“Do you want anything from the shop?”
I doubt there are too many students who are not at least dimly aware of which film that quotation comes from. Though the TV show Spaced brought moderate success, Shaun of the Dead is the film which really catapulted Edgar Wright (and fellow collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) into the public eye in 2004, and the world is certainly a funnier place for it.
Famously tagged as ‘A Romantic Comedy with Zombies,’ Shaun of the Dead shamelessly broke with convention while celebrating past movie greats. Centring on one man’s quest to save his girlfriend (and his Mum) from an endless zombie horde by hiding in a pub, for many it became a classic immediately. For me, there are two things in particular which stand out in the film. One is the genre-defying pure ridiculousness of the concept: a zombie apocalypse in Britain is otherwise unheard of, and Wright heavily plays on British culture for laughs. The other is the film’s sheer depth: it stands up tremendously to multiple viewings as you’re always likely to uncover a buried motif.
It is this strength of imagery which Wright was able to continue into his next film, Hot Fuzz. Maintaining the genre-bending ideals of his first film effort, Hot Fuzz was a no-holds barred buddy cop movie…in rural Britain. What followed was another hugely entertaining culture-jamming romp through a preposterous, though carefully crafted, plot. Frost and Pegg returned for Hot Fuzz, as did several of the motifs present in Shaun of the Dead. The Cornetto in particular has gone on to signify more than just a running joke. With Shaun and Fuzz, Wright has started what is known as the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy. That is, a series of three films which correspond to Cornetto flavours (Shaun was strawberry) and carry similar motifs and images throughout.
The third installment in the gory saga has not started filming yet. Presumably Wright, Pegg and Frost have something in mind, though, as it has a working title of The World’s End. It also corresponds with the mint flavour Cornetto, which is a curiously sci-fi shade of green. There is a good reason for the lack of action on this front, however: Edgar Wright has been too busy. After the universal acclaim which greeted Shaun and Fuzz, Wright has been in high demand. This success can only be a good thing.
Or can it? There is, of course, one of Wright’s films which I have not yet mentioned. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World tells the story of a 22 year-old Canadian slacker who falls in love with a mysterious American girl. Of course, being based on a graphic novel, to win her heart Scott must defeat her seven evil exes in videogame-inspired bouts. What follows is a hilarious, touching and quirky film which, while a departure for Wright, has his directorial fingerprints all over it. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does. Unfortunately, while adored by critics, Pilgrim had a dismal box office performance, failing to make back its budget by a significant margin. Though unlikely to spell the end of Wright’s career, it is a real shame that this film did not receive the attention it rightly deserved.
The only way for Pilgrim to make back its budget, and convince Hollywood that Edgar Wright deserves to be at the helm of exciting projects is if it has exceptionally strong DVD sales. Incidentally, it’s released on DVD in the UK on the 27th of December, just in case you have an opinion on this matter…
A Mash-Up of Edgar Wright’s Films
Edgar Wright has to be one of the top directors of this generation. With a sense and style he can call his own Wright has directed three incredible films: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. But if you don’t know one or any of the three, now is your chance to get acquainted with them. Wright posted a link to a video that includes scenes from all three of his films on his twitter account today. Youtuber Joel Walden mashed up the different scenes from Wright’s movies into one 2:19 minute video. Hit the jump to see it.
Bonus: Guillermo Del Toro Signs Scott Pilgrim DVD
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.