Speaking on Edgar Wright’s “Shaun of the Dead” (2004), renowned novelist Stephen King predicted it was “destined to be a cult classic.” King was right on the bulls eye. Nearly 20 years later new audiences continue to discover the comedic-horror film with great enjoyment along with fans revisiting the film. TGON has previously covered the characteristics of cult classics with some examples. Check out the article before proceeding!
The film is as well rounded as they come. Wright’s post-apocalyptic film manages to seamlessly blend horror and comedy with a compelling down-to-earth narrative that resonates wholeheartedly with audiences. It’s more than just another zombie film. On its almost twentieth birthday, we’re breaking down a few of the aspects that cement this film as a spooky classic.
Outlining the Challenge of Adulthood
In spite of the film revolving around a zombie apocalypse, the plot doesn’t wait until the outbreak to put our sluggish hero Shaun at rock bottom. It kicks off with Shaun at rockbottom in fact. He’s stuck at a dead end job with no bigger career goal in mind. It’s a vicious cycle of video games and booze with his best mate Ed.
The low point comes when Shaun’s girlfriend can’t hold onto the hope of him growing up anymore. Times up and their relationship is done for the foreseeable future. Baring some extraordinary circumstance that would reunite them, right?
Even when the outbreak starts, Shaun is completely oblivious to the roaming zombies and bloodstained environment. Shaun can’t be bothered by anything outside of his immediate peripherals. He’s a zombie of sorts walking with his head down and stuck in the trials of adulthood.
Shaun’s living situation perfectly encapsulates his state of mind. Ed and Pete are both Shaun’s extremes on the adulthood spectrum. It’s no exaggeration that Ed holds down Shaun to some extent with a life of constant debauchery. But Ed isn’t exactly helping his case either and making an active attempt to detach.
Pete is a very rigid model of the supposed adult to the max. In the screen time given he is shown to live solely for his space in the corporate world. Pete even concedes a bit of rationality to the sluggish pair and agrees there’s always a time for fun and games, but eventually it’s time to grow up.
There’s a point in the film where Shaun is forced to choose between the two and it’s a rewarding journey to see to the end.
Making Zombies Fun
Edgar Wright’s charm as a writer comes in the form of his films being able to make fun of themselves and the genre they occupy. While the film deals with a heavy topic on paper, Wright characterizes the zombies as comedic and places them in humorous situations. Their moaning is largely exaggerated and their slow and awkward movements easily invite laughter.
Early on in the film Shaun and Ed, oblivious to the danger at hand, take down a pair of zombies by throwing record vinyl’s at them. Remember that scene? The chaotic and cartoon-like bit is reminiscent of something you might find in a Looney Tunes skit. Through this scene, Wright is able to ground the zombies in an already outlandish film. The commentary on the music the pair choose to destroy via broken vinyl’s is another level of comedic depth.
Who doesn’t love Sade, right?
Who can forget this Iconic scene? Set against the backdrop of Freddie Mercury’s vocals, Wright again situates an isolated zombie in an unbelievably comical scenario. One and two, one and two. There’s a clearly evident rhythmic timing executed by Shaun, Ed & Liz that makes the viewer appreciate the scene that much more.
Don’t stop them now, right Mr. Wright?
The film has a lot to offer in addition to its near infinite replay value. How well has it stood the test of time to you? Let us know in the comments down below!