Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, it seems that zombie flicks have dominated the current season of the Witching Hour. That wasn’t intentional but after having looked at so many great zombie movies this year it would be a tragedy if we didn’t talk about Shaun of the Dead. Written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, this movie is a spoof of the zombie genre but also manages to be a love letter to some of the most famous horror movies in history.
Produced in London and released in 2004, I remember wondering if Shaun of the Dead had been inspired by another classic British zombie film from two years earlier – 28 Days Later. In fact, there is a reference to the Rage virus but the script is filled with so many references to other films that I would say this movie was inspired by the entire zombie genre. One of my favorite instances is when a friend of Shaun’s shouts, “We’re coming to get you, Barbara!“.
Shaun (played by Simon Pegg) works retail and seems to have no ambitions to do anything more with his life much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Liz. He loves to spend his free time at the Winchester Pub drinking with his friend, Ed. When the pub closes they are more than content to continue the party at home. Shaun’s lifestyle frustrates Liz so much that she demands that he choose between going to the pub and being with her. You can imagine how that goes…
When the zombie epidemic finally arrives Shaun barely even notices. I can actually appreciate that as I have seen countless people walk past caution signs or into places that are clearly marked as closed; I have wondered if these people would themselves notice if the world were to end.
After eventually realizing that zombies are walking all over London, Shaun and Ed formulate a plan to pick up Shaun’s mother and their friends and take everybody to the Winchester Pub to wait out the crisis. Not the most creative or courageous plan but it is simple and I can easily see someone who is not accustomed to emergency situations coming up with a similar idea.
Much like the classic Night of the Living Dead and its sequel, Dawn of the Dead, the zombies in Shaun of the Dead are minimal in appearance and have virtually no personality. That means the story and humor fall squarely on Simon Pegg and the other actors whose characters have not turned into zombies.
I typically do not care for comedies because if the humor fails they have little else to fall back on. I am pleased to say that Shaun of the Dead was and still is a very funny movie. Not only are there tons of references liberally sprinkled throughout the script but the characters’ dialogue is just so… British. Shaun’s mother cannot simply say that she was bitten; she instead mentions that “he was a bit bitey”. The banter between characters is a lot of fun to listen to.
If you are looking for a fun zombie flick to watch with your mates then I cannot recommend Shaun of the Dead enough. Especially if you have copious amounts of beer on hand.