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Overall Rating
4.14

Awesome52.6%
Worth A Look: 28.13%
Average: 7.29%
Pretty Bad: 4.17%
Total Crap: 7.81%

13 reviews, 114 user ratings


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Shaun of the Dead
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by Brian McKay

"We're coming to get you, Barbara! Could you have a spot of tea ready?"
4 stars

SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a seriously funny, cleverly-written, and well-acted love letter to movies in general, horror movies in particular, and zombie movies in the extreme. You'll find plenty of directorial flourishes referencing the likes of Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino, Sam Raimi, and of course, George A. Romero. It's only shortcomings are the occasional tendency to over-extend a joke ( breaking the pace by doing so), and in having so much of its comedic potency dependent on how well the audience knows the genre which inspired it.

The titular Shaun (Simon Pegg, who co-wrote the script with director Edgar Wright) is already well-accustomed to the life of a zombie. Every day, he staggers out of bed with even less enthusiasm than a typical reanimated corpse, and drags himself off to his hateful job as the assistant manager of an electronics store. While he's sleepwalking through work, his slobby best friend and flatmate Ed (Nick Frost) plays video games all day and deals a little weed on the side. After work, they habitually meet up at a pub called "The Winchester" with Shaun's too-cute-for-him girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) and her annoying flatmates. Despite the fact that she loves Shaun, Liz is just a little fed up with the numbing grind that their lives have become, and his apparent lack of ambition to do anything about it.

When Liz dumps him, Shaun and Ed go on an all night drinking binge that turns into a next-day hangover from hell. They stagger about the debris-strewn and zombie-infested landscape completely oblivious to what's going on at first, until they are finally attacked by one that has wandered into their back yard (a girl who they at first mistakenly diagnose as being merely drunk). Once they realize the gravity of the situation, and make several laughable attempts to kill a couple of zombies with common household items, they find a spade and a cricket bat in the woodshed (woodshed - get it?) and start bashing some zombie heads.

In a fit of desperate and half-assed planning, Shaun proposes that they tear-ass around London in order to go rescue Shaun's mom, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), as well as Liz and her roommates, and then make their way to The Winchester in order to hole up behind the pub's heavy, deadbolted doors and maybe have a pint or two while the cavalry arrives. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable plan, so what could go wrong? Oh, just about everything, as you'll see over the subsequent 40 minutes. But hey, Ed is down with the idea- so long as he gets to drive and run over as many zombies as possible on the way, as if in some live-action Resident Evil: Grand Theft Auto video game hybrid.

While much of the film's humor will work for the casual viewer, only the truly genre-savvy will be able to laugh at the script's real gems, like when Shaun insists to his mother over the phone that they are on their way to rescue her, and Ed grabs the phone from him and shouts "We're coming to get you, Barbara!" You'll know the truly pathetic horror geeks in the crowd when you hear who is laughing at that line, and many others like it. (It's paraphrased from Night of the Living Dead, by the way . . . but you knew that, right?).

The bigger problem, however lies in the film's tendency to pause the action so that characters can engange in a funny little speech or act out yet another homage for five minutes. Yeah, that's funny, but why are the zombies all just standing around now?. Apparently the zombies in this film only attack when someone isn't demanding the camera's attention for a joke. By the same token, some of the funniest bits are quickly followed by some fairly gruesome character deaths and what would normally appear to be tearful moments of heartfelt drama as the survivors mourn the loss. However, one is never sure whether to take such poignant moments at face value or not, considering how tongue-in-cheek the rest of the affair is. Either way, they further break up the pacing, making Shaun of the Dead a wildly funny, but increasingly uneven affair. By the time you get to the Deus ex Machina ending, you'll be more relieved than annoyed, since the whole thing begins to noticeably lose steam somewhere in the shift between the second and third acts.

One area it doesn't dissappoint in, however, is the gory bits. Although much of it is done with digital fakery (particulary the exploding-back-of-the-head scenes), it's still pretty effective and not as obvious or overdone as the CGI grue in other recent films, like Beat Takeshi's Zatoichi remake. And what would a zombie movie be without an unlikable character being dragged out of a window and having his abdomen converted into an all-you-can-eat sweetbreads buffet?

The fanboys will rave that this is the greatest zombie-comedy ever, and normally I would lump myself among them. But although I was entertained and impressed by SHAUN OF THE DEAD on a number of levels, it could have used a bit more in some places and more than a bit less in others. But while it's not the five-star "instant classic" some might make it out to be, it's certainly a fun and exuberant tribute to our favorite zombie movies, and one that deserves to be ranked alongside of them on its own merits.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9265&reviewer=258
originally posted: 09/26/04 06:01:38
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good horror comedy 4 stars
6/28/13 Ionicera fried gold 5 stars
11/19/12 Sean Harrison An absolutely hilarious horror comedy. 4 stars
10/31/10 the dork knight Good, but unfortunately Hot Fuzz improved on it in every way, and it suffers. 4 stars
10/17/10 paul One of the best in many recent years !!! 5 stars
9/25/10 Geoff I love zombie films, and adding humor to the genre is a stroke of genius. 5 stars
1/10/10 art i HAVE only seen two ZOMBIE FILM"S in my life,WHITE zombiefrom 1932,zombie from 1980! 1 stars
12/26/09 Chad Dillon Cooper A funny gory loveletter to George Romero. Well done. 4 stars
10/06/09 PAUL SHORTT INEFFECTIVE AS SATIRE, COMEDY AND HORROR 2 stars
5/07/09 true Quirky and funny. So nice to see something different. Poor Shaun, what a life! 4 stars
12/23/08 brian First two-thirds terrific, final third generic. Original "Dawn of the Dead" better. 3 stars
12/21/08 Samantha Pruitt very smart movie, scary at the same time! 4 stars
10/31/08 Shaun Wallner Very Funny! 5 stars
4/14/08 Will Tingle Genius - Well worth your cash (especially if you like to play "spot the reference) 5 stars
3/25/08 Isaac M. Baranoff Extremely funny. Top notch. 5 stars
8/29/07 Doc Who An EXCELLENT movie 5 stars
7/14/07 fools♫gold Try not to watch it too many times at once. That's what I did, and look at my rating! 4 stars
4/17/07 Stevo u americans who think brits r stupid can just GET FUCKED. this is good 4 stars
4/17/07 tony g one of my top ten films! cracker!! 5 stars
3/19/07 Czechpointcharlie It will be hard to top this zombie satire. Tongue THROUGH the cheek. Lethally funny. 5 stars
2/25/07 Bitchflaps Vastly overpraised, promises on more inventiveness than it delivers. 2 stars
2/14/07 Laura This film is amazing, a must see for fans of romance, comedy or zombies! 5 stars
12/12/06 Frank It's not hip-hop.............it's electro. One of my all time favorites! 5 stars
10/24/06 jjones Not everyone's "cup of tea" but for movie geeks a must see. 4 stars
10/17/06 Terence Very entertaining movie. 5 stars
8/10/06 melivorous hilarious! i loved it 5 stars
6/16/06 Michele campy and funny 3 stars
5/31/06 Anthony G One of the best movies I have ever seen. 5 stars
1/04/06 Piz Some laugh out loud moments but really dragged in stretches. 3 stars
12/02/05 Jennifer S. This was one of the funniest movies I saw all year! 5 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard So much fun. Great flick. 4 stars
11/21/05 skippy I thought it was lame, too...Christ, UNDEAD was better than this!!! 1 stars
11/20/05 YouLuvPoop This movie was fucking lame as shit - fuck the brits and their lame-as-hell humor!!!!! 1 stars
11/14/05 Kumble Yeah, that brilliant Birtish humor, where a stuck-out tongue is the epitome of hilarity. 1 stars
11/11/05 zeitgeist If you don't understand/like British humor, this movie isn't for you. 4 stars
11/02/05 mind dump Only mildly funny at certain points...no really worth the time. 2 stars
11/02/05 shackle the guy who recommended this to me got a punch in the back of the head the next morning. 1 stars
10/26/05 Crumbcake This movie was WAY oversold to me. I expected a classic...it wasn't. Lame. 1 stars
10/24/05 Suk-R-Punch What in the name of HELL was so great about THIS movie?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! 1 stars
10/19/05 Gumbo I totally agree...I think I laughed twice. The humor was SO low-key, it wasn't even there! 1 stars
10/15/05 OodlesofOs I hate this kind of humor...y'know...the nonexistant kind. 1 stars
10/14/05 gasp I think I chuckled twice...lame, lame, lame, lame, LAME! 1 stars
10/13/05 Bryant Gumby Quite possible the most ovrrated film ever. Not funny, not scary, not...anything. Pass. 1 stars
8/30/05 ES The dart scene was priceless 4 stars
8/13/05 Gabby is Renee This is well made and cool, although it falls away a little at the conclusion. 4 stars
8/09/05 C. Fidance This movie has everything! You'll laugh yourself silly and they don't skimp on the gore! 5 stars
8/07/05 Charlene Javier Cleverly funny! 4 stars
8/05/05 Nate Frary Freaking hillarious! 4 stars
8/05/05 ron abrams loved it. great fun 4 stars
7/07/05 Elizabeth Blackey BRILLIANT! Hillarious and gross at the same time. A keeper. 5 stars
6/25/05 Mr Fluffy The best zombie film starring Simon Pegg there is. 5 stars
6/09/05 Taylor Fladgate Clever! A must see sleeper. 5 stars
4/15/05 Raymond Montoya Good Comic Zombie movie. 4 stars
4/12/05 indrid cold Very funny. Not a classic but definitely worth a look. 4 stars
4/03/05 Arse Poet Heartwarming and funny, I loved it. Watch it with your lover. 5 stars
3/17/05 Jack Bourbon Good except when Shaun cries 4 stars
3/16/05 Sum Yung Guy Inconsistent in tone, not particularly funny or scary. 2 stars
3/13/05 Tamara Burks I had to drive 100 miles just to buy the dvd and it was well worth the drive . 5 stars
3/12/05 Pete fraud good movie, but it's not very funny. I got scared 4 stars
3/04/05 Chris Stephens I loved this movie!!! 5 stars
2/27/05 Charlene Javier Funneee! 5 stars
2/25/05 L.G. Was skeptical about a Zombie Comedy... this film SURPRISED me... Loved it and laughed a lot 5 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Great movie, hilarious, different! 4 stars
2/07/05 steve newman This is so great! I loved it and am going to watch it repeatedly - well done the BFI 5 stars
2/05/05 Amy Bradshaw This movie is hillarious! Very entertaining! 4 stars
1/27/05 Jim A very funny (and one suspects accurate) vision of zombie apocalypse 4 stars
1/21/05 Evan Slow start, second half is better 4 stars
1/01/05 Paterfam001 Dr. Nick the only reviewer who got it right 3 stars
12/18/04 Matt F. Loved this movie, funniest of the year. I'm Canadian. 5 stars
12/17/04 Bloody Holey Mary! True, Etheridge! But really takes off from start of zombie fight to refuge at "Winchester"! 3 stars
12/16/04 irbear very funny parody of zombie films. American here. 5 stars
12/16/04 Etheridge Hoogendijk Begins so slow; middle good eerie zombie action; ending leaves some to be desired. 3 stars
12/10/04 Kristina Williams finally finding a good use of that Sade album 5 stars
11/16/04 Dunce Delivers on every level and just all around terrific. Yes, I'm American. 5 stars
11/15/04 Ric A few decent laughs, but not nearly as fun as I'd hoped for. 2 stars
11/05/04 One more paranoid American We've been cursed with savoury ducks-goddamn British cuisine!!! 1 stars
10/27/04 the Grinch Loved it....funniest movie I've seen in awhile...maybe funnier than Team America even 5 stars
10/19/04 TITS U AMERICAN WANKERS LOL DONT NO A GOOD FILM IF IT HIT U IN THE HEAD 5 stars
10/18/04 psycho dwarf Fleshes out the parody of it's zombie pedigree. 4 stars
10/18/04 john bale Funny satire on zombie movies, especially the first half, the fairly routine. Good cast. 4 stars
10/11/04 Goggman One of the best movies I have seen this year!!! 5 stars
10/10/04 dumb brits d brits in dis movie, ex:Ed is a fair representation of brits in reality - dumb & stupid :) 1 stars
10/10/04 Archanist_101 Funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/10/04 best of british typical fucking foreigners piss off back to dawn of the dead remake then 5 stars
10/09/04 Helen Bradley Totally rubbish worst film of the decade 1 stars
10/05/04 shazamp how come IDIOTS r continuously coming out with stupid ILLOGICAL movies? :( 2 stars
10/03/04 Cassi Brilliant and very funny! 5 stars
10/02/04 hank british dance music for starts, 2 stars
9/29/04 mont progresses far too slow, unsatisfying, ending sucked royale, ONLY for 100% NERD FANS 2 stars
9/28/04 asina The best movie of the year! 5 stars
9/28/04 maxomai A commentary on humdrum life. Classic. 5 stars
9/28/04 film jerk this movie sucked - tailor made for film geeks 1 stars
9/27/04 MorallySound Hillarious! 5 stars
9/27/04 Titus I don't regret seeing it, but it wasn't spectaculr. Some real funny, but often slow. 3 stars
9/27/04 ajay I agree with most, slow at times, but I laughed out loud several times. 4 stars
9/27/04 Agent Sands First 45 minutes are HILARIOUS. Then it can't decide what it is, & good qualities taper off 4 stars
9/26/04 KD On par with the original Dawn Of The Dead in all aspects! 5 stars
9/25/04 KingNeutron Could have been a bit more fast-paced, but some really good lines in it. 4 stars
9/25/04 nik what collin said, minus the shit about "Evil Dead II" which blows llamas 5 stars
9/24/04 kriss harvey better then the Passionfruit of the Christ 5 stars
9/24/04 Andrew Potts Great fun 5 stars
9/23/04 el burro Saw it over in NZ a month ago, it's a freakin shot in the arm. 5 stars
9/23/04 HOWDINSKI JUST FANTASTIC. WHAT A FILM THE BRITS SHOW HOLYWOOD HOW ITS DONE 5 stars
9/18/04 asina combines the 2 best things in film - zombies and comedy. 5 stars
9/01/04 Jim McLennan The best comedy of 2004, and the best horror film too. 5 stars
8/13/04 Mark D. Fulwiler very amusing! 4 stars
8/02/04 Wendell Walker Inventive, hilarious, and a surprisingly good story! 5 stars
6/03/04 Littlepurch A great British cast lead a lighthearted and hilarious spoof of the great "28 Days Later" 5 stars
5/21/04 Eloise best bit...the jukebox/fight scene...made me chuckle 5 stars
5/06/04 Daveman I went, I saw, I was entertained and amused but disappointed. 3 stars
5/06/04 J.Peckerfoot i laughed until a zombie shaped shit came out..i named it shaun.great film! 5 stars
5/06/04 Bobby Fisher british comedy that didnt star hugh grant... Awesome 5 stars
5/05/04 Mattster Yay! This film rocks! A very British sense if humour pervades throughout 5 stars
5/03/04 Me a great film 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  24-Sep-2004 (R)
  DVD: 21-Dec-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  07-Oct-2004


Directed by
  Edgar Wright

Written by
  Edgar Wright
  Simon Pegg

Cast
  Simon Pegg
  Nick Frost
  Kate Ashfield
  Dylan Moran
  Lucy Davis
  Bill Nighy



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