Today’s guest review is all about Shaun of the Dead, a British comedy horror released in 2004. Freelance writer Dave Parrack, who can be reached via his About.me page, adores this film so much he agreed to wax lyrical about it for the next eight paragraphs.
I have never really been a fan of horror movies. All through my childhood, my dad would watch the scariest horror flicks released through the 80s and 90s, and I just didn’t understand the appeal. And then I became an adult, and that indifference continued. At least it did until Shaun of the Dead hit theaters.
Here was a comedy horror written and directed by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, the geniuses behind Spaced. Shaun of the Dead has a brilliant cast, a clever storyline, lots of lots of zombies, and just the right amount of gore to allow me to watch it without vomiting popcorn everywhere. I was in.
Shaun of the Dead is a pastiche of zombie films of old, and in particular, Dawn of the Dead. It celebrates rather than mocks these classic, low-budget flicks, paying tribute to them by bringing the genre bang up to date. Zombies weren’t as popular a trope in the early-2000s as they are now (The Walking Dead et al), so it was a gamble, but one which clearly paid off.
The film follows the titular Shaun (played by Simon Pegg) as he witnesses his humdrum existence being torn apart before his very eyes. His life quickly changes from utterly ordinarily into absolutely extraordinary when a zombie apocalypse happens overnight. Not that Shaun immediately notices thanks to the numbing effects of a nasty hangover.
The pace of the film changes once Shaun and his best mate Ed (Nick Frost) finally realize what’s happening. After several run-ins with the zombie hordes, the pair end up back in their favorite pub The Winchester alongside a ragtag band of survivors. Using Queen as their soundtrack of choice, our plucky heroes bring the film to its bloody crescendo. But not everyone survives the ordeal entirely intact.
Shaun of the Dead speaks of the power of friendship, the inherent will to survive, and how all of us are, on occasion, guilty of taking life somewhat for granted. All delivered amidst a backdrop of the gorefest that any decent zombie apocalypse demands.
While I enjoyed the other two films in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End never quite captured the magic of Shaun of the Dead. This remains one of my favorite films of all time, and one I could happily watch once a week for the rest of my life without ever getting bored.
More importantly, Shaun of the Dead turned me onto the genre as a whole, and I have seen more horror flicks (both old and new) in the 10 years since I saw this film than in the previous 30 years. That’s quite an achievement for a comedy some would argue shouldn’t even be classified as horror.