Shaun Of The Dead
R3 - Korea - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (20th February 2005).
The Film

Wow, this movie is fun. It wants to be a fun movie, and the people seemed to be having so much fun, it translated well on screen. For cult movies like that, you're always waiting to be won over. For me it happened a little before the 9-minute mark. Shaun (Simon Pegg) goes into the bus, and you hear a song. That in itself doesn't make anything fun, but that particular song was Zombie Nation by Kernkraft. After that, I said, "why not?", and just enjoyed movie.
It's indeed very enjoyable. The dialogue is very funny. You have some very sly humour going on throughout the movie in addition to the visual gags and obvious jokes. It's very nice to see. You also have some very nice references to other zombie movies, which is fun to watch. The plot sort of follows Night of the Living Dead, although it's a pub and not a house. I also saw a not-so-obvious to Lucio Fulci's Zombi, although it might be my imagination. There are many, many others pointed out in the commentary.
Throughout all of this fun stuff, the actors keep their nice sense of humour and everything on screen is very well done. The acting is fun. The characters are quite believable, although their situations are not. The actors do a nice job, amidst all the zombies and running around. The horror isn't really scary, although the movie has plenty of fun with horror movie conventions. How many times do you have the jump scare when there aren't even zombies around? How many scary parts happen when they are zombies around?

Video

2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. For the most part, the video on this DVD is very nice. During the darker scenes, especially near the end in the cellar, it gets quite grainy. The movie seems to have an intentional grainy quality as well, although the picture is quite nice. The colours flicker a little in that one scene also. Otherwise, they're constant and accurate. The contrast is good and the detail is at a good level. I also didn't see any edge enhancement or any other flaws, whether from the authoring or the print. The picture is good but not great, but there isn't anything wrong with it.

Audio

The sound only comes in English 5.1. The sound is very nice, with very nice use of the five speakers. The subwoofer also gets a nice time. In the back, you get a lot of ambient sounds. I remember zombie scratching and shuffling coming from back there. You've got some nice positional effects throughout the movie as well. The positions are also accurate. The soundtrack is well heard and comes out well, but never drowns out the dialogue, which usually comes from the centre. It's a nice soundtrack for the movie, and definitely sets up the mood the director wants.
For this particular DVD, you get optional English (close caption), Thai, Chinese and Korean subtitles.

Extras

Audio commentary by writer/director Edgar Wright and co-writer/actor Simon Pegg. These guys are having a lot of fun doing this track. They point out all the references the movie has - I have to buy Spaced now - and they come off as being rather smart. They also point some of the mistakes, talk about the original script, talk about the actors and crew, and talk about many other things. It's one of the best I've heard in a while and it's a lot of of fun. It's one of those you can listen to many times. They make you laugh and teach you about the movie, so I'm quite happy with this track. I just wish Universal would've stuck the four tracks on the British DVD.

"Raw Meat" featurettes are a series of four featurettes:

"Edgar and Simon's Flip Chart", this is almost 13 minutes long. It's a basic outline of the movie. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright tell you this is their idea back in September 1st, 2001 and that if it changes, something went wrong. They go through the movie, plot point by plot point. It's interesting, as the two guys are clowns and they always crack jokes. They know this thing will go on the DVD so they make a few jokes about that. It's a great pitch and if I were a producer, I would've picked the movie up.

"SFX Comparison", is really interesting. You see two sequences and how they were done. Pass by pass you can see all the elements being put together until the final film is shown. It's only 2 minutes and 16 seconds but it's interesting every second of it.

"Makeup Tests" runs for 2 minutes and 13 seconds. It just shows you various makeups used for zombies. If you've seen the extras in the Resident Evil DVDs, then you've seen this also. It's nothing special. You do see Simon Pegg in zombie make-up, which you don't see in the movie, so at least there's that.

"EPK" featurette is 7 minutes long, but it's still an EPK. It's got the stars and crew talking about their characters and the plot. It's just the same as every other EPK, but it's Shaun of the Dead, so the movie clips are funnier than usual.

Zombie gallery, in this next section, it's all about pictures. The Photo Gallery is great. You get the sense of fun from watching these. The movie seems to have been a blast to make, and watching these pictures makes you wish you were there. 2000 AD Strip seems to be part of a comic book they made. It's well drawn. Poster Designs is interesting as well. I really like the first one.

"Trails of the Dead" is the promo material. With the movie being what it is, you'd have be a complete, well, zombie to make them boring. They're fun and they really sell the movie very well. You've got the Fright Fest 2003 and official teasers, both about a minute and a half, the official theatrical trailer, about 107 seconds and a couple of TV spots adding up to 41 seconds. Really funny stuff.

"Missing Bits" clips is split into five sections:

"Funky Pete", a clean version of the movie had to be made, so in this 2-minute scene, funk is the f-work. It's actually quite funny, and shows these guys had both a very nice sense of humour and too much time on the shoot. It's really funny.

"The Man Who Would be Shaun", this is only 26 seconds and is Simon Pegg having some fun on set. It's him shooting a scene, but he's talking with a funny accent and voice.

"Plot Holes", this has the actor as their characters explaining the plot holes. It's actually original and a little funny. I'm surprised nobody's done this before. You only have three, though. 'What happened to Shaun when he ran off?' (42 seconds), 'What happened to Dianne when she left the Winchester' (1:12) and 'How did Ed get from to the cellar to the shed' (1:14).

"Outtakes", wow, this is about 10 minutes long and it's quite funny. I can't really describe the things you see other than they're bloopers, people having problems with props, or flubbing their lines or laughing for no reason. Some of these are really funny. Great extra.

"Extended Bits", has 14 extended scenes. The scenes only have a few seconds here and there. It's mostly a joke here and there. Cutting them doesn't really do anything, but keeping them wouldn't have changed much either. The scenes are all lumped together, and they add up to around 12 minutes and 49 seconds long. The scenes go something like this: near the beginning, with Pete (Peter Serafinowicz) trying to convince Shaun to get rid of Ed (Nick Frost) about 80 seconds long, the station closes, showing trouble is starting, about 30 seconds, Shaun going home, talk with Yvonne (Jessica Stevenson), about 2 minutes, Shaun in a taxi, getting to Liz's (Kate Ashfield) house, only 14 seconds, Shaun talking with Liz, around 20 seconds, more talking with Liz, a little more than a minute, driving the Jaguar about 24 seconds, Shaun talking with liz, meeting Yvonne again, about a minute, twenty seconds, the group outside the Winchester, some 25 seconds, and the rest of the scenes are in the put also (about a minute, a minute and a half, 20 seconds, 80 seconds and a minute). A few of these have some nice jokes, other not so funny. You also have the choice of viewing these extended bits with optional audio commentary by writer/director Edgar Wright and writer/actor Simon Pegg. They talk about some injokes that got cut out, and about why the scenes were cut out. When writing, they seemed funny, but in the preview screenings, the audience didn't like them. It's fun to listen to.

Overall

This was made to be a cult movie and it probably will be. Comedy and zombies can be tricky but can also be quite fun. This works very well here. The comedy bits are really funny, and although the scary bits don't really happen when zombies are on screen but there's enough action and tension to make you happy. Fun all the way!
As for the DVD It's not the same as either the British released or the American release. Of the three, this is the worst in terms of extras lacking in commentaries and featurettes.

The Film: A Video: A- Audio: A+ Extras: B- Overall: A-

 


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