Fido

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In a world that uses zombies as servants and slaves, a boy named Timmy Robinson begins to grow close to his zombie Fido, setting up a chain of events that puts his family in grave danger.

This might come across as a bit off topic, but I want to talk about voodoo zombies. I know it seems odd to the living that voodoo zombies are so readily accepted by the undead; that we don’t just keep them around as cattle is understandably baffling to the uninitiated, but there are a few reasons we do accept them, one of which dispels all notions of zombies as creatures completely without mercy. There’s less important reasons like them being great listeners, or the fact they’re kind of lumped in with us anyways, but the main reason is simply because they have nowhere else to go. Voodoo zombies aren’t normally created for any other reason than to be slaves, so they go years knowing nothing but servitude and punishment before being cruelly discarded by their masters. It’s a terribly sad affair, and we feel for them as the undead have known slavery themselves over the years, so since they’re already tied to us in name and no one else is going to take them in, we watch out for our still living brethren. I just want you to remember this the next time you’re thinking of calling a zombie heartless, even is said heart has ceased to beat, it’s still in there. Let’s see Zomcon show the same kind of compassion.

Our film begins with an educational video by the megacorporation Zomcon in which we are told of the radiation cloud that covered the Earth and brought the dead back to life, leading to the Zombie Wars. After the living emerged mostly victorious, they erected walls around large cities, created a picturesque fifties society (think Leave It to Beaver with zombies), and invented control collars that pacified the living dead, turning them into servants that could do the menial labor the living no longer wanted to do. In one of these cities, a young boy named Timmy Robinson finds himself unhappy with his life, but things are about to change because today is the day his mother Helen brought home their very own zombie butler he got to name Fido. This despite his father Bill’s terrible fear of the living dead, a fear he agrees to stifle since it won’t look good to his new neighbor, and Zomcon bigwig, Mr. Bottoms. Though zombies are only supposed to be treated as objects to own, Timmy begins to grow close to his, slowly coming to look at Fido as less of pet and more of a friend. Timmy has been lonely for so long that he finds a genuine sense of happiness hanging out with his new zombie friend; this leads to him taking one too many risks with what is still a flesh starved zombie, risks that lead to chaos and the attention of Mr. Bottoms. Will Fido eventually come to reciprocate the love he receives from Timmy, or are his zombie instincts just too strong to overcome?

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{Making him hold an umbrella over your head probably isn’t helping}

Ever since falling in love with the miniatures game Warhammer 40K, yes I’m that kind of nerd, I’ve been a big fan of detailed orientated universes. That doesn’t mean I want to hear about the exact size of a city’s power plant or what specific engine configuration a spaceship uses, but I do like the little bits that make a universe more realistic. That’s part of Fido’s charm, the details they add in throughout the film. They don’t spend inordinate amounts of time discussing everything that goes on in this alternate version of Earth, but they go into enough of it to feel like a real place. The main source of information is the introductory video, one that looked a lot like the old black and white propaganda flicks (Reefer Madness, Cocaine Fiends, etc.). It details the rise of the dead and the war that only ended when a Zomcon scientist, the same scientist that invented the zombie control collars, figured out how to permanently kill the living dead, shooting them in the head not having yet occurred to anyone before that. Besides the short intro, there are also little details dropped by characters and shown through advertisements for head funerals which are expensive funerals that only ten percent of the population can afford. Your parents have to start saving in your childhood for you to even afford one, but it’s the only way to ensure you do not come back as a zombie. The only thing I didn’t entirely understand was why if the living won the war against the living dead, then why is much of the world marked as “Wild Zones” or places controlled by the dead? Why are the people who supposedly won the war hiding behind walls? Of course, since much of what you come across has the tint of Zomcon propaganda, so you’ll never be completely sure you aren’t seeing things in the light presented by a company that runs much of this new world. That’s another thing that works so great in Fido, the darkness hiding just under the surface of this zombie infested place.

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{Dancing is always a bad sign}

Much like the fifties America the film channels, the glossy side of this world hides a darker side that sometimes manages to filter through. The propaganda feel of Zomcon information is one example, the population’s paranoid fear of the elderly is another. The population is ever on the watch for elderly people who are close to death, the idea being that because they’re old they could become a zombie at any time. It had the feel of another fifties icon, the red scare. A different example was in the characters of Mr. Theopolis and his zombie Tammy. You come to very much like the eccentric inventor and former Zomcon scientist over the course of the film, in fact, you come to like him and his zombie sex slave. It’s that last part that kind of gets buried in the cheerful demeanor of what must be a very sick individual. They never actually come out and say it, but it’s heavily implied that Tammy fulfills the sexual needs of her master which is at the very least kind of odd. Still, you constantly forget about the necrophilia in favor of keeping the very likable scientist’s charm more compelling. They do this a lot throughout the film, hide a deeper darkness underneath a very colorful décor, and I mean that quite literally in some cases. The film is full of vibrant colors, bright lighting, and cheerful music that cover up the oppressive nature of this world and the terrified paranoia of the citizens who you come to realize aren’t smiling because they want to.  These people are forced to hide the despair and fear they feel so as not to set off any alarms in their friends and neighbors who might just turn them in to Zomcon otherwise. There are a lot of zombie flicks that use zombies for social commentary, but few are as successful as Fido is. Even the more gruesome scenes, of which there aren’t many, are done with the same bright colors and cheerful music that keep the film’s disarming manner intact.

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{This is a picture of Mr. Theopolis and Tammy, I’ll just leave it here}

The first time I watched Fido, because I have seen this movie many times, and noticed it starred the comedy god’s human gift to this world Billy Connelly, I fully expected him to be miles better than anyone else in the film, but that isn’t the case. While he is definitely the star of Fido, the film is full of interesting characters played by talented actors, and let’s be honest, being outshined by Connelly isn’t anything to be ashamed of, not with someone that insanely talented. He only took the role because he enjoyed the challenge of playing a character with no dialogue, but might have regretted it when he realized he’d have to shave off his beard. His response to finding out was allegedly “You’re ripping out my fucking personality.” He does a phenomenal job with a speechless character, conveying so much emotion without uttering a single word. There’s a reason Connelly’s Fido is my favorite cinematic zombie, but I have to wonder how well it would have worked had he not been surrounded by so much talent. We’ve already touched on Tim Blake Nelson as Mr. Theopolis, and really, if you needed an actor to make an unlikable character likable, you can’t go wrong with Nelson, but his zombie love slave Tammy, played by Sonja Bennet, deserves credit too. They don’t try to make her super sexy thank god, I’m still trying to get over the weirdness brought on by a zombified Melinda Clarke looking sexy in Return of the Living Dead 3, but Bennet manages to make her human, or at least human enough that you feel as much sympathy for her as for any other character in the film. Dylan Barker does a good job with his zombie phobic portrayal of Timmy Robinson’s dad Bill who will do anything to avoid having to come back as the living dead. He was the perfect clueless, sitcom dad always ready to stick his head in the sand if it means not having to deal with icky things like emotions, and Carrie-Anne Moss as Helen Robinson was his perfect match. She played the stereotypical, fifties’ wife. Docile and subservient, Helen is always ready to fall in line whenever her husband tells her to, at least for a bit. Out of all the characters in Fido, Helen has the largest amount of character growth next to protagonist Timmy as the inner strength she has inside begins to manifest itself in various ways, though this isn’t to say that Timmy’s story arc doesn’t contain its own character growth. Child actor Kesun Loder had an amazing ability to subtlety showcase Timmy’s sadness; this means he’s able to play a kid with a heavy inner sadness without having to make him mopey or depressed. He’s also able to use subtlety in showing Timmy’s growth as he becomes more comfortable with himself and happy with his life, mainly due to Fido’s influence and his mom’s newfound ability to stand up to his father.

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{It helps when you can rock a very loud shirt}

Fido is easily one of my favorite zombie flicks due to the clever mix of great characters played by amazing actors, an engrossing story, and the deeper meanings that seem to hide just under the surface. I would highly recommend this to any zombie fan.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Andrew Currie (Mile Zero, Barricade)

Starring: Kesun Loder (Fielder’s Choice, Exit 19), Tim Blake Nelson (The Incredible Hulk, O Brother Where Art Thou?), Sonja Bennet (YPF, Preggoland), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix Trilogy, Memento), Billy Connelly (Head of the Class, Muppet Treasure Island), and Dylan Baker (Trick r’ Treat, Spider-Man)

Written By: Robert Chomiak (Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, Master Keaton {English Translations}), Andrew Currie, and Denis Heaton (Casper’s Scare School, Motive)

Released By: Lions Gate Films, Anagram Pictures, Roadside Attractions, Astral Media

Release Year: 2006

Release Type: Theatrical Release

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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