Shaun of the Dead

This entry is part 8 of 12 in the series Hallowe'en Horror Week

Released: 2004
Director: Edgar Wright

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost


Surely the funniest comedy horror ever

For fans of the cult TV programme Space, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were already familiar and well-liked faces but for most people Shaun of The Dead provided an introduction to the two actors and their own special brand of comedy.

Shaun of the Dead really is a genre busting film.  It’s a romantic comedy with zombies.  A zom-rom-com is the official description and that’s a pretty accurate description of what you get in this film.  29 year old Shaun (played by Simon Pegg) is a salesman in an electrical goods store where his career appears to be going nowhere.  His girlfriend Liz dumps him, tired of spending every night in the pub with Shaun’s uncouth best friend Ed and her flatmates David and Dianne.  Shaun’s plan to sort out his life and win Liz back is rudely interrupted by hordes of the undead roaming the streets of London, killing everyone they can.

I don’t know if this is the funniest comedy horror film ever made.  I suspect that it must be as it’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in years.  Thanks to brilliant scenes such as the opening sequence when the still-alive citizens shamble about the streets and the hysterically funny section where an old man (zombie) being beaten up to the strains of Queen, Shaun of the Dead stands up to repeated viewings.  More than that, when I was watching this film the other night I was giggling away in happy anticipation of upcoming funny moments such as Shaun and Ed bickering over which LP to throw at the zombie in the garden.

The cast is superb.  Simon Pegg’s greatest talent is in portraying the everyman that we all recognise and can identify with, Shaun seems like one of our mates facing a bit of a tough time and we support him every step of the way.  Nick Frost is excellent as the rude, crude, lazy and foul-mouthed Ed.  Despite the character’s many many flaws he manages to remain likeable throughout, a testament to Frost’s sympathetic portrayal.  Among the supporting cast special mentions must go to Dylan Moran as the obnoxious, self-satisfied David and Penelope Wilton as Shaun’s ever-so-sweet mum Barbara.  Bill Nighy is great playing Bill Nighy, sorry Shaun’s stepdad Phillip.  My only concern with the cast was the strange orange colour that Lucy Davis sported as Dianne, almost a horror show on its own.

To focus entirely on the brilliant humour would be to do the horror aspect of the film a great injustice.  Granted this isn’t a scary film in any way but there are some genuinely gory moments and a couple of episodes of real tension.  There’s also a real emotional heart to the film.  Shaun’s final discussion with his stepdad is unexpectedly moving and his plaintive cry when he recounts the bad day that he’s having is really quite sad.  But like the filmmakers I won’t linger for too long on the horror or emotional elements.  This is primarily a comedy and a bloody good one at that.

Shaun of the Dead has quickly become a staple of British TV and is on many DVD shelves up and down the country.  If you haven’t seen it yet you’ve been missing out on a great comedy.  Just make sure to watch the special features – they’re almost as funny as the film itself.

Previous and next posts in this series:<< The BirdsTop Ten: Scary Movies >>
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