By Celeste Meiffren
photo courtesy of rogue pictures
The British romantic zombie comedy "Shaun of the Dead," starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, is a witty tribute to zombie movies that is itself a notable entry in the canon.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 30, 2004
'Shaun of the Dead' proves gore is better across the pond
As I walked into the theater, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I hoped "Shaun of the Dead" would not be another "Scary Movie." Surely, the Brits have more sense than that.
Then I thought about World War I. Oh no, I thought.
Then I recalled that scene from "Holy Grail" with the flying, bloodsucking rabbit. It was at that moment when I realized everything would be OK.
"Shaun of the Dead" has been referred to as a "rom zom com" - a romantic zombie comedy. Emphasize the words zombie and comedy, and it's about right. "Dead" is not a spoof of a zombie movie - it is a zombie movie. And a great one at that. It's absolutely hilarious and smart. Or, as the zombies would say, full of braaaaains!
The story is that Shaun lives a normal, repetitive, scheduled life, reliving the same routines and arguments and pubs every day. While he is living said life, a disease is spreading. The disease will kill anyone who is bitten by someone with the disease, and they will rise from the grave - zombie style.
It is not until a zombie wanders onto Shaun's lawn that he becomes aware of the events. Once Shaun realizes what is happening, he tries to save his best friend Ed, his mother and his ex-girlfriend Liz. Chaos ensues. Laughter flows freely.
The performances in this film are noteworthy. They all had fantastic comedic timing and fit into their zombie movie typecast roles well. Shaun (Simon Pegg) is the savior, the heart and the leading man. Liz (Kate Ashfield) is the object of affection. Ed (Nick Frost) is the comic relief. Dave (Dylan Moran) is the annoying guy who eventually gets ripped apart and eaten.
I think they put something in the water. Brits are funny, man.
The brilliance of this picture is its amalgamation of two distinctly separate genres - romantic comedies and zombie movies. Could you imagine Hugh Grant wooing Julia Roberts on the streets of England while zombies are chasing them? Or seeing the zombies in "Dawn of the Dead" falling in love? Surely not.
Somehow, "Shaun of the Dead" is the perfect combination of the two. It is side-splittingly funny, a wee bit romantic and, at the same time, incorporates zombies and zombie gore. The situational zombie comedy isn't spoof-like. It simply pays homage to other films in the genre, like "I Married a Zombie," "28 Days Later," "Night of the Living Dead," and "Dawn of the Dead."
Don't worry, fanboys - only one zombie rule was broken. The zombies couldn't smell living flesh. All of the other rules were followed. The zombies didn't run (like in "28 Days Later") or dance (like in "Thriller"). And I think we can all sigh with relief on that one.
I don't think one needs to have a large zombie-info reserve in order to like this movie. But it helps with the nuance.
This is definitely a movie worth sinking your teeth into. It's a bloody good time.