In the spirit of George A. Romero’s Living Dead trilogy, the British “Shaun of the Dead” serves up a thrilling zombie flick lavish with grotesque gore. The only difference is that you’ll be laughing instead of screaming.

Though its title mocks the 1978 zombie classic “Dawn of the Dead,” a parody is one thing “Shaun of the Dead” is not. Unlike some awful parodies (“Scary Movie” pops into mind) “Shaun” compliments the genre not only by paying homage to its predecessors but also by gleaming in originality at the same time.

The movie focuses on main character Shaun, whose haywire life and relationship are constantly stressing him out. His girlfriend Liz tells him she needs change from the routine visits to the local pub, the Winchester, which ultimately leads to the relationship’s demise. His flat mate Pete pressures him to kick out their third roommate, the lazy and obnoxious Ed with whom Shaun has been friends since primary school. To top it off, Shaun has a never ending disgust for his mother’s new husband, Philip, who in turn feels similarly about Shaun.

So what happens when London is invaded by blood thirsty, man eating zombies? As if Shaun’s life wasn’t complicated enough!

“Shaun of the Dead” writers Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (with Wright as the director and Pegg as the actor who plays Shaun) are not afraid to take chances in a movie modeled after the classic “Dawn.” The British comedy the movie revolves around is not only hysterical but is also a change of pace from the comedy generally found in our cinemas today.

“Shaun” invokes situational and physical comedy along with tight writing and dialogue, as opposed to taking the raunchy route most American teen films have been recently taking. Perhaps the funniest aspect of “Shaun” is the amount of time it takes for him and Ed to actually realize that the undead are walking the earth. The blood covered floors and screams of agony floating through the streets just didn’t cue these two in.

Another integral aspect of the film lies in the emotional effects caused by the swarm of cannibalistic monsters feasting upon London. While on his quest for survival, Shaun’s previously tarnished life starts making sense to him. A dramatic tone enters the movie as Shaun learns, through tragedy, how he really feels about those in his life.

Before things become too intense and sappy, Wright and Pegg flip the switch one more time by pairing a classic British song, Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” with the film’s climax. The lyrics alone create an ironic setting for the light-hearted and comical, yet bloody final battle for survival.

The creators like to call their work a “rom zom com,” dishing out romance, zombies, and intermittent comedy. Not only does it divulge in drama and horror, “Shaun” never gets ahead of itself and never becomes over-the-top. Not once did I wince or roll my eyes at something intended to be funny that wasn’t. This comedic style is, in my opinion, one of the major differences between international films and ours.

“Shaun” has an increased potential to reach comedy fans, and it also quenches the thirst for blood in the eyes of the horror fan. Death scenes are not lightly skimmed over to balance the funnier parts of the film. Instead, bodies are mangled, eaten, and severed with ease, as Wright and Pegg concentrate on changing the tone of the genre while by doing it right and not tampering with the essentials.

This movie will ultimately entertain the masses. Comedy? Horror? Drama? Whatever your pleasure, this British cult picture won’t disappoint. George Romero must be proud.

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