Another addition to Horror Movie October, I just watched Fido, an independent movie that becomes another addition to the increasing tome of pop culture zombie myths and lore.
- A Vision of Life After World War Z. Fido takes place, presumably, immediately after Romero's Night of the Living Dead leaves off, a zombie-ravaged 1968. The movie opens with a mock 50s propaganda film extolling the benefits of the company Zomcon, who seemingly has created a way to control and manage the zombie outbreak; by enslaving them. The concept of using the undead to your advantage is not novel; the same device employed in Land of the Dead or, even the epilogue to Shaun of the Dead. The enslaving of zombies becomes a paradigm of human cruelty. Zombies are, afterall, human, though the extent to which one can consider them human is arguable. In Fido, the Zombie Plague is SO under control, in fact, that the survivors live inside a veritable bubble of zombie-free territory. The only persistent problem facing humanity is the radiation permeating through the atmosphere that had begun the horrible catastrophe (the "radiation" was introduced in a rerelease of Night Of the Living Dead, in an attempt to "explain" the cause of the rising), so, essentially, everybody who dies becomes a zombie. Suddenly the old and the infirm are society's greatest threats, which is an incredible notion. Funerals are now controlled and licensed by the government, a ceremony that assures that the head is completely separated from the body and that the undead will never rise again. So your choice upon dying: Either become an undead slave or a desecrated body: How delightfully macabre. The premises that has been set before us is most definitely a horror-buff's wet dream.
- Period piece. Taking place after the great Zombie War, society is completely frozen in post-civil rights yet pre-feminist movement. Let's remember that NLD itself was social commentary of the race riots breaking out at the time, encapsulating the spirit of civil racial unrest. This is 4 years before Ira Levin would have ridden the ground-breaking Stepford Wives, a chilling view of the 50s nuclear family, consisting of their 1 car and 2.3 children. But in this world. The Stepford Wives haven't been written yet. The feminist movement has been frozen, so what is left is the quintessential 50s world. Fido creates a brilliant period piece of the post-war 50s, from the costumes to the cards to the sets to the brilliant dialogue and campy acting. Dylan Baker as over-worked, stiff, emotionally removed and prudent Dad, focusing not on putting food on his family's table, but on the assurance that he will be able to afford a funeral for all of them, a reverse of the classic model of the nuclear family. Carrie-Anne Moss plays a brilliant Mrs. Cleaver-esque Mom, clean, beautiful, submissive, and dedicated to keeping up appearances, which, in this context, means buying a zombie (Fido) to be the family butler. K'Sun Ray plays their child (aptly named "Timmy") who is the stereotypical ostracized student, beat up by bullies and ignored by his father. The juxtaposition of the 50s family with the civilized zombie culture is an obvious comparison, as in most zombie movies; Who are the real monsters? The metaphor is futher crystalized when Dad loses interest in his familial bonds and the family's zombie, Fido suddenly becomes a surrogate father to Timmy and a confidante to Mom.
- Concepts. Life after death after undeath. People die. The become the undead. They are either decapitated or they become zombie slaves. What director Andrew Currie presents us with is a sympathetic zombie culture that can learn, develop, and even manifest some memories of life. Would you want your body desecrated after life? Or would you want to live as a zombie. Dad chooses to pay out for his family to all have elaborate funerals. But Mom and Timmy: They opt for the way of the zombie.
In most zombie movies we see humans become monsters. However, can these monsters become human? In Fido, the answer is yes. While it seems clear that zombies are flesh-eating beasts when not under control, it seems that Fido is able to make the conscious decision not to hurt Billy or his family. He almost serves as a kind of Angel to billy's Buffy. Without, well, the gypsy curse of the sexual tension. I guess the concept of zombies having organic consciousness with the ability to choose right from wrong (NOT eating humans between eating humans), then are they actually zombies? And, biologically, how is that possible?
But I'm probably imposing way too much thought into this...
As much as I found this movie an absolute delight to watch (and I do mean absolute delight; the brights were bright, the nights had huge glowing fanciful moons, and every smile expanded beyond the cheekbones), and as much as I find it unique and unprecedented... Fido was, ultimately... Boring. There is a part off me that argues that being boring was the intent
(consider "Leave It to Beaver" monotony... that lasts for an hour and a half), but I'm more willing to believe that this was just an innovative concept that ultimately ran flat.
I give it * * * .
Liked it... But that's about it.