We’re celebrating Halloween early with the comedy-zombie movie, Shaun of the Dead (2004). (It will scare you silly.)
When zombies begin to overrun their village, our lads, Simon and Nick, like any sensible Englishmen, retreat to their local pub to defend their refuge fortified by ample spirits and the camaraderie of the tavern’s defenders. The gore factor is minor, but thrills pace the film that is punctuated by a generous measure of hearty laughs.
In the early 2000s, Edgar Wright wrote and directed several rollicking comedies pairing Simon Pegg (sometimes co-scripter) and Nick Frost: Shaun of the Dead (my favorite), a buddy cop comedy Hot Fuzz (2007) and the science fiction comedy The World’s End (2013).
In his comparatively short movie career, Mr. Wright has been able to attract the crème of the acting crop to appear in his highly regarded quirky films.
Simon Pegg (1970) has distinguished himself as a comedian, as a film actor (specializing in ‘nerd’ roles), and a screenwriter for various movies. Some American film audiences may be more familiar with his work in three Mission Impossible, two Star Treks and one Star Wars—all blockbusters.
Nick Frost, Pegg’s off-screen friend and frequent on-screen comedy partner (often as a couch-potato type) is no less versatile. He has scored credits as a producer, screenwriter, director, actor, comedian plus non-theatre work as a painter and author.
The cast member most familiar to movie-goers will be Martin Freeman. His 90 film-acting roles include Dr. Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in the British-made series, Sherlock (2010–2017) and The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2012–2014).
Another familiar actor is the delightful Bill Nighy who skillfully plays a lean wraith of a man. His trademark underplaying has permitted Nighy to display his skill in horror pics such as Limehouse Golem and I, Frankenstein; in drama, The Constant Gardener (2005), Notes on a Scandal (2006); in thrillers Valkyrie (2008); and in lighter fare such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Hot Fuzz (2007) The Boat That Rocked (a/k/a Pirate Radio 2009), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 1 (2010), and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012).
The most honored member of the cast is Dame Penelope Wilson, who plays Mr. Nighy’s wife in Shaun of the Dead. A stage-trained actor with a long career, Ms. Wilton brought her patented fluttery persona to 85 movies from the 1960s to 2022. Television viewers will recognize her from Downton Abbey (2016-2020) and four episodes of Dr Who (2005-2008).
American film director Edgar Wright is one of the current generation of innovative filmmakers that includes Wes Anderson (USA), Taika Waititi (New Zealand), Leos Carax (France), Dominque Abel & Fiona Gordon (Belgium), Guillermo del Toro, Alphonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Mexico), and Steve McQueen (Britain. No, not the late American action actor). All-in-all, good news for movie-goers.
Contributor Frank Cullen is the author of many show business books (fictional and historical, several plays and a New York Theatre Museum Awardee for ‘Theatre History Preservation’.