Simon Pegg on the dead and the quick

Everyone knows the undead don't run - so how come they were sprinting about in Charlie Brooker's recent TV drama? Simon Pegg argues for a return to traditional zombie values

 

As an avid horror fan, I found the prospect of last week's five-night TV zombie spectacular rather exciting. Admittedly, the trailer for E4's Dead Set made me somewhat uneasy. The sight of newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy warning the populace of an impending zombie apocalypse induced a sickening sense of indignation. Only five years previously, Edgar Wright and I had hired Krishnan to do the very same thing in our own zombie opus, Shaun of the Dead. It was a bit like seeing an ex-lover walking down the street pushing a pram. Of course, this was a knee-jerk reaction. It's not as if Edgar and I hadn't already pushed someone else's baby up the cultural high street - but that, to some extent, was the point. In Shaun of the Dead, we lifted the mythology established by George A Romero in his 1968 film Night of the Living Dead and offset it against the conventions of a romantic comedy.

Still, I had to acknowledge Dead Set's impressive credentials. The concept was clever in its simplicity: a full-scale zombie outbreak coincides with a Big Brother eviction night, leaving the Big Brother house as the last refuge for the survivors. Scripted by Charlie Brooker, a writer whose scalpel-sharp incisiveness I have long been a fan of, and featuring talented actors such as Jaime Winstone and the outstanding Kevin Eldon, the show heralded the arrival of genuine homegrown horror, scratching at the fringes of network television. My expectations were high, and I sat down to watch a show that proved smart, inventive and enjoyable, but for one key detail: ZOMBIES DON'T RUN!

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