Schlocktoberfest #4: Fido
Shaun of the Dead gave us the romantic comedy with zombies, so you know other zombie comedies would follow, riding on the annoying internet meme. Fido is one of the better ones. In an alternate world, WW2 has been replaced by The Zombie Wars. Radiation from space brought the dead back to life, but the Zom-com corporation has made special collars that domesticate the flesh-eating dead, so everyone has a zombie servant or two.
It’s an amusing premise that plays like cheeky ’50s satire, and the movie is just long enough, with just the right tone and characters to make for an enjoyable goof on the overdone zombie genre.The Robinsons are the eccentric family on the block- they don’t own a zombie. Mr. Robinson (Dylan Baker, the pedo from Happiness) is afraid of them. His son Timmy gets bullied in school by the junior cadets, and his wife finally tires of his fears and buys them a zombie to keep up with the Joneses. The zombie, played by Scottish funnyman Billy Connolly (Boondock Saints) may communicate only vaguely through groans and the occasionally jerk of the head, but he seems a bit special. One day he protects Timmy from the bullies, and they forge a strange little friendship.
No one would understand, so Timmy keeps it secret- from everyone except his creepy neighbor (played with relish by Tim Blake Nelson), whose female zombie servant is the kind who gets to sleep in the house, if you get my meaning. The film keeps the perfect tone by sticking to a ’50s sensibility, so we don’t get overly lurid hints about Nelson and his zombie. Director Andrew Currie makes it look like a Technicolor Douglas Sirk melodrama, and gives us a creepy villain with the over-zealous head of security of Zom-Com who moves in next door. He’s a war hero tasked with protecting the now fenced-in suburbs from the zombies in the Wild Zone, and when Timmy’s zombie- who he names Fido, of course- nibbles on a neighbor during a collar malfunction, they’ve got a new infestation on their hands.
The film makes great humor out of the familiar zombie genre with its small cast, and throws in some great spoofs of “Lassie” and other ’50s-era nostalgia. The humor is dark by design and dry in execution, but it managed to keep me both chuckling and interested in Timmy’s tale. Billy Connolly’s Fido of course steals the show; he’s always been particularly emotive and great at the dead-pan, no pun intended. The rest of the cast play it perfectly straight, even the kids, and it makes everything work. And of course, the zombie effects and the gore are top-notch- better than some “real” zombie movies. If they used CG for the blood spray, it’s the best I’ve seen. That’s a pet peeve of mine, and it looked real to me. If you can’t be bothered to use real fake blood, don’t make a horror movie.
If you like zombie movies, this is a nice change of pace from the usual; maybe not as great as Shaun, but as good as the original spoof Return of the Living Dead, and entirely original. Worth seeing. And yes I know these have mostly been spoofs or comedies so far, but Netflix is being a shit and throttled me, and this is what I have on the DVR. A horror classic comes next.