Shaun of the Dead

After giving my class their quiz for the morning, I hung around long enough to use the computer to order an Elvis Presley CD box set from Amazon.  Three of my former students saw me and said hello.  I walked on home and had a couple of burritos for lunch.  I listened to one of the NCAA basketball games on the radio.  I took a walk around the neighborhood, feeling glad that the last traces of my cold had faded.

I watched “Shaun of the Dead,” which is described on the DVD cover as a romantic comedy with zombies.  I guess that’s about the size of it.  At least it had personality, and its style of filmmaking wasn’t bland.

Simon Pegg is Shaun, who has a nondescript job selling appliances and TV sets at Foree Electric and frequents the Winchester Tavern every night of his life.  He notices strange things going on around London, but he fails to see that zombies are taking over until late in the game.  His best friend is Ed, played by Nick Frost, and he spends too much time playing video games and not answering the telephone.  Shaun doesn’t have the heart to boot Ed out of the house because they’ve been friends for so long.  Besides having juvenile fun, the two of them enjoy singing songs like Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines.”  They are even more ridiculous with their rapping than Vanilla Ice or The Streets.  Shaun apparently has a Nick Hornby-like perspective on record collecting, because he repeats comments like “That’s the second album I ever bought.”  The gnawing question, of course, is that the FIRST album he ever bought was.  My guess would be either a Chicago greatest hits record, or Queen’s “A Night at the Opera.”

Naturally, there is an unhappy girlfriend in the picture, this one named Liz.  Shaun makes countless promises to her that he doesn’t keep, like quitting smoking, going to the gym, and making a restaurant reservation for eight o’clock instead of seven o’clock.  She doesn’t want to be stuck with the unpromising Shaun, constantly going to the Winchester and not seeing the rest of the world or living.  I think the appearance of the zombies occurs to test the strength of their relationship.

The way to kill a zombie, of course, is to either chop off its head or crush its brain, guaranteeing that this movie will have a good amount of disgusting action in it.

Of all the twisted happenings, what made me laugh the most was the scene where the gang beats on a zombie as a Queen song, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” plays on a jukebox.  There is another bizarre use of a Queen song over the closing credits, I might add.

I also laughed when Shaun and Ed were looking through some record, trying to decide which ones to throw at the zombies.  The “Batman” soundtrack, Dire Straits, and Sade were deemed acceptable to use as ammunition.

The movie mixes George Romero with “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and an assortment of other movies.  At one point, Shaun and his friends pretend to be zombies in order to mingle with them and get into a building.  It’s one of the more amusing moments in the film, and it does remind me of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

Not only is there a problematic girlfriend, but Shaun also has a mother named Barbara who is married to a prick named Phillip.  The zombies seem to exist to test the marriage between Shaun’s mother and stepfather.

The zombies are also the catalyst that motivates Shaun to be a real man and act to save his girlfriend and mother.  The crisis also prompts Shaun to tell off Ed, finally, as he yells at him for being such a screw-up.

There are certain similarities between this movie and “Hot Fuzz,” like the presence of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  I think I preferred “Hot Fuzz, though.”  Horror is not my favorite genre, even when it’s twisted around in this unusual way.  One of the few horror movies I’ve ever liked was not really a horror movie.  It was “Young Frankenstein.”

I will say that Simon Pegg seems to have a sense of what is very funny, and he plays his part to maximize the hilarity.  It’s more amusing to watch him than, say, Kate Hudson.

I watched the end of the Duke-Belmont game.  When it came down to the end, Belmont’s last three possessions of the ball consisted of a bad shot, a bad pass, and a last-second desperation try.  I really hated to see Duke go on to the next round.  It would have been an upset to remember, a No. 15 seed beating a No. 2 seed.  There are reasons, though, that teams like Duke always seem to beat teams like Belmont.  They have just that little bit extra, in players and coaches, to pull out those close games.

I went over to the store to look for more CDs.  I bought two new editions of albums I already had, Sonic Youth’s “Daydream Nation” and R.E.M.’s “Monster.”  The Sonic Youth album was a 2-CD set with live recordings and bonus tracks, like “Within You Without You.”  Perhaps I should have gone for the import edition of U2’s “Pop” with the bonus track.  That would have cost less.  I’m looking for those R.E.M. albums from the 90’s with the bonus DVD.  They seem to be pretty scarce, with the exception of “Monster.”  I can’t understand that, because I think “Monster” is one of their best albums.

I heard on the sports report that UCLA won their game with Mississippi Valley State by the ridiculous score of 70-29.  UCLA clubbed them worse than what Shaun did to the zombies in “Shaun of the Dead.”

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