Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Director: Edgar Wright
Shaun (Pegg), a 29 year-old slacker and a dead ringer for Tin-Tin loses his girlfriend because of his lack of “maintenance” in the relationship. His best bud Ed (Frost) backs him up in terms of boozing him silly and they both crash. The next day, they wake up with hangovers and realize that the world has been overrun by the undead. What are a couple of hombres to do? They load up (with alcohol and weapons) and do some Spring Cleaning!
"Basically, I'd say your nine lives are up Shaun" – David
Yesterday, after a hard night of knocking them down with some buds (my two dogs and my right hand), I watched “Shaun of the Dead”. Once the end credits rolled, I proceeded to collapse on my couch with a huge grin on my face. A messed up dream followed...allow me to share!
MY DREAM: A packed pub. I’m sitting at table in a corner sipping off a Pint of Guinness. Sitting across from me at the same table is Writer/Director/Teen erotica aficionado Larry Clark. He’s shirtless and is drinking a “Sex on the Beach". Clark asks me:
LARRY: So what did you do last night?
ARROW: Actually, I had a swell sit-down with the British ditty "Shaun of the Dead". You heard of it?
LARRY: Is there any teen nudity in it?
LARRY: Doesn’t ring a bell. How was it?
ARROW: I had a freaking riot-act with the film! I would call it a sweet, hilarious and quasi-existential effort that also worked as a cutesy homage to Romero’s DEAD trilogy.
LARRY: Didn’t the British humor throw you off?
ARROW: Larry, why aren’t you wearing a shirt, man?
LARRY: Absence of shirts equal good filmmaking, therefore without a shirt...I am a good filmmaker.
LARRY: So did the British humor throw you off or not?
ARROW: Surprisingly…not at all! I can relate to almost anybody who drinks, dates, plays videogames, slacks off and drinks some more…sounds like the last 4 years of my life! Granted, the occasional Brit quip would elude me, but I was never in the dark long enough for it to matter. I really warmed up to the witty dialogue and the stomach-clenching comedic situations on hand...they really nailed the circumstantial “yuk-yuks”, that’s for sure! For example: Shaun’s hung-over and oblivious trip to the store amidst a Zombie-filled suburb was pure gold! Even the little details contributed in making the whole such a hoot! Like Shaun waking up in the morning, acting a lot like an undead. There was some genuinely freaking clever stuff in this piñata!
A young teenage boy passes us by. Suddenly, Larry reaches under the table and whips out a Hand Held Video Cam.
LARRY: I need a close-up of that crotch!
ARROW: No, you don’t man. Put that shit down!
ARROW: Come on, Larry! We’re in public over here!
Larry puts the camera down.
LARRY: So how was the talent?
ARROW: Excellent! Although the entire cast was over the age of 16, so I doubt they’d appeal to you…
LARRY: Too bad…if I would’ve made the movie, I would’ve had a hand-held, 12-minute, teen/Zombie orgy that would’ve ended in…
ARROW: Shat up…it’s played out, dude. As I was saying, everybody was credible and Shaun (Pegg), in particular, won me over! The chap was going through a crisis that we all have or will go through one day...routine dragging us down, taking love for granted, not giving a damn about much, resorting to drinking to coast through the hell that is life…
LARRY: Sounds deep for a teen-less Zombie movie!
ARROW: It was! And that’s what gave this gem such a magical aura! It cracked skulls on so many levels! A dead-on comedy, a moving drama about love/friendship, an engaging character study, a love letter to Romero and a badass Zombie flick! Never did I feel that the film was shoving anything down my throat. All of it gelled effortlessly and flowed naturally.
LARRY: Did you just say…”shoving anything down my throat “…?
ARROW: HERE WE GO!
LARRY: Sorry…was the Zombie action on the ball?
ARROW: To me, it was way more rewarding than what I’ve witnessed recently. Think Romero, think lumbering undead, think "old school". Granted, the nastiness was fairly restrained throughout in terms of high gore, but it ripped real good during the last block and that made it all worth the trip.
LARRY: You have nice, full lips Arrow…
ARROW: YEESH! I’ll let that one go….so…you know what wrapped it all up neatly with a big “Groovy Stuff” bow?
ARROW: The stylish/energetic directing coupled with the sly use of music. The narrative moved swiftly and I mucho dug the “Trainspotting” like fast motion/tight shot bits, especially in the scene transitions. Furthermore, this baby sure knew how to tag kooky music to fly scenes, giving them an endearing and knee slapping quality in the process. Aces High on that shit!
LARRY: Was there anything you didn’t enjoy?
ARROW: Nothing concrete really. I guess my sole complaint would be a personal one since I don't usually "cha-cha" to light genre films...just not my bag of bones. I kept wanting it to go further! But that’s a matter of perception...
LARRY: I can’t take it anymore…
ARROW: Can’t take what, Tarzan?
Larry reaches under the table, picks up his video camera, aims it at me and presses record.
LARRY: I need and crave shots of your genitalia, Arrow! ACTION!
ARROW: Pipe down, Junior!
LARRY: I said: ACTION!
ARROW: Put that camera down you sick bastard!
LARRY: NO! Drop your pants now, you arrogant, talent-less, childish, sexist, alcoholic, wannabee critic! PUT THEM DOWN FOR THE LOVE OF TEEN PORN!
ARROW: Dude! I’m not a teen!
LARRY: I DON’T GIVE A RITZ CRACKER-ASS WHAT YOU ARE! I WANT TO SEE YOUR MAN-NIMAL!!! LOOK AT ME! I AM A DIRECTOR! LOOK AT MEEEEEE! I AM A DIRECTORRRRRR!
ARROW: THAT’S IT! I’ve had it with your shit Larry!! You’ve shot your last sleaze-fest!
I yell out to the bartender.
ARROW: WOODY! WINCHESTER!!!!
Woody the Bartender grabs a Winchester rifle off the wall and tosses in the air…it lands in my hands. I cock the gun and aim it in Larry’s face…
ARROW: Imagine the future Larry...because you’re not in it!
Larry gets a bullet in the head. Blood splatters as he topples over his chair and hits the ground…dead. I put the rifle down, guzzle my beer and yell out to the bartender.
ARROW: Woody! Another pint, my man!
Woody walks up to me with another Guinness.
WOODY: The guy was a Zombie or something?
ARROW: Worse, that was Larry Clark, Wood. Larry Clark.
WOODY: The guy who directed that pure trash "Teenage Caveman" and "Bully"??
WOODY: Good move, Arrow!!
ARROW: Thanks, mon Capitaine!
And that’s when I woke up with an even bigger smile on my mug. What did that dream mean? A glimpse into my future? Too many nachos before hitting the sack? I need to dream of PlayBoy Playmates instead already? Who knows??? One thing is for certain...you have to see “Shaun of the Dead”!
We get enough to please: a blood spurting impaling, a record in the face, another impaling, head shots, violent blunderings, nasty bites, innards ripped out of one dude and eaten a la "Day of the Dead" and ripped off limbs. The Zombie makeup was also DEAD-ON! YEEHAW!
Simon Pegg (Shaun) was natural and very likeable as the sad-sack of slack. I couldn’t help but like the guy and encourage his progression as the flick moved forward. Nick Frost (Ed) was side-splitting as the a-hole, slob, best friend. Loved him! Kate Ashfield (Liz) held her own as the love interest and spat out her dialogue like a Queen. Lucy Davis (Dianne) did what she had to do well while Dylan Moran (David) nailed his “uptight” twat role.
T & A
None of that “nectar of life” on this tap.
The flick sported a tight pace, lots of vigor behind the camera and quite a mature handle on itself as to when it should go buck-wild and when it should be more grounded visually, to serve the story. I WAS SOLD!
We get an engaging score and cheesy Pop/Rock tunes that often elevated the humorous scenes to a funnier level. These dudes knew how to use music to their advantage.
"Shaun of the Dead" was a very well made picture with love for the genre and talent oozing out of its every stab wound. The first hour played out like a character-driven, romantic comedy with Zombies. The “love” and “slacker” aspects were interwoven with the undead elements so inventively! The last block played more like a straight-forward undead jamboree, but with some really comical lines/gags in tow. Granted, I like my horror shooters a tad heavier on the bleakness, but I can’t hold that against "Shaun of the Dead". It lived up to the hype and I’ll be at the pub for the sequel “From Dusk Till Shaun!” As for Larry Clark, well, it was all a reverie...he’s alive and well, still directing smut-posing as art. Yes, the world is an unbalanced place.
This review marks the end of my “Larry Clark Trilogy”: Read Part 1 here (Teenage Caveman) and Part 2 here (Phone Booth). Who will be my next “target”? Hmmm…
The flick has a slew of references to Zombie films of old. I’m talking Fulci, Day of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, The Evil Dead and more…will you spot/hear them? Good luck! I’m not giving them up!
The screenplay was written by Edgar Wright and star Simon Pegg.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost worked together before on the hit TV show “"Spaced" (1999) which was also directed by Edgar Wright. I’ve never heard of it! I guess it was a Brit thing.