For this edition of Forgotten Favorites, I wanted to just say a little bit about 2006’s Fido, a clever yet lighthearted, somewhat underrated zombie-comedy directed by Andrew Currie and starring Billy Connolly as the title character. I re-watched about half of it earlier this week on Netflix, and hadn’t forgotten how amusing and well-done the film was. But certain other aspects had definitely gone over my head when I’d first seen it– namely, the film is not merely a zombie-comedy but also a successful and witty satire, and its cheeky, sarcastic tone and over-the-top elements shone brighter upon a more recent, albeit partial, viewing.
Fido opens with a Cold War-esque instructional video– the kind that children in the 1950’s had to watch to learn about nuclear threats in the most hokey, falsely pleasant ways possible– that recounts a zombie war (wrought by radiation, of course). A company named Zomcon has implemented an intricate system of collars, rules and regulations to domesticate these living dead to be used as maids and butlers, pets and pals. Fido belongs to Timmy, a young friendless boy who treats his zombie as the latter– even when Fido wreaks havoc in town by accidentally acting in his nature.
The satire of the film is successful because it is obvious but never annoyingly so, and it is also multifaceted– there are many smaller components of American society at large being satirized in seemingly equal measure and with similar purpose. The blending of genres surely helps– and there are enough gory moments and references to zombie-lore that horror buffs could enjoy immensely– but the film never feels stale or overly familiar either.
The film’s setting– a generic sort of any-town, USA locale within a pseudo-earth during the plastic-pristine 1950’s– especially helps the film feel totally unique and jokingly nostalgic. Essentially, this backdrop is what allows for those multiple layers of satire: keeping up with the Joneses and that perfectly suburban fixation on appearances and status, servitude and obedience and ethics, and of course, the kinds of fears and emotions that ran rampant in our actual post-WWII world– a world that had truly painted itself as a disturbingly picturesque vision of an actually lacking stability.
The film is outwardly silly at times in the sense that it is really funny and fantastically retro, but in actuality, it is one of the smartest genre-benders in recent history. It intelligently comments on a number of things with a sense of humor and creativity that is often sacrificed for the sake of making some broad statement. Billy Connolly is great, as always, even as a bumbling zombie. His performance makes us believe that even the undead can have working, beating hearts, and that these creatures can love and be driven by other emotions besides a hunger for human flesh. I hadn’t forgotten how great this movie is, but I had certainly forgotten some of my many reasons for feeling that way.