Sunday, April 7, 2013

Shaun of the Screwed

Shaun of the Dead was a successful example of the Zom Rom Com genre. It mixes up the horror elements from traditional zombie films and comedic elements from screwball comedies perfectly. It is quite a refreshing viewing experience after watching Night of the Living Dead, the landmark of traditional zombie horror film.

Shaun of the Dead borrows many zombie film conventions in order to make up the zombie aspect in it. First of all, the design of the zombies: everyone who has seen an zombie movie can tell these slowly moving creatures on the streets are zombies. They have the same character traits as the ones in Romero’s Night of the Living Dead- they look like normal citizens, and they all long for the taste of flesh. Dianne’s character describes zombie’s character like such in the film, “it’s vacant, with a hint of sadness. Like a drunk who’s lost a bet”. Another important argument in Shaun of the Dead reminiscent the plot of Night of the Living Dead. Mom and Dad who are normal humans, turn into Zombies. The difficult choice Shaun has to make in the pub is similar to the choice the mom in Night of the Living Dead, the one that she has to kill her daughter, which she chooses not to contrast to Shaun, who pulls the trigger at the end.

Shaun of the Dead’s comedic aspect is different from the traditional screwball comedies. Screwball comedies’ comedy is usually pulled off the plot, acting, and characters, while some of the comedic element comes from the modern camera moves and sound effects. However, the plot and character design comes a lot from screwball comedies. Compared to the screwball comedy classic, Some Like It Hot, they share a lot of similarities. First, the character designs, the protagonist Shaun has a friend, or, rather, a close buddy named Ed. They go through the journey together just like Joe and Jerry do. Their friendship is as deep as that of Joe and Jerry, and they share same kind of intimateness between the two. Second, the female character, Liz, in some aspects is like Sugar in Some Like It Hot. Though she has more of the bitchiness than that of Sugar, they are both the central figures who draws the storyline forward: Liz is Shaun’s girlfriend and Shaun needs to protect her from zombies on their journey, while Sugar is in the center of the love triangle with Joe and Jerry.

"with a hint of sadness?" No! With a hint of weakness!
As cinema goes more and more into the modern age, newer-age audience can get tired of tradition cinematic conventions. That makes mixed-genre film much more attractive. Shaun of the Dead is a good, successful example for the mixed genre films.

"I'm quite mixed up!"


  1. Clarify- Pig? Roasting pig? Oh Mida.... Other than that
    Value- All the points are very clear and very good. I didn't really think about the relationship/dynamic between the two guys in both films.
    Concerns- The example of having two male guys being friends doesn't seem to be very unique to the genre of screwball comedy, but rather it is just a connection between these two films.
    Suggestions- Maybe you can talk more about some specific screwball comedy motifs / traits (like a divorced/broken couple coming back together)

    1. I mixed the pig pictures into the blog post is for demonstrating how a blog post can be mixed up with randomness. I hope you can appreciate that. ;)

  2. Clarify: I agree with Kira. Nice pigs. Though I suppose your response clears that whole thing up...
    Nothing other than that.

    Value: I had never thought about the connection that could be found in the forced murders of family members. That’s an excellent point, revealing an important similarity between the films as well as an important difference in how the characters handle the parallel situations.

    I liked how you revealed the conventions of genres in Shaun of the Dead by suggesting relationships between it and the other movies we have watched, using that to convey your information rather than just making a list of the conventions.

    Concerns: Stemming from my last value though, I’m not sure that all of the comparisons you did make were specific to the genre of the film they came from. For example, the use of the female character to draw the storyline forward isn’t really characteristic of a specific genre, more a common theme throughout all genres.

    Suggestions: Maybe focus more on the specific conventions of zombie and screwball comedy films instead of just the relationships between this film and others, for example, in the zombie genre, the use of the television as a form of exposition or the idea of trapping the characters, the “last stand” scenario. For the screwball comedy, conventions examples could be face-paced dialogue and wit or the presence of an initially disapproving father figure.

    Side note suggestion: Add more pigs. As long as you’re in and in for good, you might as well go whole hog. (See what I did there?)

  3. Clarify—Everything was very clear and nicely written.

    Value—Nice point about camera/sound as a source of comedy. You’re right, that definitely sets SotD apart from screwball. Over all great post! (Also, I love the swine.)

    Concern—Remember, Some Like It Hot isn’t a classic screwball comedy—it’s a self-referential post-screwball. So certain points I think are a little off. For example, the “bitchiness” (aka, independence and strength of character) of Liz actually makes her much more of a screwball-esque heroine than the empty-headed, passive, and overly sexualized Sugar. (Remember Hildy in His Girl Friday from Aesthetics?)
    In terms of comparing Some Like it Hot and Shaun of the Dead, though, I think your points are right on, and I think in some ways SotD has more in common with SLIH than it does with classical screwball.

    Suggest—You mention the Zom Rom Com as a genre. Have you seen other examples of this mixture? How do they compare? Also, I agree with Elena: More pigs!

  4. Now I see why you didn't see this before - because though I wrote it into my text document with all the other comments I didn't actually paste it in! Sorry about that!

    CLARIFY: I actually got really confused with your paragraph comparing it to Screwball comedies and it wasn't until I read Miles' comment that I maybe started to understand what you mean. Do you mean (as Miles understands it) that Shaun of the Dead does not just rely on story and character to create comedy but also on camera and sound? And you believe classic screwball comedies do not rely on comedy and sound? I would actually argue a little bit with you on that, saying you would need to back that up much more with more specific examples. But I honestly thought you were saying that screwball comedies do both.

    Do you mean more the fact there is a love interest and a question of "will they get together" in the plot is part of how Shaun of the Dead is similar to Some Like It Hot (where we wonder - will Sugar end up with Joe?, will she find out who he is, etc?)?

    VALUE: I think you have some really great points in here. I agree that comparing the friendship in SLIH to that of SOTD is a great point. I think you do need to be careful - that's not necessarily a screwball comedy convention. But it's a good comparison in terms of films we watched (and I did think about it in terms of my choice of films to screen).

    CONCERNS: What's missing for me in your post is how the film mixes the conventions of those two genres. For example, you could have explained how it turns the situation of having to walk through a bunch of zombies to get to the pub into a comedic one - with the "lesson" Diane gives on how to be a zombie. There's a lot of comedy that comes from that. Or how about the whole sequence when Shaun walks to the shop completely unaware that there are zombies everywhere. This is an excellent example of how it's mixed, because we as the audience recognize all these classic zombie conventions (the lumbering zombies, screaming people, vacant and destroyed streets, bloody handprint), while Shaun is oblivious, and so the sequence tense (will he get eaten?) and funny at the same time. This is also accomplished because it was set up in the very beginning before the zombies arrived.

    I personally do not see Liz as being in any way shape or form as similar to Sugar, other than maybe she wants a "different" kind of man than what she seems to be attracted to, until the very end when she decides she loves her man enough to let him not change (or not be the rich guy she thought he was). I didn't see Sugar as bitchy, she was more of a romantic ditz, and any of Liz's bitchiness was pretty justified to me.