Zombie flicks are my second favorite kind of horror movie, right behind vampire flicks, but way ahead of number three, which are those starring deranged hillbillies. (I have yet to see a movie that utilizes all three, although Redneck Zombies comes tantalizingly close.)
I think that one of the things I find most appealing about zombie flicks is the fact that they lend themselves so well to comedy. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy serious zombies…but the funny ones are just so much more enjoyable. Although The Evil Dead started out seriously, by Evil Dead II, Sam Raimi had fully embraced the humor inherent in the situation. Dead Alive would be just another oedipally obsessed horror movie (there are so many of those, aren’t there?) if it wasn’t for Peter Jackson’s sick sense of humor. (Zombie sex!) Re-Animator – hilarious. Even the 80s revival of the serious “Living Dead” flicks ended up resorting to humor by the second installment. (“Your brains – they’re so spicy!”) Even foreign films, like Cemetery Man, cannot resist injecting a bit of black comedy. But Shaun of the Dead takes this one step further by rooting the film firmly in comedy, only throwing in a bit of horror as the plot dictates.
Our hero Shaun, doesn’t start out much of one. It takes him over a day to figure out that his village has been invaded by the undead. (Although I doubt I would fair much better. Most of my co-workers already are mindless drones and the world at large is not likely to be an improvement. Take a trip to the closest Wal-Mart, if you don’t believe me.) Dumped by his girlfriend, he devises a plan to save her from certain zombification, which is sure to win her good graces. In Shaun’s world, the altruism of zombie killing is stripped away. Would anyone even bother to kill zombies if there weren’t something in it for them?
Since I’m not the least bit British, I could tell that quite a few jokes flew right by me. (At least I got the nod to The Office.) Even so, there’s more than enough left that will be found universally funny. We’re coming to get you, Barbara! I was amused to find out that Indian Convenience Store Clerks are stereotypical, as is the humiliation of public transportation.
Without belaboring the fact that most zombie flicks are rife with social commentary, I want to point out one thing. Is there really so much difference between zombies and the rest of us? How many hours does my generation spend on the couch with the XBOX/PS2? How many nights do we spend at the same bars, with the same friends, drinking the same beers? How many days are just like the one before? Sleep, work, eat, fuck, repeat? The only variable added by becoming a zombie is eating flesh instead of going to work. Sounds like a trade-up to me…