Shaun of the Case

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Love them or hate them, zombie movies have their place in cinematic history. These films featuring the living dead have been around as early as the 1930’s. Not long after that, however, a new genre appeared: The Zombie Comedy. Zombies themselves are often thought of as political commentary, which makes them a perfect vehicle for satire. 

In 2004, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg utilized the zombie concept and created Shaun of the Dead: a modern Zom-Rom-Com about an uninspired man leading an uneventful life until he’s faced with a zombie apocalypse. Shaun of the Dead became an instant classic, developing its own zombie-like following that has stayed strong for the last 16 years! It introduced American audiences to Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright and they have managed to stay fairly prominent ever since. 

So this week come join us at the Winchester where we will have a nice cold pint and discuss how Shaun of the Dead will never blow over. 

History

  • Directed by Edgar Wright
    • Now considered one of the most original filmmakers of the 21st century, this movie made Edgar Wright a household name. Later on he directed classics like “Scott Pilgrim VS The World,” “Baby Driver,” and the other two films in the Cornetto trilogy: “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End” 
    • Before Shaun of the Dead, he directed “Spaced,” a UK comedy that also featured Simon Pegg and Nick Frost 
  • Written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg
    • They met while working on the British TV series Asylum.  They soon bonded over their love for films such as Dawn of the Dead, An American Werewolf in London(1981), and Invasion of the Body Snatchers(1978.)  These would later be used as inspiration for Shaun of the Dead.
    • They said that the hardest scenes to write were the relationship scenes between Shaun and Liz. This was because they had to keep Liz as a strong character that was responsible but not seem like she was nagging or annoying.  They thought Kate Ashfield did an awesome job with keeping a balance.

Summary

  • Shaun is a salesman at an electronic supply store. He lives somewhat of a boring life, has commitment issues, and enjoys the occasional pint with his best mate at The Winchester (a local pub). 
  • Shaun isn’t very invested in everyone around him. So, he manages to not immediately notice when the world suddenly plunges into a zombie apocalypse. Terrified for his life and family, Shaun devises a full-proof plan to get him, his girlfriend, his friends, and his mum through the end of the world. 

Starring

  • Simon Pegg/ Shaun
    • Cornetto Trilogy
    • Star Trek as Scotty in the 2009 Reboot
    • Ready Player 1
  • Kate Ashfield/ Liz
    • In the 2019 Sanditon 
  • Nick Frost/ Ed
    • Cornetto Trilogy
    • Into the Badlands
    • Fighting With my Family 
    • Tintin (2011)
    • Pirate Radio
  • Lucy Davis/ Dianne
    • Wonder Woman
    • The Office (The British one)
  • Dylan Moran/ David
    • Black Books
  • Peter Serafinowicz/ Pete
    • The Tick
    • Rick and Morty
  • Bill Nighy/ Phillip
    • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    • Love Actually 
    • Pirates of the Caribbean 
  • Penelope Wilton/ Mum-Barbara
    • Dr. Who as Harriet Jones MP for Flydale North
    • Downton Abbey

Making of

  • After Pegg and Wright pitched the movie to Film4 Productions, the company cut back on its budget which left the movie without a production company. Wright believed in the film and wanted it to get made, so he didn’t take other directing jobs while he focused on getting financing. He had to borrow money from friends, including Simon Pegg. 
  • The movie borrows the film style from George Romero’s Dead movies (Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead.) 
    • Because of this, Pegg and Wright reached out to the legendary director for his blessing, which he gave! He even had Pegg and Wright in one of his movies in 2005! 
  • The ambiance of the film was not meant to be the nighttime scary horror movie.  They were going for more of a hungover Sunday morning vibe.
    • But they did have all the zombies in muted colors and no primary colors.
    • Simon Pegg however was to wear the same uniform the entire movie and said that he pretty much quote, “Ended up having one shirt that was held together by Febreze.” This was of course for continuity.
    • Fun fact is that the Cornetto ice cream was included because Edgar Wright in college had used Cornetto ice cream as a hangover cure and so he thought it would be funny for Ed to use it as such after their drunken escapade the night before getting over Liz.
  • Some of the scenes such as in The Winchester, were shot in Ealing Studios where things like the 1930’s Birds of Prey and a lot of Doctor Who was shot as well.
  • In the scene when Shaun walks in and you just see feet and his shadow it is a small nod to the end credits of Day of the Dead.
  • Simple callbacks such as Pete in the bathroom mirror before/after being a zombie is what makes this movie so great.
  • The first scene at Shaun’s there is an ash-tray on the coffee table that they ended up deciding was a bit racist and not PC so it is only in that scene.  It was a black baby with a sombrero on it’s back. Supposedly when it was released in America it may have been CGI’d out according to Pegg and Wright. 
  • After Shaun and Liz split up Ed consoles him at the bar by saying, “We’ll have a Bloody Mary first thing, have a bite at the King’s Head, couple at the Little Princess, stagger back here. Bang! Back at the bar for shots.”  This parallels what happens the rest of the movie. Bloody Mary ends up being the shop worker Mary who is a zombie the next morning, bite at the King’s head is going to kill Phillip, picking up Liz and the others, stagger as zombies back to the bar, and then “shots” refer to the gunshots at the bar at the end.
  • The shop scene where Phillip comes in to talk to Shaun was one of the few scenes done in one take and so they had to time the army trucks going by perfectly which was difficult but they achieved it!
  • In the scene with the zombie Mary, and who Pegg and Wright refer to as “The Hulk,”  some of the records that were “thrown” at the zombies were CG and some were rubber.
  • In the scene where Phillip transforms in the car and they are surrounded by zombies Simon Pegg actually punches Nick Frost in the shoulder and legit hurts him.
  • Actual tears were shed on set for the death of one character.  Barbara’s death caused Pegg and Frost to tear up as if it was their own mom’s death.  When this scene was shot over half the movie had been done and so everyone was already tired and emotional which brought an even bigger charge to the scene.
  • When Liz, Ed, and Shaun are trapped in the cellar it is meant to be dark and depressing in order to make it seem that this is the ending.

Received/ Impact/ Thoughts

  • The film has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, 7.9 on IMDB, and 76% on Metacritic. 
  • “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.” – Roger Ebert
  • The movie has an opening of 1.6 million pounds in the UK. It made 3.3 million USD opening weekend and over 30 million worldwide during its run. 

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Sources

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