Fig. 1. Shaun of the Dead poster.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) is a comedy, horror film directed by Edgar Wright, who has directed other great comedy’s such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Hot Fuss and The Worlds End. The film is almost a parody of the zombie genre and it gains its laughs from the use of violence, some jokes that it sets up early on and the simple minded characters.
The story is about the very average guy Shaun (Simon Pegg) and his failure of a life, it starts off with Shaun having a terrible day in which everything goes wrong, he attempts to turn his life around and win back his now ex-girlfriend, but unfortunately for him the day he attempts to change is the day a zombie apocalypse breaks out. Shaun however sees this as a chance to prove to everyone he can be useful, he just has to survive and of course win his ex-girlfriend back.
It could be argued that Shaun of the Dead is essentially a slapstick comedy as a lot of the laughs come from inflicting pain on the zombies or each other, the gag in which Shaun attempts to jump over a fence and it falls over is repeated in other films that Wright directed and has become an expected joke that gets funnier every time. In Shaun of the Dead it comes at a moment in which Shaun is attempting to appear strong and in control, which makes the gag that much funnier.
Fig. 2. Vinyl scene.
The film is also a great parody of the zombie genre and in fact our culture in general, it starts off by showing everyone looking and walking like zombies although the apocalypse hasn’t started yet. It shows people walking around staring at their phones and dragging their feet, ironically this means that when the apocalypse actually happens it’s hard to tell that zombies are actually among them, which is funny to observe. This means that when Shaun and Ed first see a zombie in their garden they assume that she’s just drunk, by accident Shaun causes her to fall and impale herself on a parasol base, when she gets back up they then realise she is a zombie. A funny scene follows in which they attempt to kill two zombies by throwing vinyl records at them, as Ed pulls them out and throws them Shaun complains that some of this collection is rare. So as two zombies slowly approach them with the intention to eat them, they search through the collection looking for vinyl’s that aren’t that valuable.
Another great scene is when they attempt to get into the Winchester pub for safety, they are surrounded by zombies and they are pretending to be zombies to not cause any suspicion. Ed’s phone rings and he casually tells the group he needs two seconds and answers the phone, discussing with someone that was looking to buy some weed. Obviously this alerts all the zombies that they are in fact human and that they should be devouring them, the stupidity draws out a chuckle as most of the things Ed does are idiotic.
To conclude Shaun of the Dead is a film that draws most of its human from violence like slapstick comedy, it is ultimately a parody of zombie films and attempts to make the genre into a funny experience instead of the usual scary, hiding behind a blanket kind of experience. The gags that continue throughout other films almost feel rewarding every time you see them as you are in on the joke and it aids in finding them that much funnier. The laughs also come from how mundane they make zombie fighting appear, as they always have something more important to be discussing like getting back together or which vinyl can be thrown.
Figure 1. Shaun of the Dead poster. (2004) From: Shaun of the Dead, Directed by: Edgar Wright [Film still] At: http://images.moviepostershop.com/shaun-of-the-dead-movie-poster-2004-1020228593.jpg (Accessed on 05/12/2015)
Figure 2. Vinyl scene. (2004) From: Shaun of the Dead, Directed by: Edgar Wright [Film still] At: https://maxqueen.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/lancer-de-disques-contre-les-zombies.jpeg (Accessed on 05/12/2015)