There’s been a fair bit of talk in Christian circles about the emerged popularisation of the zombie film. I’m not wanting to rehash all that here, except to say that I think it represents a niggling desire in secularised society for something of us to extend beyond the grave. Even if it isn’t life after death, rather death after life!
A few days ago I borrowed Fido, the 2006 Zomedy. Most of the violence and gore is implied which is nice for the squeamish viewer so don’t switch off yet! I thought it was brilliant, let me give you a spoiler free plot summary and then I’ll tell you why I liked it.
The film is set in a 1950s alternate world, where in the 30s space radiation had entered the atmosphere and reanimated the dead. The Zombie wars, instead of WWII, ensued. The humans “won” by fencing off towns so the Zombies, who then occupied the Dead Zone, couldn’t get in. Frustratingly though, there was still enough radiation in the atmosphere that whenever someone dies they become a zombie, making the zombie problem a perpetual one. The only way you can prevent yourself from becoming a zombie is to have a sanctioned funeral where your head is placed in a different casket.
But then a scientist discovered the way to control zombies by putting a collar on them that removed their will to eat people and made them useful for menial labour jobs. The company the scientist set up, Zomcon, now seems to run everything. So in the town of Willard, a Stepfordesque town where the whole film is set, zombies are used to deliver the paper and carry sun umbrellas for people as they go for walks.
The story follows one family styled on the typical 1950s family, but with a new zombie whom the main protagonist, the boy of the family, names Fido. The character that interested me the most though was the father. The father is scared of zombies because he had to kill his own father who turned into one. He is obsessed with not becoming a zombie so he takes out a funeral plan (funerals are extremely expensive)
Here’s why I liked the film:
– It calls into question whether Fido the zombie is more emotionally alive than the 1950s father. When he discovers that his wife is pregnant his first reaction is to say “I’m not sure I can afford another funeral plan on my salary.” Ultimately I think this film is a parable about the nature of fatherhood – with zombies!
– It explored themes of fear of the other. In Willard the elderly aren’t trusted as they could become wild zombies at any time. Thus after 65 people are sent to the “retirement home” (the old prison). Willard doesn’t need a retirement home because any lawbreaking people are exiled to the Dead Zone.
– It asked real questions about life after death. The boy wanted to know whether God still loved zombies, whether it was right to treat zombies like slaves and to ponder his own mortality.
Great film – maybe not one for date night, but still worth catching.
Ohh yeah, and the zombie is Billy Connelly!
 AFES’s Salt magazine and Websalt blog had some really interesting discussions on the topic.