British. Comedy. Horror. Doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. does it? The Wicker Man had Christopher Lee in that dress and Edward Woodward in that Scottish accent while the unintentionally comedic side to the Hammer canon was so eVident to Steve Coogan that he made a spoof series from it. Shaun of the Dead (Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's /om»rom com) is on a hiding to nothing but comes through With colours flying through the air quicker than spleens at a /ombie banquet.

Fortunately. the co-writers have upped the gore and kept their sense of fun Without making the movie too weighty. concentrating on givrng JUICY lines to its cast (Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy, Lucy DaVis. Penelope Wilton. Nick Frost and Pegg himself as the happy-go-unlucky Shaun) than making some

Cinema’s first zom-rom-com?

Romero- esgue state of the nation critique.

Shaun's life is trotting along aimlessly. An electrical goods store manager who lacks respect from his employees. he lives a mainly Iayabout life in co~ habitation With best pal Ed (Frost). lhis somewhat displeases Shaun's girlfriend I l/ IKate Ashlieldl who gives him one last chance to make things right. Unfortunately. his romantic plans go awry when flesh eating zombies rampage through London. The orin possible refuge is their local pub. the Winchester . . .

No ground Will be broken by Shaun and the horror genre will probably sleep safely in its grave during the moVie's run. but if a carefree /Ollli)|(2 romp is your bag of bones then it's worth it. And the sight of one of our most prominent stand-ups being slowly ripped to shreds won't leave me quickly.

(Brian Donaldson) I General release from Fri 9 Apr.



Comic actor and writer SIMON PEGG talks to Brian Donaldson about taking horror seriously for his new film, Shawn of the Dead.

When it comes to thinking up cunnineg amusing titles for his screen works, there appear to be few people to touch Simon Pegg. One future TV project concerns a pub quiz team (La Triviata) while for now, he’s punting around Shaun of the Dead, a romantic comedy with zombies; that’s a zom-rom-com for those into clever filmic shorthand. Something tells me that those titles came first (drunken pub chat, maybe?) with the screenplay designed to fit the name. ‘The name of the film was a joke which stuck and it felt like we’d be backing down if we changed it,’ confesses Pegg. ‘We got to the end of the film and we thought that it was slightly better than the title. But to give it another name would be like renaming your child once its already three; so I’m happy to keep flying that slightly embarrassing flag.’

The other half of the ‘we’ Pegg mentions is Edgar Wright, director of both Spaced and Shaun of the Dead. The idea for Shaun came out of an episode from the flashy, quirky post-student sitcom which had Pegg’s slacker character Tim

spending a little too much time zapping zombies 1 on his PC with his real life/videogame interface .~ getting seriously corrupted. In Shaun, the Pegg bats for the living in Shaun of the Dead walking dead are out of his head and right there



on the streets of a London suburb. Among those battling the flesh-chomping hordes are Dylan Moran, Jessica Stevenson, Lucy Davis, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Nick Frost and Kate Ashfield. So, with this stellar Britcom cast, have Si and Ed created a George A Romero-style satire on our rotting modern ways? Well, maybe.

‘Zombies are quite handy allegorically because they’re basically us,’ Pegg reckons. ‘They’re a metaphor that isn’t too complicated and Romero was using them to make comments about consumerism and class but in our film, if they’re metaphorical in any way, it’s about apathy and boredom and getting lost in a city.’ Specifically, that city is London and the citizens’ policy of going about their business with their heads down, avoiding eye contact at all times and only really caring about yourself. ‘We liked the idea that you could quite easily just not notice something like this happening; so, that’s what goes on for the first part of the film.’

Despite the comedy which splatters its way around the screen, don’t have Simon pegged as anti-horror. ‘l genuinely am less keen on people if they don’t take horror seriously. We made a conscious effort to keep the horror separate and contained and stay true to the source material rather than start making jokes about zombies, and “oh, look his arm’s fallen off”. A horror film that doesn’t have the courage of its convictions has no point.’

I General release from Fri 9 Apr. See review, below.

This dramatisation of the kidnapping of Brian Keenan and John McCarthy confines itself to the tow and a half years the Irish teacher and the English journalist spent in captivity in the Lebanon in the 1980s The broader political context of the kidnapping is backgrounded there's some brief news footage of Margaret Thatcher announcing her refusal to negotiate with terrorists and instead this is an intimate drama about how a great friendship developed between the two men, as well as their relationship with their captors.

lan Hart and Linus Roache play. respectively. Keenan and McCarthy. In effect the film's a tw<>~header. and that being the case. it relies largely on their performances. which impress. Not only do Hart and Roache shed pounds to play the starving prisoners. but they really get under the skin of the men: Keenan's hard-headed attitude; McCarthy's softer nature. These are as committed a pair of performances as you're likely to see all year: Hart and Roache most certainly do justice to the working class heroes they're playing. Praise. too. must go to writer- director John Furse. who spent time with Keenan and McCarthy. getting to know them after their separate releases.

That this low budget film effectively employs a single dramatic location (a series of cells. with chilly Belfast and Glasgow warehOiises doubling for the roasting Lebanon locations) and bearing in mind the well-reported conclusion of Keenan and McCarthy‘s ordeal, Blind Flight works Surprisingly well as a riveting piece of drama. Both brutal and tender. it's powerful stuff. (Miles Fielder)

I Selected release from Fri 9 Apr. See preview. page 22.

v"; sq. ‘~ ,, - i s'l'j \ i, . a_\\‘.\ ~

Linus Roache: committed performance

f—-lS Apr 2004 me LIST 23