Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pet Zombies

Continuing with zombie comedies set in the 1950's, another of my favorite horror comedies is the highly underrated and exceptionally hilarious Fido, starring Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix); Dylan Baker (Spider-Man); Billy Connolly (Boondock Saints); Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and Henry Czerny (currently appearing on ABC's "Revenge").

This 2006 Canadian entry into the subgenre was directed and co-written by Andrew Currie. Set in an alt-verse 1950's America, Fido is about domesticated zombies. Well, one domesticated zombie, in particular.

After the "Zombie Wars," the Zomcon corporation develops a collar which keeps zombies from killing and allows them to be domesticated as servants. Helen Robinson (Moss) desperately wants a zombie of her own. Her husband Bill (Baker) objects for both financial and moral reasons. It doesn't help that neighbor Mr. Theopolis (Nelson) has a sexy female zombie named Tammy, with whom he is apparently having an "inappropriate" relationship.

In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, Helen defies her zombie-phobic husband and buys one anyway. Their son Timmy (K'Sun Ray) names the zombie (a big no-no) "Fido" and teaches him to play ball and fetch. While playing in the park one day, Fido's collar comes loose and he accidentally kills a neighbor, sparking a small outbreak. A couple of neighborhood bullies are blamed and in revenge, they trap Timmy and Fido in an abandoned shack, to which they intend to set fire. Fido breaks free and runs home, where he gets Helen to follow him back to the shack in time to rescue Timmy and kill the bullies instead. Helen suddenly finds herself attracted to Fido, who seems able to display more emotion than her war-traumatized husband. 

New neighbor and head of Zomcon, Mr. Bottoms (Czerny) discovers what's going on and captures Timmy, planning on tossing him over the fence into the "wild zone" where uncollared zombies roam free. Thankfully, Theoplois was once the head of security at Zomcon (fired for his inappropriate relationship) and knows how to get in and save Timmy and Fido.

Hilariously skewering 1950's sitcoms; traditional zombie movies; the cold war and "Lassie," Fido was a box-office failure, despite mostly positive reviews (71% on RottenTomatoes). The $8M production grossed just over $400K world wide. It certainly deserved to do better. The performances in Fido are uniformly terrific, albeit tongue-in-cheek. Czerny is particularly hilarious as the earnest, but evil corporate monster while Connolly manages to display a wide range of emotion, despite playing a zombie without a single spoken line. And Moss is practically radiant as the June Cleaveresque Helen. Dark humor doesn't get much darker (or funnier) than this.

You can see Fido on YouTube for $2.99 here. It's still languishing on my Amazon wishlist, I suspect because none of my friends or family have gotten the hint, yet. Maybe this post will convince them how much I love this movie and I'll get it for Christmas.

More, anon.

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