Review of “Shaun of the Dead” (2004)

trailer from YouTube

To complete the trilogy, we end where it all started, Shaun of the Dead. It makes a whole lot more sense to anyone who has ever worked in retail.


Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a twenty-nine-year-old electronics salesman by day. He spends the rest of his time playing video games with his friend, Ed (Nick Frost), or drinking at the local pub, the Winchester. This particular night, Shaun’s girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), complains to him they’re always at the Winchester, and he’s doing nothing with his life. They should do something else. Forming a chorus in agreement are her friends Dianne (Lucy Davis) and David (Dylan Moran). In the background, Shaun’s slacker friend, Ed, plays video games. Some of the dialogue is timed for deliberate misinterpretation.

The opening credits roll over scenes of people going about their daily jobs: cashiers, retail workers fetching carts (“trolleys” in the local parlance), picking up leaves, everyone behaving mechanically…

At home, Shaun sits down to play a video game with Ed until Ed reminds him he has to go to work. A third roommate, Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), lectures Shaun about letting Ed continue to freeload.

On his way to work, Shaun ignores headlines and weird occurrences—the homeless man trying to eat pigeons, the odd, shambling walk so many people in the street seem to have adopted.

After a humiliating day at work, he returns home. Ed points to a girl in the backyard (“garden,” the locals call it). She’s standing perfectly still, with her head cocked at an odd angle. Shaun and Ed conclude she’s drunk—until she falls onto a piece of metal that pierces her back and protrudes through her stomach. It takes her a couple of seconds, but she gets back up and heads toward our heroes.

Shaun and Ed decide to try to kill her by throwing household objects at her: including Shaun’s vinyl records. They then break into the shed. Shaun emerges armed with a cricket bat, Ed with a shovel, and they proceed to kill zombies.


This was a lot of fun. I first saw it back in the day. It’s bloody and gory, well deserving of its R rating. Not for kiddies. In addition to the never-ending swearfest, there are more than a few bloody and gory scenes. One, in particular, is not gory per se but would be emotionally difficult for kidlets.

All that aside, this is funny. Shaun promises to make reservations at a restaurant for a date with Liz. Of course, it slips his mind for reasons having nothing to do with a zombie apocalypse. Liz dumps him. He shows up at her place with flowers he bought for his mother.

Shaun decides to hole up in the Winchester, but when he and his cohorts get within range of it, they find it surrounded by zombies. They must go undercover, that is, as zombies. Liz’s friend Dianne gives acting lessons. (“Nice vocals.”)

Killing the zombies—sometimes with a car—has a video game quality. Bashing people’s brains with a cricket bat or shovel is no less graphic.

Nothing is perfect. There are a few unfortunate racial references in the dialogue.

Beyond the title, which hints at Dawn of the Dead (1978 and 2004), this film borrows a line from the iconic Night of the Living Dead (1968). The intent is threatening but presented in such a clownish way that it’s funny.

I didn’t enjoy the film quite as much the second time around as I did the first, but it’s still amusing and enjoyable.

Shaun of the Dead won numerous film awards, including the 2005 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films; tied with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the 2004 Best Screenplay in Bram Stoker Awards; and the 2004 Best Screenplay in the British Independent Film Awards.

This below-average-joe becomes a hero tale makes for an enjoyable little flick, but it is not one for the kiddies or the squeamish.

Title: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Directed by
Edgar Wright

Writing Credits
Simon Pegg…(written by) and
Edgar Wright…(written by)

Cast (in credits order)
Simon Pegg…Shaun
Kate Ashfield…Liz
Nick Frost…Ed
Lucy Davis…Dianne
Dylan Moran…David
Nicola Cunningham…Mary

Released: 2004
Length: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Rated: R

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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