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SHAUN OF THE DEAD ($30) is definitely my favorite zombie movie of all time. Heck, how could I not love this romantic comedy with zombies? What makes SHAUN OF THE DEAD special is that is both a loving homage and a perfect satire of the entire zombie movie sub-genre. In other words, SHAUN OF THE DEAD perfectly nails all the conventions of zombie movies, while at the same time providing its own humorous twists on the audience’s expectations. SHAUN OF THE DEAD also has an understated visual brilliance that allows it to offer commentary on its slacker central character, showing him to be aimlessly shuffling through his existence… just like a zombie; however, without the benefit of being dead.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD stars Simon Pegg as the title character, an appliance salesman named Shaun, whose life has settled into the routine of a dead end job, playing videogames with his best mate Ed (Nick Frost) and paying nightly visits to the pub with his exasperated girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield). Tiring of Shaun’s lack of ambition and commitment, Liz dumps him after he breaks his promise to do something special for their anniversary. Of course, the breakup comes on the eve of Armageddon- just as the dead have begun to rise up all over London to devour the living. At first, Shaun is oblivious to the situation-- wandering out of his flat, following his regular route to the convenience store, making a purchase and returning home, without noticing a single blatant sign of the world going to hell.

Eventually, both Shaun and Ed see the handwriting on the wall… and Shaun decides to take action. Formulating a plan, he decides to rescue Liz, as well as his doting mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton) and despised stepfather Phillip (Bill Nighy). Only after putting his plan into action, does Shaun realize he may have made a few miscalculations, which leaves him and his compatriots facing an ever-increasing zombie horde. The cast of SHAUN OF THE DEAD also includes Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Peter Serafinowicz and Jessica Stevenson.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made SHAUN OF THE DEAD available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. SHAUN OF THE DEAD comes with a highly pleasing 1080p presentation that is certain to tickle both longtime fans and the newly initiated. The image appears crisp, well defined with more than respectable levels of texturing and fine detail. On top of that, the daylight sequences are quite dimensional, and the presentation as a whole comes across as quite film-like. Colors are bright and vivid, with the blood reds popping rather nicely. Flesh tones are true to life, except on the dead characters. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and contrast is smooth. Contrast is just fine, although shadow detail is bit under-whelming, but that may be intentional. The elements from which SHAUN OF THE DEAD have been transferred appear relatively free from defects. Mild grain is ever present, which maintains an organic quality.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sound design is surprisingly lively, with sounds coming at the viewer from all sides during the more action-oriented moments… or when zombies attack! Additionally, there is plenty of attention to detail, with the outlying channels creating realistic sonic environments, which includes both subtle and overt sounds. Fidelity is enhanced by the lossless encode, producing a solid musical component, as well as convincing sound effects. The bass channel is deep and adds an effective punch. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is generally very understandable. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off, are four separate running Audio Commentaries that have been included on the Blu-ray Disc; the first is with actor/co-writer Simon Pegg and director/co-writer Edgar Wright; the second includes actors Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Kate Ashfield and Lucy Davis; actors Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilson participate in the third, while the fourth features The Zombies. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Storyboards and a Zomb-O-Meter are available under the auspices of the U-Control .

Featurettes and other programs include the following: Extended Scenes (thirteen minutes), Outtakes (eleven minutes), The Man Who Would Be Shaun (under one minute), Funky Pete (two minutes), Plot Holes (three minutes), Simon Pegg's Video Diary (seven minutes), Lucy Davis' Video Diary (five minutes), Joe Cornish's Video Diary (ten minutes), Casting Tapes (four minutes), Edgar & Simon's Flip Chart (fourteen minutes), SFX Comparison (two minutes), Make-up Tests (two minutes) and EPK Featurette (seven minutes). Some within the film TV Tidbits, plus a Zombie Gallery, a Storyboard Gallery and a few Trailers close out the standard supplements. SHAUN OF THE DEAD is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a hoot, in addition to being my favorite zombie movie. Universal’s Blu-ray presentation impresses, and the disc provides generous supplements. Definitely recommended.



Shaun of the Dead [Blu-ray] (2004)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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