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Zombies are People Too

Just when you thought the zombie sub-genre was dead and buried, along comes Fido, a slyly subversive, satirical horror/comedy co-written and directed by Andrew Currie (Sleep Murder, Mile Zero). Mixing and matching multiple genres, from the zombie horror sub-genre initiated by George A. Romero in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead, 1950s-era melodramas that critiqued social conformity, and 50s-era boy-and-his-dog family films, Fido is wonderfully campy from start to finish and, for genre fans, occasionally gory too.

Several decades after the Earth passed through a radioactive cloud and reanimated corpses into flesh-eating ghouls, the survivors have congregated in gated, 1950s-era towns and cities. Zombies have taken over the so-called “Wild Zone,” outside the towns and cities. Inside, the inhabitants live a mostly idyllic existence thanks mostly to the efforts of ZomCom, a corporation that arose from the wars to eradicate the zombies.

Thanks to an electronic collar created by an enterprising ZomCom scientist, Dr. Hrothgar Geiger (Andy Parkin), zombies have become domestic servants, pets, manual laborers, and even lovers. For those on the inside, having a zombie servant is also a status symbol. If, however, a collar malfunctions and a zombie goes on a flesh-eating spree, the zombie’s owners are subject to severe penalties, including exile.

In this brave, new, zombie-plagued world, Timmy Robinson (K'Sun Ray), a precocious, open-minded preteen, can’t help but wonder aloud if the zombies are, in fact, dead. Unfortunately, Timmy puts this question to Jonathan Bottoms (Henry Czerny), ZomCom’s new Head of Security who’s just moved in across the street with his wife, Dee Dee (Jennifer Clement), and Cindy (Alexia Fast), Timmy’s new classmate.

Timmy’s golf-loving, zombie-fearing father, Bill (Dylan Baker), and status-obsessed, conformist mother, Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss) eventually agree to purchase a zombie of their own. Timmy gives their new zombie (Billy Connolly) a name -- Fido -- for his pet-like qualities. Soon enough, Timmy sees Fido as a friend. Complications ensue, however, when Fido’s collar malfunctions and he decides to snack on the neighborhood snoop, Mrs. Henderson (Mary Black).

Not surprisingly, Fido has plenty of Romero-influenced subtext and then some. The film explores suburban conformity, corporatism, political paranoia, and segregation, all within a post-apocalyptic world. In Fido, the zombies represent African-Americans and other people of color. They’re allowed to interact with the living, but only in socially proscribed ways. Considering them as friends or potential lovers is to humanize them and that’s something that ZomCom, a corporation that also functions as the de facto government, frowns upon.
All this subtext makes Fido sound like a super-serious political or social treatise, right? It isn’t. Or rather, it’s more than that, thanks to a hilarious screenplay that takes the zombies-in-50s-America premise as far as it can go (and then some). Fido derives much of its humor from incongruities that spring up organically from the premise (e.g., zombies-as-pets, zombies-as-servants, zombies-as-lovers), as well as the boy and his dog sub-genre popular in the 50s.

As clever, amusing, and subversive as Fido turns out to be, though, it’s likely to disappoint some genre fans, specifically fans that expect buckets of gore with their flesh-eating ghouls. Fido may be light on gore (minus, to be fair, the occasional blood-splattered head shot), but it's also heavier on subtext than the average genre entry and that alone should be enough to entice genre fans looking for originality with their zombie fix.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars