The problem with spoofing zombie movies is that the originals (like Romero's Dawn of the Dead which posits zombies as shopping moll shoppers) are themselves satires & comedies. To spoof a spoof isn't that original.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) is nevertheless quite funny for the first half of the film. The idea that Shaun (Simon Pegg) might be a little too dim to notice at first that people are turning into zombies was both believable & hysterical.
But when the standard dorky zombie make-up & staggering & the flesh nibbling get going in earnest, the film becomes too serious, as though the director suddenly feared that making too much fun of all that death & mayhem might be offensive.
So the "action" part of the film is not as effective as the earlier stuff. The few gags that do make the cut later in the story are scarcely more than bad puns.
As zombie flicks go, however, this is very good of kind, delivering all the basics of the form. The "extras" on the disc were numerous & interesting & funnier than the film.
The comedic zombie film Fido (2006) begins with totally dead-on "documentary" footage in the style of 1940s black & white Civil Defense propaganda films such as tried to convince citizens it would be possible to survive nuclear holocaust by ducking under one's desk.
That mockumentary intro is posited as a ZomCom film with stentorial announcer recapping recent history, how a cosmic dust cloud changed the nature of human death, resulting in the Zombie Wars, & the rise of ZomCom which developed a "domestication collar" that transformed resurged humans from persistent danger to a profitable slave race.
Then begins the witty & surprisingly touching tale of little Timmy (K'Sun Ray) & his beloved zombie Fido (Billy Connolly). The tale is set in a world that never quite got past the 1940s or 1950s in style of music, automobiles, hairstyles, clothing. It's the world of Leave it to Beaver, where there never was an Atomic Threat, but a Zombie Threat instead.
And while this world all looks very tidy & sweet, there is always the fear of ZomCom itself, which has totalitarian powers to just take you away & toss you outside the safety zones into the world of wild zombies. And there's always the possibility (apparently the inevitability) of domestication collars breaking down so that one's semi-retarded family servitors turn back into rampaging neck-munching horrors.
The difference with Fido is that when his collar malfunctions, he's kind of like a dangerous dog that is not dangerous to its own family.
And Fido has enough lingering traits of when he was a living man that he & Timmy's mom (Carrie-Anne Moss) develop a sex-tease relationship.
Dad (Dylan Baker) has an unreasoning (or even quite reasonable) terror of zombies, never having gotten over his own parents having tried to eat him when he was little. He has to adjust to the presence of Fidi because Timmy's become attached to him, & because his wife's "keeping up with the joneses" insistence that they keep the zombie so as not to fall behind others in their upwardly mobile suburbs.
Fido is imaginative as science fiction in that it has convincingly imagined a culture & economy altered by the fact of zombyism & a domesticated living-dead population.
For instance, in a world where the resurged dead have economic value, funerals are discouraged, & can only be arranged at prohibitive expense.
Or, in a world where the elderly could at any moment drop dead, rise up, & attack family & neighbors, respect for the the aging goes straight out the window, with old people all too soon dragged away by ZomCom to be transformed into collared domestics. Even the nature of gun control would change in a post Zombie Wars society.
As satire it is first rate, but the real achievement here is how the relationship between Timmy & Fido is played straight & believable. It's Lassie & Timmy or Lassy & Jeff from the old television series wherein Lassie always saves the day.
At feature film length it could easily have become an overextended joke, but the characters are so well played & the spoofing so respectful of an imaginary age of innocence, that interest & pace just never flags.
Fido has some wonderfully amusing zombie-rampages to meet the gory requirements of zombie films, & yet it somehow manages always to convey something endearing & humane.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl