31 Days of Halloween 25 – Shaun of the Dead
If you’ve never heard of this movie, shame on you, because it is a classic zombie horror comedy. Mixing horror and comedy is not easy to do. The Raven (1963) did it and was mildly successful, and Zombieland has some Bill Murray gags, but Shaun of the Dead (2004) is more like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein in its presentation. The characters are the best thing in this movie and some critics have praised it as the best zombie movie since sliced bread.
Written by Simon Pegg and starring Simon Pegg, the script is pretty good. Anybody saying that it is shallow and uninspired is really off their rocker. It is the opposite of shallow and uninspired, and was made for the zombie fan. Don’t get me wrong, the non-horror fan can watch it too, but there are many in-jokes and situations that are hilarious when compared to other, more serious zombie movies. I think it’s great either way, for a zombie fan or for a regular comedy lover too.
Roger Ebert gave this movie 3 stars out of four stars and praised the characters. I agree. The movie is not so much a zombie movie as a romantic comedy you might find on television. Besides the social situations, I think one of the best gags is the obsession with the “pub”, or local bar, and it gets to a point that the pub becomes the last shelter from the apocalypse. Pretty funny.
Zombies as a Metaphor
Zombies have been used by George Romero to symbolize all sorts of things, like hordes of mindless shoppers. In Shaun of the Dead, now people are comatose and mindless even before they become zombies, a pretty hilarious parallel. The environment and the supporting characters in Shaun of the Dead are exaggerated in a pretty funny way, almost as if to point out how ridiculous they are in real life. A zombie outside a bar staggers around and nobody thinks he really is a zombie, although his head falls off. Shaun and his bro-mantic buddy Ed are too busy discussing social issues to notice. Don’t bother the drunks.
The movie also harshly criticizes the public, and their tendency not to watch anything important, but delude and entertain themselves with crap on television. This is why Shaun doesn’t notice the apocalypse, even though it’s on every news channel. After all, who watches the news? And at the end, zombies are participating on game shows and becoming entertainment for a mindless culture.
The end of the movie is the greatest analogy. The apocalypse ends, with seemingly little impact, and what’s worse, society has now enslaved the zombies to do work in the retail industry. This is pretty funny, considering Romero’s anti-consumerist message. Ed turns into a zombie and makes his home in Shaun’s backyard shed, where they play video games like nothing has happened.
Even the apocalypse has no impact on their lives, as evidenced by the ending, though Ed is now a zombie and can’t compete with Shaun anymore at the games. As such, he’s little more than a pet. I doubt very much if Shaun will mature and get serious in his relationship with his girlfriend, considering his predilection to return to his comfortable routine. As the movie teaches us, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This movie delivers a great time and good comedy. It honors the zombie like a fanboy. It has good characters and believable dialogue. This movie isn’t even about the zombies, as they are second to the characters and the character moments, which are plenty. Lastly, the movie comments on zombies themselves, which are today as common and easy to kill as video game targets. Given all this commentary, the movie’s reality shows that there’s no distinction between zombie and human, where their lives are as pointless as ours.
31 Days of Halloween Movie Marathon
1 – Frankenstein and the Monster from HELL (1974)
2 – Dracula has risen from the grave (1968)
3 – The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)
4 – Evil Dead II (1987)
5 – Dawn of the Dead (1978)
6 – Les Diaboliques (1955)
7 – The Howling (1981)
8 – Friday the 13th (1980)
9 – Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
10 – Hellraiser (1987)
11 – Let the Right One in (2008)
12 – Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1984)
13 – House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
14 – The Strangers (2008)
15 – The House of the Devil (2009)
16 – Psycho (1960)
17 – The Orphanage (2007)
18 – The Amityville Horror (1979)
19 – The Raven (1963)
20 – Blue Velvet (1986)
21 – Repulsion (1965)
22 – Dementia 13 (1963)
23 – The Vanishing (2008)
24 – Halloween (1978)
25 – Shaun of the Dead (2004)
26 – The Silence of the Lambs (1988)
27 – An American Werewolf in London (1981)
28 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
29 – The Exorcist (1973)
30 – The Ring (2002)
31 – Night of the Living Dead (1968)