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Zombie comedy succeeds in both genres

Mark Bemenderfer | Monday, October 11, 2004

The new British zombie comedy “Shaun of the Dead” combines the comedy and horror genres brilliantly. Anyone who has a love for either the zombie horror genre or British comedy in general will not be disappointed by “Shaun of the Dead.” Playing off of the 1978 cult-favorite “Dawn of the Dead,” “Shaun of the Dead” manages to reference almost every zombie movie ever released, from “28 Days Later” to “Evil Dead.” This is a treat for those who have knowledge of the cheesy B-zombie movies of the 1980s. However, this does make the movie fall more into the niche category.However, it is a comedy as well, so those turned off by its horror nature should take that into account. The comedy is a mix of the obvious, from Monty Python to Michael Jackson. There are also elements of “Office Space,” as well as a variety of other movies.The plot is relatively simple. Shaun (Simon Pegg), our hero, is a 30-something-year-old stuck in a dead-end job at the local small grocery mart. After his significant other breaks up with him, he becomes so withdrawn that he completely doesn’t see the carnage unfolding around him. It is not until the zombies come knocking on his window, literally, that he notices the unfolding chaos. Once that occurs, Shaun and his flat partner decide they must hide from the zombie tide. Logically, they decide that the local bar would be the safest place.But they can’t go immediately to the bar. First Shaun must pick up his mother, along with his ex. This scene where they decide where to go and whom they will pick up first is particularly humorous. The rest of the movie basically follows their progression to the bar, picking up random people along the way, and then the subsequent assault on the bar.Although this is a horror-comedy, it is horror first, comedy second. There is quite a bit of gore in the movie, as the zombies are in various states of ill-being. But the comedy in it is quite funny, and doesn’t clash with the vibe of the movie.The closest equivalent to this movie would be the somewhat recent movie, “Club Dread.” However, while “Club Dread” had its genuinely funny moments few and far between, “Shaun of the Dead” remains consistently funny and enjoyable throughout. Like “Club Dread,” this movie was created by a comedy troupe. However, the British comedy troupe responsible for this film relies upon more sophisticated humor than the one that wrote “Club Dread” and “Super Troopers.””Shaun of the Dead” only received a limited release in the United States. So if you’re in the mood for some British zombie humor, be sure to check this out in select theaters around the country. There are a lot worse movies out in theaters right now and “Shaun of the Dead” is a welcome change.