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Shaun of the Dead (Blu-ray)

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Shaun of the Dead on Blu-rayReviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Simon Pegg, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Penelope Wilton, Lucy Davis, Jessica Stevenson, Kate Ashfield

Directed by Edgar Wright

Distributed by Universal Home Video


As Dread Central’s resident zombie aficionado, I can honestly declare that Shaun of the Dead is not only one of the single best zombie movies ever made, but it’s also as close to perfect as a film can get. More on that in a bit … first the plot.

Shaun (Pegg) is a lovable everyman on the way to being a borderline loser. His best friend (Frost) is a bad influence, his girlfriend has dumped him, and life is throwing up all manner of crazy roadblocks in front of our hero. Little did he know that death would soon be doing the same thing as soon the unthinkable happens — the dead rise to feast upon the flesh of the living! It’s time for Shaun and company to rise to the occasion by dispatching the walking dead and saving those whom they love the most.

Shaun of the Dead has it all. It’s the most perfect blend of horror and comedy since Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein; and simply put, it has something for everyone, horror fan or not. However, it’s the horror fans who will truly appreciate this piece of fine film craftsmanship. The flick is riddled with in-jokes and homages aplenty, but they’re are handled is such a deft manner that they’re never distracting. Then there’s the gore. Oh, the lovely gore. Romero would be pleased. In fact, he was! So much so that both Pegg and Wright appeared in one of his own Dead flicks, Land of the Dead.

Shaun of the Dead on Blu-rayNow that the film has finally gotten the high-def treatment, it’s time to help you figure out if you should dump your DVD if you have the Blu-ray tech easily at hand. As expected, the video and audio presentation are stellar. I’ve watched Shaun countless times, and seeing it again on Blu-ray was akin to seeing it for the very first time. Since it was shot on film, there is a persistent amount of grain present, but it’s never distracting. The colors are vibrant, the blacks deep, and every gory detail looks nothing short of stunning. All this, coupled with a great 5.1 mix, equals quite the experience.

Then there are the special features. They’re as good as they are plentiful. Things kick off with four audio commentaries that, with the exception of the one featuring Shaun’s parents, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilson, are all absolutely side-splitting and informative. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that the Nighy and Wilson track is bad. It’s just that after the other three, it’s apparently dry with more than a few stretches of dead air. Still, it’s definitely worth skimming through.

Shaun of the Dead on Blu-rayFrom there there’s a myriad of special features that have already appeared on DVD and cover every conceivable avenue from special effects to the replacement of the word “fuck” with “funk” to plot holes that are patched via running commentary and hand-drawn pictures. Really good stuff.

Finally, Universal’s U-Control feature lets you access all kinds of cool stuff via picture-in-picture window such as storyboards, missing bits, and of course the Zomb-O-Meter trivia track. This is a neat and fun way to dig on the flick, especially for those who have seen it more than a few times.

It’s good to have Shaun and the gang officially enter the high-definition arena. While this Blu-ray package is light on exclusive material, it’s absolutely packed to the gills with content, and the high-def transfer really sweetens the pot more than you would imagine. Don’t hesitate. Just get it.

Special Features:

  • BD-Live enabled
  • U-Control: Zomb-O-Meter
  • U-Control: Storyboards
  • Audio commentary with actor and co-writer Simon Pegg and director and co-writer Edgar Wright
  • Audio commentary with actors Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Kate Ashfield and Lucy Davis
  • Audio commentary with Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilson
  • Audio commentary with the Zombies
  • Missing Bits: Extended Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • The Man Who Would Be Shaun featurette
  • Funky Pete featurette
  • Plot Holes featurette
  • Raw Meat video diaries
  • TV Bits
  • Zombie Gallery
  • Storyboard Gallery
  • Trailers

    Film:

    5 out of 5

    Special Features:

    5 out of 5

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    Friends Don’t Let Friends Review – A Haunting Mixture of Psychological Turmoil and Brutal Supernatural Horror

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    Starring Brittany Anne Woodford, Jenny Curtis, Kanin Guntzelman, Brendan McGowan, Jake White

    Directed by James S. Brown

    We all like to think of ourselves as being surrounded by friends, but let’s face it, if we were to ever truly hit hard times, there are probably very few, if any, people we could truly rely on. So on some level, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film we can all relate too, as it deals with this very issue.

    Stephanie is an emotionally unstable young woman who strangles her boyfriend to death after he insults and breaks up with her. She calls her friends to help her dispose the body out in the Joshua Tree National Part area, and instead of reporting her to the police, they reluctantly comply. As their car breaks down, the four friends find themselves alone at night in the Californian wilderness with the rotting corpse in need of disposal. Given their dire circumstances, they begin to become more and more aggressive towards each other, and this was where the film was really at its best. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how far the limits of their friendship could be stretched, and who would be the first to crack and turn on the others.

    Anyway, their body disposal endeavor soon proves to be a mistake, as Stephanie’s ex rises from the grave as vengeful zombie demon thing with claws as long as knives. I’ll admit, I first I thought Friends Don’t Let Friends was going to be a movie purely about the limits of trust, so I was pretty surprised when the supernatural elements came into play. And when they did, the trust and friendship elements of the plot were somewhat downplayed in favor of a more traditional horror approach, and while it was still entertaining, I still would have preferred for the film not to have strayed from its initial path. At least the ending came as a shocker. I won’t go into spoilers, but let’s just say the even the most attentive viewers probably won’t see it coming.

    As you can probably guess from a psychologically-driven film of this kind, the performances were top notch, with Brittany Anne Woodford being on particularly top form as the manipulative and unstable Stephanie, a character who revels in the revels in the power she felt when ending another human life.

    With its mixture of psychological turmoil and brutal supernatural horror, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film I would certainly recommend, but keep in mind that it may make you think twice when confiding in people who you think of as being your friends.

    8 out of 10.

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    Coulrophobia Review – One of the Most Entertaining Killer Clown Films in Quite Some Time

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    Starring Pete Bennett, Warren Speed, Daniella D’Ville, Roxy Bordeaux

    Directed by Warren Speed


    The word ‘Coulrophobia’ refers to the fear of clowns, and if you happen to suffer from it, you might want to avoid director Warren Speed’s film of the same name. However, if you can stand the sight of clowns with gaping wounds in their manly parts, then you’re in for one heck of a fun time.

    An all-female hockey team get lost deep in the Scottish woods on their way to a match (don’t ask), and are captured and forced to participate in a series of horrific games by the Grock family of clowns. All of the members of said family are absolutely fucking insane, but the one that really stood out was Twitch (Pete Bennett), who wears jester cloths and it said to have a short attention span. He longs to be a violin player and wishes he could blend in with normal society like the other members of his family. And you almost feel sorry for him, even though he’s a mad killer with bells on his head.

    Director Warren Speed also appeared as Milo, a grunting mute who had his tongue cut out when he was a boy. As mentioned above, we see a close-up shot of a open wound in his penis being stitched up, which is not an image that will be leaving your mind anytime soon. Speed is clearly fearless when it comes to his art.

    Inter-spliced with all the torture and mayhem, we also see documentary-style telling the sad history of the family involved, and this was where the film unfortunately faltered, because these scenes seemed out of place and just didn’t flow with the rest of the plot.

    Ultimately, however, Coulrophobia almost seems like a film Rob Zombie might have made before he lost his way and started churning out trash like 31. Comparisons to House of 1000 Corpses are inevitable, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. This is one of the most entertaining killer clown films in quite some time.

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    User Rating 2.94 (17 votes)
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    The Gatehouse Review – What Is Found in the Woods Should Be Left in the Woods

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    Starring Scarlett Rayner, Simeon Willis, Linal Haft

    Directed by Martin Gooch


    Now while no one will sneeze at the prospect of bringing up a bit of a rebellious child alone, it’s those damned kids that like to tempt fate by pissing off creatures in the woods…oh kids, they do the funniest things, don’t they?

    In Martin Gooch’s moderately spooky presentation, The Gatehouse, a struggling writer named Jack (Willis) finds himself behind the 8-ball following the tragic drowning death of his beloved wife, and if that isn’t enough to torque your drawers, his young daughter, Eternity (Rayner) is becoming quite the salty soul herself. Unfortunately the little one has been finding herself bullied at school, and her recourse of sorts is to simply toss attitude around as if it was pleasantly acceptable. Her pastime has become lonely wanderings in the deep woods, digging for hopeful treasures…and we all know what problems reside in the woods, don’t we, horror fans? Well, Eternity’s father is attempting to re-start his writing career with a frightening backstory – taking the reigns on a novel that was abruptly ended when the author committed suicide, and supposedly the tome is quite the dark piece of literature.

    Eternity’s never-ending quest for fortune and glory in the forest leads her to a most interesting (and ultimately) dangerous discovery (don’t sweat it – I won’t spill it for you). Bottom line here is this: the little girl has taken possession of something that should have been left in the friggin’ woods, and now someone (or something) wants it back PRONTO. What follows is a lackluster series of “spooky” events, and far be it from me to say, I’ve seen creepier stuff watching the evening news. Gooch then tries to bombard the audience with a plethora of instances and swerving plot direction – it’s fun at the beginning but can grow a bit tiresome over a duration.

    Performance-wise, both Rayner and Willis play the perfect combination of mentally-shot dad and determined-to-be-independent daughter – their scenes are ripe with subtle contempt, and the right amount of indecision. Overall, the film is best suited for those fans of fantasy/fable-like horror, and while it might not scare the pants off of you, it definitely will give us all another reason to stay the hell out of the woods once and for all.

    • Film
    3.0

    Summary

    Children in a forest-setting don’t always add up to cutesy-pie encounters with furry creatures – this one’s got a few scares to keep fans of coppice-horror appeased.

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    User Rating 3.56 (18 votes)
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