Monday, November 07, 2005

Shaun of The Dead

There I was, determined to contribute a meaningful, useful, creative entry involving my weekend, friends and family, Kaia, the weather and even sneak in a crafty, witty shout-out to those who think I've turned to the dark side (aka the Geritol crowd). And then it hit me -- I've been so busy with work, goofing off, dealing with real life and doing laundry that I haven't had the time to conceive of, let alone produce, such a meaningful, useful, creative entry.

However, I did manage to get in another viewing of "Shaun of The Dead," a spoof of the 'Living Dead' zombie movies which have either plagued or entertained us for the past 20 or so years. I originally saw it with Kaia about 10 days ago, and since we both really enjoyed it, I wound up watching it again more in remembrance of her being her recently and less as a cinematic experience. However, having said all that, I actually found some interesting things in the movie with a solo, secondary viewing.

First off, if you need specifics on who made the movie, who starred in it, or anything else -- like what year (2004) it was made, how long it was, or who played "Zombie #3," check the
IMDB listing for more info. This is the internet -- all that info's a click or two away, even if you are so extraordinarily lazy that you wouldn't have gone to the IMDB if the link wasn't there for you on a shiny silver html platter.

Now, several things which I found to be quite creative -- and while this might constitute a spoiler, if you've read this far, you either have no knowledge and no interest in seeing the movie, or you already have and are interested in my opinion thereon, or you don't know how you arrived here, clicked in via some aardvark-donkey web-search and don't understand english and are simply entranced by the captivating font which I've chosen in which to convey my lunatic writing. In short, Shaun of The Dead is, as previously indicated, a spoof of the zombie horror movies which involve zombies walking the Earth: Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, etc.

There's a copious amount of humor to be derived from this particular genre -- the teen horror genre was successfully (and thoroughly) spoofed already by the Scream and "Another Teen Horror Movie" franchises -- and since many of the zombie-tinged movies seem particularly stupid and self-effancing, doing a proper spoof would need to employ some creativity. I'm happy to report that Edgar Wright, the writer/director of the film, did a wonderful job.

There is one main theme which seemingly runs through the entire film -- essentially, the star of the film, "Shaun" (Simon Pegg) is almost 30; he is lazy, insensitive, unambitious, and, basically, going through the motions in life. So after his girlfriend finally dumps him -- for forgetting to remember an anniversary -- he and his lazy, couch-potato friend, Ed, head to a local pub for a night of heavy drinking. The next morning, Shaun makes his way through his neighborhood to the local store and fails to notice that all hell has broken loose.

Personally, watching Shaun's journey from his house to the store and back is among the more funny scenes I've seen on film in some time. Having the foreknowledge that this movie is about an invasion of brain-eating zombies, the film ironically twists on its ear -- and ours, in a more subtle fashion -- that the zombies in this movie appear to be less shiftless and more focused and more driven then are the non-zombies. Shaun ambles through his neighborhood and fails to notice the destruction -- garbage strewn through the streets, cars with windshields bashed in, bathrobe-clad, bloodied corpses lying in front yards of houses, pools and stains of blood in his direct path -- and when he finally encounters a zombie, he mistakes him for a begger looking for spare change. It's comical in its simplicity, and the message is clear -- and powerful.

There are other striking, entertaining scenes; Shaun and his roommate Ed confronting a girl in the garden who they believe is drunk, until they have to fight her off by shoving her onto an exposed metal pole. And when she rises, exposing a hole in her torso that allows them to see -- literally -- through her -- Ed's first reaction is to take a photograph. Once they get the jist of what's happening -- all over London, according to the TV newscasts -- they finally work together to formulate a plan.

While the movie is far from highbrow, it's very entertaining, whether or not you've seen any of the zombie movies. Overall, it's the goofy stepchild of 28 Days Later, which was on many levels as disturbing as this movie is humorous. The splatter and gore aren't too over-the-top, and the script is very sharp. The message of the film, certainly, is that Shaun has lived his entire life as a zombie, and now that real-life zombies are here to (literally) devour him, he has finally risen from the couch and changed his life, by getting back together with his girlfriend, finally introducing her to his mother and his stepfather, and taking an active rather than a reactive approach to life. But even in the absence of that message, the film is light, entertaining, memorable and really creative.

And more importantly, you'll never listen to the Queen song "Don't Stop Me Now" the same way again.


Kaia said...

The movie was quite funny. But it was more fun watching it with you.

Love you baby - K

Belle said...

One of my favorite scenes in that movie is the garden scene when the girl is on top of Shaun strangling him and they stop to pose for a picture. If I did not spit my drink out all over the place! The other was when they were pretending to be zombies themselves so they would pass unnoticed by the other zombies. That movie is a classic!

Boogie said...

The garden scene is, of course, one of the best in the movie; but when Ed snaps their photo, and then they go back to the struggle, and the ever-popular Mary lands on the patio umbrella pole -- and then slides herself up from it -- the sound of Ed advancing the film had me laughing -- loudly -- out loud.

And when they were doing their best zombie impressions, it's not only funny on the surface, but the irony of "zombies" trying to outsmart the zombies by pretending they're real zombies made me smile in the kind of deep, satisfying way only clever irony can. That is to say, it reminded me very much of vintage Steely Dan ;)