Shaun of the Dead: A love letter

Posted by Cory Casciato On July - 7 - 2010


Today’s feature is a guest post from Camiele White, of StarCostumes.com. I neither endorse nor take credit for anything she says here, although I agree that Shaun of the Dead is fucking awesome.

I’ve always been a fan of legitimate zombie flicks. Though I’m a sucker for the classic Romero, I can’t help but get excited when I see a preview for a film with the mindless, brain-hungry undead as the unyielding antagonist. However, as of late, there hasn’t been much in the way of this classic horror genre that has excited me enough to pay $9 and sit in the middle row of a crowded cinema.

And then there was Shaun of the Dead.

Though released in 2004, it stands the test of time for me as the last truly classic zombie flick. The best part: it wasn’t parading as anything more than a gore-tastic good time. As with most things that tend to follow a popular trend, the horror genre prides itself on trying to take its antics to the edge. Ever the hipster trying to solidify its individuality, American horror has time and again been found wanting. It’s no mistake that the last horror flick to get my attention was a foreign film. I’ve been a quivering lily at the hands of such Japanese horror film legends as Takashi Miike and have stood awed and amazed by the wonder of the likes of Guillermo del Toro. However, Shaun of the Dead managed to make the genre what it probably was intended to be from the start: drop dead hilarious.

I won’t ruin this article with spoilers. Anyone familiar with the zombie horror genre will get the general apocalyptic message and those familiar with Simon Pegg will understand the frantic folly and mindboggling ridiculousness that seems to be the benchmark of his films. As this was my introduction to Mr. Pegg, I have to say that everything that followed and had his name on it became an instant classic in my mind. But I digress. What people should really take into consideration and actually applaud the film for is its incredible direction. It’s visually fantastic and uses lighting and color in a way that most people wouldn’t exactly equate to a comedy. The atmosphere is dark, brooding, and has an unpretentiously genius air about it. And in the midst of this brilliance is a woebegone love story in which everything that may easily cause a break up does easily cause a break up.

Beyond my adoration of the cinematography, however, is the performances, all of which encourage viewers to care about every single character in the film and their well-being (even if David is a twat, it just makes his gruesome demise by dismemberment all the more poignant, giving each and every audience member a justified feeling on the inside equivalent to screaming, “FUCK YEAH!!!”). Every character is developed in its own way (whether prick or princess) and each story seems to weave perfectly into this story of chemical Armageddon.

Then, of course, there’s the unapologetic brain-bashing, gut-gushing, innards-chomping gore that fits oh-so-sweetly into the curt love story that’s developed throughout the film. It’s almost as if you could see the end of the world by undead mob as reasonable, given that, as David the twat puts so eloquently, Shaun’s idea of an impenetrable fortress and a romantic restaurant are the same thing. It’s a combination of delights and goodies that makes this film not only hilarious, frightening and gory, but just plain brilliant.

Thus my undying love for Simon Pegg for bringing rejuvenation to the zombie flick scene. I was totally at my wits’ end attempting to find something to match the understated political macabre of the classic Night of the Living Dead or the camp and unsettling genius of Dead Alive. What I got was a combination of both and a rediscovery of the zombie genre as a whole. Now I’m more inclined to seek out those films that attempt to give life to the undead and revolutionize the genre. It’s not enough to be just as good as the masters; as with most teachers of craft, George A. is no doubt hoping that someone will not only take the reins, but also take the ship to the moon. Shaun of the Dead has managed to do just that and still not take itself too seriously.

Article writer by day, renegade poet by night, Camiele White loves any and everything film. She chases only the original (or incredibly funny) and has been known to talk for hours about subjects that most people just don’t care about. Right now, she gets her jabberjaw jollies over at StarCostumes.com. If you want to give her a buzz, she can be reached at cmlewhite at gmail.com.

If you’d like to contribute a guest article to The Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse, e-mail me at cory.casciato[at]gmail.com (replace the [at] with an actual @ symbol, of course).

One Response to “Shaun of the Dead: A love letter”

  1. coffeebugg says:

    Shaun of the dead should be the current standard in making zombie flicks. No tacky gimmicks and just straight regular Joe trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. The dry english wit is but the cherry on top for me.

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