Synopsis - A British spoof on the classic George A. Romero zombie movies, this involves Shaun (Simon Pegg), Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun's girlfriend (Kate Ashfield), and her two flatmates as they try to survive a zombie epidemic.
Music - The music alternated between serious and dramatic, which actually served largely to make a joke out of the “intense” zombie scenes, and lighter, kind of silly music that served largely to make a joke out of the rest of the movie. This film is not to be taken seriously in any way whatsoever. It’s purely for fun.
Acting - Penned by Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead stars a bunch of people who were until now largely unknown and the majority of whose work had been with one another. This movie is truly one of a kind, even though technically it very much isn't. A very obvious but clever knockoff of Dawn of the Dead and all of its subsequent sequels, this movie is, as its tagline states, “a romantic comedy with zombies.” I would say it’s a knockoff of Night of the Living Dead, which of course is the first movie of the “Dead” series, but that is kind of a whole other animal altogether. There was, however, a seriously glorious appearance of the famous Night of the Living Dead line “We’re coming to get you Barbara.”
This one is distinctly British. It is, in fact, British, and it has the sort of rapid-fire Vulgar Gentile humor that you find in things like Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. The Articulate, Put-Upon Working Man, placed in extraordinary situations while only trying to make things work out. That’s what Shaun is, and that’s the frame that this movie follows. It’s been done, but rarely so well. It’s amazing to me that while being exactly the same as all the other “Dead” movies it manages to be absolutely and completely unique.
The opening title sequence is actually one of my favorite bits in the movie, wherein it shows people (in exaggerated fashion, of course) living their daily lives looking and behaving exactly like zombies, but without the flesh rot. Biting social satire it is not, but it makes its point, and it’s clever.
My only real problem with the movie is the violence. Generally I love movie violence, probably to a rather unhealthy degree, but somehow the gore here is just so gratuitous I can’t handle it in some places. Towards the end there’s a good fifteen seconds where I have to avert my eyes, and this is being said by the person who laughs and cheers at the end of Scarface. Shaun of the Dead is more violent than any of the zombie movies it spoofs, and not in a samurai movie way. In some places the violence is funny but it gets pretty out of hand in the last act of the film.
Another thing - while most of the actors here are unknowns, to their great credit (and his), Bill Nighy was cast as Shaun's stepfather, Philip. Unfortunately, his scenes are few.
Other movies starring these actors
Simon Pegg - 24 Hour Party People, Spider-Plant Man, Guest House Paradiso
Nick Frost - Kinky Boots, Danger! 50,000 Zombies, Spider-Plant Man
Kate Ashfield - The War Zone, This Little Life (TV), Guest House Paradiso