December 3rd, 2004

Rhymes Of The Dead

This is for those of you who HAVEN'T Joined The "Shaun Squad". Shame on you if you havent =P
Its kind of a spoiler For little tributes, and things in the movie. Enjoy!

'Clues, Rhymes and References-a-rama'

Attention. If you’re someone who doesn’t want the answers handed to them on a plate, the sort of determined individual who prefers to seek out solutions unaided, or if you believe that ‘meaning’ as such, can only be interpreted and never prescribed, that understanding can only truly be derived from the spectator’s emotional and intellectual response and not from any intended explanation submitted by the artist, or if you don’t like long, multi-faceted sentences that refuse to acknowledge the existence of any punctuation mark other than the comma, then the following information is not for you.

There are SPOILERS ahead, concealed like nasty little landmines in the sands of the text. This then, is the definitive guide to the hidden nods, references and dramatic devices in Shaun of the Dead. Some of them you may already know, if you have the U.K. DVD, these references appear, alongside some interesting facts about the film, on a trivia track which can be selected from the subtitles menu.

For the majority of you, though, if you’ve ever spotted something and thought it was a natty moment of intertextuality, here’s your chance to have your suspicions confirmed or your overactive imaginations reprimanded for being tenuous and naughty.

Well, it’s either that or a cynical attempt to get you all back into the cinema, with an armful of new things to spot.

Firstly, it’s an interesting and extraordinarily indulgent fact that all the character names have some linguistic relevance to the fate of the individual. Observe…

Shaun is 'reborn'

Ed is 'dead'

Liz 'lives'

Di 'dies' (or does she?)

Dave 'goes to the grave'.

Barbara ends up a 'cadaver' (possibly the most contrived rhyme of the 21st Century)

Phil gets 'killed'

Pete gets 'eat'

Yvonne has 'moved on'

The film begins and ends with music from the original 'Dawn of the Dead'. 'Figment' (from the helicopter re-fueling sequence in 'Dawn' 78) plays over the studio logos and version of 'The Gonk' (the famous closing mall muzak) remixed by Kid Koala plays at the very end of the credits. A little treat for the faithful.

The first thing to look out for is the opening title sequence. Virtually everybody glimpsed going about their mundane daily business, is seen later as a zombie, or in some peril relating to the crisis.

First up the trolley pusher. Although we do not see him again, his job position is eventually filled by the Zombified Noel at the end of the movie.

Second and most obviously is Mary, the girl who winds up in Shaun and Ed’s garden with a taste for human flesh. We actually wrote a special strip for Brit comic 2000AD, which follows Mary from her job to the garden in a story which encompasses the fates of two other of the film’s signature ghouls; the homeless man and the 'Hulking zombie' .

In the bus queue, we have a veritable who’s who of the film’s unsung heroes. Front to back we have The Distressed Man from the high Street, the second Headshot Zombie from The Winchester, The Pyjama Zombie from the garden, the Neckshot Zombie from The Winchester and the two Old Couple Zombies from outside Liz’s flat.

The four clubbers at the front of the title shot are the zombies that attack Philip outside the house.

Finishing up with the Football Kid who‘s ball becomes a repeated annoyance for Shaun later in the film.

The first movie reference is a sly nod to the title sequence of Day of the Dead, which begins with a famous Zombie by the name of Dr. Tongue staggering into shot, shadow first.

The reflection shot, when Shaun reveals Pete standing behind him in the bathroom mirror is a reference to ‘An American Werewolf in London’ (1981), when David reveals Jack in a similar fashion. (NB. John Landis himself admits to this shot being a homage itself, to the Roman Polanski film 'Repulsion' (1965)

In the kitchen scene between Shaun and Pete, ‘Fried Gold’ is written on the things to do board.

At the shop Shaun considers buying a diet coke but gets regular because at this point he doesn’t care.

When paying for his coke. The Best Man zombie, who eventually crashes into Shaun and Ed’s flat minus an arm, can be seen in human form, behind Shaun at the counter. Another 2000AD spin off, follows the story of how The Best Man became a zombie and crosses over with the film at this point.

The shop adjacent to the mini-mart is called ‘Bub’s Pizza’ named after Bub the tame zombie from ‘Day of the Dead’ (1985).

The music which underscores Shaun’s trip to work is Zombie Nation's 'Kernkraft 400'.

Shaun works at Foree Electric. The peerless Ken Foree played Peter in the original Dawn of the Dead (1978).

At Foree Electric, Shaun refers to Ash calling in sick for work. Ash is of course, Bruce Campbell’s character in the Evil Dead trilogy.

The news voiceovers that can be heard in the background are performed by luminaries from the British comedy scene, including Mark Gatiss from ‘The League of Gentlemen’, David Walliams from ‘Little Britain’ and Julia Davis from ‘Nighty Night’.

As Shaun demonstrates the TV, we see the first glimpse of the chat show, ‘Trisha’ featuring the same couple as we see at the end of the film. However, at this point, the woman’s husband is still human.

The restaurant Shaun fails to book is called Fulci’s, named after the Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci responsible ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters: Zombie 2’ and ‘The Beyond’.

Edgar Wright provides the dubious foreign voice at the end of the line at Fulci's.

Ed’s orang-utan impersonation is a tribute to Clyde the star of ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ (1978) and ‘Any Which Way You Can’ (1980)

Ed’s plan for the next day, directly mirrors the subsequent events…

'We’ll have a Bloody Mary first thing (Mary the zombie), we’ll get a bite at the King’s Head (Philip gets bitten on the neck), pick up a couple at The Little Princess (the couple being David and Diane, the princess being Liz), stagger back here (walk to the Winchester impersonating zombies) and bang, we’re up at the bar for shots (the gun battle at the Winchester). How’s that for a slice of Fried Gold?'

Ed refers to the barfly, Snakehips as always being surrounded by women, when we glimpse him being eaten later, all the zombies are female.

John and Bernie were the landlord and lady of the Shepherds, the real pub that inspired The Winchester. Shaun also mentions the Shepherds earlier as an alternative venue for a night out.

Pete to Ed: “If you want to live like an animal, go and live in the shed!” Need we say more?

Ed also grumbles to Shaun about Pete, 'Next time I see him, he's dead'. This of course is exactly the case later on.

Barbara's phone message to Shaun, contains an ominous contradiction to events, when Barbara asks if Liz is a vegetarian and proclaims that 'these days a lot of people don't eat meat'.

When Shaun goes to the shop on Z-Day morning, his actions are exactly the same as the previous morning, right down to the scratch, the cough and the trip. The zombies surrounding the oblivious Shaun were all present as humans, in the first steadi-cam shot.

The discarded shopping trolley, outside Shaun and Ed’s flat is a nod to the TV show ‘Spaced’ (1999-), which featured a similar trolley, permanently positioned outside Tim and Daisy’s flat.

Once at the shop Shaun considers buying a regular coke but gets diet, because at this point, he has decided to turn his life around.

Nick Frost provides the voice of the football commentator on the TV as Shaun flicks through the channels.

Mary works at superstore ‘Landis’, a nod to ‘ An American Werewolf in London’ director John Landis.

The poster on Shaun and Ed’s living room wall is an image from the film, ‘Battle Royale’. The image was produced by designers, Airside, who later went on to design the ‘Shaun of the Dead’ t-shirt.

The newsreader’s advice about how to kill a zombie, is a nod to original dialogue from George A. Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968)

Similarly, Ed’s “We’re coming to get you Barbara” is a variation of perhaps the most famous line from ‘Night of the Living Dead’.

The music that underscores the multiple plan sequence is from the original ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and is performed by prog-rock legends, Goblin.

Ed’s “Perfick” is an obscure nod to the British TV adaptation of H. E. Bates’ novel, ‘The Darling Buds of May’.

‘Yeah boyyyyeeee’ is of course the catchphrase of Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav.

When Shaun tells the zombie Pete that they are going to the pub, the “join us” is a nod to Evil Dead 2 (1987).

When the zombiefied Nelson the shopowner approaches the car outside Shaun's house, he has one hand extended, as if he's still after the 15p Shaun owes him.

“The bodies of the recently deceased are returning to life and attacking the living”. More dialogue form ‘Night of the Living Dead’ on the car radio on the way to Barbara and Philip’s house.

The off screen boiling kettle in the scene between Barbara, Philip and Shaun is a nod to the sound of the approaching train in the famous restaurant scene in ‘The Godfather’ (1972), when the gathering noise was used to create tension as the young Michael Corleone prepares for his first hit.

Shaun’s sugar and tea habits are discussed in the kitchen scene. Here he reminds Barbara that he doesn't want two sugars in his tea and in fact, has not taken sugar since 1982. In the final scene of the film when Liz makes him a cup of tea, Shaun requests two sugars once more. The point being that once you've survived a zombie apocalypse, you might as well enjoy some of life's less healthy pleasures. You could die tomorrow, so why not have a good old sugary tea?

If you listen very carefully while Barbara is asking Shaun to respect her feelings, you can hear Ed deliberately crashing the car outside.

In Liz's flat, Dianne snaps at David, 'I don't want to be torn to pieces and I'm sure if you think about it, neither do you'. Later the exact fate befalls our Harry Potter lookalike, with messy results...

Each of the alternative group is a famous face from British Comedy.

Yvonne (Jessica Stevenson, Simon Pegg’s co-star in ‘Spaced‘)

Declan (Martin Freeman, Lucy Davis’s co-star in The ‘Office’)

Mark (Reece Shearsmith from ‘The League of Gentlemen’)

Maggie (Tamsin Greig, Dylan Moran’s co-star in ‘Black Books’)

Mum (Julia Deakin, Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson’s co-star in ‘Spaced’)

Tom (Matt Lucas from ‘Little Britain’).


The groaning vocals of the Pyjama Zombie are actually provided by Simon Pegg.

Shaun’s zombie impression is very reminiscent of ‘Bub’ from ‘Day of the Dead’.

The zombie crowd scene outside the Winchester features a cameo from much loved Spaced character, Tyres (see behind the scenes pics), played by actor Michael Smiley.

The establishing shots of The Winchester’s interior doffs a cap to the deserted Nostromo sequence in Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’.

Steve Emerson plays John the Landlord. Steve is a veteran stuntman and among many notable appearances, was one of the Nazi soldiers clinging to the side of Indiana Jones’s stolen army truck in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ (1981).

Shaun’s bandana tie was inspired by Christopher Walken’s look in ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978)

David’s appearance was inspired by Dustin Hoffman’s David Sumner in ‘Straw Dogs’ (1971)

Shaun’s “Get behind me, get behind me!” is a nod to Han Solo in the first Star Wars movie.

The Shaun’s-eye-view camera angles in the rifle sequence, mimic the first person shooter perspective seen in Ed’s video game at the beginning of the film.

The following lines repeat in both scenes. Shaun/Ed: “Top left” Shaun/Ed: “Reload” Ed/Shaun “I’m on it” Shaun/Ed “Nice shot” Ed/Shaun “Thanks”.

Other lines that repeat include…

“You’ve got red on you.” (By Noel, Philip, Barbara and Ed)

Shaun: (to Pete concerning Ed) “Leave him alone!” (In the kitchen, the living room and the pub)

Yvonne: “How you doing?” Shaun: “Surviving,” (every time Yvonne and Shaun meet)

Yvonne: “Well…glad somebody made it” (First and final meeting)

“Exacerbate” (First scene, Liz’s flat and the stand off)

“Two Seconds” (Often by Ed and latterly by Shaun)

“How many are there?” “Lots” (Liz’s flat and the garden)

“Uh…the first one” (The flower shop and the garden)

The last phrase was originally uttered three times, the last being when Shaun, Liz and Ed are trapped behind the bar and Ed suggests going out through the barrel hatch. The following is dialogue cut from the finished film.

Shaun: “What go back outside?”
Liz: “What would you prefer, mortal peril or certain death?
Shaun “Uh…the first one.

The Mexican stand off is a nod to Quentin Tarrantino’s ‘Resevoir Dogs’ (1992), most notably the line “Stop pointing that gun at my Mum”.

David’s death is very much a tribute to the death of Rhodes in ‘Day of the Dead’.

The narrator of ‘Zombies from Hell’ is British comedy actor, Rob Brydon.

Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright voices the sly ‘28 Days Later’ dig at the end of the film. The line cuts out at an appropriate point but was written as…
“Reports that the virus was caused by rage infected monkeys has now been dismissed as bullshit”

In the penultimate scene, behind Shaun and Liz, there is a shrine to all their lost friends and family.

Shaun of the Dead is based on a local legend.

Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright 2004
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(no subject)

Hello people...more than likely "across the pond." I am from the United States...and I am a huge fan of Zombie movies...THIS movie, however is more than a zombie movie...

ITS A EUPHORIA.

I have seen the movie 4 time and it gets funnier each time. I can't wait for the movie to come out here on DVD. Until then - I willwatch the trailer and listen to "White Lines" by Grandmaster Flash.



Peace out.