The World’s End – “I Hate This Town”

The World’s End is my favorite Edgar Wright film (or at least until I see Baby Driver.) Featuring a maturity in both the storytelling and musical choices, it stands as an example of growth within Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy. And though that are many scenes that pump up my feely feels towards the movie as a whole, there’s one that speaks large levels to my personal tastes, especially since I connect with the character of Andy Knightley.

Nick Frost’s characters in Wright’s work have always been a bit too over-the-top for my taste, but Andy is a standout. With a long, dramatic history between him and Simon Pegg’s Gary King, I totally understand Andy’s struggles. I’ve been that reserved and well-meaning friend that’s gotten the short end of the stick, and when I finally get pushed over the edge, stuff like this pub scene tend to take shape.

So when the music pumps in, and Andy goes full Hulk on everyone in sight, you feel it. With the electronic beats, sharp cuts, and Nick Frost’s believable performance, the scene will always be a standout, both because it feels personal and because it’s just cool.

Spaced – The Gun Fight

Well I know this is kind-of cheating, but when you talk about Edgar Wright, you have to mention Spaced. For many film fans, the TV series where he cut his teeth might not be the life-changing juggernaut that some of the films on this list are, but it symbolizes the beginning of what made Edgar Wright the talent he is today. And if any scene is going to stand as the best example of Spaced, this is it.

In the scene, Tim and Daisy (Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes) run into a violent group of college boys in a back alley. Trying to enjoy a pleasant night on the town (that seems to be going crazier and crazier) the duo have no choice but to battle it out with the young lads in the only way they know how – a pretend gun fight. And what follows (set to the Bluetones’ “Blood Bubble) is considered to be some of Wright’s best work (so much so that he even put it on his Vimeo reel!).

Grindhouse – “Don’t” Trailer

So this isn’t a full movie, nor does it have exactly full on music throughout, but it would pain me not to at least mention Wright’s contribution to Grindhouse. In a film full of excellent fake trailers, this one still stands as one of the best for a multitude of reasons.

From the word go, Edgar Wright proves that he knows his ’70s cinema sound staples, like the creepy piano score, the sudden use of alarming and out-of-synch strings, and the increasingly disturbing narration becoming truly monstrous by the end.

After the scene where Nick Frost (known as “The Baby Eater” in the cast) hangs from the ceiling, the non-diegetic soundtrack shifts to one that is a bit more electronic. As the editing pacing quickens with Wright’s usual fast cuts, Will Arnett’s narration also increases in speed, to the point where the two combined into a dubstep-esque tune. The result is an unusual and wholly unique audio experience.

The World’s End – “Alabama Song” Sequence

In The World’s End, there is a moment where the characters slowly realize the bigger picture of what is really happening in their town. And though they had initially thought that this night was going to be just a reunion, a bucket list achievement sort of situation, it might need to become a “saving their world/town” sort of deal. And that shift is perfectly realized in this scene via a great song choice.

To the tune of The Door’s “Alabama Song,” Simon Pegg and the gang begin their walk to the next stop on their long bar crawl. The music sets a jolly but uncomfortable tone, as the boys pass by various villagers, all of whom they suspect might not be who they seem to be. As the melody continues, even the burps of the boys act as a chorus that not only aids the story, but adds an extra kick to the song choice. Charming, yet creepy, this moment and song sets the scene for the rest of World’s End’s brilliance.

Shaun of the Dead – First Zombie Take Down

When someone kills a zombie in a movie, typically weapons such as guns, knives, and blunt objects are involved. But in the world of Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, the selection of items that can defend someone from such a creature is more varied – including your own personal record collection. And though I would never condone the use of “musical violence,” in the case of protecting yourself against flesh eating monsters, this sounds like a good option.

After learning that the only way to defeat the zombies is through the removal of the head or destroying the brain, Shaun and Ed get the great idea to take whatever weapons they can find to get rid of their new friends. Unfortunately, not too many of them work – with the exception of Shaun’s vinyl records. This starts a series of hilarious exchanges about which of the collection is worth keeping, and what of his selection is questionable in taste. Though not a typical musical sequence with diegetic or non-diegetic sound, it’s still a scene built entirely around the subject of music. And it may be cheating, but it’s a classic moment I cannot ignore.

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