fido

Fido

The world of Fido is bizarre and kind of brilliant. Set in an alternate 1950s where a zombie plague nearly destroyed mankind, humanity has rebuilt civilization and now lives in walled-off communities to protect themselves from the remaining hordes of the undead that still cover much of the world. And within these cheery, Leave It to Beaver-flavored communities, fancy new collars that can curb the appetite of the undead have been invented. And you know what that means: zombie servants. Fido is essentially a story of a boy and his dog, except that the dog is the boy’s household zombie slave and their ensuing adventure has consequences that are a little more grave than a kid falling down a well. This is a slight film, but it’s certainly a clever one, utilizing its vaguely science fiction premise to build an entirely unique world that subverts ’50s Americana through good ol’ fashioned throat ripping and disemboweling.

juan of the dead

Juan of the Dead

Don’t let the title fool you. While director Alejandro Brugués was obviously inspired by Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, his film is no mere rip-off. As far as goofy horror comedies go, Juan of the Dead feels strangely personal – it only could have emerged from a specific voice working out of a specific nation. That nation is Cuba and Brugués isn’t shy about exploring what makes his home country tick, even when his characters are smashing the undead over the head and running for their lives and generally being borderline incompetent slackers who scrape through the zombie apocalypse through pure luck. The satire is a little obvious (the Cuban government declares the waves of the undead to be political dissidents), but it’s balanced by the love that Brugués and his characters have for their beloved, albeit troubled, country. Even when things are seemingly beyond repair, when society is crumbling and your place in the social order is unknown, your home is worth fighting for.

pontypool

Pontypool

There will be some people who will argue that Pontypool isn’t a zombie movie, that the “infected” at the center of the film aren’t dead and therefore can’t be zombies. And I’ll just say this much: it’s close enough, and to skip out on this fresh and freaky and crafty movie because it’s a not a literal zombie movie would be a big mistake. Directed by Bruce McDonald and written by Tony Burgess (from his own novel), the film takes place almost entirely in a radio studio and follows a washed-up shock jock (an incredible Stephen McHattie) and his harried producer (the equally strong Lisa Houle) as they slowly realize that civilization is falling down outside thanks to a bizarre plague. As they continue reporting about horrors that can only be described to them by callers, the nature of the disease that is turning people into violent monsters is unveiled and it’s one of the more unique and unsettling concepts to ever grace a horror movie. Pontypool is claustrophobic and tense, but it’s really about the nature of communication and the power of words. Language, like society itself, is a human construct and both are surprisingly fragile in Pontypool.

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