Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
Crossing Over: “HOT FUZZ”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
Welcome, FANGORIA Readers, to CROSSING OVER, our newest column that highlights the films, series and content out there outside of horror that is fashioned towards or pays tribute to our beloved genre. By shining a light onto these projects, FANGORIA hopes to open a world of entertainment perfect for fright fans that lies just beyond the borders of the horror community. So without further ado…
Following SPACED and SHAUN OF THE DEAD, there was little doubt among those familiar with Edgar Wright’s work that the filmmaker was also a tried-and-true horror fan. His comedy paid respectful homage to horror, both in its peaks and valleys, while offering the filmmaking and storytelling finesse to exist beyond the homage as a genre product in its own right. And if any detractors over Wright’s fright fandom were not silenced by his phenomenal faux trailer for “Don’t,” then they certainly were by HOT FUZZ, Wright’s hilarious love letter to action movies, murder mysteries and even the slasher subgenre.
While HOT FUZZ was marketed primarily as a throwback to bullet-spilling, hard-hitting cop films (with the film making direct references to the likes of POINT BREAK, BAD BOYS II and SUPERCOP), HOT FUZZ also contained many nods to the horror genre, whether it be the over-the-top gore of the film or the Italian Horror-friendly staging of the murder sequences. But even beyond that came the more indirect horror references in HOT FUZZ, whether it be slight homages to THE WICKER MAN (including the casting of Edward Woodward in one of his final film roles) or the hooded killer on display evoking the style of many low-budget slasher features. Hell, even the gaslighting of Simon Pegg’s character feels reminiscent of classic psychological horror films, although the signs are much more on-the-nose for comedy’s sake.
Even Wright’s direction of the film showcases his horror influences, especially those involving the cult/conspiracy aspects. Many of the kill scenes are backlit with colorful lighting, akin to British and European horror of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Meanwhile, the conspiracy scene itself and the following chase sequence is shot and edited with the utmost gravity, which makes the absurdity of the scene much funnier. But perhaps a true testament to Wright’s horror know-how is that he never quite relies on overt parody, instead using his own wit and resources to establish a familiar atmosphere.
However, HOT FUZZ also succeeds in its many tonal shifts and horror moments on account of a superb, game cast, many of whom know exactly what sinister beats to work towards. While Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are more-or-less in tune with Wright’s expectations, dramatic heavyhitters such as Timothy Dalton and Jim Broadbent are absolutely hilarious playing as darker, more desperate characters than normal. And of course, outside of Woodward, fright favorite Billie Whitelaw shows off her comedy skills as one of the more ardent antagonists in the community.
Overall, HOT FUZZ is the kind of film that, if horror hounds haven’t immediately seen after SHAUN OF THE DEAD and THE WORLD’S END, will get more than enough laughs out of. Luckily, the film laughs alongside the horror fan in us all rather than at the genre, keeping Wright’s efforts respectful and efficient. And while HOT FUZZ is perhaps the least horrific of the Cornetto Trilogy, the film remains unafraid to go to gory, gruesome places when the story calls for it.