Comedy horror and Music in Shaun of the Dead

Comedy, music, and horror don’t intersect all that often (thus the name of this blog). I guess you could count “Monster Mash,” which is a decent novelty, but not a high point for any of the three elements. Closer would be this scene from the horror/comedy film Shaun of the Dead, a personal favorite. Comedy and horror make great partners – both are about ratcheting up tension, but what they do with that build up is vastly different. Comedy resolves the tension into a small euphoria. Horror brings it to the point where it is untenable and then sparks an explosion of revulsion or disbelief. Both can be physically draining if they are done right, which is why a good comedy/horror flick can feel like rigorous aerobic exercise.

Shaun of the Dead puts that together with a great soundtrack and choreography. There’s even a light show. The main characters are trapped in the Winchester pub, trying to lay low and figure out their next move. The streets are crowded with zombies. Making a lot of noise would be a profoundly bad idea, and Ed (Nick Frost) has a knack for profoundly bad ideas. He starts playing a slots-like Dracula game with bells and whistles and lights, and naturally, it rouses the dead, including the recently reanimated John the bartender. As Shaun (Simon Pegg) and company figure out how they are going to subdue John, the jukebox kicks on with Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” I particularly enjoy the pool cues thwapping in time with the beat. Wonderful.

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