I don’t quite know what happened to this film. Box office figures from IMDb show that it basically had no theatrical release, though the reviews were mainly positive (70% at Metacritic). The cast are all good actors. It didn’t quite work for me, but it was a close call, and I know many other people loved it. All I can figure is it may have been the victim of a pissing contest between people at the studio, perhaps new faces wanting to sink the pictures of previous producers. It sounds insane, but it happens frequently. A new guy will basically kill the children of the old guy, much like lions do when they oust the old king of the pride. The last thing a new studio head wants is for his predecessor’s movies to make money, it makes him look bad. Can you believe it? Believe it, it’s standard practice in the movie biz. I don’t know if this is what happened, but the only reasons I can think of to let a well-reviewed film to go direct to DVD involve ego.
Basic premise: Sort of takes up where Shaun of the Dead left off, in a way. That wonderful shambling zombie send-up concluded by showing a few brief glimpses of what a shambling zombie could be useful for, once you had captured and subdued him. They could play video games, and do menial tasks. This movie starts out with that premise. It’s set in an alternate-universe 1950s, and the production design is very good, they have the look down pat. (And there is a glorious 1953 or 1954 Hudson, which predisposes me to like a movie!) Some radioactive gunk from outer space has infected people, turning them into flesh-eating, shambling zombies. There was a Zombie War, and now people live in protected communities where all the scut work is done by zombies. Little Timmy’s family (Carrie-Ann Moss and Dylan Baker) gets a zombie servant (Billy Connolly, pretty much wasted because he can’t talk), and he’s a bit more aware than other zombies. Boy and zombie bond, and here’s where the movie is funniest, because Fido the zombie behaves exactly like Lassie when little Timmy (even the name is right!) is tied to a tree by the neighborhood bullies; He goes to get help. “What is it, Fido? Is Timmy in danger?” “Argh!” “Hurry, take me to him!”
But the movie falls just short, in my opinion. With this wonderful set-up, it seems to miss too many opportunities, and makes the mistake of trying to get a little serious at the end. Come on, folks, we don’t want tears jerked in this kind of movie. It should have been wilder, a little edgier, a little more far out. I wanted to laugh, but didn’t laugh enough to recommend this.