Review: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

>> Wednesday, April 25, 2007

UK/C-99m./Dir: Edgar Wright/Wr: Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright/Cast: Simon Pegg (Shaun), Nick Frost (Ed), Kate Ashfield (Liz), Lucy Davis (Diane), Dylan Moran (David), Penelope Wilton (Barbara), Bill Nighy (Philip)

It’s the same old story--boy loses girl; boy drowns his sorrows with flaming shots; the recently departed return from the grave to eat the flesh of the living; boy is too hung over to notice; boy attempts to save girl by taking her to the safest place he can think of, the local pub. Such is the setup for Shaun of the Dead, an instant horror-comedy classic.

Few horror comedies work as both “horror” and “comedy,” and many are dismal failures by either measure. However, Shaun of the Dead, filmdom’s first “Rom Zom Com” (romantic comedy with zombies) is a triumph on all accounts. First and foremost, it is a smartly written comedy, featuring hilarious performances from its leads and expert direction that helps sell each joke. Furthermore, Shaun is no slouch in the scare department. It is the best non-Romero-produced zombie film, and viewers will find themselves on the edge of their seats during the last half hour, wondering if their favorite characters will survive the onslaught of the undead. In terms of romance, Shaun of the Dead provides two--the sweet but rocky affection between Shaun (Simon Pegg) and his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) and the even stronger bond between Shaun and his irresponsible best friend Ed (Nick Frost).

As a final measure, Shaun of the Dead succeeds as a booze movie. The film begins in “The Winchester,” the pub that initially creates a wedge between Shaun and his girlfriend and that later serves as the battleground against throngs of the walking dead. Between those two events “The Winchester” also provides the means for Shaun to drink his blues away when Liz dumps him. “The Winchester” is one of the most memorable cinematic watering holes since “Rick's CafĂ© Americain.”

Shaun of the Dead one of the best comedies of recent years, and it is one of the few laugh-producers that actually improves upon repeated viewings. The first time around you can simply enjoy the jokes and suspense. With multiple screenings, you become aware of the craft that went into the script and filming, including lines of dialogue with multiple meanings and camera shots that are mirrored later in the film. All in all, this is a surprisingly sophisticated and flavorful cocktail.

Drinks Consumed--Beer, whiskey, vodka, unspecified flaming shots

Intoxicating Effects--Staggering, stumbling, swearing, passing out, and harmonizing

Potent Quotables--ED: You know what we should do tomorrow? Keep drinkin’. We’ll have a Bloody Mary first thing, have a bite at the King’s Head, a couple at the Little Princess, we’ll stagger back here--Bang! We’re back at the bar for shots. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

Video Availability--Shaun of the Dead DVD (Universal)

Similarly Sauced Cinema--Barrooms also served as battlegrounds with the supernatural in From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) and Feast (2006).


P-Dizzle April 25, 2007 at 2:49 PM  

"Intoxicating Effects:... harmonizing"

a sure sign of dipsomania if there ever was one

Reel Fanatic April 25, 2007 at 3:58 PM  

You're definitely right that Shaun of the Dead manages to succeed on both the horror and comedy fronts more than most movies .. Just saw Hot Fuzz, and while it wasn't quite as funny as Shaun, I still liked it quite a bit

Anonymous April 25, 2007 at 8:12 PM  

Awesome site, Garv. As far as I know, you're the only man on the Internet devoting his energy to documenting the libations of the cinema world. You've given me a lot of savage rental ideas if I ever elect to do a drunk and disorderly DVD week. Thanks for the add!

"No more High Life? What kind of a joint is this? How come no more High Life? Look doctor, this ain’t Korea, or China, or wherever you come from. You get some Miller High Life in this funky joint!"

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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

All text including the title "Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide" Copyright William T. Garver

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