Night of the Living Dead is mostly a straightforwardly scary movie with occasional lines that have some black comedy wit to them, and arguably a little satire or symbolism if you’re inclined to interpret things that way. Dawn of the Dead is a little more self-consciously satirical of the culture of materialism, and the scenes of the brain-dead stumbling around the mall understandably elicit some laughs, but it’s still primarily an action horror movie about people battling the supernatural.

It seems like since then everyone who does a zombie movie wants to take it farther in the humor direction. Not sure why zombies specifically, as opposed to just horror movies or monster movies in general. Not that there aren’t other horror movies that are satirical or played for laughs, but it seems more standard for zombie movies.

Some of them I’ve seen (e.g., Return of the Living Dead) and some of them I haven’t (e.g., Shaun of the Dead). The ones I’ve seen have mostly been funny enough to be worthwhile, but nothing special.

Fido follows that same trend, and I’d give it about the same assessment. It’s a decent comedy, for movies of this type. It didn’t blow me away by a long shot, but it’s watchable.

It takes place in an exaggerated, stereotyped version of 1950s America. Males are the unquestioned head of the household, women focus on keeping house and being docile and pleasing, kids watch cheesy educational films on rickety projectors in school, there are no black people, etc.

The difference is, in this parallel universe people are just recovering from a long period of “zombie wars” where all the dead people came back to life and ate whomever they could catch. They’re now in a period of relative stability, where as many as possible of the zombies were slaughtered, towns that are more or less zombie-free have been fenced off (zombies continue to roam in the outer areas), and there are policies in place to destroy people as quickly as possible when they die, before they can reanimate and do any damage.

There has also been a key scientific breakthrough. A quasi-governmental, vaguely fascist sounding corporation has figured out how to tame and domesticate zombies. If they have special collars on, they cease trying to eat people and instead can be trained as servants and industrial workers, albeit decidedly clumsy ones. People buy them to serve as something between a slave and a house pet. (Hence the title character zombie.)

The movie revolves around the family that buys that zombie, and their next door neighbor, who is head of security at the local branch of the corporation that trains the domesticated zombies (and provides security against the regular ones that still pop up now and then, like if someone dies unsupervised). The young boy in the family grows quite attached to their zombie, and they have various adventures together.

The send-up of ’50s conservatism is mildly clever, and there are some small scale laughs here and there. The storyline is somewhat weak and of course not even minimally realistic, but frankly this kind of movie sometimes has an even weaker plot—just something to hang the gags and satire on. So I can’t say it’s disappointing in that regard.

I’m enough into this kind of humor to find some modest entertainment value in Fido, and I can see it appealing even more to a cult type audience, but for most folks this isn’t a film to go out of one’s way to see.

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