Halloween Scene: Shaun Of The Dead (2004)

shaun of the dead poster

It’s funny. With a lot of movies, especially big-deal horror movies from the past decade like Shaun Of The Dead, I usually have a solid memory of the first time I saw it. In this case, I’ve got nothing. I was in college in 2004 when the film came out and was probably hearing things about it. I remember watching it at some point and loving the ending and then checking it out on DVD later on with my wife who was into it aside from the ultra gore (which I’d forgotten about for the most part). I do remember that my pal Rickey Purdin passed me the DVD copy I watched last week because he had an extra, but that’s about it.

With Edgar Wright’s latest film The World’s End hitting theaters, I figured it’d be fun to go back and watch Wright’s other movies Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, all of which happen to reside in my DVD collection. You guys, this is such a good movie, I can hardly stand it. It’s so good, I actively disliked myself for about half of it for not watching it more often. Yes, you’ve got the high quality gore effects that tend to get left behind in horror comedies and you’ve got the fantastic comedic elements, but there’s a huge, gigantic beating heart to Shaun that really drew me in this time around.

First off, you’ve got the friendship between Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost). On the surface it seems like any other dude friendship in movies, just two adult children hanging out, drinking and playing video games. But you also get that element of two friends who have been friends for ages that might be growing apart, where the friendship might actually be inhibiting one or both of the parties from evolving as individuals.

Then you’ve also got Shaun’s relationship with his mom Barbara (Penelope Winton). He loves her, but doesn’t love all of the decisions she’s made, specifically when choosing a mate. That’s a deep connection that really tugs at the heart strings when Shaun has that last moment with his stepdad Philip (Bill Nighy). I know I’m a much bigger softie these days now that I’m a parent, but that was a really amazing emotional beat in the middle of zombie movie. So good.

Finally, you’ve got Shaun’s relationship with Liz (Kate Ashfield) which is kind of a synthesis of the ones he has with Ed and his mom. They’ve been together so long that she’s starting to think he might be holding her back while at the same time, there’s a deep, emotional almost assume connection between them. Watching the movie this time around, I got a bit of a Madame Bovary vibe from Shaun. Because he’s seen so many movies and TV shows, he thinks things are going to turn out a certain way, but the real world isn’t fictional (even this one packed with undead monsters). Shaun winds up stepping up and proving that he’s the hero he always imagined himself to be, which winds up solidifying his relationship with Liz.

The beauty of this film is that it balances all of those relationships — plus more, I didn’t even get into all the stuff with Ed and Diane — with all that great humor and gore. It really is just a wonderful movie and I didn’t even talk about how well constructed the movie is. The way Wright shot Shaun’s daily routine at three different stages in the story was so great to watch, I remembered it was coming and got really excited as it unfolded. I’m sure there’s a lot more in that department that I’m missing, but I’m still kind of in a euphoric state after enjoying the film so much.

Casting Internets

Writing, writing, writing, I did lots of writing. For CBR I covered Planetoid and Enormous.

Meanwhile, for Marvel I wrote about Ryan Stegman taking over on Fantastic Four, Jamie McKelvie taking over Defenders, Fred Van Lente’s issue of Hulk Smash Avengers, a Harley Davidson Avengers comic and Stegman’s Five Favorite Avengers.

In writing-my-friends-have-done news, Sean T. Collins not only reviewed Shia LaBeouf’s minicomics for The Comics Journal, but also interview the writer and artist for Rolling Stone. I think I might download one or two of these for my Fire. Expendables MiniMates are now a thing! Think of all the customizing options now!

Beer makes men smarter. Yes. Good. (via Esquire)

THR says that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are going to be in a new comedy shooting soon called Internship. Love those guys together.

I don’t have HBO, so I won’t be seeing Girls for a while, but I’m excited to. This THR interview with Judd Apatow from last week helped.

Finally got around to reading this Rolling Stone article from 1986 about the Monkees resurgence and reunion that they posted after Davy Jones passed away. I actually saw them on that tour with my parents and remember being personally insulted that Mike Nesmith didn’t do the tour.

Rolling Stone also talked to former Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson about his upcoming poem book Letters To Kurt about Nirvana frontman Cobain. Sounds like an interesting project.

Erlandson also spoke to FuseTV and revealed that Cobain was working on a White Album-esque solo record when he died. Someone needs to get that into existence so I can hear it.

Less interesting to me than the fact that Stephen King is writing a amusement park serial killer novel called Joyland is that Neil Gaiman wrote about hanging out with him and and Joe Hill.

I really like Glen Brogan’s Where’s Waldo-inspired Jason wallpaper that you can download for free on Strange Kids Club.

Hey, remember the Hives? They have a new record coming out soon! (via RS)

I’m not the biggest fan of the name Thrillbent, but I am very excited to see what Mark Waid and John Rogers have planned for digital comics. This could be the future, folks.

In other digital comics news, DC is doing an out-of-continuity Batman comic that will be purely digital. Better yet? Jeff Parker is writing! (via Robot 6)

I’ve been enjoying the Only The Young Die Young Tumblr for a while now. So many great pictures and tracks posted on a daily basis. The guy who runs the site is in a band called The Agenda and recently posted all or most of their songs which I’ve really been digging these past few days. I don’t really care about Banshee, but I do like the idea of how crazy his family is. Therefore, I’m a fan of Luca Pizzari’s Project: Rooftop redesign of the characters.

The description for the upcoming James Bond game 007 Legends is fairly vague, even with a very long press release, but I’m still excited. (via SHH)

Casting Internets

I got to talk to Rob Liefeld about the return of Avengelyne, Eric Stephenson about the state of Image Comics and Cliff Rathburn about Reaper. It’s been a busy few weeks writing for CBR, but I feel like I’m finally getting in the swing of things.
Oh goodness, I love this werewolf/Coors Light combo that Dan Hipp created. Hipp did it again with this Dirty Harry/zombie mash-up. I would absolutely play that video game in a heartbeat.
Reading about the Beastie Boys’ new record Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 on Rolling Stone has me pretty interested in that record. Watching “Fight For Your Right Revisited” was less appealing, I saw it on Spike TV last night.

I’m really getting to like Scott Raab’s interviews on Esquire.com, this one with Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio is no exception.
In one of the worst kept secrets in comics, it was revealed this Wednesday that John Constantine would become part of the main DCU in this week’s conclusion to Brightest Day. Whatever. This just feels like a continuity headache to me. The real question, though is why he looks so damn French in this image from The Source.

My buddy Ben Morse says that Forge is the worst X-Man of all time and makes a very convincing argument for his case. I think y vote would have to go for Professor X though, he just keeps getting more dickish every year. Seems like I haven’t posted art in weeks and now this post is FULL of it. I love Planet Of The Apes, so, of course, I love Dave Perillo‘s POTA artwork. One day I hope to have an office covered in such pieces.

I waited too long to listen to this Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi and Jack White collaboration on Rolling Stone and now it’s gone, but I am definitely intrigued. Anyone know if White’s on the whole album or just a track?

Casting Internets

Haven’t seen a lot online that’s gotten me interested. Don’t really care about the X-Men: First Class images or the new Batman casting news (I’ll believe it when they start filming), so here’s what’s been on my radar lately.

Check out this list I wrote for Topless Robot about how Dark Skies is better than X-Files. I’m sure I’m getting crucified in the comments section, which is why I refuse to read them.

If you’re wondering what to watching on TV the rest of the week, check out my TV column on Maxim.com! Gotta love it when the TV Guide descriptions don’t exactly match up with the actual episode like this week’s How I Met Your Mother did.

If you haven’t been keeping up on my Tumblr you really should. Yesterday’s Ad It Up is pretty rad.

I’m in full support of collecting We3 in the Deluxe format, especially if it means including 10 new pages of story according to Vertigo. Seems like the best way to present such a visually interesting story.

Fabio Moon waxes poetic about writing and research for writing. In my experience he’s dead on.

Hey, Ricky Gervais might finally be appearing on the American Office as David Brent. Brilliant! (via TVLine)

And finally, a new way to pour beer (via Wired).

Coors Light Home Brew Commercial

I snapped a picture of these awesome refrigerator kegs at my local grocery store and posted it over on my Tumblr. But when I went to pick up some groceries this week, they were all gone! Seeing this commercial today during the Saints/Vikings game made regret not grasping the opportunity when I had the chance. I also wish Ditka would come to my house.

Our Whirlwind Tour Of The Midwest

I was going through the pictures on my phone and realized I had a bunch from our trip to Delaware, Columbus, Toledo and Valparaiso. Yeah, this is the same trip where we encountered the creepy clown in the bar. I’ll think you’ll get a kick out of at least a few of these. Let’s jump in shall we?Our buddy Heather took us to Eddie George Grille 27 (the added “e” makes it fancy, just ignore the 70 TVs playing sports, some of which aren’t even in season right now) in Columbus after our reunion shenanigans. They ordered deep fried cheeseburgers (the missus snapped a picture of hers with my phone at my request) while I got a deep fried Italian sandwich. Mine was awesome and so were the burgers. While visiting my parents in Toledo, the four of us all went to a Toledo Mudhens game (that’s the minor league team that feeds into the Detroit Tigers). I got the tickets for my dad for his birthday and the seats turned out to be pretty awesome. Also, the beer was cheap. And, to answer your inevitable question, no, I don’t know what a mudhen is.
The great thing about the new(ish) Mudhens stadium is that it looks like it was just dropped in the middle of downtown Toledo. You can see how there’s buildings all around it. Some of those are hotels and apartment buildings, so you can just hang out and watch a game from there. Of course, that also means you can get hit by a ball if you’re just walking down the sidewalk. I was disappointed to find that Tony Packos hot dogs were not served in the stadium, though there is a restaurant across the street. This is how close we sat to the bullpen, by the way.The next day we left for Indiana for my buddy Geof’s marriage to the lovely Eileen with my folks driving (they were also invited, though they probably would have driven us and gone back home if we asked cause they’re awesome). Just outside of Valparaiso we stopped at a rest stopped that a carload of my friends from Toledo also happened to stop at. It was all very serendipitous. Anyway, there was a little gift shop that had a ton of statues like the dragon and fairy here. I contemplated buying one as a wedding present, but the missus reminded me we already had a gift and I’m not that generous. And finally, the day after the wedding we had a crazy-early flight out of Midway in Chicago that my parents were nice enough to drive us to. While walking through this strange new place, I was delighted to see them celebrating Chicago’s two finest sons Jake and Elwood Blues. There were actually two statues, but with the sun coming in through those huge windows, this was the best I could get. The other photo was completely washed out. There you have it. It was a great trip filled with friends, family and fun, plus we didn’t have to drive out, so you can’t really go wrong with that!

They Say It Was My Birthday

Hey gang, you might have noticed a serious dip in posting over the weekend. That was because yesterday (Saturday) was my birthday. My folks came out from Toledo on Friday and spent the weekend with the missus and me. It was the first time in years that we saw each other on my actual birthday which was pretty cool. We got lunch at a great place in New Paltz, NY called The Gilded Otter. In addition to being a great little restaurant, the place is also a brewery where, instead of getting a beer, you can get what they call the Beer Garden which is eight shot-sized samples of their beers with a list explaining which was which. I’m pretty sure they were mislabeled, but it was still a lot of fun. We got a growler of one of them for later in the evening when some friends came over and we had a good old time hanging out, talking and playing electronic catchphrase. Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy b-day on Facebook, email and sent cards, like this one from my buddy Chad who’s in Japan right now.Super extra double thanks to everyone and anyone who hooked me up with one of these lovely gifts. Thanks to the Lost Season 5 DVDs, all the Nightmare On Elm Street movies and Modern Warfare 2, I’ll have plenty to watch and do. The Beatles CDs will keep my ears buzzing and I’ll look sick as hell wearing the Superman shirt while drinking out of the Green Lantern mug and playing with my 3 3/4-inch Freddy Krueger figure. Thanks again to everyone!

Train-Ing Video: Beer Wars (2009)

I recently had the opportunity to watch Beer Wars, a documentary about smaller breweries competing with the big three (at the time) beer makers in the US: Miller, Anheuser-Busch (aka Budweiser) and Coors and I wasn’t all that impressed.

The film starts off promisingly, with some really creative animated sequences that introduce Anat Baron, the narrator and director. She states her history working in corporate America and then moving over to the fledgling Mike’s Hard Lemonade before leaving, only to come back and make this documentary.

I started having problems fairly early on when it seemed like Baron was going to explain some of the history of the larger beer manufacturers only to veer away and move forward. Generally, I like to understand a bit of the overall history of a subject before diving into it, it’s a good way to refresh people in the know and inform newbies. I see now that a possible reason for this is because she didn’t want to make the obvious connection between what Anheuser-Busch was like 100 years ago and what an organization like Dogfish Head is like today. You see, A-B, especially, gets made into the bad guy in by the end, but people tend to forget that these were small, start-up American companies at one time too, but you won’t hear a single mention of that in the doc.

It wasn’t until much later that I really started having problems with the movie though. After a brief and scattershot history of the brewing industry in America (more like a timeline showing how many breweries were in the US over the years), we get introduced to two smaller beer companies, one the aforementioned Dogfish Head, the other a caffeinated beer called Moonshot. Dogfish Head I’ve heard of, Moonshot I haven’t, though it sounds a lot like Buzz Beer from the Drew Carey Show to me. Anyway, after getting into these smaller breweries and talking to the guy who helped create Sam Adams (great beer), the movie awkwardly shifts back to Baron and her Michael Moore-ish attempt at putting people on the spot while attending beer conferences, trying to find A-B honcho August Busch IV and talking to senators.

There is some really interesting information about laws pertaining to beer and how a lot of them don’t seem to make sense anymore. It actually sounded a lot like the current talk of health care reform: there’s all these out-of-date rules and regulations, but there’s also plenty of lobbyists wanting to keep it the same and accusations of kick backs and the like. I do agree that it sounds like reform is in order, but there’s enough other stuff going on in the world that it probably won’t be a priority anytime soon. (How great would it be, though, if all we had to worry about were suspect post-prohibition beer laws?)

We eventually bounce back to the Dogfish and Moonshot folks, but towards the end, the doc really starts to feel unfocused and cramped. Is the movie about small breweries trying to make it even though they’ve got a tough road ahead of them, big beer companies vs. the small or breweries vs. big government? We’re never quite given a definite answer on exactly who this war is between, though we can assume “the little guy” is on one side. I guess it’s that unfocused nature that bothers me.

But what really bothers me is the villainizing of the big beer companies. Sure, Coors Light doesn’t taste as good as something like Blue Moon (which I also love), but I’m not an asshole for wanting to kick back and down a bunch of Coors Light and I can’t help but feel like this movie is trying to tell me that I am. Towards the end of the doc there’s this strange paradox where 99% of the film is desperately trying to get me to hate A-B because they bought a successful brewery like Rolling Rock, but don’t make the beer in Latrobe, PA anymore or because they put out similar products as smaller breweries to compete or take shelf space. Yes, that sucks and I’m sure there’s some shady stuff going on there, but welcome to the world of business. I’m sick of “it’s not fair-ism” dammit! Learn how to work within the system, Sam Adams did it (a connection they don’t actually make in the film).

For whatever reason Miller and Coors get let off the hook because people who work there drink together (that’s what I got from it at least). Meanwhile, the woman who owns/runs Moonshot is actually trying to cut a deal with the bigger dogs, though, of course, A-B is the last on her list. Demonizing something while one of your highly sympathetic main characters sees it as an end to her financial woes just doesn’t work from a story-telling perspective.

Another conundrum I noticed while watching the end of the flick is that, on one hand, the big beer companies are being criticized for making boring beer, but they’re also criticized for either buying up smaller brews and selling them to a wider audience or creating their own microbrew-like beers to “compete” with the little guys. Make up your mind! Once again, what is the message of this movie?

I’m sure I’m coming off as pro-corporate and anti-small business, but that’s not the case. I’ve only ever worked for smaller, privately owned companies and I completely support them, but I’m also not anti-corporation. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with a corp and you’ve got to realize when watching something like this, that your narrator is biased and has an agenda. I’m not saying she misrepresented the facts, but she’s using information like paint to show you a picture and she might leave out some colors or make others brighter. Like I mentioned above, nowhere is it mentioned that the big dogs were once struggling companies themselves. Does becoming big and successful make you bad? I hope not, because that seems to be exactly what’s happening with the Dogfish folks. But also, you’ve got to remember that passionate people work for corporations just like they do small breweries. There is an interview with an A-B brewmaster on this very subject, which I appreciated.

Finally, the film suffers from bad timing, which is not the fault of anyone really. As anyone who follows the business of beer knows, Miller and Coors have merged and A-B got bought out by a foreign company. These huge bits of information are mentioned only briefly at the very end and not really delved into because they probably happened after the movie wrapped. While I can’t fault someone for bad timing on both a beer and economic front (the economic decline and it’s effect on beer isn’t mentioned at all), I would like to think if I was in the position of making a film like this, I’d try and do a few follow-up interviews with my primary people and throw them in. But, hey, I don’t make movies (yet) and I don’t know what the money situation was like, so who knows?

Overall, I liked some of the early stylistic approaches that Beer Wars made, but, in the end just couldn’t get down with message. Now to head home and decide between a Coors Light and a beer from Sam’s Summer Sampler (I love me a sampler pack!).

Weekend Warrior

As loyal UnitedMonkee readers will have noticed, there wasn’t much (or anything really) in the way of posting this weekend. Well, that was because, I actually did stuff this weekend instead of sitting around the house watching movies (mostly because my lovely wife Em made plans, also it was really nice out this weekend, so nice I got an awkward sunburn, but more on that later).

Friday night we kept it a bit low key with dinner at Woody’s, the best all natural burger place I’ve ever been to (also the only, but it’s still really good). If you’re ever in Cornwall, NY stop by and have a Portabella sandwich, burger or Falafel, you won’t be disappointed. After that we went to my favorite movie theater The Destinta to catch I Love You, Man which I loved. I’m sure I’ll post something on it shortly, I can tell you’re just dying to read what I have to say about it. We finished the evening off by watching more of the last season of Avatar before falling asleep. Hey, it’s not lame, we had a big day planned on Saturday.

And by big day, I mean heading down to NYC to visit with some friends from college Adrienne and Katie (you can check out Katie’s rad NYC food blog here). Before meeting up with Katie I showed Em and Adrienne the Wizard New York City office that I will be relocating to at some point in the future and they freaked out. Apparently it’s in a building called The Atlas Building which is where something having to do with Project Runway happens, which makes sense because it’s in the middle of the fashion district. That’s right folks, keep an eye on the background of future episodes of Project Runway for me looking lost and confused wearing a Batman T-shirt and boat shoes.

After meeting up with Katie at those red bleachers above the TKTS booth, we went to a magical place I’d never been before called the East Village. Heck, I even recognized the name of the area: St. Mark’s. How did I know that’s where we were? We passed a place called St. Mark’s Comics that I wanted to go to along with some record stores, but kept my mouth shut because I was hungry and didn’t want to look like a bigger nerd than I am.

Katie guided us to a place called Yaffa Cafe where we had lunch and I had a couple beers. After having an awesome lunch Katie suggested that we spend the rest of the day drinking, so we went to a couple of different bars (the first had $3 Blue Moon’s but didn’t have orange slices, so Em wasn’t impressed, but they also had a picture of Duke from G.I. Joe in front of an American flag that was clearly printed off of someone’s computer in a frame) and then a place with $5 flavored mojitos and Bloody Maries. I wish I could remember the names of either of these places, especially the second because they had these awesome apple mojitos that tasted like candy. I wish I was drinking one right now. All I know is that they were both on Avenue C and were east-ish. I tried finding them using Google’s street view with no luck (probably because I was on the back patio and not staring at the front of the building).

I gotta say, I felt very cool eating and drinking on these various patios. As Em pointed out, there’s really nothing better to do in NYC than sit around drinking all day because you don’t have to worry about driving anywhere. Just hop on your train, bus or subway and you’ll be home. Even we sobered up by the time we got home (an hour and a half train ride will do that to you). Much fun was had by all. Even though I was tired, I tried watching Girls School Screamers on Netflix when I got home only to fall asleep about 20 minutes in. More on that later too.

Sunday was a lot more mellow as we went to Emily’s friend from work Constantina’s house for Greek Easter (it’s a week after “regular” Easter for some reason). There was SO much food, it was awesome. We basically sat around and ate for five hours in the mountains somewhere kind of close to our house (about 40 minutes or so away). Everyone was super nice and the food was amazing, they even had a lamb on a spit cooking all day, but by the time it was done, most of us were so full we could only eat a little. It was awesome though.

All of which brings me back to my weird sunburn. We were sitting outside under an awning or tent or something all day and the weather was really nice, so I enjoyed being in the sun. I even wore shorts because it was so nice out (and it didn’t even snow or anything). Well, later that night when we got home, I was reading and then playing video games and realized that the tops of my legs right above my knees were irritated on both sides. It wasn’t until I scratched at itch and felt that all-too-familiar burning feeling that I realized that my legs were sunburned. But it was only from the point where my shorts stopped to my knees, so a splotch of about 4-5 inches. Awesome.

We also finished Avatar, I finally beat Portal and I finished Girls School Screams, but expect posts on those separately.