R4 . COLOR . 95 mins .
MA15+ . PAL
Shaun of the Dead documents the love life of Shaun and his girlfriend Liz. Liz is naturally unhappy with a relationship she thinks is going nowhere and doesn’t want to be stuck with Shaun who is quite happy to continue their regular trips to a local pub as his idea of the perfect night out.
When Liz inevitably dumps Shaun, his good friend Ed consoles him with a few drinks at the aforementioned pub and at the end of the night Shaun is resolved to fix his broken relationship and kill some zombies.
If Richard Curtis wrote a zombie movie it would be Shaun of the Dead. Advertised as a ROM COM ZOM (Romantic Comedy Zombie) Shaun of the Dead is a clever homage to the zombie movie genre. From the opening scene there are subtle hints that slowly reveal the horror of the situation that is about to face the mostly oblivious Shaun.
Corrr, that's one juicy blister!
Populated with more references to previous zombie classics than this review is able to document and a romantic sub plot having a significant amount of screen time in between the inevitable fight for survival among the undead throngs. Included also are some scenes that are destined to be noted as classics of the genre, most of which are none too subtle nods to other movies for example the pool cue beating scene with the Queen “Don’t Stop Me Now” soundtrack is straight out of the Clockwork Orange playbook with a Lost Boys ‘Death by Stereo’ ending not to be missed.
"There is no "I" in "team", but there is an "I" in "meat pie". And meat... is an anagram... of team."
Shaun of the Dead is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is enhanced for widescreen displays.
When you first load Shaun of the Dead into your DVD player you are greeted by a 16:9 enhanced cartoon themed Winchester Pub menu system with animated zombie death scene and blood splatters, a very nice touch.
The overall video transfer on this disc is very good but it has a few minor problems. The occurrence of aliasing is present during the first act of the movie as well as some colour bleeding and surprisingly dot creep even rears its ugly head in a couple of places. None of the video problems are significant enough to be too distracting so I haven’t scored this aspect down too severely.
The main audio track for Shaun of the Dead is a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel affair and the commentary track is the standard 2.0 channel mix.
The 5.1 channel track is a great example of the format and is typically crisp and clear at all times. The bass channel gets a significant work out during the electronic and rock based musical score as well as the typical effects like breaking down a door or clobbering zombies with a cricket bat also give a satisfying and kidney shaking thud.
The centre channel does the usual job of carrying the spoken dialogue clearly without being overcome by environmental effects or music. The Surround channels are similarly effective giving the total emersion of a zombie filled suburban street with perfection and a strong presence in the surround channels from the musical soundtrack.
For a single disc edition there are a lot of extras squeezed into this DVD. The special features section of this disc is split up into several themed sub-sections, namely Raw Meat, Zombie Gallery, The Missing Bits and Trails of the Dead.
Would you like flies with that?!
The theme of the Raw Meat section seems to be behind-the-scenes and special effects.
Edgar and Simon’s Flip Chart (13:27)
This “Flip Chart” feature was filmed as a time capsule well before the movie was made, well before the script was written if what Simon and Edgar are to be believed. The “Flip Chart” in question includes a lot of diagrams and text describing the plot and is an interesting insight into the process involved in making the movie. Also interesting is seeing what parts of the initial idea made it into the actual movie and which ones didn’t.
SFX Comparison (2:17)
This feature is a composite view of some of the key Special Effects scenes in the movie particularly focusing on the Mary impalement scene and Pete’s headshot illustrating creative use of dog food and fake blood.
EPK Featurette (7:02)
A fairly typical promotional interview based featurette with cast and crew discussing story.
The Zombie Gallery is mostly made up of still images of zombies and such other Undead material.
A collection of both black & white and colour stills from on location and various scenes from the actual movie paged through using the DVD remote control.
2000AD comic Strip
Mary was one of the check out operators in the opening credits of the film. This short story entitled “There’s Something About Mary” details Mary’s transformation into one of the undead and was featured in prog 1384 of classic British sci-fi comic 2000AD. Depending on the size of your display you may need to use the built in zoom function to be able to read the text.
A series of ten posters used to advertise the movie.
Trails of the Dead
The name is a dead giveaway that this section contains the various trailers and TV spots for the movie including Frightfest 2003 Trailer, Official Teaser, Official Trailer, and two short TV Spots.
Just a shovel full of sugar helps the zombies go down.
The Missing Bits
Another dead (no pun intended) giveaway name, this section includes deleted scenes, outtakes and some other interesting extras.
Funky Pete (1:56)
An alternate take on one of the scenes in the movie where Shaun’s flatmate Pete confronts Ed and Shaun over their late night hip hop session.
The Man Who Would Be Shaun (0:27)
Shaun and Ed do an adequate impression of Sean Connery and Michael Caine in this nod to the movie The Man Who Would Be King.
This feature is a very unique concept that uses static story boards and voice overs to outline “What happened to Shaun when he ran off”, “What happened to Dianne when she left the Winchester” and “How did Ed get from the cellar to the shed”.
With over ten minutes of fluffed lines and bloopers this section has some laughs in it but nothing more than the usual outtake material we’ve seen many times before.
Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary) (12:50)
This section includes some alternate takes of existing scenes as well as extended and completely new scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the movie.
Also included on this disc an audio commentary with Director Edgar Wright and Co-Writer Simon Pegg (who also plays Shaun). Edgar and Simon are obviously long time friends and the banter throughout the commentary is more like two friends sitting in a room talking about a movie rather than some of the more technical commentaries I have heard. This ultimately means that the commentary is light and entertaining but also contains many interesting facts and trivia about the making of the movie.
The guys regularly highlight features that will be added to the DVD edition of the movie as well as running gags and movie references that the casual viewer may have missed. At around the 44 minute mark there is a long beep censoring something being said, I couldn’t even take a guess at what it was even given the context, if anyone can figure it out send me an email.
Cos this is thriller, thriller night!!!
A quick warning, the option to play the commentary is hidden in the Audio Options section of the disc instead of the Special Features menu where this kind of thing usually resides so keep an eye out for it because it is definitely worth a listen.
Shaun of the Dead seamlessly merges the genres of Romantic Comedy and Horror to give us a memorable movie experience that is destined to make it’s way to many DVD shelves.
The Special Features package was obviously produced by people who enjoy exploiting the DVD format for all it is worth, and is very comprehensive and adds quite a bit of content to keep the viewer busy for some time.