Finally, some good fucking content. After slogging through Night of the Living Dead and The Return of the Living Dead sequels, I set some time aside to watch an actually good movie near the end of October of the Dead (and also a really bad one, but we’ll get to that on Halloween proper). Shaun of the Dead is a parody of all the other zombie movies and stands out as a really fun watch. You know what? I keep going back and forth on it, but I think this is officially my favorite zombie movie! Honestly not sure why it took me so long to fully realize that.
Shaun (Mr. Simon Pegg) is a man who really needs to get his shit together. His girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield) has dumped him because all he does is hang out with his loser friend Ed (Nick Frost) and go to the local pub, the Winchester. He and Ed nearly miss the zombie apocalypse until the living dead make their presence very known. So Shaun comes up with a plan: rescue his mom Barbara (Penelope Wilton, AKA Harriet Jones from Doctor Who)–we even get Ed shouting out to her over the phone, “We’re coming to get you, Barbara!” in a nod to the original Night of the Living Dead–kill his stepdad Phillip (Bill Nighy) who has been bit, rescue Liz, and wait it all out at the Winchester. But of course things go horribly wrong. Phillip isn’t dead yet, which means he tags along. And Liz isn’t alone but hanging with her friends, Diane (Lucy Davis) and David (Dylan Moran, AKA Bernard Black from Black Books). Then Phillip turns mid-ride forcing them to abandon their car, Barbara gets bit, Diane and David die, and soon enough the Winchester is burning down leaving Shaun, Liz, and a bit Ed. The lovers are prepared to die, but the timely arrival of the military saves the day! Zombies become a facet of life after this, generally being utilized as menial laborers (see Fido for more of this idea played out). Shaun and Liz are happily together, and Shaun even goes out to the shed from time to time to play video games with zombie Ed. Best friends forever!
The whole movie is great. It’s a movie that repeats itself, but in a good and thematic way, often foreshadowing. My favorite example weirdly isn’t on the IMDB quote page, but is Ed planning on how to cheer Shaun up after Liz dumps him, saying, “We’ll have a Bloody Mary first thing, a bite at the King’s Head, couple at the Little Princess, stagger back here, and bang, back at the bar for shots.” The first zombie the pair meet is a woman named Mary that the bludgeon to real death; Shaun’s stepdad Phillip gets bitten; they pick up the couple of David and Diane when picking up Liz; the group imitates zombies in order to reach the Winchester; and the big gunfight happens at the bar. You don’t even think about it the first time, but it stands out once you’ve seen the movie. Ugh, it’s so good!
Also, totally minor thing but seemingly made for me, but a minor character is Yvonne played by Jessica Hynes. Her role is mostly to mirror Shaun’s journey, almost literally when her survival group meets up with his and they essentially are the same group (except hers includes Martin Freeman). But the real treat is that Jessica Hynes, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and writer/director Edgar Wright all worked together on Spaced, a mostly forgotten little British comedy series that you really ought to watch. Her inclusion is just another little treat to those who know, which now includes you, dear reader! You’re welcome.
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