Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I first saw this with Jamie at SkyCity in Auckland in 2004, and right from the opening shots it was clearly the work of people who knew comedy.

The eponymous Shaun blunders through his dead-end life totally unaware that London has been overrun by zombies.

And you can't really blame him. For while we know that all the odd events taking place in the background are the acts of the undead, for poor Shaun it's all real life, so he has to rationalise everything. The result is that you really do wonder whether he's going to sleepwalk through the entire movie without ever once realising that the world has been invaded.

It's another film of two halves, with the second taking place almost entirely inside the besieged pub, but despite the slight shift in horror genre, the finely tuned gags just never let up for a minute. Here's his girlfriend Liz, complaining to the hapless Shaun about his annoying best mate Ed.

Liz: "It's just with Ed here, it's no wonder I always bring my flatmates out and then that only exacerbates things."
Shaun: "What do you mean?"
Liz: "Well you guys hardly get on, do you?"
Shaun: "No, what does 'exacerbate' mean?"

The DVD is excellently worked-out too, containing material such as the spin-off comic strip from 2000AD, and in-character explanations of plot-holes, although this skips why they don't lure zombie-Philip out of the car again. (because I have to point it out, okay? :) ) Even the menu-screens carefully avoid giving away any of the film before you've seen it.

All DVD menus should be done like this.

The only real downside to this movie would have to be the almost constant swearing throughout, which reduces its potential audience considerably. The DVD even has a clip of the redubbed clean airline version, as though it's somehow obviously inferior. Conversely, that's the version that I would have preferred to watch, since an invented swear-word is usually funnier than a real one, and can be a whole heap cleverer. I could have watched that version with my mum, too.

Still, if you don't mind that, then Shaun Of The Dead is both a terrific comedy and a fine addition to the zombie genre.

Shaun: (TRYING TO PHONE THE COPS)"It's engaged!"
Ed: "How about an ambulance?"
Shaun: "It's engaged, Ed."
Ed: "A fire engine?"
Shaun: "It's one number, Ed, and it's busy! Okay? What you want a fire engine for, anyway?"
Ed: "Anything with flashing lights, you know?"

(available here)
(review of Hot Fuzz here)
(review of The World's End here)


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