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“You Have Red on You” – The Blogging Dead

September 23, 2010

Shaun of the Dead (2004) directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg along with  the cast of his then recent television program Spaced was a zombie apocalyptic comedy. The act of translating a serious genre to comedy is one that has been a part of cinema from the very beginning.

Actually scratch that last statement. I was going to call it a parody. Shaun isn’t a parody.

"She is so drunk"

Shaun of the Dead is really a rather perfect companion piece to the other zombie films of the pre-fast zombie variety. This story, while very funny, is quite intelligent. Too many ‘The End is Nigh’ stories tend to focus on a very deliberate band of survivors composed of people who each offer some skill that will assist the human race in re-populating. This film says ‘What about the shop clerks, the guys that got a 600 on their SATs, the people who just don’t get their words out too good?’ A few of these less than scholarly individuals are bound to survive. This is their story, and it is hysterical.  The night before the zombie uprising, a drunken Shaun makes a few big decisions.  He leaves himself a to-do-list on a dry-erase board detailing how to get his life back on track, and hysterically sticks to it the next day, even in the face of living dead!

Shaun did follow a very common zombie story arc.

  1. Discovery – The characters realize that the dead are rising, and in Mr. Wizard form figure out the weak spot of the zombie; i.e. sever the head or destroy the brain.
  2. Gathering – They attempt to retrieve those people who are important to them. Casualties always occur over the course of this portion of the story.
  3. A crossroads – The Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz offered Dorothy two directions to go in. The same dilemma is constantly offered in zombie cinema. This crew decided to stay the course and go to their originally decided upon —
  4. Safe House – The place that the survivors decide they will be, well— safe. Which brings us to —
  5. Cabin Fever – The portion in which one, or more, characters decide that their current plan is a horrible one. This little freak-out is often used as the catalyst which brings us to the —
  6. Bloodbath – Where the S#!t hits the fan and pretty much everyone except one of two characters makes it out unscathed.

While it follows this rather obvious formula, Shaun retains its awesomeness by giving us fantastic pop-culture fueled comedy.

Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now.  Can you imagine this happening in any other Zombie film?  No, of course not.


Ba na na na na na na NA - uhhhhhhhhhhhh.....Ba na na na na na na NA - uhhhhhhhhhhh.....

There was something rather fascinating about this film as an addition to the world cinematic zombie oeuvre. In most zombie films, there is an ensemble cast, and each member of the cast will be defined by their own tragedy to overcome or ultimately be destroyed by. A man will lose his wife, best friends will be forced to kill each other, a son will need to leave a family member behind, jealousy over a woman will bubble over into violence, and so on. The amazing thing about Shaun of the Dead is that ALL of these subplots happen to Shaun! He experiences an entire ensemble cast’s collective tragedies over the course of one film! He loses his mom, and shoots her reanimated zombie corpse. He hates his step-father, grows to love and respect him, then kills him. His best friend becomes a zombie. He faces off with another man in the safe house who wants his girlfriend Liz. It all happens to him in. And the crazy thing is that it works. It isn’t ridiculous at all. When you have musical choreographed zombie dance battle scenes you tend to believe just about anything else.

In preparation for the Walking Dead, I’m really glad that I got to watch this.  Shaun mixed genres effortlessly thanks to brilliant writing, directing, acting and editing.  In order to hold our long-term attention the writing staff of AMC should take some notes.

Knowing that after the fall of mankind there will be at least one person that can recite, from memory, what happens in every issue of the Uncanny X-Men from 1963 to today makes me happy. After seeing Spaced and Shaun, I'm rather certain that person is in this photo.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2010 11:39 am

    I LOVE shaun of the dead!! Love it so much. It makes me laugh and scare at the same time. I’m glad you didn’t say it’s a parody because it isn’t.

    I hate parodies. I watched scary movie, and I didn’t laugh at all…I was like a complete idiot, everyone was laughing and I couldn’t understand what was so funny about it.

    Shaun is very funny…I watched it the middle of the night and laugh so hard, completely ignorance to people around me who were sleeping. and from time to time, some zombies showed up and surprised me. I’ve watched this more than 10 times and still laughing.

    • September 23, 2010 12:47 pm

      Thanks Rovroz. I love Shaun too. It is a really fun film. I’m not a parody fan either, except for the older Zucker Brother films like Airplane or Mel Brooks.

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