Simon Pegg is well known for his comedic takes on genre movies. Over the years, we have seen the star tackle action movies with Hot Fuzz, and alien movies with Paul. However, one of his best movies is still the 2004 classic Shaun of the Dead. But despite Pegg’s stellar work on the comedy movie, his thoughts on the history of zombie movies may surprise you.
In the book You’ve Got Red On You, Pegg discusses making Shaun of the Dead which followed a London salesman having to survive the zombie apocalypse. The filmmaker shared his influences for the film, and pointed out how he believed that the zombie movie sub-genre became stagnant in the ’80s until it was revitalised in 1996 thanks to Capcom’s Resident Evil games.
“They went quiet after Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Everyone had seen zombies body-popping, and it took the wind out of their scary sails,” Pegg said. “They became something of a joke, and the zombie genre went a bit dormant. It came back to life, if you’ll pardon the pun, with the Resident Evil games. And that’s what inspired us.”
Resident Evil is one of the most beloved series in videogame history and is Capcom’s best-selling franchise. So, Pegg is certainly correct in assuming that the games helped pull zombies back into the mainstream and grip the larger public’s attention once again.
And in all fairness, after 1996, the genre did get some of its best films. In 2002 (two years before Shaun of the Dead), Danny Boyle introduced the world to his horror movie 28 Days Later, and in 2004, we got Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead.
However, while zombie movies did experience an unfair reputation critically, Pegg’s statement of the genre going quiet isn’t exactly true. Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ music video, which featured the star dancing with the undead, was released in 1983. But in 1985, George A. Romero released Day of the Dead, and in that same year, Stuart Gordon premiered Re-Animator.
Zombies were by no means dormant – they were simply dwindling in public recognition when it came to the late ’80s and early ’90s. Still, putting specific details and timelines aside, we are glad that Pegg was influenced by Resident Evil and made one the best horror-comedies to ever hit Hollywood.
Fans can next see Pegg in the new movie Mission Impossible 7 – titled Dead Reckoning Part 1 – which hits cinemas on July 14, 2023.