Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Shaun of the Dead

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
8 out of 10
Extras Rating:
9 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: R

Starring:
Simon Pegg as Shaun
Kate Ashfield as Liz
Nick Frost as Ed
Lucy Davis as Dianne
Dylan Moran as David
Nicola Cunningham as Mary
Keir Mills as Clubber 1
Matt Jaynes as Clubber 2
Gavin Ferguson as Football Kid
Peter Serafinowicz as Pete
Horton Jupiter as Homeless Man
Tim Baggaley as The Usher
Arvind Doshi as Nelson
Rafe Spall as Noel
Sonnell Dadral as Danny

Special Features:
Simon Pegg's Video Diary
Casting Tapes
Edgar & Simon's Flip Chart
SFX Comparison
Make Up Tests
EPK Featurette
Funky Pete
The Man Who Would Be Shaun
Plot Holes
Outtakes
Extended Bits
Photo Gallery
2000 Ad Strip
Poster Designs
TV Bits
Theatrical Trailer
Feature Commentary with Star Simon Pegg
Feature Commentary with Cast Members Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Kate Ashfield and Lucy Davis
Storyboard Comparison
Zomb-O-Meter

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Languages
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"Get ready for a gut-busting, bone-mashing good time in the hilarious horror comedy, Shaun of the Dead.

There comes a day in every man's life when he has to get off the couch and kill some zombies. When flesh-eating zombies are on the hunt for a bite to eat, it's up to slacker Shaun (Simon Pegg) and his best pal (Nick Frost) to save their friends and family from becoming the next entree. Satisfy your bloodthirsty appetite with the movie that masters of horror and film critics alike are hailing as the funniest and scariest movie of the year. Novelist Stephen King gushes 'it's a 10 on the fun meter and destined to be a cult classic' and Newsweek calls Shaun of the Dead 'a bloody hoot!' It's a screamingly hilarious zomedy that will have you dying with laughter."

Shaun of the Dead is rated R for zombie violence/gore and language.

The Movie:
Having heard all the hype for Shaun of the Dead, I was pretty eager to check it out. It sounded like it had the makings of a cult classic. While I didn't think it was as good as the hype led me to believe, I did enjoy it quite a bit and it definitely is a cult classic. Shaun of the Dead was absolutely hilarious and a great horror parody. I think it helped that I saw Dawn of the Dead shortly before viewing Shaun of the Dead. It certainly helped me recognize all the zombie clichιs that they nailed. They mock the zombie walk. They mock the moaning. They have fun with bashing them in the head and the fact that they just can't run that fast. The closing moments of the film show how the world deals with the remaining zombies. A game show called "Fun Dead" is absolutely hilarious. Whether you're a horror fan or not, you'll recognize the comedy potential of zombies after this is over.

But Shaun of the Dead is funny even when it's not taking aim at the horror genre. For example, Shaun and his friend Ed start throwing old vinyl albums at zombies like Frisbees. As they pull them out, they separate the good one from the bad ones. (The Prince Batman soundtrack doesn't fare so well against the zombies.) Then there's a running joke about the crazy bar owner who insists that dogs can't look up. There's a romantic comedy element in the film as well when Shaun tries to get his life together to please his girlfriend Liz. Jokes about his dead end job (no pun intended) are quite amusing.

The cast of this film is excellent. Simon Pegg not only co-wrote the film, but he played Shaun as well. He's perfectly believable as a loser in a dead end job or as a hero fighting zombies. And though he doesn't have much ambition and he hangs around loser friends, you can still see why Liz would like him. I think his character pretty well reflects the personalities of most of the target audience of this film. Nick Frost as Ed brilliantly supports Pegg. Frost is hilariously disgusting and immature. He reminds me a lot of a British John Belushi or a younger John Candy. His laziness and ability to say the worst possible thing at the worst possible moment creates a lot of the funniest moments in the movie. Kate Ashfield is pretty and funny as Shaun's love interest Liz. The rest of the cast also is great in their respective roles. Star Wars fans may want to note that Peter Serafinowicz who plays Shaun's roommate Pete was also the voice of Darth Maul in Episode I.

My only problem with Shaun of the Dead was that it changed wildly in tone by the end. After being a laugh out loud comedy, it occasionally offers up a bit of horror and gore. Then even later Shaun has a dramatic moment or two as his loved ones turn into zombies. It's not quite what you would expect considering the tone of the rest of the film.

Shaun of the Dead has all the elements of a cult classic. It's funny, it's unique, and it has lines people will be quoting for years to come. You'll definitely want to check it out.

The Extras:
There are a ton of extras included on this DVD. Though most of them are pretty short, they will keep you busy for a while. Here are the highlights:

Simon Pegg's Video Diary – Shaun himself took home movies while filming this feature film. You'll find jokes behind the scenes, a look at the pre-production, and even a Star Wars parody. This is a fun one to view.

Casting Tapes – Here's a look at the cast trying out for their parts. They act out a few of the scenes while wearing their everyday clothes.

Edgar & Simon's Flip Chart – The writers/actor/director share this early video where they presented their idea for the entire film on a flip chart. Literally the entire movie is sketched out here on paper. It's funny to see, but it gets a bit tedious after the first 5 minutes. Still, if you want a glimpse at the moviemaking process, this is a unique look at it.

SFX Comparison – This shows how they did some of the CG effects from the film like the pipe impaling the zombie and Pete getting his head blown off.

Make Up Tests – This featurette shows how they tried out a variety of looks for the zombies, practiced camera angles, and perfected the zombie moves.

EPK Featurette – This is a standard "making of" featurette that has behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew.

Funky Pete – In order to make this movie safe for TV and airplanes, they substituted the word "f**k" with "funk" for one version. This scene shows how ridiculous it can get.

The Man Who Would Be Shaun – This is a short gag reel showing our heroes playing out a scene in different voices.

Plot Holes – This is probably the best bonus feature on the DVD. With the use of comic art, they show what happened offscreen during the movie. They explain how Shaun eluded the zombies outside the pub, how Diane escaped the mob of zombies after attacking them with her boyfriend's severed leg, and how Ed ended up in Shaun's shed at the end of the film. Each of these are explained by the actors themselves and it's absolutely hilarious.

Outtakes – This is your standard blooper reel with flubbed lines, prop problems, etc. There are also a lot of extra foul ad-libs by Ed.

Extended Bits – There are around 20 scenes that are extended from the ones seen in the film. They are generally quite brief. A number of them show more of the impending zombie catastrophe.

2000 Ad Strip – There was a Shaun of the Dead comic strip in the famous British comic magazine "2000 AD". If you're a fan of comics or Shaun of the Dead, you'll want to see this.

Feature Commentaries – There are two commentaries – one with star Simon Pegg and Director Edgar Wright and one with cast members Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Kate Ashfield and Lucy Davis. They are very different in tone. The one with the whole cast is like a party while the one with the writers is fully of the typical sly sense of humor of the film. Both are quite good and worth checking out.

Zomb-O-Meter – I have to be honest – I couldn't even find this feature on the menus. Maybe you'll have better luck.

The Bottom Line:
Shaun of the Dead is destined to be a cult classic. It's a romantic horror comedy well worth checking out.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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