Day 13 - Your favorite horror comedy -
“Can I get... any of you cunts... a drink?”
What isn’t funny about Shaun of the Dead? Well, the slightly creepy, scary parts that’s what, but let’s move beyond the casual zom-edy film routine. Sure, the use of songs like “White Lines” by Grandmaster Flash and “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen at seemingly inappropriate times is perfect. Sure the casual ease with which our beloved heroes kill the zombies with every imaginable implement of destruction not limited to home goods and vinyl is slapstick at its best. There’s dialogue that is more appropriate in a Woody Allen in picture than it would be in an undead midnight movie for certain. All of these things will make us laugh, true. What we love about Shaun of the Dead and maybe what we find so inspirational is Shaun and Ed themselves and what they represent to us.
Shaun and Ed are mirrors of every one of us (us being the royal us referring to the horror geeking fanatics that are one step above the role players, two steps above the Trekkies, but just below the Star Wars freaks). We live paycheck to paycheck trying to afford the latest DVD release or action figure, half worried about our health with no desire to actually get out of our Lazy Boy to exorcise (probably more fitting than exercise here). We go to the pub every other night and get our jollies on reminiscing about songs from better days. We hold downs menial jobs that point out our shortcomings and accentuate our age. We insist on removing responsibility from our lives only to find that we are slapped in the face by reality. We can half hold down relationships as we are content to statically watch the TV and cheer monsters and slashers that represent our own psychological shortcomings. We fantasize about being heroes while watching actual heroes on TV in our movies, but we all are absolutely acutely aware that at any given time we will be given the chance to achieve greatness.
Ed is an unsuccessful pot dealer; Shaun, a story clerk. We’re talking a store clerk straight out of S-Mart. They’re the best of friends who know what to value in life but are forced into trying to mesh that sensiblity with the art of success in business. This movie is perfect for the “just out of college crowd” or the “never went to college and entered retail to make some beer money” set. Shaun and Ed are one step away from living with their parents (and they might as well live with their parents having David around… the image of what they should try to achieve). This may all sound so gosh darn sad right? Wasted youth and cheap idealism. The promise of happiness without the business savvy or ambition to achieve financial wealth… it’s enough to make us midnight dorks sad. Cry in our frosted flakes (or Count Chocula). Well fuck that shit, dear reader. You know why? That’s right… the Zed word. ZOMBIES!
Take all that soul searching, reflecting, self loathing, fear and neurosis about just how unsuccessful ya’ll are and just chunk it a fucking deuce on outta here. Because zombies died for your fucking sins and came back so that you might be redeemed… or at least Ed and Shaun get the chance to achieve that greatness we spoke about earlier. They shine with comic relief. They save the day. One of them actually gets the girl and lives. The other is free of life’s struggle to play video games with his best friend as he truly saw fit to do in life. You laugh at the jokes in Shaun of the Dead, but you should also laugh because these two compatriots defeat the cruel iniquities of success to live lives full measure. It’s like a celebration of the graduation of dorks into man-dorks.
It’s a joke few can appreciate, but us horror fans, we know the art of isolation and fear. Isolation at our computers. Fear not at movies, but from being outcast by the sports fans who are “far superior to us”. To go as far as to say that Shaun of the Dead is a Christ story is unfair because who would wants another martyr on their hands. We’ve got two perfectly live heroes to champion. I think there’s a great void between undead and rising on Easter Sunday. We worship at our computers or televisions. We pray to Netflix to send us movies and await our holidays of Halloween, Twilight Zone marathons and SyFy Channel Monster Fests. We perform pilgrimages to Horror-Cons. Read the good book (Fangoria? Horror Hound? Or perhaps the Gospel according to one or the other).
So where were we? Austrialia? … wait that’s the Princess Bride… we were discussing Shaun of the Dead. My favorite horror comedy alongside the Burbs and Student Bodies because you can identify with the characters long enough to laugh at yourself, learn something about yourself and because the damn thing loves to satirize modern consumer society just like Grandpa Zombie Movie, Dawn of the Dead before it. Between Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost we have a team that makes John Hughes pictures for horror fans in love… in pain… trying to get by without fitting in and hoping that somewhere… somehow… zombies attack the whole fucking modern world and we’re close enough to a shot gun and a super mega mall to survive the whole shebang. Ya’ll cry your so god damn happy, but you’ll laugh the hard enough to cry all the way through.