Here at Starburst HQ we love Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead. It’s very much our go-to UK romzomcom and we can never resist a sneaky peek when it turns up in the middle of the night on ITV2 (which is most nights). We are not, however, quite so well-disposed to the shoddy line of titles which followed in its wake hoping to get even a little bit of Shaun’s ‘you’ve got red on you’ action. Take your pick; Knight of the Dead, Zombie Undead, Stag Night of the Dead... No thanks, go away. The latest - and most shameless - in a long line of wannabes is Shed of the Dead, which gets full marks for its title but significantly less for its actual content.
Shed of the Dead is in too many regards utterly terrible. Its script aims for lowbrow and falls spectacularly short, the acting is... well... interesting... and the cinematography ranges from the inept (interior scenes which are all bathed in a dull orange glow as if the lighting budget only ran to a few low-wattage domestic light bulbs) to the ingenious (exterior scenes have a bit more style and there a couple of nicely-realised FX shots). Its story of a zombie apocalypse has absolutely no sense of scope or scale, and its cast of characters are all utterly loathsome to the point where you feel genuinely sorry for the zombies who have to bite and chew on this grubby bunch.
Trevor (played by Spencer Brown, but close your eyes and you’ll hear Stephen Merchant) is a slacker who spends too much time with his vile friend Graham (The Office’s Ewen MacIntosh), painting figurines and daydreaming war game fantasies in his allotment shed. When one of his neighbours (played by Jason Vorhees actor Kane Hodder... no, we don’t know how he ended up in this either, and the same applies to Michael Berryman who cameos briefly) is accidentally killed, Trevor decides to chop up the body and bury the bits just as a zombie apocalypse breaks out. Along with Graham (who is agoraphobic one minute but running around outside the next), Trevor heads home to try to rescue his fairly unpleasant wife Bobbi (Misfits’ Lauren Socha) and her oversexed friend Harriet (Emily Booth) from the ravages of the (largely unseen) zombie hordes amassing outside.
Shed of the Dead is pretty ghastly, but there’s a strange charm to its ropey script, weak humour which aims for the toilet but misses the bowl, almost complete lack of visual interest and shocking disregard for the basic rules of zombie film-making. Much of the film is woefully misjudged and badly-realised, and the characters are all so detestable that it’s almost a relief when they start getting picked off (even though the film’s not able to make their deaths matter or for us to feel any sympathy for them). The climax, inevitably, takes place in the titular shed, and a tiresome coda suggests that our hero might well fare better in a new zombie world when he finally gets to adopt his fantasy world persona.
Shed of the Dead is quite epically bad and yet it’s hard not to find something to enjoy in its endearing clueless tackiness (even if it’s just Brian Blessed’s typically understated voiceover) but you’ll need a palette cleanser when you get to the end credits. So, what’s on ITV2? Oh look... time to settle down with another Cornetto.
SHED OF THE DEAD / CERT: TBC/ DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DREW CULLINGHAM / STARRING: SPENCER BROWN, EWEN MACINTOSH, LAUREN SOCHA, BILL MOSELEY, KANE HODDER, MICHAEL BERRYMAN, EMILY BOOTH, BRIAN BLESSED / RELEASE DATE: 20TH MAY