Co-screenwriters Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, star and director respectively, of SHAUN OF THE DEAD were, you’ll pardon the expression, dead tired when I chatted with them on August 12, 2004. They’d been up late the night before doing a smashingly successful Q&A at a preview screening of their film and they had been doing marathon interviews in several cities across the United States for longer than they wanted to remember before then.
Nonetheless, they rallied admirably with the sort of quick wit I would have expected after seeing SHAUN. Twice. After covering the deeper, philosophical implications, not to mention the fun, of zombies, we moved on to the cult status they enjoy in England and the cult adoration they themselves feel for George Romero, whose DAWN OF THE DEAD did so much to influence them.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a crisp and lethally funny blend of B-movie monsters and those “kitchen sink” dramas from Britain’s theatrical renaissance of the late 50s and early 60s. Our angry young man is the Shaun (Simon Pegg) of the title, a feckless drone with a dead-end job that is a daily, even hourly humiliation, a girlfriend that yearns for something more, a mother he adores, a step-father that chases him around the backyard with big sticks, an obnoxious roommate that he rather likes, and a responsible roommate that he rather despises, not to mention fears. Then again, fear is the key component of Shaun’s life, that and his acute and constant embarrassment over things like memory lapses and a fondness for fart jokes. As we meet him, his world is crashing around him with a resounding thud. Just as he thinks, and tubby slacker roommate Ed (Nick Frost) portentously says, things can’t get any worse, of course they do, in the form of re-animated corpses that want to make a meal of the living, or at least turn them into the living dead, forcing Shaun to cast himself as a hero much to the bemusement of everyone around him.