Shaun of the Dead
Is twenty something sales-manager, Shawn (Simon Pegg), someone you would call a 'people's person'? Well, his flatmates, Ed and Pete (Nick Frost and Peter Serafinowicz), thinks that he's alright - although they don't like each other. His girlfriend, Kate (Kate Ashfield), thinks that he is a bit of a prat - and wants to give him the old heave-hoe. Plus that dead b*tch sauntering around in his garden, doesn't really think - she just wants to KILL!
You see, over the last day or so, Shaun has noticed that there is something weird happening in the world around him. A strange sound here, plus a wry glimpse there. However, it is only when he and his pal, Nick, spot this dead b*tch pissing about in the garden, that he finally sees the light. OK - that - plus hearing upon the television that London has been overrun by ‘a perculiar epidemic’, which is causing a strange ‘zombie-like' sensation to all in sundry.
Now obviously panic stricken about this strange turn of events - kind of - both Shaun and Ed go bonkers, and slap, kick, punch, and bash, all of the zombies who cross their path, until they are able to reach salvation. For instance: The b*tch in the garden, POW! Some fat bloke standing next to her, THUNK! Their flatmate Pete, BOOM! Plus a number of others ugly sods as well, ZIP! Before they jump into Pete’s car, and drive to... SCREECH... Shawn's Mum's house.
Granted, not 'salvation' per-say. But a location where Nick and Shawn can pick up Shawn's Mum and Stepfather, Barbra and Philip (Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy), as they then go to his girlfriends flat next, Liz, pick her up too, plus her pal’s, David and Dianne (Dylan Moran and Lucy Davis).
OK? So now what? Salvation? Right? Err - kind of. Because Shawn likes to think that there next port of call is some type of safe-haven - the Winchester pub. But Liz don't. David doesn't. And Philip doesn't either. Plus neither do any of the pug-faced zombies whom camp outside this drinking establishment, whom stop them from entering.
Though I suppose Phillip can't, huh? Especially since he has been turned into a zombie himself. Moreover, by this point in their adventure together, Shawn and the gang are feeling as shattered a the pain of glass on the Winchester pub, when they eventually venture inside, CRASH! Still, that's most probably why what next transpires is a right somber affair all in all. As human's moan - zombies groan - people die - and the whole wide world does not lie.
Well, you have to take into consideration that I am somewhat familiar with Simon's, Nick’s, and Edgar’s, work on the television series, 'Spaced', you see. So all those years ago when I first heard that they were going to make the 'big jump' to the 'big screen' together, I could have guessed that this was the sort of thing that they were going to do. The movie pastiches. The verbal humor. The mix-mash of styles. Plus the urban settings. All of these aspects stage this flick within a universe that is both relatable, and surreal, at the same time.
Here, check out some of my filmic-facts to see what I mean: (1) Many of the 'zombies' were fans recruited via the 'Spaced Out' fan site [www.spaced-out.org.uk], and were paid £1 a day if they were not used.(2) Most of the members of the 'alternate gang', were the 'television partners' of many of the cast. Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes were both in 'Spaced'. Lucy Davis and Martin Freeman were both in 'The Office'. Plus Dylan Moran and Tamsin Greig were both in 'Black Books'. (3) Shaun's last name is Riley. (4) Simon and Edgar wrote a 2001AD comic based on the two zombies in the garden, called 'There's something about Mary'. The art was by Frazer Irving. (5) This film had to be delayed by two weeks, due to the UK release of 'Dawn of the Dead'. (6) One of the other pub's Shaun suggests to go to, instead of 'The Winchester', is 'the Shepherds', and is Simon's local, plus Coldplay lead vocalist, Steve Martin's, as well. (7) All of the newsreaders and television presenters are real people portraying themselves. (8) The word "f*ck" is said 77 times in this movie. (9) When Shaun says to Ed that he should not use "the zed-word", this was a homage to the fact the word "zombie" was never used in most of the movies made by horror master, George A. Romero. (10) Shaun and Ed's friendship is actually based on Simon's and Nick's relationship, when they shared a flat together. (11) David Walliams auditioned for the role of David. (12) The voices projected at the end of the film were recorded by David Walliams, Mark Gatiss, Keith Chegwin, Rob Brydon, and Edgar Wright. And (13) Although it is sporadically hinted at in the movie, the cause of the zombie invasion is never really properly explained. When people are about to, they get interrupted by something.
OK, I have to admit, that initially a small part of me was somewhat skeptical of what the 'spaced guys' were going to do on the big screen. Dreading that most of it would be ‘more of the same’, but with less heart to it. However, I am am happy to say that this was not the case at all, because they have been able to take what they have done on the television to the next level, and then amuse, entertain, and kind of scare.
For example, the scope is grander, the plot is bolder, the characters are relatable, and the overall presentation is far more impressive. Also, the zombies look like zombies, the jokes are funny, the scenes are dynamic, and the whole film is a laugh riot without seeming to even try.
In some way I like to think that this film is a labor of love for Simon, Nick, and Edgar, because their adulation of the horror genre is blatantly expressed throughout it. Not done in a ‘in joke’ way, oh no, but more of an extension to a really good script. Plus, to make 'Shaun of the Dead' that much more of a blast, I have to commend the whole cast for doing such a great job. Simon is the lovable fool. Nick is the slacker friend. Lucy is the pretty one. Kate is the feisty one. And Dylan is the pain in the ass. Bless you guys, your blood is worth bottling by the truck load.
Or should that be zombie load?
Anyway, if you have seen this flick, you obviously know what I mean, huh? Though, if there were a couple of flaws to the overall ambiance, its that the zombies never really looked threatening enough, and in places the story was superseded by the comedy. Which isn't a bad thing really. Right guys?
Great film – with a promising future for all involved.
THE RATING: A