By: Michael E. Esser, author of the new zombie book, “The Deadz”
In the world of the living dead the idea behind most of the films and story lines today seem to all follow the same formula. Zombies rise, attack, some are defeated; our heroes escape and cue the credits. But tell me what’s more rebellious, making a killer zombie movie or going against the status quo and casting those same zombies in a whole new light? (I know I gave it away with “going against the status quo” cliche.) Because that’s what the creators of one of my favorite little zombie movies, “Fido” did.
Released in 2006 this Canadian made zombie comedy based on the original story created by Dennis Heaton is great. It’s even been called, “A brilliant and twisted vision” and was a winner at that year’s Sundance Festival.
“The film takes place in a 1950s-esque alternate universe where radiation from space has turned the dead into zombies. This resulted in the “Zombie Wars”, where humanity battled zombies to prevent a zombie apocalypse, with humanity the ultimate victor. The radiation still plagues humanity, as all those who die after the original contamination turn into the undead, unless the dead body is disposed of by decapitation or cremation. In order to continue living normal lives, communities are fenced with the help of a governing corporation named Zomcon. Zomcon provides collars with accompanying remote controls to control the zombies’ hunger for flesh so as to use them as slaves or servants.”
“Fido” is a completely original take on the whole zombie genre. Billy Connolly is almost unrecognizable as Fido. But like all great actors he makes it believable. Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly, K’Sun Ra, Dylan Baker, Tim Blake Nelson, and Henry Czerny round out the talented yet oddball cast. The quirky, stupid-ness that the setting for this film represents should be like oil and water for this genre but it’s not. Instead it starts off like you’re watching one of those 50’s “duck and cover” instruction videos.
I think the idea of collaring all the walking dead and turning them into working stiffs (pun) is hilarious! I kept thinking, “My daughters allergic to dogs but I wonder if she’s allergic to zombies?” We’d have two or three of them suckers running around the yard scaring off the Girl Scouts.
Actually, I was planning a series of different horror genre specific story lines and this movie made me rethink what eventually became, “The Deadz” concept. After seeing Billy Connolly’s version of a zombie I started thinking there could be other undead types. Then I started looking at other good zombie films and the inspirations for my “crawler’z, runner’z, and talker’z” were born.
I love the horror genre but what I think I love about it is the fact that it’s so against the grain with what’s really acceptable in the world. I’m not writing any masterpieces any time soon but I will be writing for a long time. I’m also going to stay in control of everything I write because nobody can tell me it’s better to completely conform. Give the audience what they want but don’t sell out in the process.