Thursday, October 31, 2013

SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #1: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Running Time: 99 minutes
Directed By: Edgar Wright
Written By: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Main Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran
Click here to view the trailer

As noted many times in the recent past here at the "1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die" blog, in the next 12 - 18 months the ultimate goal of this blog will transform from 'one man's journey to watch all 1001 movies in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book' to 'one man's journey to create his own, personal canon of 1,000 favorite films and show "those 1001 people" just how it's done! Sins of Omission will become a regularly, monthly feature on the blog where I'll take one film that WAS NOT included in any incarnation of the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book and DOES NOT appear on the next list of 1000 films that I plan to tackle, give it a formal review and make it a permanent part of my list, which is entitled: 1000 Films You REALLY Should See Before You Die: A Personal, Ongoing Canon of My 1,000 Favorite FIlms.


Well there you have it. I plan to post that paragraph at the beginning of each and every "Sins of Omission" post, because I know my grand scheme is a bit complicated. "Shaun of the Dead" WAS the super secret seventh entrant in the FRIGHTFEST festivities and not only does it cap off one week of pure horror, but also becomes the very first sin that THE BOOK committed by omitting!

"A romantic comedy...with zombies". That was the tagline of the hugely successful 2004 feature film from the creators of the hit Brit-com "Spaced", starring Simon Pegg as the title character and Nick Frost as his best friend and flat mate. "Shaun of the Dead" is inspired by the Romero franchise of zombie movies, but takes the classic conundrum of flesh eating zombies and adds a touch of hilarity. Shaun works in a dead end job, has a girlfriend he can't seem to do right by and has had the same best friend since primary school - a lovable nincompoop named Ed (Frost) that no one can seem to stand, save for Shaun. The film takes place over the course of two days. On day one, Shaun's day is going a bit rough: his co-workers (subordinates) are being disrespectful, his step-father is hounding him about his coming around to see his mother and his girlfriend is at her wit's end with Shaun, causing her to break up with him at the end of this horrible day. However, when the corpses of the recently deceased begin to rise up out of the ground and feed on the flesh of the living, Shaun has an epiphany and realizes that things could always be a little bit worse. Fortunately for Shaun, the zombie apocalypse is just what the doctor ordered for him to save face with the people he cares about and come out looking like the hero. All he has to do (with the assistance of Ed) is round up his helpless mother, stepfather Phil and his ex-girlfriend (Ashfield) and her mates, head to their favorite pub and wait for this whole thing to blow over!

What do I love about "Shaun of the Dead"? Well, to tell you the truth, everything! Not only is "Shaun of the Dead" the "Citizen Kane" of romantic zombie comedies, but it gets my attention and respect by always treating the zombies (although they're never called "zombies") as a very real threat. Jokes are made left and right, belly laughs are dished out by the scoopful, but those jokes & laughs are never at the expense of the film's threat and always in addition to it. How many times have you sat down to watch a horror movie with a group of people or maybe just one other person and you find yourself breaking that unbreakable rule of "no talking during the movie"? It's a rule I ALWAYS abide by, but sometimes horror movies get a free pass, if only so you can stop to make a few jabs at the cheap horror, the eye rolling special effects, "ooh" and "ahh" at the gruesome death scene or just throw jokes back & forth. It's because horror movies, while sometimes creepy, are also really easy & really fun to have a laugh at. "Shaun of the Dead" takes the age old tradition of making fun of horror films, turns those jokes into a plot and incorporates them into a very hilarious, yet sometimes creepy horror-comedy.

You see, that's the other thing I love about "Shaun" - how many times do you get to use the genre title "horror-comedy"? Sure there are others, but it's a rare genre and if done right can lead to a wildly clever time at the movies. All this blabbing and I've yet to mention Pegg and Frost, two hilarious guys who don't come off so much as movie stars, as just regular guys who loved watching movies growing up, soaking up pop culture so that they could one day make a living out of spoofing it. These guys look like the sort of "blokes" that I wouldn't mind hanging out with and are super talented to boot. The running time flies by and if you're not genuinely laughing AT LEAST a handful of times, then you may want to check your pulse and make sure you haven't been bitten by one of "them"! I can't recommend this film more highly and when I decided that I wanted to start a monthly column entitled "Sins of Omission" and knew that there were automatically two thousand films that could not be included (THE BOOK movies and the next 1000 list) AND I realized that it was nearly time for Halloween, I couldn't think of a better film to feature as my first "Sin" than "Shaun of the Dead". THE BOOK should really be ashamed of itself for leaving this gem out in the cold. We've talked a lot about how THE BOOK isn't necessarily a list of the 1001 BEST films, but rather 1001 samples of all different kinds of cinema. "Shaun" feels like a genre all it's own. There's no culture clash in comedic translation from Britain to the states. I'm sure I laughed at these jokes just as hard as anyone from Wright or Pegg's native UK. In terms of how well this film did in the states, I'd be hard pressed to think of a another foreign film that was as popular as "Shaun" in the U.S. Anyway, we're reaching the point of the review where I really start grasping for compliments, so I'll just wrap it up. Seriously though - one of the only films I know of that makes sense to watch on both Halloween and Valentine's Day - a true gem and one of my personal, all-time favorites.

RATING: 10/10  Well, I hope you guys enjoyed the FRIGHTFEST stuff as much as I enjoyed watching the horror movies and writing about them. It was a nice change of pace to forget about a book of films that I'm supposed to like and focus on a group of seven movies that were fun to watch and didn't come with a note from the higher ups.

Be sure to check back next month and the next installment of "Sins of Omission" when we continue the killing spree!

October 31, 2013  8:00pm


  1. Hi Andrew..
    Sorry, I'm slipping behind a bit.. a busy (work) weekend.. and a couple of films recently on TV I wanted to catch
    ('Me and Orson Welles'. and 'My Neigbour Tortoro'.. plus some new David Suchet 'Poirot')

    We seem to have found a horror movie we can BOTH like...
    This was quite popular in the USA then? Slighly surprised, but I'm not sure if I can explain why I aid that.
    ('Run Fat boy run' is no=where near as good, and 'Hot Fuzz' was a bit of a disappointment after this one.)

    1. Yep, this one got wide release in the states and made Simon Pegg a huge name even over here. I liked both Run Fatboy Run and Hot Fuzz, but neither as much as this. Didn't make it out to the theater to see the newest offering from Pegg/Wright.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

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