Shaun of the Dead

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Shaun of the Dead” came out in American theaters when I was a senior in high school.  At the time, I was heavily obsessed with Stephen King and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I saw a trailer for “Shaun of the Dead” and knew I had to track it down, at all costs.

When I finally found (and rented) it, I took it to a friend’s house.  We sat in her room watching it in the dark, with her pet ferret running around biting our pants legs and scaring us to death.  It was such a well-done movie – we didn’t know whether to scream in terror or die laughing.

The chemistry between actors and actresses can make or break a movie.  Audiences can see right through the actors if they aren’t really enjoying the project.  Conversely, if the actors have bonded with one another, the world movie  transcends the screen and becomes real.  The audience becomes one with the story, and they become emotional participants.  “Shaun of the Dead” is a movie in which the chemistry between the actors is apparent.  Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are believable as best friends, with Kate Ashfield adeptly playing the girlfriend wanting more from life.  Bill Nighy appears to genuinely love his life-after-death transition.

The movie was sparse in dialog, which I believe to be a good thing.  Rather than getting caught up in chatter that was either painfully obvious or superfluous, the dialog was witty and recurring.  Lines that were used innocuously in the beginning came back to haunt the characters later in the story.  The dialog was very witty – often offering puns on everyday phrases and situations.  I have no idea how the cast and crew survived the filming without laughing during every scene.

Humor aside, “Shaun of the Dead” shines as a true horror film in its own right.  The blood and gore effects were extremely convincing, and contributed to more than a few nights of missed sleep on my part.  One scene in particular was upsetting – a certain cast member is dismembered limb by limb, with an added emphasis on the removal of the guts.  Egads but it looked so real !   Careful attention was paid to all of the supporting zombie horde members as well.  While on the subject of the zombie horde, its worth noting that “extras” used in the earlier parts of the film came back for another appearance as zombies.  This seemingly little touch only served to heighten the experience as it was a grim reminder that in a zombie apocalypse, you don’t have the luxury of dispatching random strangers.  Those zombies will be friends, family, neighbors, lovers, acquaintances…real people that you knew.

This film was an all around pleasure to watch, and had rewatch value.  Every time I watch “Shaun of the Dead” I discover a detail which I hadn’t noticed before.  If this DVD is not in your collection (or on whatever media you use) then you need to rectify the problem.  This is clearly a must-have movie !