Friday, October 16, 2009

#16 - Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Directed by: Edgar Wright. Written by: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.

Plot: Loser (Simon Pegg) breaks up with his girlfriend (Kate Ashfield) and must try to find some way to win her back. Meanwhile, London gets completely overrun with zombies.

Review: I don’t really think this movie needs an explanation, but I guess the same goes for many movies on this list. Ah well.

Granted, I don’t think this should actually be called one of the ‘great horror movies’ (I’m going to mention once again that this list is not the best horror flicks ever, rather, the ones I enjoyed most. Some of them have artistic and historical merit. Others do not). It isn’t even really a horror movie. Not in the sense that, say, Aliens is not a horror movie (it is an action movie, but it’s also a monster movie so I counted it). Although it is more a comedy than anything.

But it’s a post-zombie film and thus extremely referential. Mr. Blue and I were talking about this a few days ago (from this writing, so, mid-July) and trying to come up with great original horror flicks of the last twenty years. Movies that aren’t parodies, remakes, references to other movies.

There aren’t very many and most of them suck. The few we came up with included The Blair Witch Project (supposedly it’s a rip-off of The Last Broadcast. Raise your hand if you’ve seen that (I actually really want to see that, but haven’t yet come across it in my travels. Partially because I thought it was called The Jersey Devil up until now)), The Orphanage, Let the Right One In, a few others I can’t remember now. But there weren’t many. It is sad.

I blame the fact that most of the people who are making horror films today are people who grew up in movie theatres watching Evil Dead, thought it was the best movie ever and didn’t really see the point in going outside of those conventions (not that this movie is a spin on Evil Dead, I was just using that as an example).

Take Rob Zombie for example. As much as I like Rob Zombie and his films, they aren’t really much more than riffs on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I think that House of 1’000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects were way better remakes of TCM than the actual remake, sticking with the spirit of the films (and I thought that his version of Halloween was the best slasher movie remake I’ve seen as yet), they’re still really derivative and way more interesting when you’ve seen the movies they are referencing because then you can sit there and snicker about how clever you are for knowing what they’re on about.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the major trend as people are generally afraid of doing anything new. And I know, this was true of previous decades, but not to this extent. I hate to say it, but there were some really exciting and revolutionary horror pics made in the seventies. TCM, The Exorcist, Dawn of the Dead, Alien. Nothing made since then has come anywhere close to the impact of these films.

Sure, people rip stuff off just as much as ever. But the things they are ripping off now were just referencing other films in the first place.

The thing that really worries me is what will happen with the next generation of horror filmmakers - referencing the films referencing the films from the seventies. That’s pretty sick. In fact, it’s already happening. I’ve met teenagers that tell me they want to make movies like Grindhouse. When I asked them what actual grind house movies they were into, they said, “oh no, I’m not into that old crap” (I’m paraphrasing there). So wrong.

So while I think this movie is fucking brilliant - the characters are well done, the script is witty, it’s British - and enjoy it immensely, I still think that it is part of a movement in the horror genre which I am quite adverse to.

Although as a rom-com it’s probably the fucking greatest ever. I mean, honest to God. In fact, it succeeds as the kind of movie that guys and girls can actually both get into. It’s a good date movie (at least I think so, but then I’m weird. I would really like it if a guy took me to this movie.). Whoo.

Aaaaaaaaaanyway. Yeah. Good stuff…

Favourite Part: Bill Nighy is the best. The way he says “You’ve got red on you” makes my heart sing.

Other versions: None.

Sequels: None.

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