Shaun of the Dead’s First Zombie’s Surprisingly Practical Effects Detailed By VFX Artists


  • VFX artists analyze a Shaun of the Dead scene where zombie Mary attacks Shaun, praising the practical effects used to create the gruesome wound.
  • The scene combines genres by blending humor with horror, and the ability to see straight through the wound adds to its gory impact.
  • The use of traditional, practical compositing techniques was effective and had more impact than a more complicated approach would have.



VFX artists detail the surprising practical effects used to create one of Shaun of the Dead‘s first zombie appearances. Directed by Edgar Wright, the horror comedy follows Shaun (Simon Pegg), an electronics sales advisor who, along with family and friends, attempts to outlast a zombie apocalypse in London. The film has been praised for its humor, and built a strong fanbase over the years, along with other Wright/Pegg collaborations. In addition to Pegg, the Shaun of the Dead cast includes Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis, Penelope Wilton, and Bill Nighy.

In Corridor Crew‘s latest video, VFX artists looked at a Shaun of the Dead scene where zombie Mary attacks Pegg’s character. They compared the post she lands on to a retractable weapon, and then explained that tracking was used in order to see Shaun’s face through her. Jordan later added that “this is traditional, practical compositing very simply done, and it has all the impact, if not more, than a more complicated approach would have.” Read more of Corridor Crew’s comments regarding Shaun of the Dead below:

It’s almost the same technology as those fake knives that retract into themselves. That base is fully practical, and the post retracts into itself. So when she lands on the physical thing, they introduce plate photography. I think it’s a practical pipe, I’m not sure if it’s CG or practical, but also a blood element that they shot on green spurting through the pipe. So that’s all traditional comp work.

Why Shaun Of The Dead’s Zombie Effects Work

In that scene, which demonstrates the film’s ability to combine genres, Shaun and Ed (Frost) assume that Mary is intoxicated. When she begins attacking Pegg’s character, his housemate at first decides to take a picture instead of actually helping. The second time Mary approaches Shaun, he pushes her onto the post, creating a gaping hole in her stomach as she slides off. Being able to look straight through the wound makes it one of the gorier moments in Shaun of the Dead, and as Corridor Crew noted, her insides were really 3D.

The zombies in Shaun of the Dead can be scary at times, and feature impressive effects, whether practical or not, with Mary being a prime example. Other notable zombies from the movie include the man Shaun stabs with a pole, pinning him to a tree, and the group gathered outside the bar who eventually tear through David (Moran). Shaun also kills his mother, along with zombie Pete, by shooting them in the head, adding even more blood.

Shaun of the Dead is certainly enjoyed for its zombies and gore just as much as the comedy. It’s interesting to hear how the zombie Mary sequence incorporated practical effects, and to see what actual VFX artists thought of the end product.

Source: Corridor Crew/YouTube

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