Shaun of the Dead, a British 2004 film directed by Edgar Wright, follows Shaun as he tries to get back his girlfriend while battling the onset of a zombie apocalypse alongside his lazy couch-potato friend Ed. Mixing both the genres of screwball comedy and classic zombie flick, this film does a good job of working with and against genre stereotypes in order to produce a riveting, action-packed film.
Zombie film aspects:In Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead many classic zombie film traits are established. Within the film the characters gain knowledge on their circumstances and what they can do through the radio/television set. This means of communication becomes a really important and sought-after object. In Shaun of the Dead, Shaun and Ed are completely oblivious to all of the information that the television shows them. In fact, while flipping through the channels, the zombie apocalypse is essentially spelled out for them, word for word- but once again, this is to no avail. This lack of realization of the zombie film motif adds to the comedy.
At the end of Night of the Living Dead the protagonist comes to a tragic end. He has managed to escape from the zombies, but ends up being killed by one of his own kind. In Shaun of the Dead, all of the humans are shooting away at every moving thing in sight. A heavy weight was in my gut as I realized: Shaun and Liz were probably going to come to the same fateful end of Ben- they would be shot by the humans! But, rather than that happening, for some odd reason, Shaun's friend immediately recognizes them, so they do not get killed! This twist of what is to be expected helps add to the comedy of the film.
In Billy Wilder's 1959 film Some Like it Hot many classic screwball comedy traits were used. Screwball comedies deal with specific relationship dynamics that cause characters to get themselves involved in sticky situations. In Some Like it Hot Joe, who is disguised as a woman, falls in love with Sugar, deciding that the only way to get her is to present himself as a rich man. In the end she figures out that he is not rich, but they still end up together because she discovers she loves him too. Another relationship motif in screwball comedies is having an already divorced couple come back together. This dynamic is reflected into Shaun of the Dead. At the start of the film Liz, Shaun's girlfriend, breaks up with him. This is because Shaun is just not mature enough and is not being a good boyfriend. But throughout the film he learns how to take charge and get things done, thus redeeming himself and winning back the heart of Liz, just as would happen in any screwball comedy with these sort of circumstances.
All in all the film does a good job of using these well-known motifs in order to trick us into feeling certain ways, adding to the comedic feeling throughout the film.