For whatever reason, Peter Jackson really liked “Cabin Fever.” He gushed, “Bloody, and I do mean bloody, fantastic!” He guffawed, “Horror fans have been waiting years for a movie like ‘Cabin Fever.’” He must have seen a different movie than I did. “Cabin Fever” is as putrid as the rotting flesh that fills its 94-minutes-too-long running time.
So, when Peter Jackson hailed “Shaun of the Dead” as “the most entertaining film I’ve seen all year,” I was a little wary. What other movies has Jackson seen this year? Maybe he was too busy watching “Cabin Fever” on DVD to get out to the theater.
Jackson wasn’t the only celebrity to jump on the “Shaun” bandwagon either. Sam Raimi and the overrated Guillermo Del Toro offered advance praise as well. Most astounding was when George Romero called it the best zombie film since his own, the classic “Night of the Living Dead.” Could any movie live up to this much hype?
Well, simply add my quote of praise to the list! “Shaun of the Dead” is a horror comedy with its heart — ripped out of its chest cavity — on its sleeve and braaainnnsss to spare! It’s the best romantic comedy with zombies since Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive.” In fact, I think it’s the only romantic comedy with zombies since “Dead Alive.”
Shaun (Simon Pegg, “24 Hour Party People”) is going nowhere. He spends each and every day at the local pub, The Winchester, with his best mate, Ed (Nick Frost, “Underground”). His girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield, “Collusion”), is threatening to leave him, and he has issues with his mum (Penelope Wilton, “Calander Girls”) and stepfather (Bill Nighy, “Love Actually”).
Well, there comes a day in every man’s life when he has to get off the couch, kill some zombies and win back the love of his girlfriend. That’s the set-up, and the results are frequently hilarious and at times surprisingly heartwarming. There’s even some good old-fashioned gut-munching for the Gorehounds and moments of creeping terror far scarier than anything Hollywood horror has thrown-up recently.
Director Edgar Wright’s inspired usage of quick cuts reminiscent of “Army of Darkness” and a great tracking shot of Shaun, suffering from a massive hangover, as he walks from his flat to the convenience store without noticing the zombies limping around him, add visual polish to the film. This low-budget zombie Brit-flick looks anything but.
Like the Romero trilogy to which it owes so much, “Shaun of the Dead” includes a social commentary, albeit a comedic one. Not wanting to address anything as serious as the threat of communism or the spread of consumerism, “Shaun” is content with satirizing the service industry. Zombies, it would seem, are quite well suited to that type of work.
Why is it that audiences have to look to other countries to get a decent horror flick these days? Can’t Hollywood produce anything original (and not just remake classics of the genre and Japanese horror films), or do we really have to keep suffering through films like “Aliens vs. Predator” and “Resident Evil: Apocalypse?”