Part of the beauty of Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004) is that the first half of the film (everyday life) parallels perfectly the second half of the film (zombie attacks), further beautified by the fact that many of the parallels are extremely subtle. Sure, there are the obvious ones, like the running theme that Shaun’s fallback is always his favorite pub The Winchester, whether choosing it as a romantic date spot or his fort during the zombie attack, as well as the ultimate gag, that Shaun’s deadbeat friend is equally useful dead as alive, but every time you watch the film, you will pick up on new things. Here are some of Anglonerd’s favorites, some more obvious than others.
The longest form of parallel is Shaun’s walk to the shop. Hungry for a Cornetto ice cream cone, he walks to the shop, passing a boy playing soccer (“You’re dead,” he warns him after getting hit with the ball) and a jogger. He gets a diet Coke and an ice cream from the off license worker, Nelson. Going home, he passes a man with a dog begging for change. Later in the film, Shaun, still oblivious to the change in his neighborhood, heads back to the shop, passing a zombified soccer boy and the jogger who is now running for his life. In the off license, he slips on a puddle we don’t need to see because we see the bloody handprint on the fridge that Shaun misses. Nelson has mysteriously disappeared. On the way home, the zombie homeless man is walking an empty leash.
While Shaun is at work in the beginning, he mimes getting shot in the temple and the blood spurting out the other side. Later, he is stuck in the temple with a dart, and when he yanks it out, the blood spurts. At the end of the movie, when imagining what it will be like to shoot himself in the mouth, he mimes the shot going in his face and the blood spurting out the back.
To console Shaun after his split with Liz, Ed comforts him by laying out the exciting day ahead: “We’ll have a Bloody Mary first thing, have a bite at the King’s Head, couple at the Little Princess, stagger back here. Bang! Back at the bar for shots.” Later, the zombie infiltration begins with a girl named Mary in the garden who gets gutted through the middle, Shaun’s step father gets bitten in the neck, they visit Liz’s flat, have to pretend to be zombies as they stagger back to the Winchester, and Shaun uses the gun over the bar to shoot the zombie intruders from behind the bar. Ed also manages to predict the fates of each of the bar regulars, such as Snakehips, who is “always surrounded by women” and winds up lying dead in the park, surrounded by female zombies munching on his intestines.
Yvonne and friends
When Shaun runs into his old friend Yvonne in the beginning, his dialogue mimics the dialogue when he runs into her again later in the film. When we pass her party of friends (the non-deadbeats heading for real help and not just the local pub), we see that each of her crew is almost an exact replica of Shaun’s: Jessica Hynes to Simon Pegg’s Shaun, Martin Freeman to Kate Ashfield’s Liz, Reece Shearsmith to Dylan Moran’s David, Tamsin Grieg to Lucy Davis’ Dianne, Julia Deakin to Penelope Wilton’s “mum,” and Matt Lucas to Nick Frost’s Ed.
Video game dialogue
If you listen carefully, you’ll notice that Ed’s dialogue at the beginning when he is coaching Shaun on his video game moves mirrors the words he speaks later when coaching Shaun on how to shoot off zombies in the bar.
There are certain words and phrases that are repeated throughout. Shaun is told he has red on him at work when his pen leaks into his pocket and again later when he is covered in blood. Shaun uses the word exacerbate back at Liz when earlier he had to ask her what it meant as she was trying to break up with him. Pete, Shaun’s roommate, angrily says “Fuckadoodledoo,” when yelling at Shaun for playing his records too loudly, so when Pete shows up as a zombie, Shaun exclaims, “Fuckadoodledoo!” We have a sense that Ed’s farting is a running gag between them, as in the beginning Ed says “I’m sorry, Shaun,” just before he farts and repeats the joke just before Shaun leaves him to die. Likewise, Ed’s inappropriate usage of the insult “gay” is repeated once when Shaun talks about his love for Liz and again when Shaun tells Ed he loves him. Ed also has a knack for using an inappropriate swear word right when Shaun is trying to convince others that Ed is trust-worthy.
Kill the Queen
To punctuate Shaun’s breakup with Liz, the jukebox plays Queen. Ed grumbles, “Who put this on?” Shaun sobs, “It’s on random!” Back in the bar, the jukebox goes off and they have to kill the zombies with pool cues to the beat of Queen. The same lines of dialogue are repeated.