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Shaun of the Dead

Year: 2004
Director: Edgar Wright
Writer: Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg
Cast: Simon Pegg, Lucy David, Bill Nighy
A couple of years ago there was talk of a US producer making an American version of Absolutely Fabulous, but word was that the studio financing it wanted all references to drugs, sex, drinking and profanity removed so it would appeal to a wider audience.

It seemed to epitomise the reputation Americans have for not understanding British humour, an ability we're proud of in Australia. It's a debate that's been reignited by the release of Shaun of the Dead, with many critics and other experts claiming it won't be as well received in the US as it was at home.

From the opening frame, listening to the iconic synthesiser riff from The Gonk that interspersed Romero's original Dawn of the Dead , you know you're in for something special.

Shaun (Pegg) is a 29-year-old Londoner with a dead end job, a slob for a best mate (Ed) whom nobody else likes, and whose loving girlfriend (Liz) is almost at the end of her tether with his slack attitude and refusal to get his life in order.

Promising her he'll take her out for a nice dinner at a posh restaurant instead of just going to their local - The Winchester - like they do most nights, he promptly forgets in the course of his unexciting day, and when he suggests an alternative to a slap-up dinner - the Winchester - Liz promptly dumps him.

Spending the next 24 hours wandering around and miserable with his lot, Shaun fails to notice the telltale signs that London is falling apart. When the attack comes, there's only one thing to do - head for the Winchester.

Grabbing his doting Mum, Liz and her flatmates David and Dianne, Shaun takes Ed and they hole up in the pub the same way Romero's heroes barricaded themselves in a shopping mall.

Shaun of the Dead is (excuse the pun) a scream. You'll have as much fun whether you're a zombie movie buff or not. The script exercises just enough thoroughly British subtlety for at least the first half to make it a smart comedy as well as a comic homage to a well-loved genre. The comedy runs slightly out of steam towards the end as the horror cranks up, and by the time the siege starts in earnest, the efforts of Pegg and Wright in making you care about the characters has paid off.

Shaun of the Dead is the cinematic equivalent of sitting around with a bunch of mates late at night with pizza, beer and bad horror videos and being in such a good mood you spend the whole time making fun of them or laughing about all the funny things that could happen. Who doesn't love doing that?

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