Shaun of the Dead
|Shaun of the Dead|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Edgar Wright|
|Produced by||Nira Park|
|Cinematography||David M. Dunlap|
|Edited by||Chris Dickens|
|Box office||$30 million|
Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 horror comedy film directed by Edgar Wright, who co-wrote it with Simon Pegg. The film stars Pegg and Nick Frost as mates Shaun and Ed, Londoners who are caught in an apocalyptic zombie uprising and attempt to take refuge in a local pub with their loved ones. The film co-stars Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy, and Penelope Wilton. It is the first installment in Wright and Pegg's Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, followed by Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World's End (2013).
The film drew inspiration from the television series Spaced created by Pegg and directed by Wright. The title and plot also refer to the Dead films directed by George A. Romero. Principal photography took place across London and at Ealing Studios, and was shot over nine weeks between May and June 2003.
Shaun of the Dead premiered in London on 29 March 2004 and was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on 9 April 2004. The film was a critical and commercial success, receiving favourable reviews from critics as well as two nominations at the BAFTA Film Awards. In a 2006 Channel 4 poll, it was ranked third on their list of the 50 Greatest Comedy Films. Upon its release the film has acquired a cult following, particularly amongst "millennial comedy and horror lovers alike"; horror novelist Stephen King described it as "a '10' on the fun meter and destined to be a cult classic".
Shaun is a salesman at an electronics store with no direction in his life. His colleagues disrespect him, he does not get along with his stepfather, Philip, and his girlfriend Liz breaks up with him after he fails to get dinner reservations and suggests they go to the Winchester, the pub at which they spend most of their evenings. After the break-up, Shaun drowns his sorrows there with his close mate, Ed. At home, Shaun and Ed's flatmate Pete complains of a bite wound from a mugger and their playing electro at four o'clock in the morning whilst he has to fill in at work; he berates Shaun to get his life together.
By morning, a zombie apocalypse has overwhelmed London, but Shaun and Ed are slow to notice until they encounter two zombies in their garden and kill them with blows to the head. They devise a plan to rescue Shaun's mother, Barbara, and Liz then wait out the crisis in the Winchester. They escape in Pete's Renault Mégane, and pick up Barbara and Philip, who gets bitten shortly after. They then use Phillip's prized Jaguar Sovereign V12 to pick up Liz and her friends Dianne and David. Philip makes peace with Shaun before turning into a zombie.
The group abandons the vehicle and continues on foot, sneaking through backyards and evading zombies by pretending to be them. They seek refuge inside the Winchester, where Shaun discovers that the Winchester rifle above the bar is functional. Barbara reveals she has been bitten and turns undead after giving Liz and Shaun her blessing. David attempts to shoot Barbara, but Shaun stops him, causing them and the rest of the group to start arguing. Shaun accuses David of being in love with Liz, something that Dianne is fully aware of. Liz is able to stop the arguing, and a distraught Shaun is forced to shoot Barbara when she turns.
Zombies break into the pub. David is disemboweled, and an enraged Dianne grabs David's leg and rushes into the horde until she is out of sight. The zombified Pete appears and bites Ed, after which Shaun shoots Pete. Shaun, Liz, and a bitten Ed bolt at the bar where Shaun starts a fire until they locate a passage that leads to a cellar. Realizing they only have two ammunitions left, Shaun and Liz contemplate suicide while Ed elects being devoured by zombies; Shaun, however, discovers a control panel that can open the barrel hatch to escape into the street. Shaun and Liz escape from the cellar while Ed volunteers to stay with the rifle. Before Shaun and Liz could defend themselves, the Army arrives and guns down the remaining zombies.
Six months later, civilisation has returned to normal and surviving zombies are used as cheap labour and entertainment. Liz has moved in with Shaun, while Shaun keeps the zombified Ed tethered in his shed where they play TimeSplitters 2 together.
- Simon Pegg as Shaun
- Nick Frost as Ed
- Kate Ashfield as Liz
- Lucy Davis as Dianne
- Dylan Moran as David
- Penelope Wilton as Barbara
- Bill Nighy as Philip
- Jessica Stevenson as Yvonne
- Peter Serafinowicz as Pete
- Rafe Spall as Noel
- Martin Freeman as Declan
- Reece Shearsmith as Mark
- Tamsin Greig as Maggie
- Julia Deakin as Yvonne's mum
- Matt Lucas as Cousin Tom
The film was shot over nine weeks between May and July 2003. It is notable for Wright's kinetic directing style, and its references to other movies, television series and video games. In this way, it is similar to the British sitcom Spaced, which both Pegg and Wright worked on in similar roles.
The film was inspired by the Spaced episode "Art", written by Pegg (along with his writing partner and co-star Jessica Hynes) and directed by Wright, in which the character of Tim (Pegg), under the influence of amphetamine and the video game Resident Evil 2, hallucinates that he is fighting off a zombie invasion. Having discovered a mutual appreciation for Romero's Dead trilogy, they decided to write their own zombie movie. Spaced was to be a big influence on the making of Shaun of the Dead, as it was directed by Wright in a similar style, and featured many of the same cast and crew in minor and major roles. Nick Frost, who played Mike in Spaced, has a starring role in Shaun of the Dead as Ed. Peter Serafinowicz and Julia Deakin – who played Duane Benzie and Marsha in Spaced – appear in Shaun of the Dead as Pete and Yvonne's mum, and Pegg's Spaced co-star Jessica Hynes plays Yvonne.
The film's cast features a number of British comedians, comic actors, and sitcom stars, most prominently from Spaced, Black Books and The Office. Shaun of the Dead also co-stars Dylan Moran, who played Bernard Black in Black Books, Martin Freeman (Tim Canterbury in The Office), Tamsin Greig (Fran in Black Books, Caroline in Green Wing), Julia Deakin (Marsha in Spaced), Reece Shearsmith (Dexter in Spaced and a member of The League of Gentlemen) and Matt Lucas (writer/co-star of Little Britain). In addition, the voices of Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen) and Julia Davis (Nighty Night) can be heard as radio news presenters, as can David Walliams (Little Britain) who provides the voice of an unseen TV reporter. Trisha Goddard also makes a cameo appearance, hosting two fictionalised episodes of her real-life talk show Trisha. Many other comics and comic actors appear in cameos as zombies, including Rob Brydon, Paul Putner, Russell Howard, Pamela Kempthorne (Morticia de'Ath in The Vampires of Bloody Island), Joe Cornish, Antonia Campbell-Hughes (from the Jack Dee sitcom Lead Balloon), Mark Donovan (Black Books) and Michael Smiley (Tyres in Spaced). Coldplay members Chris Martin (who contributed to the soundtrack by guest singing the cover of Buzzcocks' "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" with Ash) and Jonny Buckland also have cameo roles in the film.
The production was filmed in London, on location and at Ealing Studios, and involved production companies Working Title Films and StudioCanal. Many exterior shots were filmed in and around the North London areas of Crouch End, Highgate Finsbury Park and East Finchley. Zombie extras were mainly local residents or fans of Spaced who responded to a casting call organised through a fan website.
Shaun's place of work is an actual electrical appliances shop located in North Finchley. The scenes filmed in and around the "Winchester Tavern" pub were shot at the "Duke of Albany" pub, 39 Monson Road, New Cross, South London – a three-story Victorian pub. It was turned into flats in 2008.
In the United Kingdom, Shaun of the Dead took £1.6 million at 366 cinemas on its opening weekend and netted £6.4 million by mid-May. In its opening weekend in the United States, Shaun of the Dead earned US$3.3 million, taking seventh place at the box office despite a limited release to 607 theatres. The film has earned US$30,039,392 worldwide in box office receipts since its release.
Shaun of the Dead received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 92%, based on 205 reviews, with an average rating of 7.76/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Shaun of the Dead cleverly balances scares and witty satire, making for a bloody good zombie movie with loads of wit". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 76 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Nev Pierce, reviewing the film for the BBC, called it a "side-splitting, head-smashing, gloriously gory horror comedy" that will "amuse casual viewers and delight genre fans." Peter Bradshaw gave it four stars out of five, saying it "boasts a script crammed with real gags" and is "pacily directed [and] nicely acted." The film was placed sixth in Empire's top one hundred British films list.
American critic Roger Ebert was also enthusiastic about the film, rating the film three of out four stars and writing "instead of focusing on the Undead and trying to get the laughs there, it treats the living characters as sitcom regulars whose conflicts and arguments keep getting interrupted by annoying flesh-eaters."
Awards and recognition
In 2004, Total Film magazine named Shaun of the Dead the 49th greatest British film of all time. In 2006, it was rated as the third greatest comedy film of all time in a Channel 4 poll, with only Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Airplane! ranked higher. Horror novelist Stephen King described the movie as "...a '10' on the fun meter and destined to be a cult classic." In 2007, Stylus Magazine named it the ninth-greatest zombie film ever made. In 2007, Time named it one of the 25 best horror films, calling the film "spooky, silly and smart-smart-smart" and complimenting its director: "Wright, who'd be a director to watch in any genre, plays world-class games with the camera and the viewer's expectations of what's supposed to happen in a scare film." Bloody Disgusting ranked the film second in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article saying "Shaun of the Dead isn't just the best horror-comedy of the decade – it's quite possibly the best horror-comedy ever made." In December 2009, Now deemed Shaun of the Dead the best film of the decade. In 2016, Empire magazine ranked it 6th on their list of the 100 best British films, with their entry stating, “it's a masterpiece, right up there with Evil Dead II as one of the finest horror/comedies ever made.”
George A. Romero was so impressed with Pegg and Wright's work that he asked them to appear in cameo roles in the 2005 film Land of the Dead. Pegg and Wright insisted on being zombies rather than the slightly more noticeable roles that were originally offered. Pegg and Frost reprised their roles (animated style) in the Phineas and Ferb Halloween special "Night of the Living Pharmacists" in October 2014.
Quentin Tarantino dubbed the film as one of his top twenty films made since 1992. In March 2011, the film was voted by BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra listeners as their second favourite film of all time. Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption came in first place.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipients||Result||Notes|
|British Independent Film Awards||30 November 2004||Best British Independent Film||Shaun of the Dead||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg||Won|
|Most Promising Newcomer||Nick Frost||Nominated|
|Evening Standard British Film Awards||6 February 2005||Peter Sellers Award for Comedy||Simon Pegg||Won|||
|London Film Critics' Circle Awards||9 February 2005||British Film of the Year||Shaun of the Dead||Nominated|
|Screenwriter(s) of the Year||Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright||Nominated|
|British Academy Film Awards||12 February 2005||Outstanding British Film||Shaun of the Dead||Nominated|
|Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer||Nira Park (producer)||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||13 March 2005||Best British Film||Shaun of the Dead||Won|
|Best British Director||Edgar Wright||Nominated|
|Best British Actor||Simon Pegg||Nominated|
|Best British Actress||Kate Ashfield||Nominated|
|Scene of the Year||The records and zombies scene||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||3 May 2005||Best Horror Film||Shaun of the Dead||Won|
|Bram Stoker Awards||25 June 2005||Best Screenplay||Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (tied with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)||Won|
The film was released on DVD shortly after its theatrical run in the US, with a DVD release around December 2004 in the US. Features included several audio commentaries, EPK featurettes about the film's production, pre-production video diaries and concept videos, photo galleries, bloopers, and more. The film also saw release on the HD DVD format in July 2007, with a Blu-ray Disc release following in September 2009.
In 2006, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association announced that it would be producing action figures based on the film as part of its "Cult Classics" line that features fan favourite characters from various genre films. The releases are:
- 12" Shaun with sound.
- 7" Shaun, which was released in Cult Classics series 4. The sculpt was based on the 12" figure.
- "Winchester" two-pack, featuring 7" versions of Ed and a bloodied-up Shaun with the Winchester rifle.
- Zombie Ed, which is a re-deco of the "Winchester" Ed, to be released in Cult Classics: Hall of Fame.
During the ending scene, in which Shaun and Liz are watching television, a news report states that the idea of "raging infected monkeys was...", this is in reference to 28 Days Later, in which the Rage Virus was started by monkeys in a university.
The first of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, each film has a reference to a different flavour of Cornetto ice cream. Shaun of the Dead features the red strawberry-flavoured ice cream, signifying blood. The next two films in the series, Hot Fuzz (2007), features the blue original flavour for the police, and The World’s End (2013) shows the wrapper of the green mint flavour to represent aliens.
Films influenced by Shaun of the Dead
|Shaun of the Dead: Music from the Motion Picture|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||12 April 2004|
|Edgar Wright film soundtrack chronology|
The film's score by Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford is a pastiche of Italian zombie film soundtracks by artists like Goblin and Fabio Frizzi. It also uses many musical cues from the original Dawn of the Dead that were originally culled by George A. Romero from the De Wolfe production music library.
Bobby Olivier of Billboard attributes the initial rebirth of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" to its appearance in the film which "introduced it to a new generation of listeners", saying: "Perhaps the most famous scene from Shaun of the Dead features "Don't Stop Me Now" which blares from a pub jukebox while stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Kate Ashfield bash a zombie with pool cues to the song’s hurtling beat.”
Set the day before the zombie outbreak, the strip follows and expands on the character of Mary, who appears briefly in the introductory credits, and is the first zombie whom Shaun and Ed are aware of, and details how she became a zombie. It features expanded appearances from many of the minor or background characters who appear in the film. The strip was made available on the DVD release of Shaun, along with two other strips that wrapped up "Plot Holes" in the film, like how Dianne escaped and survived the Winchester incident, and Ed's fate after taking refuge in the pub's basement.
In 2005, IDW Publishing released a four-issue adaptation written by Chris Ryall (with input from Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg) and drawn by Zack Howard. The comic also contains scenes that were left out of the movie.
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