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Sci-Fi Movie Titles: [ S -- Z ]

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Old Jul 8, 2006, 04:58 PM   #1
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Shaun of the Dead: Interviews

There are two threads dedicated to this movie, and they are here:

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Edgar Wright

By Thomas Chau in New York City

It's been a while since someone has been able to successfully blend horror and comedy together but that's exactly what the comedy team behind the cult British show "Spaced" has done.

Director Edgar Wright and star Simon Pegg bring their wacky comic styles to their very successful zombie import, "Shaun of the Dead." A romance, horror, comedy, spoof all in one, the film takes us back to George Romero's classic zombie films and puts a new twist in the genre. Actor Simon Pegg plays the lead role of Shaun, a washed out appliance salesman who finds his world around him crumbling apart: his girlfriend wants to dump him, his friends are crazy, he hates his stepdad, and he absolutely hates his job. But as he wakes up one day, he finds that today isn't like any other day: the dead has risen and it's time to step up as a hero. Maybe this will, once and for all, show his girlfriend that he IS a man.

At a pub in Manhattan several weeks ago, Simon and Edgar chatted with us over lunch about the British import. Make no mistake when I say this to you friends: this movie is pretty damn good.

Q: Did you have American audiences' interest in mind when you did the movie?

EDGAR: We made a couple of concessions in the script. There was one bit that we changed where theyíre in the garden and the line they say when they first see the zombie and they go, ďOh my God, sheís so drunk.Ē Originally they said, ďOh my God, sheís so pissed,Ē which obviously means angry here. We didnít want that to be a confusion. There were probably a couple of lines that we changed. And we kept an eye on the fact that some of the songs and albums and films mentioned are all pretty universal.

At the same time we didnít want to condescend to anybody, least of all the international audience. If Iím watching an American film, I want to see some American culture. If Iím watching an Australian film, I want to see some Australian culture. The British films that I despise the most are the ones that try to be transatlantic. UK audiences donít like it, and US audiences donít buy it either. Whatís been really encouraging during this tour, doing festivals and stuff and screenings, is that people really get into it and like the fact that there are cultural differences.

Q: Is that why you decided to take a jab at "28 Days Later"? So you could bring in a piece of British work into it?

EDGAR: I felt that for a film thatís really, really serious the idea that itís based on the idea that a monkey has watched some footage of some riots causes a national epidemic is pretty insane. And thatís actually my voice at the end, the newsreader saying, ďAnd initial reports that the virus was caused by rage infected monkeys has now been dismissed as complete bull****.Ē Luckily Andrew McDonald, who is the producer of that film, thought it was really funny. And we made more money!

Q: Did you like "28 Days Later"?

EDGAR: I liked the first half of it. I really like Alex Garland, I think heís a great writer. My only critique with that film is not with the film itself but in the press for the film. Danny Boyle went out of his way several times to diss the old films and to say, ďIím not a fan of Romeroís work. Those are much more campy; this is a much more serious work and has a more satirical edge.Ē And Iím thinking, have you even SEEN "Dawn of the Dead"? Because that film has more satire and subtext than your film does and whole scenes from your film are straight out of that film. The bit with the refueling and the kid, the end with the military base and the zombie chained up and whoís worse, the zombies or the army? I think thatís from "Day of the Dead" isnít it. But I think Alex Garland is a great writer and heís said on several occasions to say that his film is a tribute to George Romero, John Wyndham and Richard Matheson. So heís off the hook.

Q: George Romero apparently liked your movie...

EDGAR: It was like getting the nod from the Pope. We were really pleased and it was one of those things where I thought, everything else after this is a bonus now. The film wouldnít exist without him, itís a valentine to his films, and itís our way of paying homage to our favorite films. Since then itís been a bit overwhelming for the last couple of months because itís not just George Romero, weíve begun to meet other of our heroes who have seen the film. Peter Jackson has given us a press quote as well, so our poster has got Romero AND Peter Jackson on it.

Q: So is "From Dusk Til Shaun" happening?

EDGAR: There were a lot of ideas. One idea was to do a direct sequel Ė not to give too much away, but one of the main characters ends up a zombie Ė so it would almost be a cross between "Every Which Way But Loose" and "Weekend at Bernieís." The other idea we had was to do the alternate reality sequel, where you do the "Run Lola Run" thing where the film just starts again and youíre watching a different day and itís like left turn for zombies, right turn for something completely different. But we thought that if we spent the next two years doing another Shaun films we would be one joke merchants. We want to do a sequel in tone, and the idea for the next film is to do something with a very similar sensibility and a similar sense of humor but tackling a different genre. Also thereís that thing, where the filmmakers that we really admire like Tarantino and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson have this feeling of a rep company thatís ever expanding, and in an ever expanding universe.
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Old Jul 8, 2006, 04:59 PM   #2
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1,988 flights since Dec 2002
Location: Planet Earth
Re: Shaun of the Dead: Interviews

Simon Pegg Interview

At a pub in Manhattan several weeks ago, Simon chatted with us over lunch about the British import. Make no mistake when I say this to you friends: this movie is pretty damn good. And here's a tiny bit of trivia for you: Simon is actually best friends with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin and is Apple's (daughter of Chris and Gwyneth Paltrow) godfather.

Q: A lot of the movie takes place inside one pub in England. Did you base this movie around your favorite place?

SIMON: Thatís what we did. We had a pub we used to visit in the UK called the Shepards and it was our kind of Graceland. We stayed there all the time, we never felt the need to go anywhere else. This became slightly annoying to my girlfriend and my other friends who said, ďWhy donít you come into town and meet up with us there?Ē And I would say, ďWell, no, why would I want to?Ē This place was perfect. It was a proper old English pub with a dart board and a dog and a landlord and lady who lived there and a jukebox that wasnít that good. It was cold and the company was great, loads of people would go there. Youíd end up hanging out with 70 year old women, people you would never talk to normally. Iím quite passionate about it. Itís shut now, actually.

Q: So you sat around the pub wondering what you would do if zombies attacked you?

SIMON: Kind of. Every person should have their escape route planned. I think everyone has an apocalypse fantasy, what would I do in the event of the end of the world, and we just basically Ė me and Nick Ė said what would we do, where would we head? I think near us was one of the few sporting gun shops in London. We never really had guns in the UK, but you can buy shotguns if youíre a farmer or whatever. So we had this gun shop nearby, so we thought we run down to this gun shop and then head to the pub and shut the doors. I mean, itís very Ė the thing about the Shepards that we loved is that come 11 oíclock, because we have these weird draconian licensing laws in the UK, the pubs have to shut at 11 oíclock, they would shut the doors, place the curtains, turn the lights down and you would just carry on drinking. From the street it would look shut, but every single night we would be at the pub until 3 or 4 in the morning. It was fantastic. So we always felt that would be a great place to hide out because nobody knows youíre in there, so thatís where the idea comes from.

Q: Sometimes, foreign comedy doesn't translate well to the U.S. but do you think things like "Monty Python" and "The Office" help American audiences "get" English jokes?

SIMON: I donít know. There is a universality to comedy. Sometimes, like Python and that, they get big over here. But I think thereís plenty of British comedy that Americans have never seen that they would like but sometimes things just get through. I mean, yeah, Iím sure that Python and the other things have paved the way for a greater understanding of the British sense of humor, but I donít think itís all that different than the American sense of humor. I think at its best the American sense of humor is the same as the British sense of humor at its best, which is to be wry and ironic and self deprecating. You look at shows like The Simpsons or Larry Sanders or Curb Your Enthusiasm or Seinfeld, theyíre really sophisticated shows that we all love back home. I donít think you guys need too much of an introduction, itís just about whatís funny.

Q: How do you think this is going to play in the US in general?

SIMON: Iíve been absolutely blown away so far by how theyíve responded to it. We donít watch the film anymore because weíve seen it so many times, so weíll introduce it, walk out and weíll come back in right about when I wake up in the morning and walk over to the shop and everythingís changed. I just love listening to the laughter. American audiences tend to be more expressive than British ones. At home it went down great, but British people tend to be a bit more reserved with their responses. Here people whoop and cheer and scream and gasp, itís hilarious. It went down really well. The main jokes in this film are about big things, love and life and zombies Ė we all get that. Itís playing well in Holland at the moment, itís not even an English speaking country.

Q: Some people say that thereís a relationship between comedy and horror. What do you think that is?

SIMON: I think that the joke and the ghost story both have a similar set up in that you kind of set something up and pay it off with a laugh or a scare. We enjoy being frightened in a safe environment as much as we enjoy laughing.

Q: Did you grow up watching zombie movies like "Dawn of the Dead" and "Night of the Living Dead"?

SIMON: Yeah, they were kind of like my favorite films when I was growing up. I always loved horror and thatís sort of the reason we decided to make the film. We were nourished on those sorts of films, so it was a labor of love.

Q: What's with the joke about the characters insisting that they not speak the word "zombie"? Is it because a lot of zombie movies don't use the word zombie?

SIMON: No, itís just the idea that if they admitted to themselves that there were zombies outside they would go mad. Itís the very British thing of reserve and keeping everything shut in, thatís what people do with their emotions, shut the curtains on them. If anyone said, ďThatís a zombieĒ they would freak out, it would be too much for them. So they never use the zed word.

Q: Has George Romero seen the film?

SIMON: Yeah, and he loves it! We were amazed. We sent him a print down at his holiday place in Miami. Myself and Edgar waited a nervous hour and a half before we got the call to give him a ring and he really, really liked the film. He was very complimentary. I think he was very flattered, I think he expected a sort of student spoof thing from the title. The titleís the worst joke in the film. He kind of actually saw a proper movie and was flattered and liked it. We have a quote from him on the poster, but he said it was his favorite ever zombie film aside from his own. Itís the best praise we ever got.

Q: Has he asked you to be in his new film, "Land of the Dead"?

SIMON: Yeah he has, actually. Weíve already had our faces cast at KNB FX in LA by Greg Nicotero, whoís also a huge fan of the film. We made friends with Greg and Ken Foree, who was in the original "Dawn of the Dead." Heís like my uncle now. So yeah, I think weíre going to be zombies in "Land of the Dead," itíll be great.

Itís all such a dream come true for us. Over in LA Quentin Tarantino came and gave us a hug and David Carradine was biting his neck, and we were just like, ďWhat the **** man, this is crazy!Ē Itís amazing.

Q: How did you get Chris Martin [of Coldplay] to cameo?

SIMON: Chris Martinís a good friend of mine. Iím actually Appleís godfather. Heís an old friend and weíve been mates for quite a few years now. He gets a lot of flack because he works very tirelessly for the fair trade campaign, and itís not cool. The cynics sniff at his work with that and I say come along and do this part where you play yourself as a charity worker. He deserves all the success heís getting because he works so hard for it.

Q: If the movie turns out to be a huge success in the U.S., would you do a sequel?

SIMON: There was some talk about "From Dusk Til Shaun" I have to say (laughs). We discussed it on the set, and the title of the film is almost too good not to do. Edgar wanted to an alternative universe version, so almost did the film again but it took a different turn and would be body snatchers or vampires. We wanted to have the definitive zombie movie and say what we wanted to say and move on. Weíre definitely going to make a sequel in tone, but in terms of zombies or these characters, I donít know. I loved playing Shaun, heís not that different from me.

I donít know about doing a sequel. I think you can retroactively damage a product by adding to it. If you look at "Jaws" even, I think that "Jaws" is one of the greatest films ever made but you canít help but think about "Jaws 4," which is dreadful. Even as you watch the original you think about the characters, ďOh she ends up in the Caribbean with Michael Caine.Ē If you watch Alien, this all started with AVP: Whoever won, we left.

Q: So you said Shaun is much like you; how would you do in a zombie apocalypse?

SIMON: I would do so much better than Shaun. I wouldnít go to the pub! I mean, a pubís a good place when you want to have a drink. I would have kicked the door in and gone upstairs at least, not sat at the bar with the peanuts. Now Iím like a zombologist, if it ever happens Iíll be on CNN talking with Larry King of what to do in the event of a zombie attack. I know my stuff.
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