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Now in our fifth calendar year!
PCR # 237  (Vol. 5, No. 41)  This edition is for the week of October 4--10, 2004.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Shaun of the Dead"

Movie review by:
Nolan B. Canova

Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

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"Shaun of the Dead"  by Nolan B. Canova
Concert Review: THE CRAMPS, w/The Chesterfield Kings, and The Downshifters
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Get Well Soon....The Next Logical Challenge....No Mas....Do Not Pass Go....Passing On....Meet The Beatles, Part 37
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Working Title Films     
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Peter Serafinowicz
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 33 mins

Equal parts horror, comedy, satire, and social commentary, this veddy veddy British production is the second major zombie film to emerge from England in two years (the first being 28 Days Later), and is a delightful romp into many sacred horror movie territories. Well done without taking itself too seriously.

Our hero Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a regular Joe, a clerk at an electronics store, who has problems at work, problems with his girlgriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), and goes home to his two roommates, slacker Ed (the delightfully frumpy Nick Frost), his best friend, and loud, power-meeting corporate guy Pete (Peter Serafinowicz).

The social commentary begins right away as a low-angle shot of bare feet shambling toward the camera with accompanying zombie-like moaning sounds pulls back to reveal Shaun himself first thing in the morning, making his way to the kitchen. As he leaves the house to go to work, strange people with zombie-like gaits are shuffling around in the background, but ingeniously blend into it, a sad commentary on the zombie-like way work commuters are in the morning: if they really were the living dead, would you even notice? The movie is filled with shots like this.

As the patchwork soap opera of work and home life unfold, the audience becomes aware that the living dead seem to be multiplying in the background and Shaun is just beginning to notice something may be wrong. In one particularly effective scene, Shaun surfs the TV remote skipping through channels obviously ablaze with the news---only he skips to the next channel before hearing the punch line. Distractions coming from his two obnoxious roomates don't help.

Not till one of the undead shows up in his backyard, which he and Ed frantically try to subdue, does he watch the TV news more intently and put together what's been happening: for some reason the dead are spontaneously reanimating and attacking the living---and if you get bitten by one, you'll become one yourself.

As zombies fill the streets, survival for our group becomes the number-one priority. As they scramble to find refuge, Romero-esque tributes to consumerism and Savini-esque sight-gags abound. One couple who appear to be necking are actually a zombie and victim (Shaun turns away just as the victim's head falls off!) Another zombie appears to be attempting to do what he did while he was alive. No super-fast, athletic zombies here; these are your traditional, shambling, moaning brain-eaters.

Many familiar landmarks like those mentioned already are touched on by this film including predicting how many of Shaun's family and friends will succumb to the melee. Many scenes are actually quite touching (especially those with his mum and stepdad; Shaun's devotion to saving his otherwise uncaring girlfriend adds pathos as well). About halfway through the film, the tone of the film becomes quite serious (execpt for the obvious and welcome comedy relief of Ed), as our main players hole up in the local tavern, temporarily safe from the horde. But for how long?

A terrific script, effective sound-editing, stunning camera work, lightning-fast editing and pulse-pounding music added to the amazing and faithful special-effects make-up work (att: Romero/Savini fans---gorey graphic disembowling has made a comeback!) earn this film a very high recommendation!

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Shaun of the Dead a solid  Three stars

This week's movie review of "Shaun of the Dead" is ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2004, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.