Classic zombie horror comedy worth another look




Directed by Edgar Wright
(UK, France, US, 2004)

Review by Angus Luff

I absolutely love a good horror film. Movies are a perfect place to explore fear and dread. The visuals, audio and tone used to explore primal emotions and sensations are a fantastic escape from our actual fears – we experience the danger, without the consequences of the danger. It’s even more interesting when horror is mixed with other genres to bend what we know is possible and some of my favourite films are these creative, horror-comedy masterpieces. It’s because making a horror comedy is so difficult – it’s a challenge to make viewers feel one way, then make the film go into another emotion and maintain that the whole way through. It’s also why so many horror comedies fail – some directors just can’t find a good balance and the film falls apart. But the great ones stick, and when Halloween approaches, it feels appropriate to get out the horror-comedy classics that are dear to me.

Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 zombie horror-comedy film directed by Edgar Wright. Shaun (Simon Pegg) is down on his luck. He’s stuck in a dead-end electronics job, he lives with his vulgar and rude friend Ed (Nick Frost), and his relationship with his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) is in trouble. On a particularly bad day, when he breaks up with Liz, it seems things can’t get worse, until they do. Shaun and Ed find themselves in the midst of a zombie apocalypse and they must make a plan to protect Liz, her friends and family as the rise of the undead gets worse.

Shaun of the Dead (and really anything by Edgar Wright) deserves many rewatches. It has a funny script with characters you care about, the acting is great across the board and the editing and music elevate this from “fun zombie flick” to a genuinely excellent film. What makes it worthy of multiple viewings is all the jokes, references and character comebacks you might not catch the first time. These details show that Edgar Wright knew what he was doing. He made sure every single moment and line has significance or comes back later in a way that is natural and fits exactly what the movie is trying to say (yes it does have a message). Shaun of the Dead is great not just because it’s entertaining and hilarious, but also because it rewards the viewer for noticing the details.

I do love good horror comedies, but if I were to pick my favourite specific sub genre within a genre, it would be what I call the “Meta Zombie Comedy.” One of the top films in this category is Return of the Living Dead (1985) with characters who are aware of actual zombie movies and with zombies that talk, run and crave brains. I also love the Evil Dead films for their wacky, gory monsters and demon possessions that are opposed by the hilarious Bruce Campbell. Night of the Creeps (1986) is an underrated gem that really deserves more attention for its great cast and its loving tribute to 1950s sci-fi cinema. There’s also Braindead a.k.a Dead-Alive (1992), Peter Jackson’s outrageous, gonzo, ridiculous bloodbath of a Meta Zombie Comedy that is not for the faint of heart – it is one of the funniest movies ever made, but also one of the bloodiest.

Shaun of the Dead might just sit at the top of this list. It is a fun Halloween treat that is elevated to something truly special by everyone involved. It has stood the test of time as a true classic. How could you not love it when so much care has been put into every joke, scare and blood-filled gag? If you haven’t already, I urge you to see Shaun of the Dead.

Available: Prime Video Channel’s Starz, 
Crave + Starz.
Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes

Angus Luff is a student at Glebe Collegiate. He grew up in the Glebe and is obsessed with movies.

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