America, it seems, can do almost anything. Put a man on the moon, face down the Soviet Union, put a stealth bomber into service, and elect a vegetable into the highest office in the land with a straight face. One thing it cannot do is successfully remake British television shows.
From Being Human to Red Dwarf, the results are uniformly disastrous. The Inbetweeners and The IT Crowd were nearly joined by Shaun Of The Dead.
Filmmaker Edgar Wright was on the publicity trail for the animated series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, and he was asked about returning to previous properties in a different form. This new show is a new take on his own 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which was itself based on comics.
Wright was the writer and director behind the original Shaun of the Dead. That movie was met with critical acclaim and grossed $30 million worldwide on a budget of just $6.1 million. It then went on to have massive success on home formats and garnered big views when on television. It won awards and has been listed as one of the greatest horror-comedy films of all time. It is also quite quintessentially British, in an early 2000s way rather than a Merchant Ivory and Jane Austen way.
So of course, American studios were interested in adapting it into their own version, this time for television. On the Happy. Sad. Confused podcast this week, Wright spoke of this attempt:
“There have been some conversations about that, yes. We’ve been quite protective about that. A long time ago, an American company wanted to do a TV series of Shaun of the Dead, based on the film. We were like, ‘No!’. Sometimes when these things come up, we take them very seriously. And some things are things we are still talking about.”
Wright also said he’d only do another adaptation of his previous work in another form if he had full creative control.
Film scholar Kyle Bishop, Literature scholar and leading zombie film researcher Peter Dendle, and Sci-Fi scholar Gerry Canavan, have all produced works commenting on Shaun of the Dead as part of a large body of zombie narratives produced in the wake of 9/11.
Bishop explained that the “renaissance of the subgenre reveals a connection between zombie cinema and post-9/11 cultural consciousness”, because “horror films function as barometers of society’s anxieties, and zombie movies represent the inescapable realities of unnatural death while presenting a grim view of the modern apocalypse”.
We blame George Romero for all this kind of thing.
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