Shaun of the Dead
Release year: 2004
Director: Edgar Wright
Screenwriter: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy, Nicola Cunningham, Rafe Spall
Ratings: 1 Saturn Award: Best Horror. Empire Award: Best Horror
Shaun (Simon Pegg) and best friend Ed (Nick Frost) love hanging out at their favourite pub, The Winchester. However, Shaun’s girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) is not too keen on spending every evening drinking pints at the local and threatens to leave him. Shaun drowns his sorrows with Ed at The Winchester, of course, and wakes up pretty hungover the next day to find a strange woman in the garden. When he and Ed discover she is a zombie, together with many more, they decide that the safest place to be is, well, The Winchester.
The first in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, this one represented by the strawberry flavour. Of course at the time this was made, it was not, as the Cornetto connection wasn’t made until the second movie, Hot Fuzz from 2007, after which director Edgar Wright embraced the term and released The World’s End (2013) as part three.
This is probably the best of the three and the most beloved. Made by obvious fans of the genre it is filled with references and inside jokes. For instance, Ed at one point yells at Shaun’s mother: We’re coming to get you, Barbara. This is a reference to Night of the Living Dead (1968), whose director George A. Romero was so impressed with Shaun of the Dead that he invited Pegg (Burke and Hare 2010) and Frost (Paul 2011) to cameo as zombies in Land of the Dead (2005). Refreshingly this is a zombie movie that focuses on dark humour instead of delivering social criticism. It is never mentioned how the zombie invasion started, everytime someone is about to mention it they are interupted. This only becomes another joke in a long series of very funny jokes and situations, caused not so much by zombies, as by the characters and their reactions to the undead walking the Earth. Pegg and Frost are magnificent, showing of the chemistry in an on screen relationship based on their real life friendship founded back when they shared a flat together. Though they have good support, especially by the always excellent Bill Nighy (Underworld 2003), noone manages to outshine the two friends whose strong connection binds the story together. Rewatching it makes me sad that the trilogy is finished and excited about what comes next from the brilliant Wright.
When Liz (Kate Ashfield) doesn’t want to go to the Winchester Shaun (Simon Pegg) mentions some other pubs, one of them being The Shepherds, which used to be Simon Pegg’s local pub in Highgate.
Picture copyright: UIP