica Hynes, Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis and Penelope Wilton. And some blink and you’ll miss it cameos from comedy greats Matt Lucas, Reece Shearsmith and Tamsin Greig. These names paired with Edgar Wright’s well-paced directing style makes for an engaging film.
Shaun of the Dead is basically a big screen zombie version of Spaced, and this definitely isn’t a bad thing. The only negative about this, especially watching it 16 years later, is that it seems so obviously low budget which I think has only been made more obvious with age. Even in HD, it does look a tad aged which is a shame, but the amount of blood and gore is still impressive for a 15 rated film.
Despite its age, Shaun of the Dead is one of the best zombie films out there and the fact that it’s hilarious too just makes it even better.
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