15 Years Ago: ‘Shaun of the Dead’ Throws a Prince LP at Zombies
Released Sept. 24, 2004, Shaun of the Dead breathed life into the zombie movie genre by adding a heavy dose of self-awareness comedy about the genre. One of its most memorable scenes featured Shaun (Simon Pegg, who co-wrote the script) and Ed (Nick Frost) trying to stop oncoming zombies by throwing a Prince album at them.
After hurling random household items proved unsuccessful at slowing the zombies down, they find a bit of success with a vinyl record and run to grab a case of Shaun's albums. But when Shaun complains after Ed throws a valuable pressing of New Order's "Blue Monday," Ed runs the case's contents in search of an LP that he won't miss. Shaun rejects Purple Rain ("No") and Sign O' the Times ("Definitely not") before telling him to chuck the Batman soundtrack.
For director and co-writer Edgar Wright, it was a window into his personal take on Prince's career. “I am a Prince fan, as well," he said in the DVD commentary, "but even I will concede that Batman was the start of the downturn, although Diamonds and Pearls is quite good after that.”
Wright and Pegg also said in the commentary that, if money had been no object, they originally would have used Sinead O'Connor's cover of "Nothing Compares 2 U" in the scene where Shaun is drinking at the pub after his girlfriend breaks up with him. Instead, he went with Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now," which they feel worked out better in the long run.
“Chicago gets a big laugh," Wright said. "It costs £20,000." To which Pegg added, “It’s the soundtrack to a billion break-ups basically, so there you go."
But for all his antipathy towards Batman, he revealed in 2014 that he had hoped to use "Batdance" in a later project of theirs, 2013's The World's End.
Shortly after Prince's death, Wright tweeted out a link to a review of Parade, saying it was his favorite Prince album, and on what would have been Prince's 60th birthday, he called him "one of the greats" and sent out a GIF of Prince crawling across a stage on his back.