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Shaun Of The Dead [2004] - 5.97

It's no disparagement to describe Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's zombie-rom-com Shaun of the Dead as playing like an extended episode of Spaced. Not only does the movie have the rather modest scope of a TV production, it also boasts the snappy editing, smart camera moves, and deliciously post-modern dialogue familiar from the sitcom, as well as using many of the same cast: Pegg's Shaun and Nick Frost's Ed are doppelgangers of their Spaced characters, while Jessica Stevenson and Peter Serafinowicz appear in smaller roles. Unlike the TV series, it's less important for the audience to be in on the movie in-jokes, though it won't hurt if you know George Romero's famous Dawn of the Dead trilogy, which is liberally plundered for zombie behaviour and mythology.

Shaun is a loser, stuck in a dead-end job and held back by his slacker pal Ed. Girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) is exasperated by his lack of ambition and unceremoniously dumps him. As a result, Shaun misses out on what is apparently the end of the world. In a series of beautifully choreographed and edited scenes, including hilarious tracking shots to and from the local shop, he spectacularly fails to notice the death toll and subsequent zombie plague. Only when one appears in their back garden do Shaun and Ed take notice, hurling sundry kitchen appliances at the undead before breaking out the cricket bat. The catastrophe proves to be the catalyst for Shaun to take charge of his life, sort out his relations with his dotty mum (Penelope Wilton) and distant stepdad (Bill Nighy), and fight to win back his ex-girlfriend. Lucy Davis from The Office and Dylan Moran of Black Books fame head the excellent supporting cast. --Mark Walker

Customer reviews (av rating: 4.0):

Rating: 1:
Tripe : No story worth telling and the joke is over after ten minutes when a 'zombie' can be seen in the distance. After that it is simply listening to people shouting at each other and killing zombies. A complete waste of talent by the actors (most of whom are really good). There are about three funny lines in the whole movie. Hackneyed, unfunny, boring rubbish and you will not laugh. I am sure it has a few 'in' jokes for the cognescenti but this is not a reason to waste time or money on it.

Rating: 2:
hi ya : Just my 2 penny worths worth here, brought this film cause it was a top ten film in the recent channel 4 comedy top 100 films thing. OK, so how funny did I think it was, well... UNBELIEVABLY UNFUNNY, the commentary is even more boring. I kept waiting for the laughs, Nick Frost who can be funny, has about as much range as a autistic katatonic in this, and the teary eyed emotional bits seemed out of place because the characters are one dimensional tossers.
Well judging by this i dont think i'll be rushing to see "hot fuzz" in a hurry...., just my opinion... If you want to see a good comedy zombie film then checkout "Braindead" by Peter Jackson, and if you think "Shaun of The Dead" is still good after that... then you got BIIIIIIIIG problems.

Rating: 4:
AN ORIGINAL TAKE ON THE ZOMBIE GENRE : Shaun (Simon Pegg) is in the midst of a lousy patch--he hates and is embarrassed about his job, he gets no respect from other employees, one of his roommates is on his case about the other roommate--a slacker friend of Shaun's, his girlfriend is on his case about the fact that all the ever do is hang out at a pub, and he hates his stepfather, who is also on his case about doing something nice for his mum. As if that's not bad enough, suddenly, everyone is turning into a zombie. Shaun must both straighten out his life and fight for it at the same time.

Shaun of the Dead is a superb blending of horror and comedy ala An American Werewolf in London (1981), Idle Hands (1999), Frankenhooker (1990), or the Evil Dead films (beginning with the 1981 original, although there is progressively less to more comedy in that series). It manages to successfully both pay homage to and spoof a number of classic zombie films and horror film zombie mythology in general.

The film begins firmly in very British comedy/drama territory, with a number of stylistic directorial flourishes that seem like a cross between Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Danny Boyle's Trainspotting (1996). The horror material enters gradually, beginning with a couple background gags, then entering Desolation Boulevard territory via another Boyle reference, this time to 28 Days Later (2002) (although that itself was basically a version of The Last Man on Earth (aka L'Ultimo uomo della Terra)(1964), based on Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend). This arrives in the guise of Shaun crossing over to the corner store to buy his morning soda. He doesn't notice the deserted streets or store because he's so hung over from the night before.

Before long, our ragtag bunch of heroes is in the midst of a full-fledged zombie apocalypse--of the traditional, slow-moving zombie type. Acknowledging the cultural differences that strict gun laws bring about, they have to use their wits to commit the requisite head busting, enlisting unwanted LPs (after some debate over the merits of each), cricket bats, shovels and other items for the job. Of course it would be easier if any of our heroes were the slightest bit athletic and had any aim, but they get the job done. More or less.

Furthering genre-fan fun, director/writer Edgar Wright and co-writer Pegg insert a lot of references to other zombie films--especially when it comes to explaining the source of the "epidemic". The "scientific" explanations given in Resident Evil (2002), 28 Days Later, all of Romero's Dead films--beginning with Night of the Living Dead (1968)--and possibly even Romero's The Crazies (1973) and then some are all mentioned in the background, but resolutely cut off before they're finished. Part of the reason might be that usually, the explanations were pretty ridiculous, and we didn't really care--we just wanted to get to the cool zombie stuff, such as limbs being torn off, guts being eaten, and brains being blown or smashed out of skulls.

Wright and Pegg also insert clever nods to the subtexts of zombie films. Shaun looks and walks like a zombie when he's waking up. We see zombie like office workers, retail workers, and so on. There's also an amusing nod to filmic attempts to study and tame zombies, as well as organized militaristic defenses (both very prominent in 28 Days Later, but present in other films as well). There are interesting, more subtle and original zombie subtexts in Shaun of the Dead, also, such as the "mirrored" scene where Shaun and his crew meet up with Yvonne and her crew.

As long as you like outrageous comedy, somewhat gory horror, and you don't mind mixing the two, Shaun of the Dead should provide an enjoyable ride. Although it is the most fun when you're very familiar with the source material it is spoofing and referencing, it is still a great comedy-horror film if viewed with fresher eyes, and not so much as a spoof.

Rating: 4:
Oafish Retards...or Braindead? : Firstly..brilliant use of the phrase 'oafish retards' in Braindead's review...but used with a hint of negativity (?) Comedy history is littered with great, great acts who played on being oafish and, if you will, retarded; Laurel & Hardy, Abbot & Costello, Dumb & Dumber..are you suggesting that these people don;t deserve their accolades as well?

Also, any review that starts by quoting Bernard Manning (!)...well..enough said on that.

Shaun of the Dead is by no means perfect..but you have to take note of the average rating this film has received and the overwhelming majority of positivity toward the film and the main protagonists. This film is excellent and the DVD extras are fantastic..watch it tonight!

Also..I think another reviewer said that Spaced wasn't funny either..enough said about that as well

Rating: 5:
Excellent film! : There are a few negative reviews for shaun of the dead here. and the people who submitted those reviews MUST, be braindead not to enjoy this. highly recommended.

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