Oct
29

References in “Shaun of the Dead”

Chattling online with friends a few weeks ago, the topic of horror films came up.   One of the few modern ones that we all agreed on was “Shaun of the Dead.”   People who normally don’t like gore flicks, like everyone else in the chat room that night, glommed onto this one.
Naturally I was the only one to get half of the references to other horror flicks.  Partly for laughs, I offered to write up a list so everyone else didn’t have to watch the other films and risk getting sick.  And then curiosity became growing interest.

Besides, I wanted to do a Halloween kind of blog entry anyway.

Disclaimer a la mode:  This is just a compilation, probably not a complete one at that.  I make no claims on the data beyond my fairly reasonable certainty about accuracy.  I tried to double- and triple-source where I could.   If I couldn’t find something else to support it, I left it out to be safe.

My key sources were the audio commentaries on the Shaun of the Dead DVD, the Internet Movie Database, the Easter Egg Archive, and good ol’ Wikipedia.

I did my best to put this into order of appearance in the film.  I figured fans tend to fall down when you don’t put things in chronological order. (Incidentally, sorry if it’s messy or rushed. I twisted my ankle the other night, so I’m hobbling all over the place trying to get things done.)

* The music playing over the company logos is library music selected for the airport scenes in the original Dawn of the Dead.

* The ska number playing as we first see Shaun (Simon Pegg) is “Ghost Town” by the Specials.

* The title sequence, intentionally or not, touches on a recurring theme in George Romero‘s Living Dead movies, of the working classes reduced to a mindless automated state.

* Shaun’s lumbering, half-awake entrance after the titles is a nod to the final scene in “Day of the Dead.”

* The game that Ed and Shaun are playing is “Timesplitters2.”

* The game voice announcing incoming/outgoing players is actually that of Peter Serafinowicz (Pete).

* Gratutious fanboy trivia (what, like the rest of it isn’t?):  Peter Serafinowicz is more widely known as the voice of Darth Maul.

* The shock-cut montages are reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies.

* On his way to the corner shop in the morning, Shaun walks by a road sweeper.  Its radio is tuned to a news bulletin about the Omega-6 space probe exploding in the atmosphere.  This is one of the theories offered in “Night of the Living Dead.”

* Bub’s Pizzas, next door to the corner shop, is named after the trainable zombie in “Day of the Dead.”

* Foree Electronics is named for Ken Foree, one of the actors in the original “Dawn of the Dead” (1978).

* The music heard while Shaun is taking the bus to work is “Kernkraft 400” by Zombie Nation.

* Shaun tells his co-workers that Ash isn’t coming in, a reference to Bruce Campbell‘s role in the Evil Dead movies.

* Director Edgar Wright took inspiration from the 1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” especially for strange business going in the background of an otherwise normal scene.

* Fulci’s Restaurant is named for Italian horror director Lucio Fulci, best known for his own zombie movies.

* When Shaun leaves the bloodied corner shop, the news report on the radio is apparently saying in Hindi either “The dead are coming back to life,” or “People are waking up from their graves.”

* Mary, the first zombie to attack Shaun, worked at the Landis Supermarket, a nod to director John Landis.

* A poster for the controversial Japanese film of “Battle Royale” can be seen while Ed and Shaun fend off the one-armed zombie.

* Of course the TV reporter’s advice for would-be zombie slayers is taken from “Night of the Living Dead”.

* Ed’s line “We’re coming to get you, Barbara!” echoes a line from “Night of the Living Dead.”  Ironically George Romero himself didn’t get the reference.

* The music under the montages for Shaun’s plans is “Zombi” by Goblin, composed for the original Dawn of the Dead.

* Shaun tells Ed not to say “the zed word.”  In fact most, if any, zombie movies don’t.  This is also considered a nod to director Danny Boyle, who pointed out “28 Days Later” is not a zombie movie.  (If you say so, Danny boy….)

* Shaun’s muttering of “Join us” touches back on the undead creatures in the Evil Dead movies.

* One of the flower prints in Liz’s apartment was done by Fred Deakin from Airside and Lemon Jelly.  He also designed the “Battle Royale” poster in Shaun’s flat.

* Shaun’s jump from a trampoline is often compared to the final scene of “Army of Darkness.”

* The pool cue battle is often compared to the surreal scenes of gang violence in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange.”

* David’s death scene closely resembles the death of an antagonist in “Day of the Dead.”

* The characters’ retreat into the basement calls back to “Night of the Living Dead.”

* An elevator platform figures prominently in the film’s climax and that of “Day of the Dead.”

* Co-writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright compared several scenes to “Doctor Who,” especially the soldiers’ charge and attack in the climax.  “Doctor Who” was also shot at Ealing Studios, the same as this film.

* The interrupted news item about infected monkeys is a dig at Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later.”  Director Edgar Wright did the voice work for the segment.

* The music at the very end of the credits is “The Gonk,”  written by Herbert Chappell for the DeWolfe Music Library.  That track was used as Muzak for a zombie-infested mall in the original “Dawn of the Dead.”


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